A lack of seating during lunch for freshmen raises the question: Should freshmen have their own designated space? (page 4).
Photo: Sam Scott
The Volume 65, Issue 1
Search and Rescue:
Learn about the students who volunteer as Cadets for Contra Costa Search and Rescue and what activities they participate in (page 6).
Photo: Walter Eichinger
Take geology? You may be a senior wanting an easy science credit. Discover the stereotypes behind a variety of classes (page 13).
Photo: Chris Montgomery
Sept 20, 2021
COVID Causes Changes to In-Person School SAMANTHA SCOTT & OLIVIA RHEE
I have enjoyed the most this year is having the opportunity to put students into greater positions to collaborate,” history teacher and Miramonte Athletic Director James Lathrop said. “Being able to put the student desks into discussion groups has given the classes greater connection between students and provided more opportunities
to be held outside to prevent COVID-19 transmission. Students and staff are also required to wear face masks 25 Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) indoors regardless of vaccination status as per guidance students and staff members have tested positive for from the California Department of Public Health. COVID-19 since the week of Aug. 9. Additionally, 40 While some prefer the benefits of remote school, othAUHSD students and staff have been placed under a ers are immersing themselves back into the school envimodified quarantine, and 6 were placed ronment, especially those new to campus. under full quarantine since Aug. 9. “I like being back in person because I feel “In my experience, being exposed to more productive at school,” freshman SoCOVID-19 was more of an inconvephia Kan said. “I hope that we don’t have nience than a serious health issue. The to return to quarantine, but I think that worst part about it for me was missing can be avoided if we continue to wear our school. I feel like learning from home is masks and be safe around others.” much more difficult than being in-perAdditionally, the Food and Drug Adson, which is also a big reason why we ministration's full approval of Pfizer-BioNshouldn’t return to a hybrid model yet. Tech’s COVID-19 vaccine has provided Taking into account the mental health, school systems in states and cities across the academic performance, and overall wellcountry with the ability to require vaccinabeing of the students at Miramonte, I tion amongst teachers and faculty in order think it would be smart to stay in-person for them to participate in in-person school. Photo: Sam Scott Photo: AUHSD Researchers believe that immunization for now,” a student who wishes to reLeft: Students are all pictured wearing masks in class- a change since the pandemic requirements will serve as the best option main anonymous said. Currently, when a student tests posi- Right: Chart displays how many have tested positive or quarantined due to COVID-19 towards keeping schools open during the tive for COVID-19, teachers who have pandemic. that student in their class will receive an email from prin- for sharing ideas and perspectives, allowing the students The district expresses in their 2021-2022 Health and cipal Ben Campopiano that informs them of possible to learn from one another and support one another in Safety Plan that extensive steps are being taken to enexposure to a positive case on campus. Likewise, when learning.” sure that district facilities are safe for staff and students a student or teacher tests positive, students within the The transition back to campus has not only altered using proper protocols and procedures. These include teacher or student’s class will receive an email informing the interaction within the classroom, but has also im- the addition of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to them of possible exposure to a positive case. If the stu- pacted the way teachers conduct their classes. “From my classrooms, updates to facilities like cafeterias, additiondent or teacher provided proof of vaccination, they are perspective, the pandemic has definitely impacted teach- al staffing, and changes to cleaning protocols. AUHSD not required to quarantine unless they show symptoms. ing, learning, and interactions at MHS,” English teacher hopes these changes in daily routines will prevent the All District employees are required to submit vaccine Linda Hora said. “In fact, it highlighted flaws from ‘pre- spread of the virus and minimize the chances of returnverification to the district’s Human Resources Depart- pandemic’ academia and cemented the strengths. These ing to distance learning. ment according to the AUHSD 2021-2022 Health and advances have majorly changed the why and what we “I am confident that our school community and our Safety Plan. learn as well as the why and what we teach. Just because district will adapt to COVID and the delta variant as Although exposure to COVID-19 is a risk of in-per- an idea is ‘online’ doesn't mean it's the answer! I love in- necessary. My expectations are that we all take care of son school, the current learning format allows teachers person school and will put up with masking to enable it.” ourselves and each other and that we prioritize our mento work directly with students and encourage face-to-face School rallies and other traditionally indoor activities tal and physical health over business as usual,” English collaboration in their classrooms.“I think the thing that have also been affected. As of now, rallies are required teacher Steve Poling said.
Cafeteria Provides Students with Free Lunches ASHLEY DONG Miramonte will provide free lunches to all students for the entire school year. In just the first nine days of school, Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) cafeterias served approximately 22,000 meals.
Photo: Sam Scott
Different free lunch options like pizza are available to all students throughout the 2021-2022 school year. “The USDA (United States Dept. of Agriculture) issued waivers which funded a program that allows any school district in the nation to provide free meals to any student regardless of economic status,” Rebecca Ward, AUHSD’s Food Services Coordinator said. Before the pandemic began, a student paid $5.75 per lunch, which
means that if they ate school lunch every day for the entire school year, it would cost them $1,035. The fact that lunch is free attracts many students who wouldn’t usually buy it. “About half the student population now gets lunch, when it used to be only about 25 percent,” cafeteria manager Josephine Worth said. District-wide, the amount of meals served so far has tripled the pre-pandemic numbers. More demand requires more supply. But, due to COVID-19, the cafeteria is facing many challenges. “We're experiencing vendor issues, which means we have a Photo: Paige Meyers product shortage, so we are constantly switching the menu. It's hard, especially since we’re short-staffed,” dent comes to the counter, but we always have someWorth said. thing for the students to eat. We don't want any student Part of the solution is purchasing food and ingredi- to walk away hungry!” Ward said. ents from local sources. “We are planning to add Miramonte High School Non-Profit Organization a program to buy produce directly from local US Postage Paid, Orinda, farmers, and the pizza we serve comes from a lo- 750 Moraga Way Ca Permit #301 cal business in Walnut Creek,” Ward said. Shop- Orinda, CA 94563 ping locally supports neighborhood stores and partially rectifies the product shortage problem, ensuring the cafeterias get the ingredients they need. Additionally, to hold a greater number of lunches, more freezers and refrigerators will be added to the kitchens to provide extra storage space. “We may run out of pizza before the last stu-
2 NEWS 09/20/21
Increase In Scheduling Issues Shocks Students Due to last minute staffing changes, class and teacher availability were altered before the 20212022 school year began, causing an increase in scheduling issues that surprised many students ANIA KEENAN, REAGAN KAELLE, & OLIVIA RHEE
teachers’ contracts that limit the numbers of students they can teach at once, and the availability of physical classroom space. After last minute staffing changes caused Giron says that these factors make up shifts in teacher and classroom availability, the “puzzle” of scheduling, where adminstudents voiced their discontent over an inistrators juggle graduation requirements, crease in scheduling changes. classroom space, students’ desires, and “I wanted to be in Latin 3 Honors and I teachers’ contracts. Every part of the puzzle was instead put in Yoga. I was surprised and was impacted by the staffing changes. The somewhat annoyed because I missed the first increase in schedule changes experienced week of Latin and missed a ton of work. I by students may have been a part of those put my schedule change request in the bin in “cascade of changes” and their impact on the admin office, but it took a long time for the logistics of scheduling. my schedule to get back to what I originally Following the departure of former prinwanted,” senior Ally Smith said. cipal Julie Parks to serve as the new superAssociate Principal Bruce Giron explained intendent of the Orinda Unified School that students may experience an increase in District and the transition of associate scheduling “mix-ups” this year compared to principal Sara Harris to her new position previous years due to the uptick in last-minas principal of Las Lomas High School, ute staffing changes that put pressure on the Miramonte also experienced a series of administration. staff departures that left the administration According to Giron, five teachers across dealing with additional challenges. different subjects left the school, and most of Giron said that students should underthese staffing changes occurred around three stand that when staffing changes occur, the weeks before the start of the school year. situation is “dynamic” and multifaceted. Senior Kate Sinha experienced difficulPhoto: Sam Scott “Our underlying motivation is to balties changing her English class from Film Senior Apameh Berloui casts a disappointed look at her schedule after seeing ance our obligation to do what is right for and Literature to English 4 WISE. “I went that her classes were mixed up. Similar to others, Berloui faces scheduling issues. students and what students want,” Giron into the counseling office and asked them said. if I could switch my classes around. They ance the “requirements and wants” of students. After gradHe explained that in a situation where were very kind and said ‘come back tomorrow and you uation requirements are taken into account, the wants of teaching or classroom space is limited, graduation remay speak with a counselor,’ even though the counselors individual students, in the form of class requests, are the quirements and required courses are the primarily conweren’t even accepting appointments at the time. Overall, second step. From there, each school in the district sub- sultants used by the administration when deciding what it was very difficult to switch my classes,” Sinha said. mits requests for classes, by the number of periods of the classes to offer or assign students to. The process of class scheduling starts months before class, to the district. Each school is then given what can The administration urges compassion and patience as students return to campus. The administration must bal- be provided from their request based on the regulations in short-term staffing changes lead to challenges.
Air Quality Worsens District Faces Deficit of Substitute Teachers PAIGE MAYS & putting “children, the elderly, pregnant ROAN KAZMIEROWSKI women, and people with cardiac/respi ratory conditions” in danger, according Due to fires throughout Northern to the California Air Resources Board. California, hazy Bay Area skies renThe Dixie fire burned more than dered air quality unhealthy for specific 960,335 acres, while the Caldor fire individuals and events. The Caldor burned more than 219,267 acres. The fire, which began Aug. 14, the Di- Monument fire charred 184,142 acres, xie fire, which began July 14, and the increasing how far the smoke can travMonument fire, which began July 30, el and its impact on communities. are among the main fires influencing If smoke gets trapped at a lower althe air quality. According to CNet, al- titude, it has a reduced chance of travthough wildfire season doesn’t have a eling far as opposed to more powerful start date, usually wildfires begin be- fires, which can carry the smoke to a tween May and Oct., however, “that higher altitude, according to Smart paradigm has shifted.” Air. This allows the smoke to travel “Any sort of smoke or smog or chem- farther, impacting distant areas. icals in the air are As a result, having a negative sports and school As fires travel effect on us because events were canacross the landscape, celed due to poor our lungs, which are really important smoke and chemicals air quality. Frito the physiology day, Aug. 27 the from burnt buildings tailgate and first of our body, are really sensitive to difare released into the football game of ferent chemicals. the season were atmosphere,” Especially when canceled and are we’re talking about in the process of fires with structures being being reschedburnt down, because we have a lot of uled to a later date. chemicals in those structures,” science “The Leadership class put a lot of teacher Jyllian Smith said. work and effort into planning the tailCal Fire reports that 1,968,326 gate, so we were really disappointed acres have burned so far in 2021. With when it got canceled,” senior and Spirit fire seasons starting earlier and ending commission head Nathalie Green said. later each year, and the length of fire “The air quality mostly affects me season increasing by 75 days across the because my outdoor activities and Sierras, California expects to experi- sports were canceled, so we have to ence above-average fire danger until find ways to do them safely inside. September. Fires are going to become more apparAs fires travel across the landscape, ent, and long-term damage because of smoke and chemicals from burnt build- air quality will only become harder to ings are released into the atmosphere, prevent,” freshman Alyssa Smith said.
ERIN SMITH Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, the administration struggles to find substitute teachers, causing teachers to cover classes for one another in case of absences. “Many of our substitutes that come in are a little bit older. I think that people are still a little nervous and hesitant. Maybe people are realizing, ‘oh, you know, we’re all masked, we’re feeling safer.’ So we are seeing a few more [substitutes], but it’s not the same number as we did prior to COVID,” administrative assistant Betsy Canty said. Teachers cover for others during their prep periods. When a teacher knows they are going to be absent, they reach out to Canty to help coordinate substitute teachers. “Ms. Canty puts out a call for teachers to help out and if we are free and are able to cover the class,” AP Environmental Science and Leadership teacher Cassandra Porter said. Teachers respond to Canty’s email if they are able to substitute. “If I can, I will bring students to my classroom because it is my prep and I need to get work done. I am here working and they are working. I covered for Mrs. Sorenson’s class and she was very well organized and the students went on Canvas and did the work they needed to do and were super polite,” Spanish 2 and AP Spanish 5 teacher Megan Flores said. Due to distance learning, teachers and students regularly communicated
through Canvas and shared schedules and assignments. When teachers are absent, students can go online and do their work without guidance from an instructor. Students are also adapting to the changes COVID-19 presents. “My seventh period class, my advanced choir group, absolutely killed it. The teacher who subbed for me said it was the easiest subbing she had ever done because the kids just took over,” Musical Theater Workshop, AP Music Theory, and Choir teacher Meredith Hawkins said, “Kids are really understanding and empathetic of emergencies and health issues coming up because that is a reality now.” Students find that regularly having another Miramonte teacher as a substitute is a new experience. “The experience didn’t feel too out of the ordinary, just something due to COVID that I haven’t experienced in awhile. Just like with another sub, we adapt,” junior Lauren Anthony said. Though the task may be difficult, teachers are financially compensated for substituting. “I think more than anything, I want to make sure that if a teacher needs help or is not here, those kids can have adult supervision. It is about helping each other out and making sure everyone’s there for each other,” Porter said. “It is really comforting to know that when you’re in a situation like I was last week, that your colleagues have your back, and that your students also have your back,” Hawkins said.
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A Sample College List...
09/20/21 OPINION 3
Application Fees Must Be Lowered College application fees are often exorbitantly high, making it hard for lower-income students to apply to many schools. The COVID-19 pandemic further exposed the inequities of college application fees, as students who were economically hit by the virus were unable to afford higher college application prices. To open up more opportunities for all students to apply to multiple universities, college application fees should be eliminated or sharply reduced. According to U.S. News and World Report, the average college application fee in 2020 was $44 across 936 surveyed schools. Each of the Universities of California has an application fee of $70; if a student were to apply to all nine schools within the University of California system, the total application cost would be $630. Many students apply to varying numbers of schools, with numbers ranging from five to thirty. For students applying to more schools, these application fees add up, often ranging from numbers in the high hundreds to the low thousands. This makes it harder for students to apply to more than two or three schools. “I believe college application fees should be completely removed. Though my family can support me financially, there are many others who are not as fortunate, and applying to many colleges adds up over time. These little fees are just paywalls that prevent poorer people from accessing higher education,” senior Olivia Wang said. According to a study by LendEDU, in the 2015-2016 admissions cycle, the University of California, Los Angeles made the highest amount of money from application fees from rejected applicants out of all colleges in the nation ($5,367,180). This is ridiculous, especially considering that the UC system is made up of public universities mostly funded by taxpayer dollars and the California state government. To minimize this exorbitant cost, at the very least, college application fees should be lowered to more reasonable prices to ensure that colleges do not limit low-income students from applying to their schools. Multiple private liberal arts universities do not require application fees. Tulane University, Wellesley College, and Carleton College are just a few of the many private schools in the nation that have free applications. According to the Wellesley College website, “There’s no fee to apply to Wellesley. Fees are barriers, and we’re all about breaking down barriers.” Although these private universities are not funded by the state and must rely on student tuition and alumni donors, they are still more socially responsible and aware of the financial state that many students are in, and took steps to combat this inequity, whereas UCLA and other public universities have yet to progress in this way. The U.S. military schools, such as the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy, also do not charge an application fee. “I’m verbally committed to attending the Air Force Academy. There was no tuition fee to apply; in fact, all students who attend a service academy attend cost-free and are paid a monthly stipend,” senior Mark Cheng said. Other schools have begun to offer fee waivers for students in the 2021-2022 college application round due to the pandemic and the resulting economic effects it has had on family finances. Fordham University, a private research university in New York, has extended fee waivers to both high-achieving students and students from lower-income backgrounds. For most universities, students can request a fee waiver if they are from a low-income family, have some other
Photo: Olivia Uzuncan
Stanford University: $90 Harvard University: $75 Georgetown University: $75
University of Michigan: $75 Boston College: $80
Photo: Malayna Chang
extenuating circumstance, or if they demonstrate high academic achievement through their grade point average and standardized test scores; however, these waivers are not always granted in the end due to the volume of students applying for them. “Students from lower-income families that don’t satisfy the feewaiver requirements are unfairly punished under our current system because they can’t apply to as many colleges and have fewer opportunities to receive a top education and move up the social ladder,” senior Andrew Liu said. “That goes against the principles of education and social mobility that colleges are supposed to promote.” Many argue that college application fees are necessary to pay admissions officers’ salaries and would decrease the quality of college admissions if removed. According to a study by LendEDU, “To ensure standards and reputations are upheld, colleges must ensure each application is thoroughly reviewed by a university employee. The colleges transfer this cost onto the prospective student through application fees.” If admissions officers don’t have the monetary incentive to read the thousands of applications they receive, many believe that the quality of their reviews of each application will decline and make it harder for students to get accepted to schools. However, the money that universities make from fees from rejected applicants is often ridiculously high with no benefit to the student. To minimize this exorbitant cost, at the very least, college application fees should be lowered to more reasonable prices to ensure that colleges do not limit low-income students from applying to their schools. “Students, especially without the aid from their parents, do not have the means to apply to as many colleges that are in their college list,” senior Ink Chavanapanit said. “For some, this limits students’ applications to ‘safety schools’ only.” Students who are unable to pay for more than just a few colleges are often forced to limit themselves to schools that they are almost guaranteed to get into; spending money on higher-ranked colleges is often too risky of a chance for a nonguaranteed acceptance. Since students will attend only one of the universities that they apply to, application fees are a waste of money and unfair to students who do not have the financial means to pay. Students should not be discouraged from applying to a college simply because they cannot afford to pay the application fee. These fees are often unnecessary and extremely high, especially during the pandemic as the declining economy impacts many families’ finances. In order to accommodate more students and ensure an equitable application process, colleges and universities should lessen or remove their application fees, at least until the end of the pandemic. The Editorial Board voted 15-4 in agreement that college application fees should be removed or lowereed to accomodate more students.
Photo: Ryan Gottschalk
University of Arizona: $50 University of Colorado Boulder: $50
Photo: Olivia Uzuncan
University of California, Berkeley: $70 University of California, Davis: $70 University of California, Los Angeles: $70
Photo: Malayna Chang
4 OPINION 09/20/21
School Must Designate a Quad for Freshmen
Limited table seating excludes students from enjoying a comfortable lunch environment. The administration must create a lunch area specifically for freshmen to ease their acclimation into high school life
KIRSTIN PARKER & DEGEN NALDOZA
ing, and the amount of people in the quad can be overwhelming,” freshman Emma There is nothing more intimidating than beRomweber said. ing at the bottom of the food chain when entering Transitioning from middle school to high school, but figuring out where to sit at lunch high school is a huge adjustment for any is an additional stress factor that no freshman student. When becoming familiar with a wants to endure. The four to five tables that are new campus, navigating classes, and learncurrently in the freshman area barely make a dent ing the nuances of high school, having a in an uncomfortable situation. What freshmen consistent place to sit at lunch can help need is a place of their own. The school should ease the stress of an already hectic environdesignate the grass area outside the girls locker ment. “If freshmen had the option to eat room and 70’s halls as the “freshmen quad”. separately, it would give us a way to feel Excluding the Senior Lawn, there are 46 tables comfortable and relieve the stress of eating on the quad that fit six people comfortably. That around the rest of the school,” Romweber makes 276 places to sit at a table for about 900 said. students need to share. According to a poll on InThe biggest concern freshmen express stagram through the Mirador account, 70 percent about creating a “freshmen quad” is poof freshmen do not have a table to sit at. Sophotentially feeling unincluded from activities mores and juniors take the majority of the tables, that happen on the quad. “The only thing forcing the freshman to find another spot. While is just we would kind of miss out whenever there are a handful of benches around school, there is action there,” Crinks said. Frankly, no student wants to balance their lunch on their not much goes on during lunch most days, Photo: Kirstin Parker knees, where they can only talk to the people di- This is just one of many lunch areas around campus where freshmen are except for a few times of month, when rectly on either side of them. By converting the overcrowded and forced to stand; having their own quad would resolve this. Leadership hosts activities for spirit days. unused grass outside the 70’s halls and girls locker A quick walk would easily solve this for any opportunity to have a table. “Unless they bolted down the room into an area for the freshman during lunch, freshman interested in seeing what is hapthey will have a comfortable place to sit and not worry tables, I think they would be taken pretty fast. They would pening. Additionally, the freshmen quad would be located be picked up and brought to the junior or sophomore ar- closer to where they usually have classes and provide space about finding space. “We’ve ordered twenty more of these square tables eas,” freshman Eva Crinks said. To combat this, the new for spikeball games and other pick-up lunchtime sports [standard green tables found around the quad and on the tables must be moved to a different location, only for the with the basketball courts so nearby. This very simple sosenior lawn]. Hopefully that will help ease some of the freshman. lution will accommodate the needs of the freshmen and Instead of going through the effort of bolting down create a more fun, and less stressful school environment. problems that we’re having because everyone has to eat outside this year,” principal Ben Campopiano said. The tables, which admin is working on, putting them in a Having a safe space to roam around for underclassmen tables can take anywhere from one to a couple of months newly designated place would eliminate table movement is a perfect way to solve the table issue. This new environto arrive due to being back ordered. Although it seems like by making it more difficult for older students to move the ment would be perfect for younger students. There must adding more tables to the quad would theoretically work, tables. “I would prefer having a freshmen section for lunch be an additional seating area where freshmen can relax there is already limited space for all grades and, inevitably, over more tables in the quad because eating lunch and and enjoy their lunch to combat the seating problem that the freshmen once again would be squeezed out of the sharing a space with upperclassmen can be very intimidat- is prevalent on campus.
Masks Should Be Required All School Year JACK NIXON The full reopening of the Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) schools is surrounded by controversy after the first two weeks saw a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases within the district, with three in the first week and 15 in the second. The use of masks indoors is a requirement at school, but cases still continue to appear even with the precaution. Although students and faculty are weary of mask-wearing, masks should be required to be worn in class and indoors all year long to slow the spread of COVID-19 cases across the district. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status, on Aug. 5. The continuation of the vital in-person schooling during the pandemic is dependent on the prevention of transmission of COVID-19. The CDC also recommends that all teachers, staff, and eligible students should receive the vaccine as soon as possible; however, some students are not eligible and vaccinations are not required in public schools, making mask requirements that much more necessary. Though students are required to wear masks indoors, masks are not required to be worn outdoors. According to the CDC, “In general, people do not need to wear masks when outdoors.” But the CDC also suggests that students who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask in crowded outdoor areas because schools can’t require proof of vaccinations. With schools not requiring vaccination, and students not knowing who is and isn’t vaccinated, the importance of the proper use of masking in schools increases greatly. Given the 25 positive cases the district has so far, the mask mandate should not be lifted for indoor environments. With cases continuing to appear on campus and in our district, students may be forced to return to online classes if proper precautions for masks are disregarded. “Wearing a mask all day is one of the most important and annoying parts of our school day,” junior Christian Ionascu said. “Allowing us to take it off outside gives us a good break, but wearing a mask throughout the entirety of a block period does get obnoxious. Even though masks
are really annoying, they are important to wear indoors especially with the recent rise in cases in our district. If the risk of COVID-19 contraction goes down completely at any point in this school year, then we will likely not need to wear a mask all the time inside, but I don’t see that happening this year.” Wearing a mask all day is obnoxious for people and most students prefer not to wear them. However, students also generally prefer to be here on campus instead of returning to online classes. In the first returning school year since the pandemic, it is crucial for masks to be worn indoors throughout the entirety of the school year.
Photo: Emma Leibowitz
Many teachers do not enjoy wearing masks all day either but understand the risks and agree to comply. “I think masks should be required for now, but hopefully not all year long. I don’t think anyone likes wearing a mask, but I think we are being responsible citizens, trying to end this pandemic by working together whether it is getting a shot, wearing a mask, or keeping some distance,” Spanish teach-
er Eva Green said. The last time school was held full time on campus wearing a mask would have seemed crazy, but now it is crucial. Keeping the covering over your mouth and nose for an hour and a half during class is something students and teachers are not accustomed to. Typically, people wear masks for short periods of time when going into stores or entering restaurants; however, wearing them for longer periods of time presents a challenge for students and teachers. It is important to follow the masking rules, despite the uncomfortable factors of masks, to protect the health of others and oneself. Campus wide, teachers and students are diligently wering their masks in class. The guidelines are being taken extremely seriously in the return of the new school year, and these practices must continue to maintain a safe learning environment. “If the guideline is to wear a mask all year, then we should; everyone needs to follow the guidelines of what we are told to do. It makes campus safer for everyone. I think a lot of people are happier when people mask up; we’ve got teachers, admin, and students that have to worry about going home. To ensure nothing is passed along, the proper precautions should be taken,” campus supervisor John Fowley said. The use of masks is important in order to stay on campus for this school year. “I think masks should be worn all year, even though they are uncomfortable to wear all day. With the recent risks we have already seen, it is not a good idea to start removing masks yet. I think even if masks were allowed to come off, the majority of people would still wear them because of the recent risks of contraction that we as students have been exposed to,” junior Nasen Alm said. Students, staff, and parents can stay updated on Miramonte COVID-19 statistics in the COVID-19 Information and Resources section of the AUHSD website. The site, updated each week, shows the most recent positive cases were zero cases the first week of September. In order to stop the transmission of COVID-19 within the district, masks must be worn for the entire year. The district should not take any risks with the rising COVID-19 cases at school. Preserving the safety of students and staff through the enforcement of universal masking is vital in order to prevent the return to online school.
09/20/21 OPINION 5
Standardized Tests Promote Student Inequity
Many students cannot access private standardized testing resources, putting them at a disadvantage when taking the SAT and ACT. All American colleges should be test-blind in order to create a level playing field
score for each section on some college applications. Those section scores Every year, millions of prospective are used to calculate a composite college students take the Scholastic score. Aptitude Test (SAT) and the AmeriAccording to Education Week, a can College Test (ACT). These tests student’s score can improve up to 60 are intended to measure a student’s points just by taking a second test. Alpreparedness for college, but only though low-income students can take serve to perpetuate disparities among the SAT twice under the fee waiver, minority and low-income students. To higher-income students can take adcombat the disparities in standardized vantage of super-scoring by taking the testing, some colleges, most recently test as many times as they choose. the University of California system, Furthermore, wealthier students’ have gone test blind, meaning they access to tutors and test preparation won’t consider SAT or ACT scores in courses widen the score gap. The exthe application process. To fully elimiorbitant price-tags and the large time nate these inequities, all American colcommitments of prep courses make leges should become test blind. them inaccessible to low income stuA 2021 study by the Student Aid dents. “I took a course over the sumPolicy Analysis found a positive corremer to get a better score on my SAT. lation between family income and SAT It was for five weeks, five days a week, scores; students from the lowest-infive hours a day, and cost about one come families scored an average of 968 and a half thousand dollars,” a MiraPhoto by Cayde Schmedding points out of the possible 1600 points monte student who wishes to remain Senior Byron Chan sits at his dining room table as he prepares for his upcoming SAT while students from middle-class famanonymous said. ilies scored an average of 1091. In adThe local tutoring company Lafaycants. Students pay $55 to take the SAT and $60 for the dition, according to EducationNC, Black students on ACT. Most low-income students can qualify for a fee ette Academy provides private, one-on-one tutoring average score 104 points fewer than white students. waiver; the SAT’s waiver provides two free tests and the for the SAT for over $2,000. According to the Oxford Wealthy test-takers have a clear advantage over poor- ACT’s provides one free test. Both also provide prepara- Journals, SAT preparation courses and tutors provide er students, while scores also vary by race, making the tion tools for test-takers. To qualify, students must re- students who can invest the required time and money standardized testing system inequitable. ceive aid from the country, state, or local government, up to a 40 point boost in scores. “When reading your application, the reviewers will be enrolled in the National School Lunch Program, or “I think that there’s probably some disparity when it not see your test scores, if provided. Moving forward, be in the foster program. Although giving low-income comes to tutoring, but, in general, the fact that wealthier curriculum quality and performance in courses will re- families a free test is a step in the right direction, lack of students have access to better schools is also an issue,” main the focus of our review,” Alicia Ruff, admissions access to testing and tutoring still disenfranchises low- senior Jonathan Yee said. officer at University of Washington, Seattle said. Uni- income students. Standardized testing is just one microcosm of the versity of Washington, Seattle is test optional for the Affluent students can afford to take a standardized inequality in education affluent students. Standardized 2021-22 year. test as many times as necessary, allowing them to in- tests widen the educational divide between wealthier On the surface, standardized testing seems to cre- flate their scores with the SAT’s and ACT’s super-scor- and lower-income students and thus shouldn’t be conate an equitable experience for test-takers by providing ing systems, allowing students to report their highest sidered by colleges. baseline data for colleges to use when evaluating appli-
Asynchronous Mondays Must Be Reinstated
The district, along with many other school districts across the nation, reopened for in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year. The last time students experienced a full in-person schedule was March 2020, almost a full year and a half ago. When many students returned to school in March 2021 for hybrid learning, they received shorter school days and class periods, and asynchronous learning continued on Mondays. In order to allow students to adjust to the stress of the in-person schedule, the district should reinstate asynchronous Mondays. “I really enjoyed asynchronous Mondays because they gave me more time to get work done. Currently, Mondays for me have been a little hard because we only get five minutes of passing period and I have to carry all of my textbooks. The lunch and brunch schedule is super short and not having a long break is hard because you have to focus all your attention on a class for long periods of time,” sophomore Emilie Tham said. When the hybrid learning schedule was implemented in March 2021, students continued asynchronous Mondays with a brief morning Cohort Academy session. This day gave them time to complete assignments and take a break from the sudden adjustment to in-person school. Students also remained at home every other day depending on their Cohort group, which gave them more time to work on assignments. However, students were only able to get a small taste of an in-person schedule for a mere three months. This is not nearly enough time for students to fully adapt to a completely in-person schedule. “I think the transition to in-person school has a different impact depending on the student. For some, the structure and routine of going to different classes each day is really grounding. For others, being
around so many people is challenging as they navigate in-person school,” Wellness Coordinator Andie Nishimi said. “Mondays should go back to being asynchronous because there’s a lot of lost time that can be more efficiently used elsewhere,” senior Sheng Shu said. “45-minute classes are inefficient because it’s just long enough to merit going to school but just short enough where you don’t actually learn that much in depth. A lot of times, teachers set up the week with an introduction assignment, which I feel like can pretty much be summed up in one post on Canvas.” In addition, the majority of students have never experienced a full year of in-person school at a high school level. The current junior class had their freshman year cut short by the pandemic, the current sophomore class experienced their freshman year mostly online, and the current freshman class has just joined the school after a distance-learning schedule in middle school. Additionally, the current senior class only had one complete in-person year of high school three years ago. Students who have not even experienced a full year of high school should not be expected to easily adapt to the pressures and stress of a fully in-person schedule and deserve asynchronous Mondays to finish assignments on their own time. “I think that the biggest struggle with the return to in-person schooling has definitely been time management, especially returning from the lockdown life. It’s definitely difficult to adjust to balancing my schedule. For instance, it used to be pretty easy to get a head start on an assignment during an asynchronous day, but you can’t really do that when you’re walking to your next class at school,” Shu said. It is imperative that the district recognize the difficulties that students are facing with the reintroduction to a regular, fully in-person schedule and reinstate asynchronous Mondays to help students adjust.
“Why did you like asynchronous Mondays?” “It was a nice day to get work done and prepare for the week.” Adam Brudzinski ‘22
“I could arrange the order in which I did my asynchronous work however fit my day best.” Sameer Paykel ‘22
“I liked having the ability to do work from all classes at whatever time worked best for you.” Wyatt Barnes ‘22
Aubrey Rosso ‘22
Aiden Dhaliwal ‘22
All sourced from @miramontemirador on Instagram.
6 FEATURE 9/20/21
Photo: Raminfard School of Arts
Students Participate in C.C. Search and Rescue
Through hours of volunteering and training with the Contra Costa Search and Rescue team, seniors Frances Pope, Liam Williams, and Isabella Pursiano work towards creating a safer community SAMANTHA SCOTT
or in trainings, we work in small groups, and everyone gets to be in charge of different roles, like navigation, medic, and communications,” Pope said. In addition to Pope and Williams, senior Isabella Pursiano also volunteers as a CoCoSAR Cadet. “I decided to join CoCoSAR because I wanted to be a part of a volunteer organization that made a first-hand impact on our community. The CoCoSAR volunteers are from all different backgrounds, and this diversity allows me to make
Prospective Cadets must complete and submit the CoCoSAR Cadet application, pass a minimum qualification apSmiling faces greet senior Frances Pope as she checks praisal interview, and successfully complete a background in a stream of countless people to receive their COVID-19 evaluation. vaccinations. Once an application is accepted, the applicant must Through Pope’s work as a Contra Costa Sheriff Search complete the Type 3 Academy, which runs for four weeks and Rescue Cadet, she volunteers at one of the Bay Area’s in September. The Academy classes cover a broad range COVID-19 vaccination sites. This volunteer opportunity of skills, including search techniques, lost person behavior, is just one of the many activities her participates in as a navigation, first aid, radio communications, and field team member of the Contra Costa leadership. Completion of the County Sheriff ’s Search and Type 3 Academy is required for Rescue Team (CoCoSAR). CoCoSAR membership. CoCoSAR consists of about “Once they join our team, 225 professionally trained volour student workers learn unteer searchers under the diquickly to work as a team with rection of the Contra Costa many others all from different County Sheriff Emergency backgrounds,” Captain of the Services Division. The Cadets, CoCoSAR Team and Cadet aged 14 to 18, are younger Unit Supervisor Walter Eichmembers of the CoCoSAR inger said. “They learn to comTeam. The Cadets serve just municate clearly, follow safety as the adult team members do, guidelines, and achieve goals acting as skilled search and resthrough hard work. Then indicue volunteers. They are trained vidually, they learn how to take to provide medical and educacare of themselves and survive a tional support for community possible time out in the wilderevents as needed at the request ness without many resources. of the Contra Costa County Lastly and most important of Sheriff. Cadets respond to inciall, they learn the value and dents such as missing persons, reward of community service. wilderness searches, natural and The Cadets on our team have man-made disasters, and crimia long, excellent history of hard nal case evidence searches. work, dedication, and a passion Photo: Isabella Pursiano “I am currently the Cadet Seniors Frances Pope, Isabella Pursiano, and Lila Hill pack and prepare for their training expedition. for community service. This Captain for the CoCoSAR makes it a pleasure to work Team. I help plan events, act with them.” as a mentor for other cadets, present [CoCoSAR’s] ac- all kinds of different connections,” Purisano said. CoCoBeing a member of CoCoSAR allows students to learn tions at overhead meetings, and do normal team actions as SAR’s mission is to provide highly trained search and res- skills and apply them to several real-life scenarios. “My well as participate in searches and medical details,” senior cue resources to the citizens of Contra Costa County and favorite part of Search and Rescue is all of the amazing Liam Williams said. “This year, I will be a coach for the other counties, according to the State of things I have experienced that I upcoming Academy as well as a team proctor. I really enjoy California Office of Emergency Services would not have if I wasn’t on the the team camaraderie and the great people I get to work Mutual Aid Plan. CoCoSAR operates team,” Pope said. While a part of with to help the comprimarily in Contra the program, Cadets participate in I wanted to be a part of a munity.” Academies Costa County but activities such as overnight hiking, are training classes that can be called to ascamping, shelter-building, navivolunteer organization that teach essential skills sist with searches gating, medical training, canine made a first-hand impact on throughout Califorused in CoCoSAR. operations, and more. Williams joined the nia. Filled with anticipation, Wilour community. CoCoSAR Team durTo become a Caliams studies a map at a CoCoing September of his freshman year, det, applicants must SAR mock search event hin Anand he will soon occupy two new roles. As a coach, he will be between the ages of 14 and 18 and tioch. He is actively keeping track mentor other cadets, and as a proctor, he will help teach at least a freshman in high school. They of several CoCoSAR field teams Photo: Mountain Rescue Association search and rescue techniques to new CoCoSAR members. also must be physically fit, have no prior as they complete their assignments “I am a type two search and rescue cadet on the CoCo- felony convictions, and maintain at least while simultaneously relaying imSAR Team, which means that I am a regular member of a 2.0 grade-point average. If they are a licensed driver, they portant information to them. Though stressful, Williams the team with basic first aid certification and second level must also have a good driving record. understands that his work is necessary to ensure the safety search abilities. This means that I can help out with misBefore application, applicants are required to attend an and effectiveness of the field teams. Without his attentivesions in urban and nature areas. When we are on missions orientation, where they will pick up a Cadet application. ness, the volunteer teams would not be nearly as successful.
Photo: Frances Pope
Photo: Isabella Pursiano
Photo: Frances Pope
09/20/21 FEATURE 7
ACIS Offers Alternate Option for Students For students unsure about returning to school due to COVID-19, the Acalanes Center for Independent Study offers an alternate option for students to complete their schoolwork and graduate
that have training sessions during the day or constantly travel, students who Staring mindlessly at her computer work during the week; high school screen, Juliann Hall struggles to pay atgraduates that simultaneously attend tention in class. Her grades are dropping Diablo Valley College (DVC) and rapidly and she’s staying up too late and ACIS. Students who use ACIS may falling asleep in class. What can she do graduate high school early; or just to improve her school experience and want a smaller school setting. ensure that she graduates high school? “I’ve been attending ACIS since juOne solution to this question is the nior year while attending Miramonte at Acalanes Center for Independent Study the same time,” senior Auriana Rager (ACIS), an alternative school option for said. “At first, I chose to go to ACIS bestudents in the district. This resource ofcause some of my credits didn’t transfers a flexible daily schedule that accomfer properly, and I had to retake classes modates student needs, something that that I couldn’t fit in my schedule.” Becannot be met through a regular set high cause Rager initially transferred to Mischool schedule. ramonte from a different high school, “ACIS actually is just like the camthere were issues transferring her credpuses of Miramonte and Campolindo its. “Now I take it because I’m curious with in-person learning. We have some about taking extra classes. I like how AP courses and all the graduation reaccessible it is and how I can learn outPhoto: Annie Spratt on Unsplash quirements we just [have] much smaller side of school efficiently. Taking online class sizes — three to six students at After schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lots of students were forced classes from a free site might not help this time,” ACIS Coordinator Jonathan to complete schoolwork from home through different online learning methods. me learn as much, but ACIS classes are Drury said. all fulfilling and easy to access.” be scheduled during the week to support students. Students attend classes two days a Students who attend ACIS, either “I started attending ACIS during my second semes- full-time or part-time, are allowed to participate on week (either Tuesday and Thursday or Wednesday and Friday), and are on the ACIS campus in Walnut Creek ter of senior year. Up until then, I attended Miramonte school sports teams, attend dances, and join clubs. “Stuon Monday with a bell schedule and 45 minute class High School,” Hall, class of 2021 graduate said. “ACIS dents that are 100 percent virtual are not eligible for athperiods. Students are required to complete five hours of allowed me to meet my academic goals without the letics and dances, as 100 percent virtual students are concourse work per week for each class. Drury is in charge of stresses involved with online school. ACIS made me feel sidered medically fragile due to COVID-19,” Drury said. facilitating the different options and programs that ACIS less stressed about school because everything was on my “At least one in-person class is required to participate in students can choose from. Some of these schooling op- own time. I was less stressed about deadlines and became those activities.” tions include: fully in-person at ACIS, fully online using more motivated to do my work. The staff there was also At her virtual high school graduation ceremony, Hall FuelED (online-based school curriculum where teach- extremely helpful and met with me weekly to check in grins with excitement and relief. Diploma in hand and ers can assign work), or a hybrid of in-person classes at and make sure I was on track with graduation.” a cap on her head, Hall reflects on her journey. Only a Currently, 63 students in the district are enrolled in couple of months prior, Hall worried that she wouldn’t ACIS and online FuelEd courses. Students that are 100% virtual are required to Zoom with their teachers on Mon- ACIS. Of those 63, about 10-15 students switched into graduate from high school. Now, thanks to the Acalanes days to ensure that they are accessing their classes and ACIS due to COVID-related concerns. An extremely Center for Independent Study, Hall is looking forward to answer questions. Additonal one-on-one meetings can wide range of students attend ACIS, including athletes whatever lies ahead in the not-so-distant future.
Students Encounter Early Morning Traffic REAGAN KAELLE
Senior Bridget Meagher sits in her car with seconds ticking away as a tardy looms. Moraga Way is filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic as dozens of students pour into the school’s single entrance. Finally reaching the parking lot 45 minutes after she left her house, awful parking jobs surround her on either side. Struggling to find a spot in the overcrowded J-Lot, she finally reaches her classroom, panting and, unfortunately, tardy. “Traffic in the morning is crazy. I live five minutes from the school without any traffic, but it’s been taking me 20 to get there every morning! Getting out of the lot isn’t much better,” Meagher said. Entering and exiting Miramonte is no easy feat with only one point of entry. Photo: Jack Nixon As a result, there is a natural bottleneck at the junction between Ivy and Moraga Way. Thanks to the sheer volume of cars leaving the four parking lots (the junior lot, senior lot, pool lot, and tennis lot) that all lead to the same exit road, drivers often wait upwards of twenty minutes before finally leaving school grounds. “The traffic lights are too long, and everybody enters and leaves school at the same time apart from Tuesday’s and Thursday’s free seventh period. This year, Bruce Giron and James Lathrop wrote a letter to traffic control and asked them to change the lights, and they changed them to make them quicker. We have noticed a difference; you might not have, but we did. The other problem is the three buses, who are trying to get out as well—nobody gives space to the buses. If we could get the buses out quicker it would be helpful,” campus supervisor, John Fowley said. When traffic gets bad on Moraga Way and tardiness is imminent, students often take “shortcuts.” These “shortcuts” include routes on Ivy Drive, Glorietta Boulevard, Valley View Drive, the McDonnell nursery cut-off, and Rheem Boulevard, among
others. However, students taking the the Ivy Drive shortcut are taking a risk of being pulled over, as it is illegal to turn there between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. In the morning, students must wake up and leave earlier to beat traffic, which prevents them from getting enough sleep. “The traffic getting to school creates a stressful environment for students and parents. It makes students wake up earlier, allowing for less sleep, which is a big priority, and when I’m late I’m worried about what I will miss in class,” junior Ella Robinson said. Teenagers are recommended by the World Health Organization to get eight to ten hours of sleep per night, and an early wake-up could potentially prevent students from receiving their necessary amount of sleep. “Honestly, I thought parking would be worse. I haven’t had any issues finding parking in the mornings, no matter how close I am to the first bell. However, the parking lot is the epitome of chaos when leaving school; nobody lets people go in front of them,” junior Kay Lankford said. In addition to the stress of getting to school on time, even the process of getting out of parking spots can prove troublesome. Reversing out of parking spots frequently results in close calls or collisions due to the mass rush to leave. “The whole parking lot situation is difficult; it’s chaotic when people have to back out of spots while others are in line to get out. Combine that with students still walking around and it’s a complete disaster,” junior Kyle Odmark said. The following day, Meagher leaves her house ten minutes earlier, sacrificing ten precious minutes of sleep in favor of a timely arrival to school. When she hits Moraga Way, the traffic remains bumper-to-bumper at a standstill. She inches her way down the road as the clock ticks down, some cars peeling off at the entrance to Orinda Intermediate School in a last-ditch attempt to cut through the line. When she arrives at the parking lot, a handful of spots are left; hustling to class, she makes it just before the bell, finally.
8 FEATURE 9/20/21
Spirit Returns with 2021-2022 Rally Leaders After over a year without any rallies, seniors Joe Gonzales, Payton Harris, Emma Rohr, and Owen Van Stralen are looking forward to bringing spirit back to Miramonte as the 2021-2022 rally leaders
searching for an additional rally leader this year to join the other three. The rally leader Crowds of students swarm the gym, application for Leadership was due Sept. 7, waiting for the first rally of the year to and Rohr was chosen. With COVID-19 start. The second the big green doors open, constraints and the search for the new rally everyone cheers and piles into their desleader, the first rally isn’t on its way just yet. ignated class sections on the bleachers. Until then, the Leadership class and Conversations buzz as students anticipate rally leaders will be creating as much school witnessing a rally for the first time in over spirit as possible through other methods. a year. The rally leaders take center stage. The rally leaders have already hosted lunchIt’s a new year, with new rally leaders and time spikeball and basketball tournaments new plans. and plan to hold similar events in the upAfter a year of virtual learning, rallies are coming months. “We’ve got big plans for finally returning to Miramonte. Seniors this year and we are super excited to share Joe Gonzales, Payton Harris, and Owen them,” Gonzales said. Van Stralen are this year’s original rally The rally leaders and Leadership class leaders, and recently, senior Emma Rohr hope to get all of their spirit activities back was chosen to join them. As students exto normal as soon as possible. “We really citedly anticipate the first rally of the year, want to give students something to look Photo: Lauren Cunningham all the rally leaders are working hard to forward to,” Harris said. From left to right, three of the rally leaders, Payton Harris, Joe Gonzales, plan a memorable event. In terms of the rallies themselves, the and Owen Van Stralen are looking forward to bringing spirit to campus. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 releaders are putting an emphasis on involvstrictions, the Back-to-School Rally was leader since I was a freshman,” Van Stralen said. ing the student body and staff. This year, canceled and rallies can’t take place inside the gym. Other rally leaders are looking forward to being they hope to boost school spirit and create a fun “We’re trying to keep our plans for the rallies secret a part of the beloved high school tradition. “The ral- environment for everyone after a long year stuck at so everyone can enjoy them as much as possible. Just lies are one of my favorite parts of school! I always home, though they are concealing their elaborate know it’s going to be great,” Van Stralen said. Lead- loved participating in them, and thought, ‘why not plans for upcoming rallies. “It’s time to integrate our ership hopes to hold their first rally in the gym to be a rally leader?’,” Harris said. whole student body more, and what better way to create the most normal experience for students. This Student rally leaders were chosen last school year do that than by having fun and participating all tomeans that the first rally of the year won’t be until the by Leadership and introduced at the Goodbye Rally gether during a rally?” Gonzales said. October Homecoming rally as they await clearance last May. Though they appeared in the final rally last Loud stomping, cheering, and laughing will soon from the administration for gym usage. year, they have yet to host their first rally. Senior Lila fill your ears once again. Side by side with your classEver since Van Stralen started at Miramonte, he Hill was also one of the original rally leaders, but mates and friends, you will watch your very own rally wanted to be a rally leader. “I always thought the ral- class scheduling conflicts caused her to step down leaders create a fun and everlasting high school exlies were super fun and I had considered being a rally from the position and the Rally Commission began perience. The rallies are just around the corner! SOPHIA LUO & DEGEN NALDOZA
Students Welcome New Exchange Student INGABORG FOUTCH & KIRSTIN PARKER
It’s the first day of school, but instead of being with people she has known her entire life, Denisa Dvorakova has her first day of senior year in an entirely new country, surrounded by new faces. Overwhelmed by the unfamiliar salmon walls and cooler-carrying water polo boys, not one student or staff member speaks Dvorakova’s native language. With a copy of the overly confusing block schedule in one hand, Dvorakova heads to her first class, ready to take on her semester here in the United States. Dvorakova is a foreign exchange student from the Czech Republic. “Every year there is a competition in my school, and the winner gets to come to Miramonte for a semester. We write essays [about ourselves and our lives] and have interviews to determine who the winner will be. I had to write an essay about myself, about my goals, about my hobbies, and in general just my life,” Dvorakova said. The second round is the interview; Dvorakova was one of ten students to advance. Two weeks later, she received an email saying she won the spot. Dvorakova won the competition to come to Miramonte last spring, however, her stay had to be postponed due to the coronavirus. “I was so excited from the very beginning. It was really sad when they told me three days before my departure that it wasn’t gonna happen,” Dvorakova said. Despite the delay, Dvorkova still was able to come to Miramonte a year later. Through Skype calls and email, Dvorkova was able to stay in touch with and get to know her host family, the Moshers. “We tried to become a host family last year but COVID got in the way. There is a website and you can sign up there or enter a lottery there,” junior Jon-Marc Mosher said. The Moshers and Dvorkova got to meet for the first time at the airport after nearly a year of communicating virtually.
Dvorakova is very busy with school and making friends, so she doesn’t have much time to feel homesick. However, she does miss some things from back home. “I miss my dog a lot actually. There are some moments that I’m a little bit homesick where I miss my friends or family, but mostly I am so busy here. The program doesn’t give me time to be [homesick],” Dvorakova said. Dvorakova is excited about many different elements of being in the United States, but she is most looking forward to going to Hawaii on vacation. “I’m so excited about Christmas in Hawaii. It’s going to be so cool. I’m also excited for everything like Halloween or Thanksgiving. I’m overall excited for everything to come,” Dvorakova said. With the many extracurricular activity options to choose from at Miramonte, Dvorakova joined the cheer team at the end of July and is now starting to play tennis for Miramonte. She has been cheering as a varsity cheerleader and will be competing with the varsity tennis team. There are some similarities between her school back home and Miramonte, however, she thinks students at Miramonte are much friendlier. “Everyone here is so nice and helpful. It is so much friendlier, and I have loved making new friends,” Dvokakova said. While Miramonte students switch from class Photo: Denisa Dvorakova to class during the day, at Dvokakova’s school back home, the teachers are the ones who rotate for each period. Dvorakova was with the same 30 students the whole day except for her language class. Lunch is about an hour, and students are free to do whatever they please. “I’m so, so grateful for this amazing opportunity,” Dvorakova said. From day trips to San Francisco to learning what “yo mama” jokes are, Dvorakova cherishes her time here and embraces all the learning curves that she has encountered. A few weeks into the school year, the block schedule hand-out is no longer needed. Denisa is speeding through the halls, smiling at familiar faces. Miramonte is starting to feel like home.
9 FEATURE 09/01/21
Changes Occur in School’s Administration
Over the summer, Miramonte’s administrative staff experienced significant changes. The Mirador introduces the new administrators, honors their predecessors, and highlights their respective achievements
ANIA KEENAN & KIRSTIN PARKER
New Principal: Ben Campopiano Previous Principal: Julie Parks Announced as the new principal in July, Ben Campopiano takes on the role as principal. Preceding his transition to Miramonte, Campopiano worked as a social studies teacher, baseball coach and associate principal at his alma mater, Northgate High School. Of the many roles he took on during his decade working at Northgate, his favorite was being a teacher. “I love being an associate principal, but you know it’s hard to beat being a teacher because you have such good relationships with students, you just build such strong relationships with students and see their development and growth throughout the year,” Campopiano said. With a strong interest in sports, Campopiano left Northgate High School and became the Director of Baseball at Santa Clara University for two years. Missing the school environment, however he came back into public education as principal at Photo: Ben Campopiano Pine Hollow Middle School in the Mount Diablo Unified School District, a position he served in for the past three years. Though Campopiano was content working at Pine Hollow, when the job opportunity as principal opened at Miramonte, it was something he couldn’t pass up on. Growing up in the area, Campopiano was already familiar with the school. “If you had asked me six months ago or a year ago, I wasn’t looking around, but when something like Miramonte opens up, it’s something that really intrigued me,” Campopiano said. Previous principal Julie Parks, played an important role in helping Campopiano make a smooth transition in addition to all the staff that has and still is helping him become accustomed to Miramonte. Parks and Campopiano regularly communicate. In the short term, Campopiano plans on aiding students and staff to become more comfortable at Miramonte after switching to being fully in person. In the long term, he strives to support Miramonte athletics and to expand Miramonte’s equity commission and work with the students and staff involved with it.
Marking an end to her seven year career at Miramonte, former principal Julie Parks transitioned in June to her new role as the Superintendent of Moraga Unified School District. Parks began her educational career after the suggestion of a college roommate inspired her to apply for Teach For America. The program sent her to Bronx, NY where she taught middle school science. Parks explained that her experience in the program caused her to diverge from her original career path in applied ecology research. After the program, Parks returned to school and her ecology research, but she says that she was unable to find the same fulfillment in her work as she had in the classroom. “I missed being with kids,” Parks said. After transitioning to teaching, Parks taught in Bay Point, Mount Diablo and San Ramon, where she gathered experience in administrative work. Her work at Bay Point inspired her Photo: The Mirador to pursue administrative roles. “It was really motivating to see what good leadership can do for a school,” Parks said. According to Parks the influence of leadership was one her main takeaways from her time at Miramonte. She said that she was most proud of “how we’ve transformed the culture of our school,” by prioritizing student stress and mental health. She cited the addition of the wellness center and the creation of academy periods as evidence of improvement. But, Parks said there is still work left to do — “We are right on the cusp of something great.” Looking forward to her new position, Parks said that she will be dealing with a greater public leadership role managing three elementary schools and one middle school. The focus of her first 100 days will be connecting with the community as school reopens in-person. She said that she will carry over her priorities from Miramonte to Moraga Unified, with special attention to student mental health and school atmosphere.
New VP: Sukanya Goswami Previous VP: Sara Harris Working in education for nearly 20 years, Sukanya Goswami joins Miramonte as the new associate principal, specifically working with students with last names M-Z. “I am looking forward to getting to know the student, staff, and parent community at Miramonte. I am also looking forward to working and building a stronger community to support our students and staff,” Goswami said. Prior to working at Miramonte, Goswami started her career as an AP English Literature teacher at Newark Memorial High School. After her time in Newark, she was an Associate Principal at a high school in Daly City in California for three years. Goswami spent part of her career living in India, teaching English at a private school. Afterwards, she moved to France and taught English to junior college students for Photo: Sukanya Goswami two years. “I found the students very much aware and curious of the socio-political situation of the world,” Goswami said. Goswami looks forward to being an integral part of the community and showing off her Matador pride. “I envision supporting the community to grow with its strength and develop a school culture based on equity and pride in diversity,” Goswami said. She finds Miramonte students eager to learn and grow and the staff creative and supportive. She had a smooth transition into her new role as vice principal.
Photo: Julie Parks @mats_principal_parks
Sara Harris was the associate principal of Miramonte for three years. She helped with school management and worked directly with students with last names M-Z. This summer, she left Miramonte to work at her alma mater, Las Lomas High School, as its principal, taking on new duties and responsibilities. For over 11 years, Harris has educated students as a teacher, coach, curriculum leader, associate principal, and now a principal. Whether at Miramonte or Las Lomas, she emphasises the importance of core values and strong relationships, which aid in establishing clear goals. She continues to work towards equity, inclusion, and unity amongst all students.
Photo: Julie Parks @mats_principal_parks
10 SPORTS 09/20/21
Sports The Mirador Previews Fall Sports Programs Photo: Andrew Penney
MIKA STRICKLER, TRENT LARSON-DEAK, ALEX FORDYCE, & CHRIS MORRISON
team this year. “I would expect us to have a pretty good season even though we’re a pretty young team. I think us younger guys will have to step up this year since we lost so many seniors. Overall I think we have a good roster and should have a good season,” Kurtz said.
Section] finals!” George said.
Girls water polo:
Photo: Miramonte Boosters Club
Photo: Lauren Cunningham
The Miramonte varsity football team struggled last year after starting quarterback Russell Diep ‘21 was injured in the first game of the season against Berkeley High School, leaving the Mats without a quarterback when backup Luke Duncan ‘23 transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. After the injury, the Mats were forced to play running back Aidan Browne ‘21, who was inaccurate and oftentimes overwhelmed in the incredibly important role. Unfortunately, the Mats went 1-4 on the season, despite significant talent on both sides of the ball. This year, the Mats look to improve with a talented receiver core led by receivers Tyler Dutto ‘22, Adam Brudzinsksi ‘22, and Cooper Bohlig ‘23. Dutto led the team last year with 223 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions and has exceptional route-running and catching abilities. Duncan, who returns with high expectations, has developed tremendously since his departure. In head coach Jack Schram’s pass-heavy offense, expect Duncan to produce excellent passing statistics. On the defensive side of the ball, the Mats will be highlighted by star linebacker and offensive tackle Sam Ross ‘22, who has already received over 10 Division I scholarship offers and is ranked as one of the best linebackers in the Bay Area. Calvin Dakis ‘22 and Dutto will make up a strong secondary that looks to provide cover to the linebacking trio of Ross, Ryan O’Neil ‘22, and Nic Webber ‘22. However, the team will be hindered by their small roster, which only consists of 25 athletes. They face an easier schedule in their first six games, but will end the season with games against Benicia High School, Las Lomas High School, Acalanes High School, and Campolindo High School, which will all be very difficult contests.
The girls volleyball team finished with a 4-4 record last year, held back by limited practices due to COVID-19 restrictions. “We tried really hard last year, but due to COVID it was really hard to practice,” varsity player Nicole Tusynski ‘24 said. Skilled defensive players Jenna Foster ‘21 and Haley Lim ‘21 graduated last year in addition to the team’s primary hitter, Nicole Wagner ‘21. Their positions will be filled by Tuszynski, Charlotte Hawthorn ‘23, and Annika Blas-Cedeno ‘23, who are all defensive specialists and liberos. Additionally, Julia Berg ‘23, a setter, and Lauren Cunninham ‘22, a middle and right side hitter, provide exceptional talent to the squad. The team started strong, winning their first game against the Berean Christian Eagles with a score of 3-0. Despite losing star players and practice time to COVID-19 in the last year, the team is well-equipped and will likely carry the success into this season. “I think we will do better this year with quarantine not being as much of a problem because we can bond more and be friendly, which will strengthen us,” Tuszynski said.
Photo: Carly Hoskins
The girls varsity water polo team is coming off possibly their best season in the program’s history. The Mats went undefeated, broke Acalanes’ 59-game winning streak, and won the Diablo Athletic League (DAL) Championships in the 2020-2021 season. This year the Lady Mats will look to captains Carly Hoskins ‘22, Shannon Murphy ‘22, and Lindsey Lucas ‘22 to lead the team. With Lucas returning in goal this season, the Mats have one of the best defenses in the DAL. She will attend Princeton University next fall and is one of the top high school goalies in the country. Though the Lady Mats have an incredible defense, their offense looks to be exceptional as well. The Mats have a very deep roster, ranging from promising sophomores like Rosalie Hassett ‘24 and Natalie Stryker ‘24 to skilled seniors like Grace Clark ‘22 and Anna Painter ‘22. The Mats also hired a new coach, John Roemer, this year. Roemer has led his club water polo teams to multiple first place finishes at the National Junior Olympics and is excited to help the Lady Mats reach their full potential. The team will have their first game on Wednesday, September 22 against rival Campolindo, the team’s most anticipated competition this season.
BOYS WATER POLO:
Photo: Olivia Rhee
Photo: Luke Lewis
As one of Miramonte’s top sports programs, boys varsity water polo faces high expectations for this season. The Mats finished last season with an impressive 12-3 record but are losing many key contributors, including University of California, Santa Barbara commit Will Coons ‘21, University of California, Davis commit Adam Ting ‘21, and Santa Clara University commit Johnny Shepherd ‘21. Though these grads will be tough to replace, the team has plenty of depth. This year’s squad is headlined by Charlie Engs ‘23 and Grant Kurtz ‘24 on the left and right wings, who will both provide excellent offense for the Mats. Donovan Davidson ‘22 is a strong center while the defense will be led by Henry Engs ‘24 and Will Stryker ‘22. Captains Davidson, Stryker, and Owen Van Stralen ’22 will lead the
The Lady Mats tennis program finished decently last year, ending with a record of 6-3. Though they had a talented team, they were unable to play many games or participate in the state championship due to COVID-19. The team’s lack of veterans coupled with Campolindo’s and Acalanes’ formidable teams indicates that this will most likely be a rebuilding year. Additionally, the team was challenged by the resurfacing of the Miramonte tennis courts, which prevented them from practicing there until Sep. 7. Veteran players include Ellie Foster ‘22, Olivia Rhee ‘22, and Captains Erin Smith ‘22, Laura Boifort ‘22, and Riley George ‘22. Boifort was a surprise star last year and is crucial to the team’s positive atmosphere. There are some exceptional sophomores on the team such as Soleil Skjorshammer ‘24 and Juliette Krumholz ‘24. “I have very high hopes for this season and I hope we can really pull together as a team and get back to the NCS [North Coast
Girls Cross country: After participating in only a single meet for the 2021 season, the girls cross country team faces significant setbacks after the departure of star (and former Mirador Editor-in-chief ) Audrey Allen ‘21, who broke a plethora of Miramonte and North Coast Section (NCS) records en route to the University of California, Los Angeles. Though Allen and fellow graduate Allison Dollard ‘21 left the team, the Lady Mats have a strong senior class to help them recover. Seniors Jamie Say ‘22, Katherine Riley ‘22, Claire Nolet ‘22, and Ania Keenan ‘22 will lead the team into this year’s season. Along with their strong senior class, young stars Jane Speigel ‘25, Zoe Shmitt ‘25, and Eloise Anagnost ‘23 promise to keep the team successful in the future. They spent the preseason preparing for their first meet Sep. 11 at the 2021 Ed Sias Invitational, which resulted in an impressive third place finish. Coach Tristan Tool, who will be returning for his twelfth year at Miramonte, looks to build upon the team’s previous success. With high expectations, the girls varsity cross country team looks to improve upon last year’s performances with a strong season.
Boys cross country: The Miramonte boys cross country team only participated in one meet last year and has a lot to prepare for in the upcoming season. Xander Deanhardt ‘21 and Yoav Kostantino ‘21, two of the team’s top runners, graduated, leaving open varsity slots. Despite these losses, there is great talent on the team, highlighted by Asher Patel ‘24, Roan Kazmierowski ‘22, and Ricky Davis ‘23. Davis was the team’s top runner last year and will look to establish himself as one of the best runners in the DAL. In addition, young stars hope to develop and improve the team’s reputation in the DAL. Sophomores Jason Wagner ‘24, Casey Scheiner ‘24, and Oscar Schlichting ‘24 add great depth to the program. “While it is tough to lose our seniors, we put in the work this summer and are in great shape to dominate this season,” Davis said.
09/20/21 SPORTS 11
Star Asher Patel Slowly Returns to Running After months of recovering from a crushing injury, varsity runner Asher Patel ‘24 is easing his way back into cross country training with hopes of leading his teammates to a succesful season
JASON WAGNER Coming around the last bend of the 1600 meter race, all Asher Patel ‘24 can hear is the wind howling in his ears and his shoes slapping against the rubber track. Patel is determined to finish in the top three in his heat at the highly respected Dublin Distance Fiesta. As he pumps his arms and quickens his stride, Patel pulls ahead of his competitors and crosses the finish line. Patel has earned not just a podium position, but a new personal best. Though he is elated with his performance, Asher feels a striking pain in his legs. “After I pushed in the last meet, I woke up the next day unable to walk and my legs in intense pain,” Patel said. Patel was diagnosed with an extreme case of shin splints in April 2021, a common injury among runners usually the result of repetitive stress to the shin bone. Though his condition is slowly improving, he remains unable to fully participate in training. Patel has focused on recovery for the past five months, exercising cautiously to avoid regressing on his progress. Patel started running in eighth grade at Bentley Middle School after his friend asked him to join the cross country team, but Patel never took practices seriously. When Patel joined Miramonte’s cross country team his freshman year without much interest in the sport, his expectations were low. But he proved to be varsity material after running in a 2021 time trial against his team. Asher went on to set the all-time 1600 meter Miramonte freshman record and is on pace to break the Miramonte record of 4:12. Patel’s early success began after running a February
2-mile time trial where he finished among the top five boys on the team. After training with varsity for one month, he was put to the test in his first 5-kilometer race. Patel finished the race in 18:18, the second-fastest time on the team. Though he had a respectable cross country season, his major success came in track and field. On April 24 at the Dublin Distance Fiesta, Patel became Diablo Athletic League’s top freshman miler with a time of 4:44.06 and the fastest freshman 2-miler with a time of 10:15.92.
“Asher was our top male runner last year. It is a big loss when you lose one of your key guys, especially when he’s your best,” varsity runner Ricky Davis ‘23 said. Patel’s shin splints became evident after the Dublin Distance Fiesta. Despite this, he finished the track season, which severely worsened his injury. In May, Patel took a much-needed break from running. “I took a month and a half off after my injury and took two weeks in crutches to avoid the use of my legs. After I felt alright to run again, I went back in for a week,” Patel said. After a brief return to summer training, Patel’s shin splints returned. This prevented him from participating in the remainder of preseason training. Cross country and track coach Tristan Tool has Patel in a robust recovery and fitness program involving the use of gym machines and biking to ensure he maintains fitness without further straining his shins. Patel recently began running for short amounts of time while he transitions into the regular training program. “I’m fed up with the injury and have been more than ready to get back in. It’s been tough because it seems even with all the Photo: Jason Wagner stretches and physical therapy I’ve done, I still haven’t recovered,” Patel said. “I am confident that he will be able to have a successful season regardless of his current ailment. He will play a pivotal role in the success of the varsity boys team,” Tool said. Sunlight pierces the air and beats down as Patel laces up his shoes for yet another short run around the track. His teammates leave for another run and while their voices fade away, Patel can only think about the excitement he feels to return to normal cross country training.
Fall Season Returns With Fewer Restrictions CHRIS MORRISON & ALEX FORDYCE Jogging toward his spot on the field, Tyler Wright ‘24 hears an unfamiliar noise behind him. For the first time in his high school career, he turns to see the student section erupt with cheers as the football team lines up against Piedmont High School. Along with all other outdoor fall sports, the Mats football team will experience a full season without COVID-19 restrictions for the first time in two years, which will include the North Coast Section (NCS) Championships. Since there are no more outdoor restrictions, all fans can return to sporting events. “Having fans back in the stands will be refreshing because it’s fun to have people cheer you on,” Wright ‘24, a junior varsity wide receiver, said. The fans’ cheers have a more significant impact than most people realize. A study by the Department of Health and Physical Education at the Bloomberg University of Pennsylvania found that verbal encouragement leads to significantly higher maximum effort when compared to minimal to no verbal encouragement. Athletes tend to feel a heightened sense of motivation when they have fans to support them throughout their season. “I would say there is more of a sense of focus this year during practice and people are putting in much more effort during practice. We are ready to come out of the gate hard and look to start the season strong,” varsity running back Bennett Destino ‘23 said. Though all Miramonte sports played a Photo: Nimmer Johl
spring season last year, the schedule was significantly shortened, which prevented most teams from building meaningful chemistry. “Last year we had a really short season with fewer practices and overall less that we were able to do. It really wasn’t much of a season. This year, being able to have normal practices, matches, team bonding, and instruction from our coaches overall makes it so that our team can have more fun and perform better,” varsity tennis player Emma Moltyaner ‘23 said. Strict social distancing guidelines made it Photo: Dan Ting hard for players to get comfortable playing with each other. While all teams are playing a full-length season again, indoor sports such as girls volleyball still face COVID-19 restrictions. “We have to wear masks at practice and games and there’s a limit on spectators, but I’m really excited for this year because our team is really close and we play really well together. I think it’s going to be a really good season and I’m excited to finally be able to be back in the gym with spectators, even if there are restrictions,” varsity girls volleyball captain Casey Roy ‘22 said. Despite these restrictions, athletes have a lot more to look forward to this year. NCS Championships are returning this fall, providing athletes a unique oppurtunity to showcase their athletisism. Many students specifically enjoy NCS games because of the high energy that teams and fans display. Scarred from a depressing season without fans, athletes from every sport are overjoyed they will be participating in a full season, including the oppurtunity to play in league playoffs and NCS Championships.
12 SPORTS 9/20/21
Head Coaches Announce 2021 Fall Captains LAUREN CUNNINGHAM & TRENT LARSON-DEAK
Varsity football coach Jack Schram chose four of his most dedicated and hardworking players to lead his 2021 team. Wide receiver Adam Brudzinski ‘22, linebacker Sam Ross ‘22, lineman James Patrick ‘22, and wide receiver Tyler Dutto ‘22 will captain the Mats this season.
Adam Brudzinski started playing football when he was a freshman and has played all four years for the pro-
gram, with two years on junior varsity and two on varsity. Brudzinski’s favorite moment was winning the Lake Tahoe 7v7 tournament this summer. “I think my coach chose me as captain because I’m vocal on the field, act as a leader, and most importantly, because I’m super lit,” Brudzinski said.
Sam Ross started playing football when he was in eighth grade and has played all four years in the program, with
one year spent on junior varsity and three years on varsity. Ross favorite memories in the program have been the bus rides back to Miramonte after wins. “I am a captain because I put the team first and I work as hard as anyone else on the field,” Ross said.
James Patrick started playing football when he was a freshman and has spent two seasons on junior varsity and is entering his second year on varsity. Patrick’s favorite memory with the Mats has also been the bus rides home after big games. “I think one of the reasons coach Schram picked me as a captain is because I’m one of the most experienced offensive linemen on the team,” Patrick said.
Tyler Dutto started playing football when he was a junior and is the only captain to have not played since fresh-
man year. This season will be Dutto’s second year on varsity. “My teammates fuel off my presence. I played a pretty big role on the team last year and started to develop the skills to be a leader this summer,” Dutto said.
Photo: Trent Larson-Deak
Varsity girls volleyball coach Leslie Ray selected outside hitter Casey Roy ‘22, middle hitter Natalie Kurtz ‘22, and outside hitter Amber Chu ‘23 as captains of the 2021 team. Although this is Roy’s and Kurtz’s first year as captains, Chu has been a captain of the varsity team since her sophomore year.
Casey Roy has been playing volleyball since fifth grade and has spent all four years on the girls varsity team. “Coach Leslie chose me to be a captain because I work hard and always try to bring a positive energy to the team,” Roy said.
Natalie Kurtz has played volleyball since fifth grade and is entering her third year on varsity, spending only her freshman season on junior varsity. “One of my favorite memories of Mats volleyball was when we beat Acalanes last year because they had a great team, but we proved we were up for the challenge,” Kurtz said.
Amber Chu started playing volleyball when she was 11 years old and has been on varsity since her freshman
year. She is the only junior captain this year and will bring her leadership and varsity experience to the Lady Mats in her two final seasons. “Coach Leslie made me captain because she wants me to step up on the court and be a leader for the team,” Chu said.
Photo: Lauren Cunningham
Girls Water Polo:
Although new girls varsity water polo coach John Roemer has taken the head coaching role for the Lady Mats, former Lady Mats coach Lance Morrsion selected attacker Carly Hoskins ‘22, attacker Shannon Murphy ‘22, and goalie Lindsey Lucas ‘22 as the 2021 fall captains.
Carly Hoskins began playing water polo in sixth grade, initially playing for Lamorinda Water Polo Club. She spent two years on the girls junior varsity squad, with this season being her second year on varsity. “My favorite memory is beating Acalanes’ 59 game winning streak this past season,” Hoskins said.
Shannon Murphy started playing water polo in eighth grade and was on junior varsity her freshman year
though she’s played on varsity since. “My coach made me a captain because I am a good role model, inclusive, and hard-working,” Murphy said.
Lindsey Lucas started playing water polo in sixth grade and is committed to play water polo at Princeton Uni-
versity next fall. Lucas was on junior varsity her freshman year but spent the next three years on varsity. “Our team plays a big role in deciding future captains, and I think they thought I be a good captain because I’m a good leader for the team,” Lucas said. Photo: Miramonte Boosters
Lady Mats tennis coach Rikki Sorenson has chosen three of her most hardworking athletes Erin Smith ‘22, Riley George ‘22 and Laura Boifort ‘22 to lead the team this fall.
Riley George began playing tennis when she was two years old because of her grandpa who was a tennis pro
and her father who played tennis and coached tennis at the University of Arizona. George has played all four years on varsity, and her favorite memory was getting the opportunity to play a tournament at Stanford. “I am all in, and this team means the world to me. I hope this year I can be a good role model for all the new girls and be as inspiring as the captains before me,” George said.
Erin Smith has been playing tennis since she was five years old and has played on the Mats varsity team for all
four years. Smith’s favorite moments on the team were when the team went to the state championships her sophomore year and having the opportunity to play with her sister Peyton Smith ‘20. “I think my teammates voted me as captain because I make an effort to engage with everyone on the team and I’m very inclusive. I think the team also recognized my love for tennis and for the team,’’ Smith said.
Laura Boifort has been playing tennis for five years intermittently and has played on the Mats varsity team
since her sophmore year. Boifort’s favorite moment on the team was when they had team bonding at Moraga Commons because she felt a strong connection with all her teammates. “I think I will be a good captain because I want to prioritize team building and creating a strong support framework. I want all of my teammates to feel included and valued,’’ Boifort said.
Photo: Will Stryker
Boys water polo:
Center Donovan Davidson ‘22, goalie Owen Van Stralen ‘22, and attacker Will Stryker ‘22, have been named captains for the boys varsity water polo team. Coach James Lathrop chose three of his hardest working seniors to lead the team in their full season.
Donovan Davidson started playing water polo when he was in fifth grade and has spent one year on junior var-
sity and three years on varsity. James made me captain because I support my teammates no matter what in a positive way and push them hard at practice,” Davidson said.
Owen Van Stralen began playing water polo in fifth grade, and has also played one year on junior varsity and three years on varsity. “My favorite memory from Mats water polo was when we beat San Ramon Valley High School and won the league championships last season.” Van Stralen said.
Will Stryker started playing water polo when he was in fifth grade. As a freshman and sophmore at Acalanes
High School, Styker played varsity water polo. He transferred to Miramonte after his sophomore season and played his first season last year for the Mats on varsity. “I’m a strong leader, I like to lead by example, I’m a very vocal kid, and I like to work hard,” Stryker said.
Photo: Will Stryker
09/20/21 ENTERTAINMENT 13
Photo: Yoksel Zok on Unsplash
Grades Don’t Define You, But Classes Do CARLY HOSKINS
If you take Geology, you might actually be interested in the geology of Earth. Chances are, though, you are a senior with a bad case of senioritis who needed another class to fill your schedule. You chose the class because it isn’t an Advanced Placement (AP) course and because you thought it wouldn’t take a lot of time or work. “I have definitely heard various stereotypes about my classes, such as Geology, being ‘Rocks for Jocks’ and APES being known as the ‘easy’ AP science, but I just love them both and think that they should be stereotyped as the most awesome and important classes on campus!” Geology and AP Environmental Science teacher Jyllian Smith said.
Physical Education (P.E.) P.E. is either the worst or best part of every freshman’s year. The entire experience depends on whether you have friends in your class. If you do, the class is the best part of your day because you can spend the hour and a half hanging out with your friends. If you don’t have any friends in the class, you spend the period thinking about the other things you could be doing rather than running back and forth at the sound of a bell. If you are a senior in the class, you probably didn’t get your Athletic Physical Education papers cleared, probably because you are bad at turning papers in on time.
If you take AP Environmental Science (APES), you might’ve heard it was an easy AP but probably were not too pleased when your teacher handed you two ten-page packets on your second day of class. If you take the class because you are actually interested in the environment, you probably are part of the Bring Change 2 Mind Club, and your recycling game is off the charts.
AP European History There are two different types of students in AP Euro. The first kind are the fiercely competitive students who have basically memorized the entire textbook and can raise their hands faster than the teacher can ask a question. The rest of the students get through the class through pure luck and by having an insane knack for improvising. No matter which type of student you are, your main source of stress is the thought of having a pop quiz, and you will end the year with back pains from lugging around the textbook all day. “Everyone in the class partakes in pre-class huddles, where everybody is yelling out the main ideas of the reading from the night before, trying to prepare for a possible pop quiz,” former AP Euro student and senior Jack Brun said.
Crafts If you take Crafts, you either need to get your Visual Performing Arts (VPA) credit done or you want to be in a fun class with your friends. You started Crafts thinking you wouldn’t have any homework, but you could very possibly end up with a B because you can’t make a ring to save your life. “Students come into my class thinking it will be an easy ‘A,’ but then find out they actually have to make things. However, they end up learning a lot and having fun at the same time,” Crafts teacher Gavin Kermode said.
AP Calculus If you are taking AP Calculus AB as an underclassman, you are most likely a math wizard who puts your upperclassmen peers to shame. Your parents probably made you take math online or walk to Miramonte as an eighth grader to take Geometry Advanced, and you’ve probably been going to Kumon from a young age.
Laws of the Senior Lawn: An Overdue Guide CAYDE SCHMEDDING in even the most exhausted senior. For maximum efThe Senior Lawn is, was, ficiency in this continuous and always will be a heavenly cycle, seniors always require sanctuary for seniors that has completely exclusive access existed since the dawn of time, to the holy lawn’s restora haven from the phantoms ative properties, far from of encroaching tests and the reach of any underclassgrueling, dreadful homework. men. The verdant, green grasses and One of the greatest and tall, proud redwoods replicate most important tenets of the Garden of Eden: a place the Senior Lawn is this: of youthful innocence and its tables aren’t meant to elated joy. The tables sit in leave the sacred evergreen close proximity promoting lawn. The tables are speand encouraging diplomacy cifically designated to serve and discourse, destroying the all seniors, and only setriviality of cliques. To seniors, niors. Although any Civil the lawn’s beauty is obvious, War on the Senior Lawn but other students may fail is permitted to result in to comprehend its sheer the movement of tables unfathomable majesty: so for within its established borfreshmen, sophomores, and ders—and poaching tables juniors, this is everything you from the lower grades’ secneed to know about the senior tions is completely legal—, lawn. the frighteningly fearsome “Beforehand, I hadn’t Curse of the Senior Lawn thought the Senior Lawn will haunt any underclasswould be that great, but after man that is foolishly brave being a senior for many weeks enough to move a table now, I can say that it’s lived up from its home. “After school to every expectation,” senior one day, in great foolishness, Photo: Reagan Kaelle Julia Park said. I decided to move a table Ralph Waldo Emerson, a Underclassmen, envious of the lush grass, attempt to sneak onto the coveted oasis of the Senior Lawn. to the quad for me and my famous Amerian philosopher friends. As I touched the active in the transcendalist era, table, a chill ran up my spine. The next morning, far before anyone else showed up, I After school one day, in arrived early to move it back to the Senior Lawn, but it had already moved.” freshman famously said, “life is a journey, great foolishness, I decided Ren Acalanpiano said not a destination,” and this rings especially true with the gorgeous Here are some quick and important guidelines for approaching the Senior Lawn as to move a table to the quad Senior Lawn. After years of horan underclassman. Underclassmen may dwell in the road between the Senior Lawn and for me and my friends. As I quad. It’s as the old senior saying goes: “If you’re not on the grass, I’ll give you a pass.” rible strife, harrowing hardship, and terrible suffering during the touched the table, a chill ran The only way to gain permitted access to the Senior Lawn is by a slip of admission from Great Table Wars that continue a senior, most often reserved for siblings or close friends, or by visiting after school, but up my spine." to plague underclassmen year afbe careful of any seniors lurking among the trees awaiting any incoming underclassmen ter year, the seniors need a place to lay their weary legs. Freshmen and sophomores still who are none the wiser. regard school with a tentative optimism, not yet jaded enough to understand the cruel, If you are brave enough to trespass on the sacred Senior Lawn and break its ancient cold reality of lunch table life at Miramonte. Underclassmen approach school with a codes of conduct, beware that the punishment of being caught unlawfully on the Lawn gradually depleted energy that is almost completely eradicated by the end of junior and violating the hierarchy is something so terrible and appalling, it can’t even be year, but the Senior Lawn’s caring, motherly aid revives excitement and enthusiasm written in this newspaper.
14 ENTERTAINMENT 09/20/21
Students Share Thoughts on In-Person Learning
As the school year returns to in-person instruction, students are returning to Miramonte traditions and former routines. The Mirador asked students what they missed the most about in-person learning PAIGE MAYS
“The aspects of inperson learning that I missed the most were getting to see my friends during lunch and actually interacting with teachers.” Thomas Quinnild, ‘22
“Now that we are back in-person, I missed seeing my friends and acquaintances who I saw every day. I think being back in person is nice and much better than hybrid learning.” Ryan Kaelle, ‘23
“I think what I missed most about in-person learning is the classroom setting because I find it much easier to pay attention with a teacher who’s physically in-person.” Giri Mase, ‘22 “I miss sleeping in and wearing pajamas all day, but I like being back in-person because I love the interaction!” Hanna Nguyen, ‘23
“I mostly missed the social parts of school, like seeing people I don’t usually hang out with, and the school events. I’m really excited to be back because of those social aspects and being able to have real discussions face to face.” Anji Bhattal, ’22
“Now that we are back in-person, I definitely miss the flexibility of remote learning and being able to work wherever I wanted. Although remote learning allowed a lot of flexibility, I definitely like being back in school better.”
Mira Haldar, ‘24
“I missed seeing all my friends and people I wasn’t able to see during online school. It’s really nice to see everyone in class. I feel great to be going to class and interacting with others in a way I couldn’t during distance learning.” Graham Ballantyne, ‘23
“Now that we are back in-person, I definitely miss being in my bed between classes, but I think seeing all my friends is really nice.” Heidi Sun, ‘24
“Since I’m a sophomore, this is my first time ever really being in-person in high school, so it’s more like what I never had rather than missed—but if we’re talking school in general, it’s definitely the socialization between people. I feel pretty good about being back in-person; it’s nice to finally see people again and get an actual school experience.” Asher Patel, ‘24 “I think that I missed the people the most. The people are what makes school fun, and when you can only see less than half of them, school just becomes a chore, and the excitement is taken out of it. I’m excited to be back in-person. Although it means that the work is coming back, it feels great to finally see and talk with everyone again.” James MacKenzie, ‘24
“Now that we’re back in-person, I realize that I missed being in the classroom and doing collaborative work with students around me instead of in breakout rooms. I’m happy that we’re back in-person since this is my last year of high school, and I really wanted to have the full senior year experience in-person.” Camille Rubin, ‘22
Sweeney Rejects the iPhone for a Flip Phone TARYN PEARCE Students walk the halls, eyes glued to their iPhones. In the 16 years since the first iPhone came out, it’s become increasingly rare to see anyone without one almost cemented to their hands. iPhones allow people to have everything they could ever need at their fingertips. History teacher Matt Sweeney thinks otherwise. He purchased an iPhone in 2013 for about 24 hours, but quickly realized his grave error and promptly returned it. Though Sweeney does not have an iPhone, he does operate a flip phone, which only allows him to reach people when necessary. “It just kind of seems unnecessary [to have an iPhone], but I can also see how it can be really cool. Like you can have a world of information at your fingertips, but it also seems toxic and addicting,” Sweeney said. Although Sweeney chooses not to have an iPhone, he does acknowledge that having one would make things convenient. There have only been two instances in his whole life when he wished he had an iPhone, with the first occurring when Sweeney was lost in the backwoods of South Carolina. “I had to pull over to a gas station with a map on my car trying to find the main highway,” Sweeney said. Another instance was when he was trapped in Nebraska. “One time I was stuck in
Omaha and this crazy summer thunderstorm came in and completely wiped out the internet. I hadn’t booked anywhere to stay, so I had to call somebody to help me book a hotel,” Sweeney said. He’s had to adapt to living without the comforts that most people take for granted, and live off the grid. While he teaches, Sweeney often asks students to put away their phones. Sweeney believes that the absence of phones allows for a better learning environment. “I think they are distracting. It’s kind of tough right now because we are back in school and it’s great to have everybody back on campus. But y’all have been on your devices for a year and a half, so I think it’s important to have human interaction,” Sweeney said. Students have mixed feelings about not being able to use their phones in Sweeney’s classes. Not all students appreciate the break from technology, but many agree that phones restrict their learning. However, in terms of not having an iPhone at all, students don’t think they would be able to last without one. “I couldn’t live without a phone because I don’t just use it for social media. I use it to stay in contact with my parents and take photos to have as memories,” junior Ella Robinson said. Though the prospect of living without an iPhone may seem impossible to some, Sweeney has been thriving without one for years.
Photo: Taryn Pearce
09/20/21 ENTERTAINMENT 15
Rating The Mirador’s Favorite Starbucks Orders To keep up with the unending responsibilities of producing The Mirador, the Editorial Board has one source of fuel: Starbucks. Join Entertainment Editor Sophia Acevedo as she rates the board’s orders
Emma Leibowitz - Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew 6.5/10 As much as I wanted to like this drink, I didn’t. No wonder Editor-in-Chief (EIC) Emma Leibowitz is constantly wired and mass-editing articles in between classes—this drink is pure coffee. However, the sweet cream on top of this order masked the coffee’s bitter and mediocre taste, so points for that addition. Honestly, it wasn’t revolting. I would recommend it if you want the caffeine supplement, but definitely get the cream on top.
tion. This tea embodies a summer aesthetic, but its overwhelmingly sweet taste was a bit much. Despite the sugar overload, I enjoyed the refreshment. If I ever order refreshers or tea, I usually go for the Pink Drink (I know, I basically am the stereotype at this point); however, this order may be my new backup. If you like fruity teas then this could be a good option for you, but it has no caffeine. So, point deduction. Sorry Rhee, some of us live off of that stuff.
Sam Scott - Iced Matcha Latte 7.5/10 As News Editor Samantha Scott passed around her Iced Matcha Latte, each of its victims gagged in disgust. When the green latte made its rounds to me, I was pleasantly surprised. While some may detest its unique flavor, I enjoyed its sweet, light notes. To be honest, I’m no stranger to the Iced Matcha Latte. In my junior year, I spent my life savings on a never-ending supply, and that single sip of Scott’s drink almost made me relapse. Despite the flood of PTSD, I didn’t find it as good as Scott, and my junior-year-self, had hyped up. Nevertheless, I would recommend it if you’re looking for something unique since the drink is matcha-based, rather than coffeebased, but still has a considerable amount of caffeine.
voring. Using oat milk instead of regular milk in any Starbucks drink is bound to be life changing. Overall, this drink just outranks the others, which isn’t saying much (these editors really need to up their Starbucks game). I definitely recommend this drink for anyone looking for something simple yet satisfying.
Henry Hill - Iced Chai Latte 8/10 EIC Henry Hill really channeled his inner white girl with this one. But I can’t blame him. The Iced Chai Latte is a classic with sweet notes of gingerbread and cinnamon. However, it doesn’t have as much caffeine as I had hoped. Plus, the Starbucks baristas were incredibly stingy and filled up my cup with what seemed like 97 percent ice and only three percent Chai Latte, so I was already in a bad mood. This was inhumane but also not Starbucks’ first offense. My pro-tip is to always ask for light ice with your orders, or you’ll end up buying six dollars worth of ice and a splash of espresso.
Jonathan Pham - Nitro Cold Brew 3/10
Photo: Sophia Acevado
Olivia Rhee - Mango Dragon Fruit Tea 7/10
Paige Mays - Iced Vanilla Latte with Oat Milk 9/10
After tasting this drink, it’s safe to say that Feature Editor Olivia Rhee is still mentally on summer vaca-
As basic as it may seem, this drink outdid itself. It had the perfect balance of sweetness and coffee fla-
I hate the taste of coffee, so this was brutal. One might ask why I’m doing a coffee review with this dislike, and for that I have no reasonable answer. But, a single sip of this monstrosity had me up until three a.m. The things I do for The Mirador. No wonder Online EIC Jonathan Pham’s melatonin gummies no longer work; this beast of a drink is counteracting the effects. I mean, if you’re looking for a quick caffeine fix, this drink may be the answer to your prayers...or a death wish. This drink will take over your entire body, sending you into convulsions until the caffeine wears off. After suffering through a grande, I had to give this one a lower rating, but avid coffee drinkers may have a different outlook.
JONATHAN’S STOCK TALK: School Year Steals JONATHAN PHAM
Shopify (SHOP)These days, when entrepreneurs are looking to start an online business, Shopify is the first company they turn to. Shopify is an e-commerce platform that allows merchants to design their websites and cover all of their back-end needs such as payments and shipping. Shopify builds the infrastructure that allows smaller businesses to establish their bases online. As online shopping grows, Shopify’s customer base of 1.7 million merchants will also grow.
In the coming years, the most valuable industries will most definitely be located in the digital space. Whether it be digital transactions, cloud computing, cyber security, or digital retail, these markets are set for dramatic growth due to the burgeoning importance of the online world. Here are some stocks worth looking into. Square (SQ)Square is a digital transactions and commerce ecosystem company. With their Square Reader and Square Stand, Square products allow merchants to accept credit and debit card payments using their mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones since 2009. In addition, the company owns CashApp and more recently acquired AfterPay in a $29 billion deal. CashApp offers person-to-person instant transactions which people can do through their app, available on both phones and computers. AfterPay, another digital transactions platform, integrates beautifully with CashApp as it allows its users to purchase products immediately and pay for them later in four interest-free installments. If Square works toward allowing its users to take out bigger loans and store larger sums of money, the company would be put in a position to possibly overtake traditional banking. Picture this: loans, instant transfers, and banking all centralized in one app and stored in your pocket. Who would need banks’ slow direct deposits? Although this stock has had a bit of a rough ride, The Mirador business advisors are bullish on this stock and recommend it as a strong hold.
Photo: Emma Leibowitz
Palantir (PLTR)Palantir specializes in deep data analytics. In the past, the company’s services helped track down Osama Bin Laden. Now, the company aids in tracing COVID-19 cases and predicting outbreaks in pandemic hot spots. Palantir offers three main products: Gotham, Metropolis, and Foundry. Gotham is a service used by the United States Intelligence Community and the Department of Defense for counterterrorism purposes. Hedge Funds, banks, and financial services utilize Metropolis to help with trading and spotting patterns in the market. Foundry works with commercial clients such as Airbus and offers everything from data integration to artificial intelligence and machine learning. Though the prospect of our data being meticulously gathered and analyzed is definitely not comfortable, the decision-making is not in our hands. Corporate America and the government’s trend of further expanding surveillance over its consumers and citizens will further push Palantir into a position of high demand—so why not capitalize on it?
16 ENTERTAINMENT 09/20/21
A List of Essentials to Pack for the School Year
As the school year kicks off and students are back on campus, there are many necessities that people might have forgotten while they were at home. The Mirador’s got your back with a list of all the things you need for school SOPHIA LUO & KIRSTEN PARKER With students returning back to in-person learning this year, school shopping can feel more overwhelming than ever. The list of supplies only increases as masks and hand sanitizer became essentials. But there’s no need to worry! The Mirador is here to make sure you are up to date on all the back to school essentials.
Throughout the school day, you probably get thirsty during class or breaks. You should always make sure you’re hydrated enough and consume water whenever possible. Many students use water bottles from the popular brand Hydroflask, but why ride the bandwagon when you can become a trend-starter? Gatorade provides 5-gallon water coolers that can ensure your hydration for an entire week. Water polo players have the added benefit of these Gatorade jugs perfectly complementing their lunch coolers, so they’re always prepared for a week-long trek into the wilderness of Orinda.
personalize it and make everyone else say, “Wow, you’re so cool and quirky!”
If you’re hauling your textbooks between home and school every day, you’re bound to injure your back with a typical backpack. Go for something less straining on your body, like a bag on wheels! But we aren’t referring to rolly backpacks—we’re talking about something even better. Bring a suitcase to school that will hold all of your necessary items! When running across campus, you can enjoy the sound of the wheels clicking over every crack in the walkway and hitting people as you charge past. Especially for ambitious students, utilizing a suitcase at school is the perfect way to cart all your belongings around and solidify your status as a true academic.
When walking around campus, you need to make sure you’re treading across the quad in style. We strongly recommend investing in a pair of comfortable, stylish, and trendy shoes: Crocs. The classic Croc features 24 colors, with other patterns available as well. They’re even customizable with Jibbitz charms that can take your footwear to the next level. You can sprint to your classes using sport mode during the 10-minute passing periods and switch to relaxed mode when it’s time to learn. You can take on mud, rain, and much, much more with this single pair of jealousy-inducing shoes. With Crocs, you are the Jeep Wrangler.
Photo: Casey Roy
Photo: Roan Kazmierowski
HAZMAT SUITS Photo: Lauren Cunningham
As students return to the classroom, there’s one crucial school supply that many surprisingly seem to forget about: pencils! Though classic #2’s or the 12 pack of colorful mechanical pencils are both great options, you should select a pencil that’s less likely to get lost. At 14 inches, the giant pencil is exactly what you need. It’ll never run out of lead and it’s impossible to lose. Decorate it with stickers to
Despite being in a global pandemic, 1,200 students and additional faculty members are all present on campus each week. Though masks and hand sanitizer are helpful ways to protect your health, you should go a step further. For only $12.99 on Amazon, hazmat suits are the key solution for your safety from COVID-19. Coming in multiple colors, you can protect yourself and look great at the same time. Dying to take up beekeeping or toxic waste disposal? Hazmat suits are great for that, too! Become weather and world-proof with this iconic onesie.
All jokes aside, The Mirador has partnered with Staples to make sure all Miramonte students have every back-toschool essential they may need. Anyone with an Acalanes Union High School District email is eligible to get any items under $20 for FREE. Use code “MIRADOR” when checking out. Scan the QR code below to start shopping!
Video Game Etiquette: An Insiders View CHRIS MORRISON
League of Legends: Don’t play it.
To start, any NBA 2K player should switch the camera settings to “Drive” or “2K” immediately after entering their first game. Especially in the park, the standard sideways angle is really awkward and doesn’t work with 2K like it does in FIFA. Off-ball defense is also offlimits because it doesn’t require any effort. Also, when you’re the Golden State Warriors or the Brooklyn Nets, shooting 3’s throughout the entire game is incredibly uncool.
The most well-known Madden etiquette is to punt the ball or kick a field goal instead of going for it on a fourth down. However, most players don’t follow that rule and common courtesy becomes pretty disregarded. Going for two points after a touchdown, especially a fake field goal, is extremely disrespectful to the opponent. Playing as Michael Vick or Lamar Jackson and running a option throughout the entire game is also annoying for everyone else.
Photo: Sean Stone on Unsplash
While French club Paris Saint-Germain is always an unfair team, the addition of legendary soccer player Lionel Messi has essentially made their team a cheat code in the upcoming FIFA 22. The combination of global superstars Neymar, Messi, Mbappé, Di Maria, Sergio Ramos, Wijnaldum, and Donnaruma is unfair on all fronts. Anybody playing as PSG should switch to a completely different game because they definitely aren’t a soccer player and have no regard for the wellbeing of your opponent. However, it’s possibly acceptable as long as the opponent is using Manchester United. Sweaty goals are acceptable in extremely competitive situations, but while playing a casual game against a friend, the only respectable goals are long shots, volleys/headers, and skill goals.
If you’re gonna spam “What a save!”, you have to be winning by at least three goals. I don’t make these rules, but the opponent will immediately come back and win the game if you’re not sure you have it in the bag. Rule One is also extremely important, so don’t ever disobey it, no matter what happens. For anybody that doesn’t play the game, Rule One is when the cars bump into each other and get stuck, meaning they can’t move forward. Breaking Rule One means switching into reverse and backing out of the standstill.
The annoying heroes have changed a lot throughout updates since Overwatch first came out in 2016, but Bastion and Mei have been absolutely horrendous to play during the game’s entire existence. Sombra and Doomfist also became two of the most hated characters in the game as soon as they were released. Don’t play as them. Photo: Denise Jans on Unsplash