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The Beacon December 2020







Rerouting Your Academic Path What steps to take after being rejected from undergraduate university Text by Katie Shannon


eing rejected from college can be one of the hardest-hitting defeats known to man. Well, not necessarily to man. But definitely to high

sweatshirts and t-shirts, Gore was left out of the celebration. “I felt really lousy about myself, and my self confidence took a big hit,” she said. “It was disheartening to see everyone get into their undergrad schools while I didn’t.”

school seniors. The reality these days is that university admissions is extremely competitive. As students in the class of 2021 begin to receive responses from colleges, they should remember that rejection is an increasingly common experience. According to InGenius Prep’s college acceptance rates chart, Yale University, one of the eight universities in the Ivy League collegiate athletic conference, has an acceptance rate of 4.5%. This means that if a student applies to Yale, they will be competing with roughly 35,305 other applications -the recorded number the university received in January of 2019. Other schools in the Ivy League, UC and private college categories have Courtesy of Riley Gore released similar acceptance data. College rejections can tug at a student’s strings of emotion even harder than other rejections they may receive in life. Riley Gore, who graduated from Newport Harbor in 2018, still remembers the feeling when she was turned down by all the universities she applied to. “It was pretty upsetting to not be accepted anywhere because I figured that my hard work would pay off,” Gore said. She hadn’t expected such a result when she sent out Receiving a few rejections her applications. As her classmates never means the end of the educational boastfully walked around campus journey, however. Though it may feel wearing their new university like defeat, students like Gore find a

“Rejection reflects determination in how bad you want to acheive a certain goal.” - Alumna Riley Gore



way to acknowledge the reality of the situation and find other paths forward. One of the best options is community college. For Gore, that meant attending Orange Coast College. This change in plans can be an adjustment for students who had aspirations to attend a four-year university right after high school. Gore attributes this to the way people talk about community college. “There is a stigma against it,” she said, “where if you attended, then you were looked down upon.” Gore soon found, though, that she was able to create her own experience at the campus by making new relationships, taking challenging courses and joining clubs. “I met some of my best friends at OCC,” she said. “After joining several clubs, my thoughts and opinions on OCC completely took a 360.” Community colleges can also help students transfer to top universities that they aspired to go to beforehand. OCC holds the record for being the “#1 transfer college in Orange County,” with 945 students transferring to Cal State universities and 419 students to UC schools in the 2019-2020 school year. Gore never lost sight of her original goal of transferring to a fouryear university. At the end of her time at OCC, she learned that she was accepted to the University of Southern California. “I cried when I got accepted,” she said. “I finally felt my hard work paid off.”

Share the Love

Despite the pandemic, there are many ways to help out this holiday season Text by Lily Anderson, Photos by Sam Sick, and Artwork by Taylor Chapman


t the end of every year, we spend the last few months celebrating. Many homes are busy with Christmas, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving festivities, as people focus on the time they have with friends and family. Still, there are plenty in our community who go without and spend it alone. Fortunately, there are many ways to spread the love to them as well. With all the holidays and traditions also come the cost of presents, food and all the other basic necessities. For this reason, it proves to be one of the most financially stressful times for many people. As a result, many children go without gifts because their parents struggle to give them something special to open. Luckily, in our community there are plenty of opportunities to help and be helped. For example, donating to charities like the Salvation Army or Toys for Tots helps bring kids hope and gives them something to look forward to on Hanukkah or Christmas. One option to give back to the people who serve our country is to take care of the people they love. Many families have members stationed in the military over the holidays, so a way to make sure they get to have a festive Christmas is to donate to Trees for Troops. The program buys and distributes trees for the families of military members. With soldiers typically living on a tight budget,

these families can struggle to put on a celebration. Getting involved in programs, like Soldiers Angels, to adopt a military family by giving donations will provide them with meals, gifts or everyday necessities like gas. These acts of generosity could transform their holiday experience. Another way to care for your community is to give the gift of being with them and volunteering. Although this is harder to do during COVID-19, many soup kitchens and shelters still need people to serve food and help clean up. Volunteering at these locations helps to ensure everyone has some company and a hot meal. Someone Cares Soup Kitchen is a local volunteer and donation-based organization that provides meals twice a day, every day. They use these donations to keep their community full and can feed someone for just over a dollar. It’s also helpful to donate to the annual toy drive they hold, so that they can continue to hand out nearly one thousand presents to lessfortunate kids in their yearly holiday celebration, complete with a Santa. Many individuals also don’t have families or anyone to make them feel special. Some of them live alone in retirement homes or in hospital rooms and are not able to experience the fun they deserve. They often spend the holidays alone. For them, even little acts like writing a letter could be heartwarming. This year, because of restrictions and not wanting to put the more vulnerable at risk, it’s best to email

cards and letters to retirement homes or hospital patients. Organizations such as Love For Our Elders, Be a Santa to a Senior and Cards For Hospitalized Kids make it possible to do so through their websites. Unfortunately, no one can go and visit or bring cookies this year because these individuals are especially susceptible to coronavirus, but in the future, having someone to be with can brighten their day. Countless people who could use a little extra support and help are closer than they seem. Look to the people around you, your neighbors, friends and even family members. We tend to overlook them when we think of those in need. With a tumultuous year creating challenges in everyone’s lives, those who are close can be dealing with mental illness or hard times. So reaching out to make sure they aren’t alone can make a big difference. Just calling them or, if it’s appropriate, cooking them a holiday meal lets them know they are cared for. Although this winter poses unique challenges, everyone has something they can use to support our community, whether it’s donating money and resources or simply providing a little company. Being generous with time and effort is the most impactful way to change someone’s holiday season for the better. For extra help, check out our resource page, located at nhhsbeacon. org under the “About” section.



NEWS Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County Inc.

Thomas House Temporary Shelter

Lighthouse C.M. Church of Nazarene


The religious shif t in gen z As fewer teens identify with religious institutions, they take on more personal relationships with spirituality Text, Artwork and Photos by Anastasia Everding and Mathilde Requier



eligion and spirituality have their own unique forms of expression. They provide a foundation of belief for people to prosper in their lives. Some religions have a set of rules and traditions to observe, whereas others can have more flexible structures. Certain religions, such as Catholicism, are centered around an institution, while others, such as Buddhism, place more emphasis on individual lifestyle and practice. According to Dr. Joseph McKenna, a professor of religious studies at the University of California at Irvine, “Religion is an academe notoriously hard to define... It has to do with a supernatural agency and an invisible world.” For senior Annie Somers, president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Newport Harbor High School, her Protestant faith helps her have a purpose in life that benefits herself and others around her. Though raised in a Christian family, Somers learned later in elementary school that her faith was her choice; she decided to continue her faith in Christianity because of her belief in God. “In the Bible, the two main commandments are loving God and loving people, and those things have given me much purpose in my life and helped me in being a good steward on this Earth,” Somers said. “I want to be kind and spread love to other people.” Her religious community has allowed her and her family to go to Tachate, Mexico, once a year to volunteer.

Downward Trend in Religion

According to a 2020 survey of 168 students at Newport Harbor High School, about 58 percent of students identified as religiously devout and 31 percent of students identify themselves as religiously unaffiliated. This current trend is seen in other polling forums as well, where overall religious affiliation is decreasing. According to a Pew Research Center survey in 2018 and 2019, “The religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic, or ‘nothing in particular,’ now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.” This trend can be connected to a variety of reasons. “Personally, I feel there are a lot more atheists in modern generations because a lot of religions are very harsh against differences, like the LGBTQ+ community or like mental health, and they deny that those things exist and they don’t accept them,” said senior Luisaelena Manriquez. “That is very unappealing for modern generations where [differences] are being more accepted in public and society. For people of those communities, a lot of religions, but not all of them, are not appealing.” Like Manriquez explains, Generation Z may be turning away from religion due to its greater acceptance of more socially liberal ideas. Generation

Z, which includes people born between rough 1997 and 2012, appears more accepting of others’ identities that may not follow traditional social norms, as many feel more comfortable expressing themselves. In addition, Generation Z’s religious status is rather dependent on their parents. According to the Pew Research Center, “approximately half of teens (48 percent) say they have ‘all the same’ religious beliefs as their parent.” This relationship may provide another explanation for the lower levels of religious affiliation among Generation Z: their parents come from a less religious generation than the one before it. According to Deseret News, Daniel Cox, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, says that “millennials were raised in less religious households, reported lower levels of religious engagement during their formative years and came into adulthood with less interest in joining and participating in religious communities.” “I had friends [that were] Atheist and Jewish, and it was actually very interesting because we would sit

Harbor students identify as:

down and talk about how our religions would differ, and it was actually very surprising to me to see why some of my friends were Atheist, and why they didn’t believe in any religion. It was partially because they’ve just never experienced church, they’ve never had the opportunity to go to Church, and their families didn’t like the churches they were going to and would stop going to church when they were really young,” says sophomore Logan Foell.

The Religiously Unaffiliated or Nones

In response to these factors, religious affiliation has lowered, as explained, which in turn has led to an increase in individuals who label themselves as Nones. Coined by sociologist Glenn N. Vernon in 1968, and shortened from “none of the above,” the term refers to those who choose not to identify with a specific religion. In Generation Z, according to the research firm Barna, this category is roughly 35%. Within this group, there are three categories: nothing in particular, atheists, and agnostics. The “nothing

STATS 32% 0.6% Buddhist


0.6% Hindu 4.8% Other 3% Jewish

20.8% Atheist

11.9% Agnostic

in particular” category is the most vast, making up a little more than 70 percent of the religiously unaffiliated group in the Pew Research survey. Religion is of less importance to this group, yet still more than three-quarters of them believe in God. It can be related to a phenomenon described as “believing not belonging,” coined by sociologist Grace Davie in her book “Religion in Great Britain since 1945.” The term refers to individuals who may be spiritual and believe in a universal spirit from a religion, yet not identify with that religion, for numerous reasons. “I believe in God, and I believe in gods,” said junior Reagan Peters. “The closest I could consider is believing yet not belonging because it’s more of a feeling to me. It’s like God is probably there, and he probably exists, but so do all the other gods in some form if that’s what you choose to believe, and I think that I don’t really fit with the Catholic views or the other branch, like Orthodox … so I just look to other religions that fit my vibe more.” Peters serves as a direct

33.3% Protestant

24% 20.2% Catholic

of Harbor students being more religious now than when they were as a kid

((Data from 168 responses from survey held online at Newport Harbor High School)



example of this believing not belonging phenomenon. She grew up in a religious Catholic household and still attends church, but she does not identify as Catholic. She turns instead to pantheism, the belief that all religions are valid, and that their God/gods probably exist in some shape or form. Her open-mindedness regarding religion is reflected in her own ambitions to be a part of Wicca, a form of pagan witchcraft, centered around a Goddess and Horned God, as well as her Judaism-influenced views regarding God. “Religious-wise, I was raised as Catholic, so I do have some lingering Catholic guilt in there, but I don’t know,” Peters said. “For the world, I don’t know if I want to consider one God as all-powerful because, in the Scriptures, it mentions that there is a benevolent God. In the Old Testament, however, there’s a very angry God, and I feel like the Old Testament [God] is more valid than the New Testament one. If I remember correctly, I believe that [it] is a more Jewish belief that Christ wasn’t the savior, and I lean more towards that because if he truly did save everyone from their sins, then nobody should be going to hell.” Some of the Nones are likewise religiously indifferent, not to be confused with atheism and agnosticism. Religiously indifferent individuals do not believe in a religion; they have no interest in practicing it and do not even believe its base at all. “I see this around me, in my peers, my fellow professors, and there is this increase in religious indifference. They are indifferent to the concept of religion and God,” explained McKenna, the UC Irvine professor. “For example, [if you ask me to] to write a 500-word essay on unicorns, why would I do that? I just don’t believe it on the basis of it, and I am completely indifferent to the concept.”

Atheists and Agnostics

The last category is inevitably the atheists and agnostics, with 21 percent of Generation Z identifying themselves this way, according to



Barna. While the definitions of atheist and agnostic have been a source of debate, the general consensus is that atheism is “simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods,” as per the American Atheists Legal Center. Agnostics, on the other hand, simply claim they do not know if God exists; they question the existence of God from a knowledge standpoint instead of a belief one. Although only five percent of the general American population labeled themselves as atheists in 2019, through the Pew Research forum, the actual number may be greater. Historically speaking, religion has put a negative connotation on the word “atheism,” associating the lack of belief in God with a lack of morality. Even if the US is following a downward trend in religiosity, 46 percent of Americans still hold that “it is necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values,” according to the Pew Research Forum. This idea goes even as far as legislation, where eight states only allow individuals to hold office if they believe in God, as reported in The Washington Post. This taint seems to slowly be fading away, however, as shown through the gradual increase of individuals identifying themselves as atheists, especially among teenagers, who according to Barna are twice as likely to identify themselves as atheists than adults. “Often, when asked if they are an atheist, many people denure, meaning they’re reticent and they are not eager to label themselves that because for a long time, hundreds of years, religion has been able to taint that term, which should just be a nonmoral term,” McKenna explained. … “In the 19th century, this word agnostic was invented in England as a softer term than atheist. So again, the negating prefix -a over the term -gnostic, which means to know, so the agnostic is saying, ‘I don’t know if there’s a God.’ He is no more convinced by the arguments for God than the atheist. But the agnostic is when they say, ‘May-

be there is some evidence that will emerge that will convince me.’ Or that we can’t possibly know the answer to this question with our limited power.” Junior Parker Smith identifies as agnostic. To her, being agnostic is “a good outlook on life to see the world from a neutral perspective because you don’t have to feel loyal to any thought.” Unlike the religiously indifferent, some atheists and agnostics still have an interest in studying and learning about religion, and are often willing to argue or talk about it. This religious interest can be seen with the Pew Forum’s 2010 U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey, where, compared to other religious groups, atheists and agnostics scored the highest on the religious knowledge survey. Those who identify as “Nothing in Particular” scored an average of 15.2 correct answers out of 32, while atheists/ agnostics scored an average of 20.9 correct answers out of 32.


Although religion has shown a downward trend in the United States, spirituality without religion has shown a rise. At the Pew Research Forum, the number of individuals who responded as spiritual yet not religious has risen by eight percentage points from 2012 to 2017. Religion is spirituality in an institutionalized fashion, often with a certain kind of orthodoxy, rigidity and choreography. For example, in Roman Catholicism, the belief in a God watching over us is spiritual, yet, through the formality of the Bible and the way mass is organized, it takes on a religious form. In this sense, spirituality without religion offers greater flexibility in one’s beliefs, allowing individuals to take on more personal definitions by either rejecting certain ideas or blending in different religious ideas to form their own personal philosophies. Senior Benjamin Klarin, for example, considers himself more spiritual. He is Jewish, yet also considers himself a

Buddhist. “I meditate 1-2 days a week to work on my mental health in order to better train my mind outside of school to function as a better human being,” Klarin said. “I am not a full believer in God, but I am open-minded. I am willing to listen to others, and I want to move past the hate and make the world a better place.” As McKenna explains, those turning away from religion and towards spirituality often do so because they do not like the rigidity, formality, and choreography of institutionalized religion. “They see religions kind of as a straight jacket, and they want to be a little more liberated than that in whatever their personal religious thoughts are,” he said. “The spirituality is more inclusive, taking on various religious traditions without getting some sort of rigid orthodoxy. The spiritual person is to be all over the map and say they practice a few things.” Individuals can even take on beliefs diametric to those explored in mainstream religions. Peters, for example, believes in ghosts and souls, having encountered them throughout

I do believe in science, but I think that some things you can’t really explain with science and you have to either look at magic, or a bunch of beings/one being is controlling some strings, which is why I am partially into religious stuff.” - junior Reagan Peters

her life. She recalls the one time her family visited the Queen Marius, a haunted boat down in Newport Beach, and she and her mom felt spirits in the ballroom. “My mom and I have sensitivity to more spiritual beings… like ghosts,” she said. “Some things have shifted during the night and none of us were in the room or none of us got up during the night. Stuff like that makes me go, yea, spirits and souls definitely exist.”

What can this mean for the future?

The future implications of this trend as well as its permanency are still up for debate. However, the downward trend in religion in Northern Europe, which is even more profound than in the United States, can suggest that implications may not be negative. “[The Europeans] are decades ahead of us [in terms of] secularization and irreligion,” McKenna said. “Big cathedrals in Europe are more for tourists now. The most civil societies are the least religious. [Secular places such as] Scandinavian countries and

[Being a believer] means living a better life. You have people looking out for you, you can put your trust in other people. It offers a sense of community with people I wouldn’t normally know.” - sophomore Logan Foell

Japan are voted the best places to live on Earth because they have the least amount of crime and education is free.” Whether this trend is permanent is uncertain, since forums like Pew Research Center and Gallup have only started collecting religious data in the last century. One early measure is the 1850 Census, but only the number of churches were counted by state. Dips in religion may have occurred in earlier eras that we are not aware of. In the future, new religions may arise from blends of current religions, like Sikhism, which blends in Hinduism and Islam. “In one sense, there are many thousands of religions that met a historical cul-de-sac,” McKenna said. “They just die. Even Greece ... it’s in ruins. There’s ruins there to all the temples to gods that we now know or think did not exist. [The Ancient Greeks] believed in it, we didn’t, and we call it mythology. So people may be talking, in some distant future, about the Christian mythology, Islamic mythology or Jewish mythology.”

I used to be Christian, but 8th grade was when I realized more things about myself and the world around me. I didn’t really identify with Christian beliefs.”- junior Parker Smith



COVID Takes Its Toll

The isolation is severely affecting many students Text by Sam Sick, Photos by Peyton Post, and Art by Bryce Rennick


s leaves turn from green to warm tones of red, orange, and yellow, coronavirus continues to dominate the economy and the social life of all individuals. Ever since COVID-19 struck in March, life hasn’t been the same; California went into lockdown mid-March for a few weeks, and the restrictions that followed are still with us now. Will this isolation and pain ever come to an end? The public is left in the dark with day-byday changes from the news and constant misleading information. It’s all so confusing and infuriating, especially because there’s nothing we can do about it. We have been in this state of emergency for months, with no signs of anything changing. The pandemic has even ruined fun events such as the OC Fair, Disneyland and Knotts Scary Farm. Movie theatres have closed down, skating rinks are closed, concerts postponed and so much more. It’s a shame that all these activities are cancelled, especially for the classes of 2020 and 2021. For most of us, this is our last year at home, our last opportunities to make these quintessential Orange County memories.

Mental Health Resources: School Psychologists: Anna Etiz Email: aetiz@nmusd.us

Stephanie Romero Email: sromero@nmusd.us



Some students have unbearable family situations, and school, sports, clubs and after-school activities are their daily escape. Some students are very poor, even homeless, and don’t have decent internet access.

Some students’ only meal for the day is from the cafeteria. Some students have been training in a sport their entire lives to have their most crucial season taken away from them. All of these factors add up. This severe isolation is a damper on many people psychologically, especially for students who were already dealing with mental health issues. Since the pandemic started, suicide rates have gone up, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. School is difficult enough as it is, but online school is more difficult to complete for some students

Hoag Hospital Mental Health Center, no one turned away for lack of funds: https://www.hoag.org/about-hoag/ community-benefit/hoag-programs/ mental-health-services/

who struggle with self-discipline. For me personally, I struggle finding the motivation everyday to go to school and do the work knowing there’s a possibility of things going back to normal. Every day, logging in on the computer and doing online school is very difficult for me. It’s so much easier to not go to school because you just close your computer if you’re not feeling up to it. Usually I will just lay in bed on Zoom, with my camera off, half asleep, then fall behind in every class. I just want to remind everyone to try and keep a positive mindset. Even though everything has been going downhill, we just need to wait it out, knowing that it will get better. We don’t know how long it will take, but we have to remain positive and try to find motivation. We can’t just give up. Try and wake up every morning and make a list of tasks you want to complete before the end of the day. This is much easier for some students more than others. Just know that, even if you don’t get the senior year you imagined, you should look forward to graduating and moving on to the next phase of our lives. That’s what’s giving me my drive: as much as all of this sucks, I just know it’s not worth throwing all those years of hard work away. If I push through and get my diploma, all of my effort and determination will have paid off.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number: 1-800-273-8255

Q&A with Principal Sean Boulton:

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Q1: Do you think school staying closed is best for the students? I understand it is better for their physical health but bad for their mental, does one outweigh the other?

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A1: At first, yes. We knew little about COVID, and personal protection equipment. Now we know if you wear masks, distance, wash your hands, and stay home if you are sick it diminishes the chances of catching COVID. There are limits, however, to our ability to stay open. If the spread rate becomes too high, then we have to close again. Further, healthy people or young people can be carriers, so a lot of autonomy is on individuals to be careful away from school as well. Without question in-seat school has no substitute, I’ve never been a huge supporter of online learning, and can not fathom going to high school online. Q2: Do you think it is fair what’s happened to the seniors last year and this year? Not getting a true last year, missing out on assemblies, school activities, sports and dances? A2: Fair, no. Did we have any other choices? No-we had to close and distance our learning environment last year. You think about how through the 90 years this school has been open, wars and depressions never ended a sports season, canceled a show on the stage, or upended the graduation ceremony. COVID did all that. Q3: What is your advice for students out there struggling right now? A3: Communicate with teachers, make use of office hours, and know that a lot is on you right now to define and redefine your learning experiences. There is no easy way out of this--none.

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Q&A with School Psychologist Anna Etiz: Q1: Has the number of students going to the school psychologists asking for mental health help risen since Corona hit? A1: We have two school psychologists at NHHS. Between the two of us, we saw a significant increase in referrals for mental health support in the spring. May was the most impacted month for referrals. Q2: In your words how do you think it has been affecting students? Do you think schools being closed puts a damper on their mental health? How so? A2: I think the biggest thing affecting students is the isolation and lack of routine. Being in school is part of that routine, so I think being back in school when things are safe is very important. It gives students a purpose to be in school and have routine, which decreases that isolation. Q3: Do you think it’s better or worse if schools stay closed? It is good for their physical health to stay closed but bad for their mental, does one outweigh the other? A3: Mental health is just as important as one’s physical health as they relate to one another. Having a routine and purpose is so important for a sound mental health. If it is safe for schools to be open, I think that is an important part of positive mental health for our students.



Recognizing Evil The horrors of working for and with Amazon are revealed Text by Gauri Patwardhan and Artwork by Gauri Patwardhan and Elle Vincioni


mazon has truly achieved the epitome of an online store. With just one click, you can order anything from a 60-inch flat-screen TV to fresh lettuce. Because of its vast supply and fast delivery options, Amazon has become America’s go-to shopping center. In fact, most of the gifts Americans will receive this Christmas will be bought on Amazon. However, behind this facade live dark little secrets. Here are two of the biggest shames that Amazon desperately tries to hide from every customer.

1) Amazon abuses its employees

Constant surveillance, strict productivity rates, unsafe working conditions and menial pay: welcome to Amazon’s warehouses. Workers report that the warehouses seem more like state correctional institutes than workplaces, and they are right. Every day, workers -- who are treated worse than prisoners by Amazon reports Daily Mail -- pack products into boxes and send them for shipment. They are under constant surveillance to ensure that they ship out packages at the set rate of 700 boxes an hour. What if you cannot make the rate? Simple: you are fired, reports Raymond Velez, a former employee of Amazon. Human mistakes are often not forgiven because there is no human manager. “You’re being tracked by a computer the entire time you’re there. You don’t get reported or written up by managers. You get written up by an algorithm,” told Stower Ilya Geller, a former employee of Amazon to Daily



Mail. “‘You’re keenly aware there is an algorithm keeping track of you, making sure you keep going as fast as you can, because if there is too much time lapsed between items, the computer will know this, will write you up, and you will get fired.” Safety is almost non-existent. A PBS Frontline documentary, Amazon Empire, reported that while safety regulations exist, the required productivity rates are so high that the workers cannot adhere to these guidelines. Following them would require employees to slow down and take precautions, but that would reduce productivity rates. The safety issues extend beyond the warehouse. Amazon’s delivery drivers often have to speed or drive recklessly to meet the shipping deadlines. As you select the “one-day shipping” option, you are unknowingly worsening the working conditions for these drivers. Amazon has a history of lying about working conditions. As PBS News found, Amazon lied about increased safety with robots as well as injury rates during holiday seasons. They even pressured clinics to lie about worker injuries. Clearly, Amazon will go to any limits to protect their profits, even if they destroy the health of their employees in the process. In the end, the way Amazon sees it, employees are just meant to be abused for the company’s gains.

2) Amazon is the robber baron of our era

In 2014, Amazon demanded an extra cut from the profits of Hachette, a publishing company that used Amazon as a platform for selling books. Why?

Because Amazon wanted more money. They did not provide more features, more advertising or anything of the sort to Hachette. They just wanted more money, and they started cutting into Hachette’s profits to fulfill their greedy desires. For every dollar a customer like you spends on Amazon.com, Amazon gets a whopping 27 cents from it. There is the argument that Amazon, being such a gigantic business, faces many costs, from employee salary to warehouse equipment, justifying these cuts. Whilst it is true that Amazon is a large company, Amazon has many other equally profitable ways to g e n e r a t e revenue that will not harm individual sellers’ profit margins, from ads to cloud storage.

Furthermore, a significant portion of this revenue contributes directly to Amazon’s profits, so much so that the company exceeded its own Wall Street profit projection by more than $3 billion in 2018 and shocked its leaders. Most importantly, though, Walmart and ebay.com -- both of whom are Amazon’s competitors -only receive 9 cents per dollar and 6-20 cents per dollar, respectively, which is significantly lower than Amazon’s cuts. If they can thrive even with these lower cuts, why can’t Amazon? This 27-cent cut is a 42% increase in just the past five years, reports the New York Times. Even worse, those 27 cents that Amazon greedily takes are hurting the seller’s profit margins. Those are 27 cents the seller cannot make, ever. One might argue that it is a mere 27 cents, but they add up fast. Many sellers on Amazon are start-ups -- small businesses that are trying to gain a steady footing. And these start-ups don’t have huge profit margins to begin with. They are often familyrun, so they don’t have much capital, either. Thus, for them, every penny counts. Additionally, if any of the businesses o p p o s e Amazon’s heavy-handed cuts, they may well find themselves out of business. When Hachette refused to pay Amazon, Amazon began willfully disrupting Hachette’s sales on their website. As New York Times reports,

Hachette books were not outright banned from Amazon’s site, but Amazon began delaying their delivery, raising their prices, and/or steering customers to other publishers. If such methods don’t work, Amazon brings out the brahmastra (the mightiest of all weapons). They begin manufacturing the same product under their name and sell it themselves. Due to Amazon’s size, connections with manufacturers around the globe and the total addressable market it offers, the company can manufacture the same product at significantly lower prices than small businesses. As a result, Amazon can corner the small businesses, driving many into bankruptcy. Why haven’t the businesses sued Amazon? Because they can’t. Amazon forces these businesses -legally called third-party sellers -- to sign a contract waiving their right to go to court and sue Amazon. As an example, early this year, Amazon destroyed all merchandise of a third-party seller, under the claim that the seller was selling fake items. However, the seller successfully provided receipts for all merchandise, proving the items were authentic, and submitted them to Amazon. However, even with such concrete proof, Amazon neither reimbursed the seller nor offered an apology. Today, the seller is broke, and while his lawyer says they have a strong case, they cannot sue Amazon due to the contract. So, Amazon is free to treat these third-party sellers any way they see fit. And the customers, by continuing to buy from Amazon, are indirectly showing approval of such actions.

Conclusion America has been obsessed with bringing prices down. However, ruthlessly trampling over small businesses and exploiting labor to reach that objective is not a founding

principle of our country. It is not just the end goal but the means of achieving it that should be important for us. We must, therefore, stand united against Amazon. This does not necessarily mean we have to increase our spending budgets as we move away from Amazon. Target and ebay.com offer equally great prices and service as Amazon. Plus, their practices are much more ethical than Amazon’s. Hence, they make great alternatives. Another option would be to search for products on Amazon, but instead of buying from Amazon.com, contact the third-party seller and buy the product directly from them. As an example, say you wish to buy the product “LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 words book.” If you find the product on Amazon and click on it, right below the name of the product, Amazon will clearly state the name of the third party seller: LeapFrog. Now, you can just google “LeapFrog” and find the seller’s own website, from which you can buy the exact same product while bypassing Amazon webstore service. By choosing this option, you will get the same quality product for about the same price, but this time all your money will go directly to the seller, and you won’t take part in supporting Amazon’s ruthless practices. In the end, we must recognize that we are enabling Amazon to continue exercising its cruel methodologies, and we must accept responsibility for putting an end to this. Hence, I urge you, this holiday season, stay away from Amazon. Every time you feel attracted to Amazon’s offers of “fast 1-day delivery” or low prices, remember the plight of warehouse workers, the delivery drivers and the third-party sellers. This season, fight with them, fight for them. This season, boycott Amazon.



The Magic of Pronouns These small words can impact people more than you think Text by Addie Blackmore and Artwork by Taylor Chapman


et’s call this person Zinnia. Zinnia goes to school everyday hearing he/him pronouns, even though her pronouns are she/ her. Everyone always assumes, based on her masculine looks, that she is a guy. She feels constant social dysphoria, nervous to be around people knowing they will use the wrong pronouns. Some people tell her, “I don’t believe in it, but I still respect it.” But this is actually the complete opposite, as they are only making her feel worse and worse by reacting immaturely towards her and using the incorrect pronouns. Others don’t even “respect” it, constantly bullying and disregarding her and her pronouns. She may also feel some sort of bodily dysphoria because, on top of being referred to incorrectly, she was born in a male’s body. All of this can have a significant effect on mental health, so why not make it easier on the person and respect their pronouns? Gender dysphoria, whether physical or mental, is hard enough on its own, often leading to depression and anxiety. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2020 has already seen 40 transgender people killed this year in the US; fearing for your life every time you walk out the door can really take a toll on people. On top of that, according to Psychology Today, more than 41% of transgender people are estimated to have attempted suicide, nearly nine times higher than cisgender Americans, or those who identify with their birth gender. With all this in mind, clarifying



your pronouns should be an important part of introducing yourself. Until you are sure of someone’s pronouns, it is best to simply refer to them with more neutral pronouns, such as they/ them. That’s why it’s better to introduce yourself with your pronouns, or just ask people what theirs are. You could always introduce yourself by saying your name and then continuing with “...and I go by [insert your pronouns].” There are many reasons why you should clarify your pronouns when first meeting someone. The most important one is so that people don’t assume certain pronouns for you based on your looks. People’s pronouns don’t always “match” how feminine, masculine or androgynous they look, as clothes and looks have absolutely nothing to do with gender nor pronouns. Someone could be extremely feminine but still, go by he/ him pronouns. People’s pronouns also don’t have to match what their gender is. This concept can be very difficult to grasp, especially if this is the first time hearing about it. This means that someone could identify as male but prefer to go by feminine pronouns such as she/her, even though males would typically go by masculine pronouns such as he/him. People can also go by they/ them pronouns and look completely masculine or feminine. These ideas might seem unfamiliar at first, but with time and an open mind they get easier and easier to understand. Another important reason is that by clarifying your pronouns in the

beginning -- even if they do “match” the typical pronouns for your gender -people who don’t go by the pronouns they were assigned at birth will feel more accepted. They will know that they aren’t the only ones who state their pronouns in order to be referred to correctly. Also, on social media, people with different pronouns will typically put them in their bio. However, this makes it easier for transphobes and rude or ignorant people to come after them. So if everyone has their pronouns in their bio, it would no longer be as easy to identify who has the pronouns they were given by society versus who doesn’t. In this way, clarifying your pronouns can make others feel safer and more accepted. Asking for someone’s pronouns also helps ensure that you are referring to someone correctly, which is extremely important for several reasons. You can even benefit yourself by using the correct pronouns, as it can help you build meaningful relationships with your friends. Taking the time to learn their pronouns is all around respectful and the right thing to do, which will let your friends know you support them unconditionally. In the end, you don’t really have to understand pronouns in order to simply respect someone and how they would like to be referred to. It truly is better, for both people, to just ask rather than assume or wait for the other person to tell them. And it’s quite simple.

The College Price Tag The high cost of tuition is driving students away Text and Photo by Cooper Dwight


f you ask anyone, “Should college be cheaper?” the answer will most likely be yes. Affordability is a big concern because increasing tuition costs put some families at a significant disadvantage compared to those who can afford higher education for their kids. The families that are at a disadvantage are trying to enter the middle class, but since they are unable to afford a higher education, the gateway is shut in front of their faces. According to the US Department of Education, college tuition has more than doubled in the past 30 years, adjusting for inflation. This means that Americans in low-tomoderate income families have fewer options for college, so they may not have the opportunity to find the college that fits them specifically, as their primary concern has to be affordability. That could inhibit a student from reaching their full potential, as their college options may all be misfits. Many recent graduates and current s t u d e n t s feel that they cannot reach

their full potential because of the weight of loans or tuition. Students can work on campus in different departments, which does help grab the tuition by the horns. There are many benefits to working during college, and not just because it decreases the amount of student loan debt; according to a study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, students are actually doing better in school when they also have a job. This may be because these individuals are forced to learn better time management and improved study habits. However, working more than 20 hours a week can interfere with school and start to carve into the academic schedule. Reducing tuition costs would make it so that students can still work on campus without it being at the forefront of their college life. Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called for all student loans to be removed, a total of roughly $1.6 trillion. His plan was to make two- and four-year public colleges/ universities and tribal colleges/ universities debt-free and tuitionfree. The proposal itself is not free, however, costing $2.2 trillion over 10 years. Even so, his solution to cover the cost was through a Wall Street tax that would raise the small levies on buying and selling stocks, derivatives and bonds. Progressive economist Robert Pollin projected that the tax would bring in $2.4 trillion in revenue in 10 years through the proposed plan, as cited by Sanders’s office. Students from all backgrounds would benefit from tuitionfree higher education, but the proposition was targeted toward lower-income students. Meanwhile, a select few undergraduate programs are trying

to reduce their “sticker prices” by reducing the cost of tuition itself, instead of offering as many discounts and scholarships. According to the Huffington Post, though, the results show that the colleges that have sought that approach have not necessarily attracted more students. Traditionally, public schools have charged less but also offered less financial aid. With private schools, the tuition is usually more expensive, but more aid can be included. Students often resort to taking out loans to pay for college, though, which in turn can stack up until they are stuck with a monstrous amount of student debt. Colleges can also slip the loans into a financial aid package, so the colleges say they are being the benefactor, but the opposite is actually true; the colleges are the beneficiary. Gary Becker, a Noble-laureate economist, and Richard Posner, a federal judge and author, have recently stated that one possible solution to the problem of college tuition is to charge prices based even more on the family’s income and capacity to pay tuition. Many schools already have a financial aid system dependent on the family’s ability to pay, but the proposal is to have a program where the tuition itself is adjusted based on family income. So, if the tuition in colleges varies based on the amount of money families have, it would be beneficial to more people, because families would not need to rely on financial support for their tuition to begin with. If college tuition were lowered to be more affordable and flexible, or even eliminated in public schools, then students would have a more equal opportunity of success, which would help society progress and strive to be better. College tuition should be lowered to the point where that can become a reality.



Talk Like a Sailor Meet a few of Harbor’s multilingual students Text and Art by Elle Vincioni

Meet Alan Shen Allan Shen is a senior at Newport Harbor. In his early childhood, he only heard Chinese at home. After he turned four years old, though, his family changed from speaking almost exclusively Chinese to English. Shen explained that each language has different characteristics that are connected to its culture. He spoke of the large emphasis of food and family of Chinese culture exhibited in the language. “The family connection is so important that there’s specific words for very distant relatives, unlike our less specific words in English,” he said. He explained that there’s such an emphasis on these connections that, subconsciously, it causes one to truly think about family connections. “Foodwise, there are specific greetings that illustrate the importance of food in the language,” he said. “In English, you may ask how [someone is doing or feeling], but in Chinese a typical greeting is ‘Nǐ chīguòle méi ( 你吃过了没)?,’ which means, ‘Have you eaten?”



Courtesy of Alan Shen

He added that nationwide cultural events, such as the Mooncake Festival, place a great importance on food. Shen believes that a person should take the time to learn a language if he or she truly cares about the culture of the place. “If your main goal is just knowing the language because you want to know the language, not particularly any other reason, then there’s no real point in learning that language,” he said. He does think that it is important to learn another language to know others’ views and culture to interact and work well with them. In Chinese households, he explained, it is against social norms to wear shoes in the house and would actually arouse gossip if someone did. He explained that in the houses of his Western friends, they keep their shoes on and do not care. “Learning culture is an avenue to understanding other people which helps you yourself,” he said. Shen explained the difficulty for foreigners learning Chinese, though, because of the abstract tones of the language that are difficult to hear and differentiate when conversing with a Chinese speaker. Each tone may signify a different meaning for a word. In the past, he has definitely faced the difficulty of finding a middle ground between his American and his Chinese culture. “I’ve [heard] people talk about how they used to love this specific Chinese food, but because some Western people called it disgusting, they [tried] to fit in,” he said “Even comments like, ‘Wait, what is that?’ kind of makes you rethink things

because you want to try to fit in a lot [of the time], and you’re kind-of stuck between a Western world… and an Eastern family, and trying to find what you want out of that can be sometimes difficult.” It can be a challenge to know when and where to use what values from what culture, he explained. Languages allow you to learn other languages more easily, but it can also confuse things when you are simultaneously learning two languages, he explained. He opened up about an incident in ninth grade, when

when he was enrolled in Spanish. He was speaking aloud and forgot the word for ‘milk,’ explaining that his brain defaulted to the word that

was “not-English” for ‘milk,’ and said ‘milk’ in Chinese rather than in Spanish during a presentation. He also sometimes finds himself thinking of

an idea in Chinese and spending more time figuring out how to translate it to English than working on the actual idea.

Meet Hassan Zakaria Hassan Zakaria, a junior at Newport Harbor, was raised in a trilingual family. Originally from Egypt, he has always spoken primarily Arabic at home but has also learned French, as his mother’s family attended French schools. Being in an international school in Egypt and having lived in the U.S. during high school, he has also become a fluent English-speaker. “One of the main reasons that my family moved here was because the opportunities for my dad were much better here, and he saw that [my sister and I] were really good at English,” he said. “If we [had not] learned that we probably wouldn’t have moved here and have the opportunity [for] a better future.” He explained that his school in Egypt was majority Egyptian but also had students from all over the world, including France, Canada, Morocco and more. This, he said, allowed him to better know the history and culture of other countries. Speaking each of the three languages has allowed him to communicate with people who speak only one of those languages. He also stated that his parents do not like to speak English at home so that he and his sister do not forget their native tongue. He added that speaking one language opens the doors to understanding different dialects. “[People] might be speaking the same language,

but not [in] the same way,” he said. “Like in Arabic, there’s [many] countries that speak Arabic, but there’s so many different dialects -- I can think of at least ten dialects right now.” He explained that traCourtesy of Hassan Zakaria ditional or formal Arabic is taught in schools so that each country can understand one another, but in Egypt he spoke Egyptian Colloquial Arabic, or Masri, especially with his friends and family. Zakaria does not like using translations because the translation may not be the exact definition. He recommends the best ways to learn a language are visiting the place, reading books, listening to music and watching movies. He explains how getting to know the culture in the U.S. has allowed him to grow closer to his American friends. Before, he found himself gravitating only to his Egyptian friends because of their similar interests, sense of humor and background. “I feel like [with] learning a language, you don’t really learn it until you speak to people that actually learned that language,” he said. He also laughed about the misconception that he and many other Egyptians had of the U.S. they first moved here. He explained that his picture of the U.S. was really built from American movies -- where everyone has large houses and is always happy -- but came to realize that false reality. People also had their own assumptions of Egypt based on cinema. “When I first moved here, I’d say ninety percent of people that I met [were] like, ‘Oh, did you have a camel?’ or, ‘Were the streets all sand,’ and [I was] like ‘No, it’s still a city. There’s desert around it. That’s it. It’s still a city with cars,’” he said. “I feel like TV puts a picture in people’s minds that’s just not true.”



Meet Santiago Hernandez Rodriguez Santiago Hernandez Rodriguez, a senior in the IB Diploma Program at Newport Harbor, was born in Venezuela’s capital of Caracas. He began learning English at nine years old in school, per the request of his father. He has been fluent for four years now. He speaks mostly Spanish at home but finds himself conversing in English with his Spanish-speaking cousins who are in another IB program in the U.K. Knowing more than one language is always important, he explained. “It gave me a lot of perspective in the state of Venezuela at the time,” he said. Being more fluent in English than his friends in Venezuela, he realized the disparity between learning languages in the private versus the public school system, allowing him to get a sense of what other people know outside of his closed environment. “You just get a bigger range of things to look at,” he said. He speaks of the conformity of Venezuelans, numbed to the things happening in their country. Reading international news articles has allowed him to see how other people see them. “For me it was normal because I’ve seen it before, and the scarcity and all those kinds of things were just things that I dealt with,” he said. “But for the world around us, it was a totally different perspective in which you see, ‘Oh, I guess not everyone has to make long lines for stuff. I guess not everyone can make savings,’ you know what I mean? It was a good thing for me [in that] it gave me understanding of what was happening outside of what I was used to.” He claims that there is a large difference between visiting and living in a place as well as being fluent in the language. Although he said he had a general idea of the U.S. from watching films and American content creators on YouTube, living in the U.S. ridded him of “ignorant perceptions.” “If this is bad, the other side has to be right,” he said, describing his thinking when he was still living in Venezuela. “And the other side, most of the [time], was being capitalist, extremely capitalist -- that the



free market means the people are [more free] and all that kind of stuff. “I remember that probably when I came here, my general idea [was that] it’s always better to have something not be regulated. That was kind of my idea. I knew the general idea of things, but I didn’t know the problems that could [come] with it. Now that I live here, right, and I see news and stuff about different things… I still think communism isn’t great because I lived in it, but then I

Courtesy of Santiago Hernandez Rodriguez

just don’t villainize people for believing things because, in reality, there’s a bunch of factors that go into it.” When he first moved to the U.S., he remembers being economically “conservative” and individualistic, holding an idealistic perception of the U.S. After spending time here, he said, he began to see the issues with capitalism and determined that no one system was perfect. He has given greater thought to his critiques of each system and each country. He added that knowing English gave him a foot forward in understanding America. “People in Venezuela who only speak Spanish and want to talk about what’s happening in the U.S., most of the time, don’t know what they’re saying,” he said. “And because they also don’t speak English, they can’t really [inform] themselves of the opinions of people who speak English.” Furthermore, he thinks that computers are given too much credit for what they can do concerning translation technology. “My dad’s a computer engineer, and one thing he has reasoned with me is a computer is not smart,” he said. “You tell them what to do, and even when they are learning themselves, they don’t know why they’re

doing it. They don’t have a purpose. They don’t have a mind of their own. Whatever improvement they’re making is not as good as what we can do.” He explained that computers will never understand every aspect of a language because even we as people have trouble translating things. Some words don’t have direct translations, and this confuses the computer. “Learning a language is more than just learning the translation [of what you’re looking] for,” he said. “Learning a language is opening yourself up to different perceptions of not only what you see in that specific country… but also allowing you to learn more [easily] when moving to other places. It’s just kind of like a key to [opening] many doors in your life… Learning a language, knowing more than what the words mean, it allows you to understand more people… People need to learn languages because it’s important for their life [to be] better human beings. That’s what I think. If you are gonna lower yourself to one language, you’re not gonna see life as it could be.” Learning English has also expanded his social environment. He said that language is designed for the community that uses it, and learning the language allows for greater cultural understanding. Employing Spanish as an example, he explained that underlying machismo and negative masculinity in the language is likewise found in the culture in Latin America. This hints at why people might behave a certain way -- because it’s normalized in the language “Understanding languages and learning them, it does give you insight into how other people who you don’t know might act or react to certain things,” he said. Sometimes, he too finds it difficult to balance his Venezulan and his American culture. Though he has forgotten specific Spanish, he continues to be fluent in his native tongue and periodically speaks to his friends there. As he grows more and more accustomed to American society, he wishes to maintain his connection with his Venezuelan heritage, such as reading more Spanish literature.

Put a Bow on It How to wrap up your biggest holiday stress factor Text and photos by Will Green and Art by Mathilde Requier


o you struggle with wrapping gifts around the holiday time? Do you eventually just give up and wrap it in duct tape? I know lots of people who do that, for sure, and sometimes it makes opening gifts ten times harder. Luckily for you guys, here are ways to wrap a gift in three simple steps. All you’ll need is tape, gift wrap, scissors and, of course, a gift.


The first step is simple. All you need to do is measure out the sides of the wrapping paper so all four edges can reach the middle of the gift. When measuring, I suggest having other objects on the corners, ensuring that the corners do not roll up — this can be one of the most annoying parts about wrapping a gift. Once you have it measured out, all you need to do is cut the gift wrap, as shown in the picture.


Now, we only have two steps remaining, and then we are good to go. The first is to take the two long sides of the wrap, pull them so they meet in the middle and tape them as shown in the picture. This is the easiest step in wrapping a gift. Now we have the last step. This can be pretty difficult because it takes some effort to fold the sides correctly. What you are going to do is take one of the shorter sides and press it down. Make it flat so that an arrow forms in the leftover gift wrap, and once you have done this, you are going to pull the arrow over the side such that it meets in the middle. Do the same for the other side. This step might take a few tries at first, but once you get it down, it is very simple and makes gift wrapping easy. The finished product should look like this. As you can see, the two arrows meet in the middle, thereby creating a smooth looking gift.



Confessions of a Madonna Superfan Mr. Clay’s love for his favorite pop star is hardly a secret Text by Ray Keirouz and Artwork by Mathilde Requier


randon Clay is an AP Calculus teacher at Newport Harbor High School known for his genuine and positive personality inside and outside of the classroom. He might be even more famous, though, for his love of the pop artist Madonna. For those who have experienced Clay’s class, it’s impossible to miss. He enjoys her music and expresses it keenly among his peers and students, through posters and fan art all over the walls of his classroom and playing her music before the start of each lesson. Senior Bryan Rauda’s first exposure came in his honors precalculus class, when Clay would blast Madonna songs and sing along, a wide smile on his face. “He tried to get others to join him,” Rauda said. Clay grew up listening to Madonna through the radio and liked her music, finding that it reflected his own personality: positive and entertaining. “It was fun, upbeat, and tremendously popular,” Clay said. He enjoys how the albums have different themes and that they get better with each one. Some of his favorite Madonna songs include “Like a Prayer,” “Vogue,” “Holiday,” “Music”



and “Ray of Light.” True fans like him know that these are her greatest songs, but Clay also recommends people listen to “Ghosttown,” “The Power of Goodbye,” “Open Your Heart,” “Keep It Together” and “Love Profusion.” Those songs “used to be my playground,” Clay said. He also recommends listening to Madonna’s ballads, since their lyrics have an in-depth meaning besides her voice and the music itself. Although he enjoys these songs individually, the whole album Ray of Light holds a special significance because it came out during his first year of graduate school at UC Irvine. It still makes him think about his first apartment, where he used to sit in the living room listening to the beloved album. Clay added that Madonna’s songs, music videos and live performances push social boundaries for how a woman is expected to act in society. That confidence allows her to put on a show for people who have a similar personality as her. He also said that he feels lucky to have followed her career since he was young. Over the past twenty years, he has seen Madonna in concert eight times, including the 2015 Rebel Heart Tour twice. Newport Harbor Spanish

teacher Melissa Taravella can attest to Clay’s Madonna fan credentials as well as anyone. The two are longtime friends, having taught together for more than twenty years. They have spoken about Madonna’s career as a whole, her concert experiences, her family life and how they imagine it would be. They even talk about her children and her many boyfriends. Clay and Taravella even attended a concert together, during the Madame X Tour in 2019. “We had great seats!” Taravella said. “Only about 20 rows back… which was incredible for one of her concerts!” Even though Madonna showed up an hour and a half late for her performance, Taravella said it was still a great show. She could tell that Madonna loves to be the center of attention, with only a DJ on her stage and noopening act. “She still looks great, even though she is way over 50,” Taravella said. “She still has a lot of energy.” The two teachers had to work the next day on only four hours of sleep, but Taravella said she loved it nonetheless, especially because she got to experience the concert with the biggest Madonna fan she knows. As far as she could tell, Clay knew every lyric to every song.

HOLIDAY HISTORY There are lots of ways to celebrate this winter season Text and Photo by Finn Smith, Artwork by Elle Vincioni

As Christmas grows closer, many people are aware of the modern Christian meaning of the holiday season. Less commonly known, though, are the origins of the season, as well as other winter celebrations.


The first record of these holidays is the Nordic and Celtic celebration of Yule, or the winter solstice, from December 23rd to the 25th. During this sabbat, many kinds of pagans celebrate the end of the harvest season and give thanks to their respective god; modern-day Wiccans and Celtic pagans celebrate Cernunnos (also spelled Kernunnos), the Horned God, and His return from death. From Yule, we gained the Christmas tree and public caroling, which were first observed by the Germanic people. During the church’s rise to power in Europe, we saw the date of Yule being used

for Christmas as a means to make converting easier for the locals; we also see similarities in that both holidays celebrate the birth of a major figure in each belief system. A little later in history, those in Rome would honor Saturn during the Saturnalia celebrations that lasted from December 17th to the 23rd. A week of heavy drinking and feasting would see that even the poorest of Romans would have a good time. The rich often gave gifts to the poor, and from Saturnalia we also gained the wreath.

HANUKKAH Moving on to the more modern celebrations, one of the most well-known winter holidays is the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, which this year is observed from December 10th to the 18th. Hanukkah remembers the victory of the Jewish people against the Syrians while rededicating a temple; the oil that was needed to keep the menorah’s candles burning had run out, and yet the candles stayed lit for eight days. Because of this miracle, the menorah is now a main symbol of Hanukkah. Celebrations include a

feast that often include foods that have been fried in oil, the lighting of the menorah and gift giving. At sunset on each night, another of the eight candles is lit, often accompanied by reading Torah scripture, until on the eighth night all the candles of the menorah are burning.


From December 26th to January 1st is the AfricanAmerican and Pan-African celebration of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa was first celebrated in 1966 and coined by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chair of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach. The name comes from “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. The holiday is a celebration of African heritage, culture and building community. Each family celebrates differently, but commonly a feast is held, along with storytelling and dancing; in a similar manner to the Jewish traditions of the menorah, a candle is lit each night on all seven days. These candles represent the seven principles of Kwanzaa (Nguzo Saba), which are unity, selfdetermination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. These principles are taught during this time to remind each other of the importance of community and family.




Just because the gym is closed doesn’t mean you can’t work out Text by Elliott Bove and Artwork by Gauri Patwardhan and Elle Vincioni


h e n lockdowns began in March, many people were forced to stay home, disconnecting them from their normal

lifestyle. This includes working out, as many peoples’ commitment came to an end. Although it may seem as if nothing can be done when the gyms are closed, there are compromises that can be made to keep up with exercise while staying safe from COVID-19.

Working out from home can be very easy and can work for anyone under any situation. In fact, if you’re finding yourself spending more time at home these days, there might be no better time to start than right now.

Importance of Working Out Pursuing some form of exercise daily can be very beneficial for everybody, whether you’re trying to get significant physical gain or just trying to burn some calories. Exercise can deliver oxygen to different parts of your body, including the tissues, and improves your cardiovascular system, allowing it to work more efficiently in the future. The cardiovascular system is a crucial part of the body that keeps people alive; therefore, everyone would benefit from it working at its full capacity.



Exercise also improves one’s heart and lung health, allowing people to take on the day and its challenges better than they had before. Gaining muscle can really help with managing weight, allowing people to get leaner over time. Another benefit to muscle gain is that you have a lower chance of getting chronic diseases that could end up being

very deadly. Working out has even been shown to allow individuals to age better in the long run, which is a benefit anyone would want.

Working Out With Weights Weights are a great way to work out, especially when it comes to gaining muscle, but it isn’t a necessity. Having access to things such as dumbbells can allow anyone to bulk up in a small space. For beginners, I would recommend smaller weights, which will not only be easier at the start of your journey but also safer. Therefore, I would stick to the 5-10 pound range, and if you feel comfortable moving up after a few weeks then do so. Finding workouts that fit a certain individual can be very easy and free of charge. There are many apps on the app store that can be tested that are specifically made for dumbbells. But there is an even easier route, with

the use of YouTube. Searching up beginner workouts is a great way to get started with weights and gives you the ability to learn about them without downloading anything new. These workouts don’t have to be very long; they can be as short as 20 minutes, therefore it can fit in anyone’s schedule. If you have the ability and resources to go the extra mile and buy things such as a power rack, barbell and various weights, I would highly recommend it. They are definitely not needed, and dumbbells work very well, but these items are beneficial. Doing things such as bench presses, squats, deadlifts and much more three to four times a week is a great way to

both gain muscle and get leaner.

Working Out WithOUt Weights


Out of all the exercises listed here, running is probably the most important one and possibly the easiest. Running should always be done with good running shoes to make the activity easier and to make the activity easier. The various benefits include a decrease in the risk of a heart attack or stroke as well as improved endurance.

As great as weights are, though, they aren’t needed, and anyone can do other things to exercise, gain muscle or simply lose calories. Doing simple things such as push ups and sit ups can go a very long way, but they must be done with consistency to show the benefits. Other things people can add in are planks, burpees, step ups, mountain climbers, jumping jacks and, if possible, pull ups.

Just like you could with the weights, you can download apps specifically for workouts without weights, which makes things so much easier and free of charge in most cases. Or you can look up exercises on YouTube, which is a great way to learn anything, including working out. Just like the weights, each routine does not have to be very long and can take as little as 20 minutes.

At the start, how far you run or how fast you do it doesn’t matter as much; you simply want to make improvements as the weeks go by, whether they’re big or small. Overall, you will see the improvements by putting in the work and the time and will gain a sense of pride because of your accomplishments.



Skating Through the Pandemic Grinding on rails through a world of sickness Text and Art by Bryce Rennick


s the wind blasts through your hair, you gently bend your knees as you glide around the curve of the bowl. You keep carving, moving your board along with the shape, letting it guide you, almost taking control of where you go but still allowing you to choose whether you stay in or get out. You take a moment to look up at the edge where the rail is, then you decide to do one last trick before you get out. With the speed at which you’re racing, it takes no effort for you to shoot up and twist your board to the side, letting your trucks and rail grind against each other. You watch your balance, but smile. You feel light. Nothing keeps you down to Earth. You’re not the one moving anymore. It’s all your board. After you’ve lost your speed, you twist your board again, going down the bowl then back up it, landing on the other side and stepping out. You watch as someone else drops in, feeling the same sensation you’d just felt. You pick up your skateboard and admire what you just accomplished.



There are plenty of people in and we skate at different spots since Southern California who can relate to [most] parks are closed.” skating, but right now, COVID-19 has Garrote and his group skate made everything difficult. Skate parks at empty schools, different street have closed, curfews have been put in spots, open parks, and even in front of place and skate shops are either closed churches from time to time. or running low on supplies. The pan- Something that Garrote has demic has had a negative effect on the been doing to keep interested in skatworld of skating. ing and stay creative is grip tape art. There are skaters, however, “You go to Volcom [Skate who are still looking to make an im- Park] or skating with friends, and evpact within our community. eryone has the same old black grip Leo Garrote, a senior at New- tape,” he said. port Harbor, has been skatCourtesy of Leo Garrote ing for years now. He started skating in Brazil, influenced by his father, who is also a skater. He continued skating after they moved to the U.S. “There are two things I have done in the past” few months of the pandemic, Garrote said. “One of them I don’t do anymore, which is skate by myself in [the parking lot of] my apartment complex, which I don’t like doing because I don’t like skating by myself. But the other thing I do is skate with a group of friends. We make sure evLeo Garrote preforming a trick eryone is okay and not sick,


He enjoys painting in his free time, letting his emotions take control and dictate what he’s going to paint that day. Painting on his grip tape is just another way for him to express himself, but it also shows the skating community his artistic talents. “My skateboard was another place where I can put my art artwork,” he said. Garrote and his group also have been taking precautions when they go out together. They always check to make sure no one is feeling sick, they wear masks, and they stay away from each other in order to not get infected if someone, by chance, does have the virus. Another member of Garrote’s group is Omar Gonzalez, a junior at Newport Harbor and avid skater. Gonzalez notes that skating presents fewer risks than many other sports. “Skating is a non-contact sport, so you can be away from other people,” he said. This allows him and his group to be able to stay far away from each other but still skate together and have

fun. One concern, though, is skating at skate parks. Gonzalez and his group skate at Volcom Skate Park, which has become much more popular in recent months because it’s the only park open. People from out of town are going there just to skate, causing the park to be busier. Gonzalez said that he and the others are aware of this and skate at spots in the park that are less crowded. They take over an area until they are pushed out by another group, or have to leave, or want to skate at another spot. On days that Gonzalez does not or cannot skate, he enjoys playing skating video games. And just like Leo Garrote, he stays creative and draws on his boards. A project he wants to start on soon is making a chair out of all of the extra boards he has. With six old boards, he is confident he can create a masterpiece. Omar’s brother, Oswaldo Gonzalez, a Newport Harbor sophomore, also skates with the group. Just like the others, Oswaldo has gotten slightly bored with all the parks closing down. Because of this, he’s been trying to

Courtesy of Omae Gonzalez

Omar Gonzalez’s boards, which will one day be turned into a chair

keep things interesting. He’s been finding different objects to jump over and off of. Just like his brother and friends, Oswaldo has also been indulging his artistic side. Clothing is a big part of skating, just as much as being creative with your board. Oswaldo, more so than the others, has been tapping into that form of expression. “I’ve been drawing on my shoes, and stitching up my sweaters,” he said. He puts little designs on whatever he can to express his personality and show off his designs while he skates. With the pandemic ongoing, Harbor students are still able to be active, creative and have fun with skating. COVID-19 has hindered not just students but skaters across the country, making their hobbies riskier than ever before. However, that still doesn’t stop the deep personal connections, the never-ending resilience and the impressive willpower that every skater has within their heart.

Courtesy of Oswaldo Gonzalez

Oswaldo Gonzalez setting up to do a trick



Courtesy of Greg Badum

One Beat at a Time

Winterline combines the art of theatrics and percussion

Text by Anastasia Everding


rom the moment a percussionist in Winterline is handed a pair of sticks, they will never stop being obnoxiously remarkable; they will drum their hearts out. Winterline is a program that involves students playing music while performing theatrics to create different dynamics in their performances. It differs from marching band because Winterline only involves percussion instruments from the battery and pit ensembles. It’s an inclusive community that allows for great bonds to develop between musicians. But producing an intriguing performance involving only mallets, sticks and good acting is a job easier said than done. Newport Harbor High School has been competing in Winterline for about 18 years. Students would start practicing in November in preparation for the competitive season, which typically runs from February to April. Many have joined either because they’ve heard recommendations from other people or because they want to expand their musical knowledge. Upperclassmen often have a great impact on younger students joining Winterline. Before senior Ace Clifton joined, she was already friends with a senior who inspired her to become a great musician. “I heard about Winterline from upperclassmen and how much they liked it, so I thought it would be fun to join,” Clifton said. “Of course there’s the classic situation where my friends wanted to join, making me want to join as well.” Students love to be motivated, whether by other students, the product of their performances or by watching other drumlines. Inspiration is a driving factor in the ensemble’s awesome perfor-



mances. After finishing a great run, “I sometimes feel relieved but mostly proud because I have just performed something well without having many errors,” said senior Alex Berumen. “I feel in awe when we sound like one of the bigger drumline performances.” Many students love to look up to other drumlines, not just for motivation but for enjoyment. There are lots of bigger drumlines with players who have much more experience on their instruments, and watching them perform can provide inspiration to smaller Winterline ensembles. Winter percussion started all the way back in 1969, at Dassel-Cokato High School in Minnesota, pioneered by the band instructor Steve Johnson. Their show “At The Dawn of War” impressed many other percussion connoisseurs, thereby sparking a series of other schools creating their own shows all over the country. Newport Harbor’s music program began participating in Winterline in 2002, with the first show, called “Super Mario Brothers,” led by the current percussion director, Wes Pohlmann. Pohlmann is a graduate of NHHS, where he was the drum captain for the drumline as well as the varsity track captain. After graduating, he went to college and was given the opportunity by one of his classes to teach the students in the band. “At that time, band was getting last place all the time, and when I came back, they won [more competitions] and even got a couple sweepstakes,” Pohlmann said. “Then Mr. Henthorn was like, ‘I’ll pay you if you want to come back again,’ and I was like, ‘Sure, I’ll come back for free, but yeah, you can pay me.’ And then, next thing you know, it’s

been a decade. I fell into it.” After being the percussion director for 13 years, Pohlmann has learned a few lessons from instructing many different kinds of students. “In terms of priority, music is at the bottom of the realm,” he said. “Good habits and life skills are the most important, [like] learning how to work with people you don’t like, learning to follow your boss’s orders even if you don’t want to, time management, operating under high pressure and problem solving.” For students like Alex Berumen, learning music and life skills tend to go hand in hand. “Learning how to play the marimba was mainly personal growth for me,” Berumen said. “But definitely not linear growth. It was pretty difficult to learn at first because I didn’t get much instruction. But learning how to play was made possible by my instructors and students in the ensemble. It is a very community-based environment.” Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the Winterline program has been challenged with many restrictions. The main concern for students is that they can’t go to in-person competitions, but instead have to perform online for judges. Since the season started, they’ve only been able to participate in rehearsals once a week in two-cohort groups, which reduces the community-based feeling between all the students. “I wish that Winterline was normal like every other year, but I get that we’re trying our best in COVID,” Clifton said. “I prefer doing something rather than not having a season, especially since our last marching band season was taken away from us. If Winterline was taken away from us, what were we going to do?”

Slippery Slopes For snowboarding diehards, the risk of injury is no match for their love of the mountain Text by Jacob Frank


t can be your best friend or your worst enemy, your hobby or your nightmare. It’s a game that every snowboarder plays on the mountain every time they click their boot into their board. But for Steven Miller, a local surf shop owner and avid snowboarder, there’s not much that could keep him away. “Nothing like it, lemme tell ya, it’s more than a hobby,” Miller said, his face breaking into a smirk. He cleared his throat before ending his sentence. “It’s a lifestyle.” Miller’s life was up on the mountain. For many, snowboarding is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but for Miller it is nothing more than a weekly task. With this, however, comes a price. After dropping into one of the most well-known ridges in all of California, the Cornice Bowl run on Mammoth Mountain, Miller came out with a life-changing injury. After making his first cut, he felt his leg give out, tearing his MCL in four different places. After four years of rehab, Miller was finally able to get back up on the mountain and do what he loves again. But he will never be able to do it like he used to. “My doctor hated me,” Miller said, chuckling. “I bothered her constantly, always asking if I could snowboard ever again.”After four surgeries and countless days in bed, Miller still did everything in his power to do what he loved and stay a part of the tight snowboarding community. For snowboarder Steve Frank,

it’s a similar story. Steve had been snowboarding since a toddler, he knew snowboarding like the back of his own hand. In 2017 after getting overconfident and attempting to brush up against a nearby shrub, Frank hit a frozen log with his forearm. He fractured his tailbone and cracked two ribs on impact. “I couldn’t sit down because of my tailbone, and I couldn’t stand up because of my ribs,” Frank said, rolling his eyes. “I had to just lay on my side in misery for a few months.” Snowboarding put Frank in his lowest low as was practically nonfunctional for months on end, yet after three months he was back up on the mountain doing what he loved with no thought of injury on his mind. Even Travis Rice, a twotime silver medalist in the Olympics for snowboarding. He lives and dies for the sport. In 2015 after touring a new resort in Utah, he decided to go on the mountain for a few runs. Unexpectedly, Rice, along with two others, was swallowed by an avalanche. He was submerged for 29 minutes, putting him in critical condition. After being rushed to the hospital, Rice held on. He spent a week in the hospital and two more at home, but then he was back up on the mountain. A near-death experience was not stopping Rice from living out his lifestyle. According to an estimated 9.2 million people snowboard every year. 600,000 of them get serious injuries, and roughly 170 of them will die. Yet despite these numbers, the sport continues to thrive. For people like Miller, it’s like driving in a car. He’s aware of the possibility of death, but it’s still a

necessity in his life. “I just keep driving the car,” Miller said.



Profile for Alex Goodman

The Beacon Vol. 1 Issue 2