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A newsletter by high school students in partnership with the Ventura County Star VEN TUR A: THE CO UGA R P R E SS, T HE FO OT H I L L D R AGO N PR ESS • C O N EJ O VAL L EY: PA N T H ER PROWL ER • SIMI VA L L E Y: T HE P L A ID T RUT H • OAK PAR K: TA LO N • OX N AR D/CAM AR IL LO: T H E ST I N GER

How the pandemic changed downtown Ventura BY JONAH BILLINGS / THE FOOTHILL DRAGON PRESS

If you head over to Main Street Ventura right now, you will probably notice something is out of the ordinary. People wearing masks walk freely in the middle of the street, and dining tables occupy parking places once stuffed with cars. Recently, the Ventura City Council extended the Temporary Outdoor Business Expansion Program. Nicknamed Main Street Moves, the program closed Main Street to all vehicle traffic and allowed restaurants to put tables on the streets in order to socially distance their patrons. Downtown areas large and small across the country have been doing similar things to save their businesses from the jaws of the pandemic. What began as a temporary solution now has many calling for it to become a permanent institution in cities around the world. The concept of vehicle-free streets is not by any means a new idea. Cities have been making their main thoroughfares pedestrian-only for many years, for a multitude of reasons. Some hope to reduce the number of vehicle-related deaths and injuries, while others attempt to control air quality and pollution (fossil fuel emissions have plunged 17% due to closed roads during CONTINUED ON PAGE 2


SPED students face new challenges BY ABBY GORMAN, PRASHEETHA KARTHIKEYAN, EMERSON FUENTES-ALABANZA AND PARKER BOHL / PANTHER PROWLER While the majority of students are not scheduled to return to school until January, several classes are well underway in the blended learning model. Select special education (SPED) classes first returned to campus in early October, while others have continued with the remote learning model. The staff has been working hard to make the necessary adjustments from a typical school year to ensure that these classes can run as smoothly as possible despite the obstacles caused by COVID-19.


While 9.2% of Conejo Valley Unified School District students are enrolled in SPED classes, many of their peers are likely unaware of what this term actually means. Coreen Pefley, Newbury Park High School English SPED teacher, is very familiar with the program and its origin. “Special education comes from the federal program called ITA, which is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,” Pefley said. “Basically, if a student has a disability that affects their education, the government needs to give special help or accommodations to help the students.” The SPED program provides accommodations for a diverse group of students; fundamental-

ly, the program is for the benefit of any student for which the general education curriculum does not suit their learning style. Angela Thomas, a paraprofessional, assists SPED students in the classroom. She explains the variety of students that SPED applies to. “[It can be] either because they have physical disabilities, if they’re in a wheelchair, blind or hard of hearing, but it’s also for students that have intellectual disabilities,” Thomas said. The program varies vastly depending on each student’s individual needs; while some may be entirely in general education and occasionally work alongside SPED teachers, others attend cotaught general education classes with SPED educators present. In CONTINUED ON PAGE 3


2 • WINTER 2020

Election 2020 results: From presidential to local BY ALEX EDGAR / THE PLAID TRUTH Regardless of political beliefs, it’s undeniable that this has been an unforgettable presidential election. As America dealt with a divisive global pandemic, its reckoning with systemic racism, and two political parties more ideologically separated than ever before, its people voted in a way that will have a lasting effect on our country. One of the most unpopular sitting presidents, Republican Donald Trump, lost his bid for reelection against former Democrat vice president Joe Biden. The allegations of voter fraud accompanying the certification of election results have overshadowed the surprising and important results of the down-ballot races and propositions. From Democrats across the board failing to flip important Senate and House of Representative Seats to progressive propositions being passed nationally, there was much more to this election than choosing a president. If the American people take away anything from the 2020 elections, it should be the power of every vote. People, especially those who are of the minority political party within a state, may say that their votes don’t matter, but it is evident that they do. Small quantities of votes decided many swing states, congressional races, and local elections this year. CONGRESS

Despite being a democratic stronghold, California saw one of the closest House races of this election in the 25th Congressional District. Since being redistricted in 2013, this district has included most of northern Los Angeles County and part of eastern Ventura County. In recent years, what was once thought to be a reliable Republican district has become a battleground. This year, Democrat Christy Smith, the California State

Assemblywoman for the 38th District, ran against Republican Incumbent Mike Garcia for his seat. Their election was a rematch after Garcia grabbed the open seat in the district’s May special election. With the increased voter turnout of a general election and the House’s importance to both parties, the two campaigns saw more than $20 million combined in outside spending in their race. Garcia campaigned on his allegiance to Trump and dissatisfaction with Californian politics. In contrast, Smith campaigned vigorously against Trump and Garcia’s policies and behavior while touting her state legislative


the pandemic). In many cases, however, banning cars is actually a smart financial decision in addition to an aesthetic one. Eli Tan, who owns Spicetopia on Main Street, agrees with this assessment. “The Main Street closure has brought in business we otherwise wouldn’t have received,” says Tan. “In addition to possibly a higher profile from the street, nearby outdoor restaurant seating has directly increased sales.” You may be wondering if, theoretically, Main Street could stay closed after the pandemic and still

experience. As voter turnout and mail-in voting were both at an all-time high this year, election results were inconclusive for weeks after election day. With each upload of new ballots, there was no telling which candidate would pull into the lead in this extremely close election. Finally, on Nov. 30, election officials announced that Garcia had successfully won reelection. Although he won, this election was another sign of the continuous shift left of CA-25. Final totals show that of the 338,943 votes tallied, Garcia won by only 333 votes. Ultimately, the district

followed the national trend of Republican candidates winning hotly contested races, although by a tiny margin. Before the race was officially called, Garcia issued an official statement on election results focused on thanking his supporters for giving him “the privilege of serving CA-25 for another 2 years.” Garcia also gave his opponent “a tip of the hat” for running an “excellent and aggressive campaign.” In her concession statement, Smith thanked her supporters for “the strong, grassroots campaign we ran,” despite not winning the CONTINUED ON PAGE 4


remain successful. The answer? Absolutely. Take Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado, for instance. Paved with red bricks and lined with over a thousand businesses, Pearl Street is one of the American Planning Association’s Ten Greatest American Places. It showcases a wide variety of entertainment and character that would not be possible for a street cluttered with cars. Closer to home, Santa Monica also showcases a pedestrian-only downtown area, which has become one of its most attractive features. Even as you read this, cities

are closing more and more streets to cars, for the pandemic and beyond. Could a pedestrian-only Main Street here in Ventura bring that incredible small town, americana atmosphere that so many cities strive to find? “Even when [the pandemic] does end, Ventura has awesome weather,” says Tan, who is in favor of a continued closure. “More people will visit or come out of their homes to dine.” While there are currently no plans to permanently close Main Street to cars after the pandemic, one can’t help but wonder if it’s out of the question.

WINTER 2020 • 3


addition, some students attend specialized academic instruction, while others are in specialized programs specifically designed for students who require moderate to significant accommodations. The Individual Education Program (IEP) is a system that gives SPED students the help they need for their academic journey. Within the program are support services such as extra time on tests and assignments, quiet testing environments, preferred seating, text to speech softwares, questions read aloud during examinations and a lack of penalties for minor spelling and grammatical errors. Students can apply to the IEP by getting evaluated by a professional; from there, the student’s school will decide if they qualify for the program, and what accommodations would be made available for the student. Despite the importance of these accommodations, there can often be a stigma around SPED programs, much of which stems from incorrect assumptions made about the program. Lora von Kronemann, NPHS SPED history teacher, has noticed the negative effect that these misconceptions can have on students in her classes. “I think that people think the students in special ed are not smart. And then, unfortunately, the students who are in this program start to feel this way,” von Kronemann said. “If you don’t have that confidence in yourself, it’s hard to open up yourself to the possibility of learning.” Educators are working hard to break the stigma and show that their students are working towards the same goal as everyone else on campus – to learn. “Even if it takes them a bit longer to learn things, it doesn’t mean they can’t learn,” Thomas said. “Everyone learns at a different pace and in different ways. They just take a class that gives a bit more time to achieve that.” SPECIAL EDUCATION DAC

The Special Education District

Advisory Council (SEDAC) is a committee made up of parents of SPED students who are working to ensure all students have the opportunity to succeed. Erika Johnson is a member of the committee who is helping to advocate for SPED students. “SEDAC advises district administrators and board of education on matters that are related to educational programs, policies, procedures and specific actions being taken for students receiving special ed-

to providing SPED students with their optimal academic experience. Allice Chou, the chair of SEDAC, stressed the importance of bringing awareness to the invalidity of SPED stereotypes and assumptions. “What I consider as part of my role is to really break the idea of the stereotype of what special education is ... we all have our strengths and our weaknesses, and so part of it is finding out what are those strengths of the


Educators within SPED attend a presentation about post-secondary education for people with developmental disabilities.

ucation services,” Johnson said. One of the main responsibilities of the council is to ensure every student is receiving the support that is necessary for them to succeed. “I am so grateful for [SEDAC’s] advocacy and their collaboration to work with site and district staff to ensure that all students who receive services through an IEP and/or 504 are considered and included in every school activity and/or decision made when it comes to all students at a school site,” Johnson said. Breaking boundaries is crucial

student,” Chou said. Chou believes that the collaboration and communication from multiple parts of the district helps SEDAC aid students. “[Because of] the support of teachers, administrators, particularly, Dr. Miller and Dr. McLaughlin and the Board of Trustee ... we have a voice and a meaningful seat at the table and not only are we invited, but we feel welcomed because of them,” Chou said. Above all, SEDAC strives to create a supportive community for SPED students. “It takes a village…it’s not just the parent,

it’s not just a teacher, and it’s not just a student. It’s all of us together,” Chou said. LEARNING MODELS

While some classes are back on campus, others will remain remote until all blended students return on Jan. 19. Through remote learning, teachers have faced some challenges, from not being able to emulate the experience in the classroom to properly accommodating all students’ needs. “For a kid who has trouble auditorily, they’re not going to do really well if the teacher only talks to them all the time. They need things written down, they need to see things so that they can use some of their other senses,” Pefley said. “During distance learning, it’s really hard to always get the accommodations the way they’re supposed to be.” Ensuring students are doing well in their classes is another challenge; remote learning creates a barrier between a teachers’ ability to check for student understanding. “Some of them might [respond], but some of them might not, and verbally responding is different from seeing them in person,” von Kronemann said. “It’s hard when they need to be prompted for that kind of help and assistance.” Remote learning not only creates boundaries between teachers and students but between their peers as well; the ability for students to interact with each other can play a significant role for working on language development. Lisa Miller, assistant superintendent, noticed challenges with distance learning as well. “A lot of [speech and language intervention] is just the natural dialogue that happens between a speech therapist and the student and the other students in the room… on Zoom, it is often the adult doing the speaking,” Miller said. “The language engagement between peers is really valuable and imCONTINUED ON PAGE 6

4 • WINTER 2020

Sports: Breaking down college recruitment BY ADAM HELFSTEIN, ALEX GASPAR, BRENT GELICK AND ERIC YEUNG / TALON The lights, the cameras, the attention. Everyone wants to be on the big stage, the shining star, experience the Cinderella story. However, not everyone is cut out for the life of a NCAA student-athlete. Under 7% of high school athletes play a varsity sport in college — less than 2% go Division 1. The road to becoming an NCAA student-athlete is filled with ups and downs. “In my experiences, it is ultimately the ability and work ethic of the athlete that will get them recruited at the next level. It is important to note that recruitment and eventual scholarships are earned and not given,” Oak Park Head Athletic Director Tim Chevalier wrote to the Talon. Obviously, with the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, recruiting has become a bit more challenging. Gone are the times of in-person scouting trips for coaches, visits to schools for the prospects and most importantly, no games, thus preventing players from giving scouts a taste of their abilities. Initially, after the NCAA canceled its annual March Madness tournament on March 17, there was a recruiting “dead period.” ELECTION, FROM PAGE 2

race. She said that “the results show our district is deeply divided,” and that she hopes for change in the future. LOCAL

Although federal elections may get the most attention, local elections are important as well. Similar to that of CA-25, this year’s city-level elections in Simi Valley were a test of whether the traditionally Republican town would remain that way with its changing populations.


According to the NCAA, college coaches “may not have face-toface contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, and may not watch student-athletes compete or visit their high schools.” After this period ended in mid-May, players and coaches alike were forced to adapt to the new recruiting norm. The recruiting process has

changed in two ways. First, the evaluation and scouting process has become nonexistent. In a world where camps, summer tournaments and in-person scouting cease to exist, players can only present themselves through a compilation of highlight clips. These events are crucial for players, as it shows a coach the player’s offseason improve-

While city-level elected officials are nonpartisan positions, it is apparent by their stances on local issues where they stand. After Democrat Ruth Luevanos was elected to the Simi Valley City Council in 2018, local Democrats were hopeful that the new city council district system would lead to more Democrats in power. In the 2020 election, Simi Valley Democrats did not achieve their goal. The incumbent Mayor Keith Mashburn beat out his competitors by over

17,000 votes, and the incumbents won both city council districts. Although they didn’t get the election results they wanted, the candidates endorsed by Democrats performed better overall compared to recent years. For instance, in City Council District 1, Phil Loos lost to incumbent Dee Dee Cavanaugh by just 257 votes, a closer margin than in previous years. Despite the losses, Simi Valley Democrats are not disheartened. Local student activist Delaney

ments. With no events or showcases, coaches are left with only one main determinant, highlight tapes from the previous season. Sports for the 2020-21 season are in jeopardy at both levels — college and high school — due to the virus. This has dramatically affected the recruiting process for high school athletes. Instead of game film, players have resorted to sending tapes to coaches of virtual workouts. Additionally, the interaction between players and coaches at all levels — via Zoom, phone or social media — has become more important than ever. Whether it is at a Division I university or a junior college, pursuing one’s dream to play sports on a bigger stage is a goal for many. Knowing the ins and outs of recruiting is vital for prospective college athletes. Recruitment of an athlete occurs when a college coach or scout reaches out to a student-athlete with an offer to play sports for them. For college teams and coaching staff, recruiting is a skill. In the college sports community, it is well-known which coaches are good at recruiting and which are not. For example, Alabama football coach Nick Saban consistently brings in great recruiting classes for the CrimCONTINUED ON PAGE 6

Moss said “Only a handful of Democrats and progressives have been elected to leadership positions in Simi Valley, but this should be more motivating than discouraging. These campaigns played a vital role in generating a greater interest in local politics and creating momentum for future campaigns. It’s important that we continue our strides and build on that momentum, because we are on the eve of substantial change in Simi Valley and we can’t stop now.”

WINTER 2020 • 5

What ever happened to screen time guidelines? BY ANNA GUERRA / THE COUGAR PRESS You wake up tired and blearyeyed. Shoot, it’s almost 8 a.m. and you’re going to miss your first period. Since you’re rushing you don’t even bother getting out of bed — your laptop is right next to you anyways since you were up until 11 p.m. last night doing Canvas work. Nobody has their cameras on, but everyone’s staring at the teacher’s shared screen regardless. After your first period is over, you go to your other two classes (three if you have a seventh period) and add up a grand total of at least three hours of screen time before lunch time even rolls around. This has become a new normal for students. For years the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended no more than two hours of screen time for children and adolescents. Has online school completely disregarded these guidelines? Students on average will spend three hours minimum in synchronous learning, where they are with their peers and teacher on Zoom together. That by itself is already exceeding the AAP guidelines by an hour. Add in homework and recreational time like texting, social media and the hours spent in front of a screen exponentially increase. “I find myself staring at a screen about eight times the amount that I used to,” said senior Benet Bouchard. “It’s pretty crazy to think about when it wasn’t like this. I probably spend 15 plus hours [on a screen] with school and college applications.” When asked if she had any negative effects from staring at a screen so much, Bouchard said, “Yes, all of the above. I get headaches, sore eyes and all around

pain from sitting uncomfortably most of the time. All of these things make it very hard to focus.” The effects that Bouchard mentioned are common symptoms of having too much screen time. More serious symptoms include sleep deprivation and cyber sickness, also known as digital motion sickness. The amount of screen time that students are engaging in is clearly a cause for concern. Senior Frances Kayser also shared her thoughts about her screen time, “I definitely find myself being on my computer screen longer, I probably spend [ten] hours on a screen everyday. I become more tired and drained easily. At school when I was seeing friends, going from place to place and varying my activities my energy was kept up higher throughout the day. Now by 7 p.m. I feel like I can’t do anything else productive.” “It’s been stressful to say the least,” continued Kayser. “This time has tested my self motivation and time management skills.” A recent poll taken by 100 Ventura High School students showed that 93% spend more than two hours in front of a screen on a given school day. Most students (44%) answered that they spend anywhere from six to eight hours in front of a screen on a given school day. Even more significantly, 28% of students answered that they have more than eight hours of daily screen time. What do these numbers mean for the future of learning? Does there come a point where learning is no longer happening due to the excessive amounts of technology use? Overall, too much screen time can lead to dangerous outcomes

like increased susceptibility to chronic health conditions, impaired socializing skills and loss of cognitive ability. Being in front of a screen often means sitting down. Research shows that not getting enough movement or exercise can lead to life-threatening diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Adding on to that, technology overuse and sitting has also been tied to an increased risk of mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. The COVID-19 crisis has also done it’s part in adding to the loneliness, fear, and other negative feelings that one may feel because we are finding ourselves more isolated than ever. In an effort to combat some of the negative effects that distance learning and the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, VHS has dedicated Wednesdays to be a social-emotional learning day, named SEL Wednesday’s for short. The idea is for VHS students to show up to their third period class via zoom and learn about all things social and emotional. The Committee for Children describes social-emotional learning as the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are im-

L I K E W H AT YO U S E E ? You can check out student newspaper websites for more content specific to the school and area of Ventura County:

(Oak Park) TALON: oakparktalon.org (Camarillo) THE STINGER: achsstinger.com (Oxnard) ISLE FILE: islefile.org


portant for school, work, and life success. While the concept of SEL Wednesday’s is a positive one, some students feel like they are not getting much out of it and that it’s yet another hour that they have to be spending in front of a screen. My teacher has cancelled almost all of the SEL Wednesday’s this year,” said a VHS senior who wishes to remain anonymous. “For the ones that haven’t been cancelled, he [the teacher] just takes the time to talk about assignments for our regular class, there is never any social-emotional learning actually going on.” “If social-emotional learning actually took place I think it would be beneficial,” she concluded. Senior Elliot Feingold voiced that SEL isn’t really beneficial to his mental health or well-being at all. “If anything, it’s negatively impacting my mental health as it’s just another day that I have to get up earlier than I naturally should,” said Feingold. “I don’t think that it should be a thing, and that having Wednesdays off instead to use that day to catch up on assignments or just take a break from the screen would be more beneficial.”

(Conejo Valley) PANTHER PROWLER: pantherprowler.org (Conejo Valley) THE LANCER: tohsthelancer.org (Ventura) THE FOOTHILL DRAGON PRESS: foothilldragonpress.org (Ventura) THE COUGAR PRESS: thecougarpress.org (Ventura) BUENA SPEAKS: buenaspeaks.org (Simi Valley) THE PLAID TRUTH: plaidtruth.com

6 • WINTER 2020


son Tide and is known as one of the greatest recruiters in college football history. Some coaches go to extreme lengths to secure highly-touted recruits. Jim Harbaugh, head football coach at the University of Michigan, even went as far as sleeping over at a recruit’s house to secure the commitment, says BleacherReport. In an interview with USA Today’s “For the Win,” Quinn Nordin, the recruit who Harbaugh successfully secured said, “[Harbaugh] said we can watch a movie, see how well we gel and he said he would sleep over after that. … He told me if I had a sixfoot-three piece of carpet for him to sleep on, that would be enough. I said we have guest rooms, and he said ‘tell you what, I’ll just sleep on the floor in your room.’” College coaches are not allowed to make direct contact with potential recruits until their sophomore year. “Before then, all communication with coaches recruiting me would be through either my travel ball coach or my high school coach” current University of Pennsylvania and former Oak Park basketball player, Clark Slajchert, wrote to the Talon. “By the start of my sophomore year, I would get texts and calls from coaches on all levels … Coaches that were serious about offering you or had already offered you

would usually reach out as much as possible, even texting or calling once a day.” An important factor in choosing prospective colleges is the college itself, so student-athletes need to visit the schools recruiting them. There are two types of college visits: unofficial visits, visits the school does not pay for, and official visits, which are visits expensed by the school. Players, however, are only allowed to take five official visits, according to NCAA rules. These visits go more in-depth, often including tours of the locker room, stadium, practice facilities, and meeting players. In some instances, players also receive gear. Although he did many unofficial visits, Slajchert took only two official — Penn and Dartmouth. “All of the visits were really fun. I think getting to see and envision yourself in the facilities and environment every day is really important when making a decision,” Slajchert wrote. “The typical wave of official and unofficial visits in the spring and summer is gone, so we’ve seen a lot of prospects staying close to home and committing to programs in their backyard because those are the programs that they have the most exposure to and comfort level with,” 247 Sports Director of Scouting Barton Simmons wrote to the Talon.

In the past 5-10 years, the industry of college recruiting has rapidly developed. Big business and profits are made off of player rankings, team recruitment class rankings, analysts’ predictions, highlight reels and more. Hudl is a website designed for players to stitch together highlight clips to send to schools, coaches, etc. It is also a place for coaches to virtually discover talent. Business for content producers such as Rivals or 247 Sports is booming; these websites produce rankings, articles, expert analysis and predictions and more. Both of these websites have been bought by Yahoo and CBS, respectively, with Yahoo paying over $100 million for Rivals in 2007. “The recruiting world has changed dramatically because of the availability of information. Films are readily available, athleticism and combine info is readily available, offers and commitments are all publicly available — it has all created much more transparency throughout the entire process, allowing prospects to be better informed and colleges to find those prospects in a much more accessible way,” Simmons wrote. “Every year, it gets harder and harder for a talented player to slip through the cracks.” The role of the high school coach is a crucial part of recruiting. College coaches ask high

school —or in some cases, travel team coaches questions about the possible prospect. According to Oak Park High School’s head basketball coach Aaron Shaw, some inquiries include questions such as, “What kind of student are they and what are their GPA/test scores? What kind of teammate and leader are they? What is their work ethic like?” These questions show character in an athlete and college recruiters look for specific intangibles to benefit their team. Not only do college coaches reach out to high school and travel coaches, but high school coaches often reach out to college coaches to advocate for a player on their team. “It is part of my job to try and find a place for those wanting to play in college. Throughout the last 10+ years, I have been able to network and get to know a lot of coaches from all levels and I contact them regarding our players that I think may be a good fit,” Shaw wrote to the Talon. College recruiting is of great importance to a young athlete’s development and can be overwhelming and stressful at times. However, the future of recruiting looks bright. Despite challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, life will go on — and so will recruiting.


more, has benefitted from working primarily on the computer. “It makes me smarter, because I can focus better,” Perosio said. For those who have returned to campus through the blended learning model, classes are held in-person four days a week for two and a half hours. “Because we don’t have that many students, we are just one cohort,” Thomas said. “Not all of our students have chosen to come back, so they don’t have the full class on campus at the moment.” Students who have returned

are happy to be back, and many agreed that the social aspect was one of the main motivations to return. “It’s better. I get to see my friends,” Carson Keene, freshman, said. Being back on campus also aids in providing the support necessary for students to succeed; even with modifications for social distancing restrictions, there are still many benefits to returning to in-person education for SPED students. “[It is easier to] use things and get help in class,” Keene said.


portant for our students who need to develop their language skills.” Most programs have had to be adapted in order to suit online learning; physical education classes have continued over Zoom with modifications to their typical activities. Liam Mistry, sophomore, expresses his opinion on the new P.E. classes. “I miss having P.E… [but now] we do dancing, yoga and other exercise,” Mistry said. Several of the students typically participate in Unified Sports as well, which has held weekly Zoom meetings but

cannot have games or practices at this time. However, this is not to say remote learning is inherently negative; some SPED students are enjoying aspects of their online classes. John Perosio, sopho-

WINTER 2020 • 7

Eight safe, distanced activities to salvage 2020 BY KEVI PEREZ / THE STINGER Do you remember how everything started? The beginnings of COVID-19, of course! I remember it was March 16, and every Camarillo High School student received the news that we had two weeks off due to the newest virus we all know as COVID-19. Everyone celebrated — everything from throwing parties to sleeping in past noon — but what no one anticipated was that none of these students would go back to their classrooms. They would be forced to adapt to a new online learning environment. Old me would have taken that deal any day, but over time, COVID-19 cases grew and grew. Everything was forced to close down: from movie theaters, to small restaurants, to small stores. All of Camarillo was on lockdown. Then, we all asked ourselves: What can we do during lockdown? Well, we cannot go shopping, so forget the outlets. No school means fewer friends, and honestly, there is no way our parents would let us go outside and be another case on the books. So what does one do? Most of us have already figured it out, but if you have run out of ideas or simply do not know what to do with your spare time, let me help you out with some fun activities.

This newsletter is part of a project started by Shivani Patel, the education reporter for the Ventura County Star through the Report for America corps program. Report for America is an initiative from the nonprofit GroundTruth Project. The content — articles, photos and illustrations — in this newsletter has been produced by students for their respective publications. They have not gone through additional fact-checking by The Star. Students and advisers listed have also participated in monthly meetings.


drive-in movie theater


Since COVID-19, no one can be safe enough.

Be honest with me: Who does not love to watch movies? Nowadays, we do not have movie theaters due to the closure of them because of COVID-19. Consequently, we went old school and brought back drive-in theaters. These are way more unique due to the rarity of them and much safer because of the ability to social distance. Pick any movie you want, prop open your trunk and eat away at all the snacks you brought. It is in the comfort of your own car, and comes with the luxury of being COVID-free!

In the years when entertainment did not depend on technology, people used to have picnics for fun — what happened to that? Now with COVID-19 and the burden of being stuck at home all day, no one really wants to do the same routine every single day. So go for a picnic! Bring some friends and a couple of sandwiches, or go big and make a big meal for all your friends, or maybe even that special someone. Pick a park! We have Pitts Ranch Park, Adolfo Park, Charter Oak and Valle Lindo right next door. If you want to go a little farther, I definitely recommend Arroyo Verde Park! But say you want to go hiking: Just find a shady spot where there is a patch of grass to make it perfect for a small lunch!

Going to gyms and many public exercise centers come along with the risk of exposure, so a hike is a great activity to do to go out and get a little exercise. Not only that, but also since you are outside, you can pick a spot to be surrounded by wildlife and all type of different animals or plants you will most likely never see at home. Beautiful hikes near Camarillo include Paradise Falls Trailhead, Guadalasca Trailhead and Sycamore Canyon Falls — all of them have a great view and will guarantee you more than an amazing experience.

beaches If you live in Camarillo and you do not love the beach, you are in the wrong city!

Less than 25 minutes away you have the beautiful Hueneme Beach: You can grab your swim trunks, a couple of friends, snacks and then have the time of your life. Bring a volleyball and boogie board, or get into the water with your friends! If you are not too keen on the idea of exercise or getting in the water, simply just prop open a chair and look at the beautiful view. At the beach, you have endless activities to do — it is all up to you! Some beaches you can go out to visit are less than an hour away but will guarantee you an amazing experience! These beaches include Point Mugu, Oxnard State Beach, Sycamore Cove Beach, La Jolla Beach, Silver Strand State Beach and, my personal favorite, El Matador Beach.

go on a date Speaking of that special someone, take them out on a date! Now, with COVID-19, you will not be seeing so many people often — maybe not even your special someone — so make it unique the next time you see them. Take them out on a picnic, to a drive-in theater or on a hike!

A close drive-in theater is located in Ventura at the Ventura Country Fairgrounds. Now to get in, just bring $29, a car packed with friends and make sure to enjoy your time!

driving Since many students at Cam High are able to drive, go out to a canyon run or on a drive by the beach. Put on some relaxing music, and let the wind hit your face. Stick your hands out and feel the wind — make your own movie-worthy moments! Taking some friends too and driving side by side is another viable option to abide by social distancing rules.

If that does not sound fun, just bring a friend with you and have a conversation you will remember when you are adults. If you do not know how to drive, spend some time working on it with a trusted guardian and learn safely. Then, you can say that you learned how to drive near the beach!

take a trip Speaking of driving, go on a road trip! Grab some friends and go to the Redwoods or visit a new city. Go to Solvang or the Golden State Bridge. If you want to stick a little closer to home, go to Los Angeles and Hollywood. We live in Southern California — a place people travel miles upon miles to come to visit. There are endless things to do and endless places to go!

Remember, we are all teenagers — we have one shot at our youth. Let’s not miss out on something we could have had!

PANTHER PROWLER Newbury Park HS Adviser: Michelle Saremi Contributors: Carter Castillo, Prasheetha Karthikeyan, Adalia Luo

THE COUGAR PRESS Ventura HS Adviser: Margaret Sellers Contributors: Anna Guerra, Yasmin Myers

THE LANCER Thousand Oaks HS Adviser: Tasha Beaudoin Contributors: Kyle Lobenhofer, Molly Norton, Finn Swanson, Natalie Venable

BUENA SPEAKS Buena HS Adviser: Jessica Castaneda Contributor: Sahel Schaab

THE FOOTHILL DRAGON PRESS Foothill Tech HS Adviser: Yiu Hung Li Contributors: Bella Meza, Chloe Scofield

THE PLAID TRUTH Royal HS Adviser: Rita Longo Contributors: Alex Edgar, Daisy Popick

video games With video games, you have an endless spectrum — from making your own town to defeating monsters, to being the hero who saves the world — you can encounter a new experience every single day. With the newest consoles coming out like the Xbox X/S and PS5, you will have a better viewing experience with an even wider spectrum of games. Bring a friend, and conquer a world — or a universe — the choice is up to you!

TALON Oak Park HS Adviser: Caitlin Fowler Contributors: Daisy Calderon, Oliver Carter, Jay Dugar, Emily Francis, Ellie Hand THE STINGER Camarillo HS Adviser: Mark Storer Contributors: Ella Menin, Garrett Nagode ISLE FILE Channel Islands HS Adviser: John Grennan Contributors: Lhayla Ceraos, Rachelle Feria

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School Watch — Winter 2020 edition  

School Watch is a newsletter by Ventura County high school students in partnership with the Ventura County Star. The winter 2020 edition f...

School Watch — Winter 2020 edition  

School Watch is a newsletter by Ventura County high school students in partnership with the Ventura County Star. The winter 2020 edition f...