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MARCH 2021


OP-ED 29 — Politics After Trump 30 — Higher Education 32 — AP Tests 34 — Alcohol Dependency

4— Letter from the Editors 5 — Is the SAT Dead? 7 — Biden’s First 40 Days 8 — Meet the Student Council



10 — Deserted Island Books 11 — Club Sports 12 — Running For Charity Race 13 — Illustrated Interview 14 — Give Back During the Pandemic 15 — Student Spotlight 16 — Spring Instagrams 18 — Valentine’s Day Poll


36 — Democracy is Threatened 38 — “Wandavision” 40 — Red Velvet Cake 42 — The Most Dramatic Season Ever 44 — Comic 45 — Netflix Scrambling for Content 46 — Mor Doughnuts 48 — Calisthenics 50 — The GOAT 51 — Sequel Scrutiny

20 — Stance of the Staff 22 — Wellness and Meditation 24 — Free Speech 26 — The Show Must Go On 28 — Amanda Gorman

STAFF EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Daisy Finefrock Phoebe Stein CREATIVE DIRECTORS Frances Carlson Madeleine Nicks

Claire Kellet posing with flowers. Photo by Frances Carlson and Madeleine Nicks

FACULTY ADVISER Trish McHale, MJE NEWS EDITORS Daisy Finefrock Phoebe Stein FEATURE EDITORS Frances Carlson Madeleine Nicks

BUSINESS MANAGERS Dare Fitzpatrick Hanna Masri


WEB EDITORS Keenan Surber Nafisah Fathima

LIFESTYLE EDITORS Dare Fitzpatrick Hanna Masri

STAFF Alex Bates Carson Bohnet Lyla Bollag Luca D’Agruma Olivia Davenport Myles Hazen Abby Kim Nikki Mielcarek Cierra Nervo Patrik Nugent Taylor Smith Andreas Jackson Elli Westmacott

Letter from the Editors


ey Laguna, It’s Phoebe and Daisy again, with your March Issue of the Fourth Estate. In our newest issue, the staff chose to center our theme around student “passion.” We delved into some of the ways we expresses ourselves; whether it is through reading, meditation, drama or sports, our high school students come together to form a mosaic of passionate and creative peers. We felt that, with this issue, it was necessary to shine a spotlight on that part of the Laguna community. March marks many things on campus: the culmination of the third quarter, warmer weather (did it ever really get cold?) and Spring break. For seniors, it marks the beginning of our last three months of high school. In our next and final issue of the year, the leadership to rising editors-in-chiefs, and graduation will follow. With the time we have now, we wanted to use this letter to say a few things from the heart. We feel as if it is necessary to extend thanks to the teachers, parents and students who have all made it their mission to help our community come together, especially in the past month. In the words of Head of School Rob Hereford, “Owls take care of and look out for each other. We find places where we can be of service and comfort, and we offer grace, flexibility and patience without hesitation.” The efforts made by so many in the past few weeks have spoken for themselves; from walking through a chalk-covered campus, to seeing tables covered in snacks, paints and bubbles, it’s evident that our community supports each other. With that said, we hope you enjoy the work that you will find in these pages. Each staff member has shown their dedication to this publication in the past few weeks by working with a tight deadline and putting their all into each page. We truly hope you enjoy and appreciate the results. Until next time, Phoebe and Daisy

Editors-in-Chief Phoebe Stein & Daisy Finefrock

• MISSION STATEMENT The Fourth Estate is an open forum created for and by journalism students of Laguna Blanca Upper School. We hope to use this space to cover events, interviews and topics of interest in greater depth. Our staff seeks to be a platform for creative expression and to report on events and ideas of importance to our readers and to focus on topics of significance and interest to inform and entertain the school community. • LETTERS TO THE EDITORS The Fourth Estate welcomes guest columns and letters to the editor. Letters must be signed and must be no longer than 400 words. Editors reserve the right to edit for length, clarity and/or taste. Anonymous letters will not be published. The Fourth Estate reserves the right to reject advertising. Opinions expressed in this publication reflect the perspectives of the staff whose goal is to inform our readers with reliable information from which to base decisions and opinions. Editorials represent the voice of the staff and are voted on by the entire staff. Columns and commentaries are labeled as such and represent the opinion of the author. The Fourth Estate publishes four issues per year with a senior insert in the last issue. • BYLINE POLICY When two or three people work on a story, all names will be listed. If an editor rewrites a majority of a story, the editor’s name will be listed. • CORRECTION POLICY The staff strives for accuracy. When factual errors occur, mistakes are found or brought to the attention of the staff, corrections will be printed in a corrections box in the next issue. • COLOPHON This is the third issue of the new decade and 28th volume of The Fourth Estate magazine. Laguna Blanca School, 4125 Paloma Dr., Santa Barbara, CA 93110. Contacts are available at tmchale@lagunablanca.org, (805) 687-2461 x0317 or www.thefourthestate.net. Laguna Blanca School has an EK-12th student population of approximately 400, with 100 in the Lower School, 110 in the Middle School and 182 in the Upper School, and a faculty of approximately 60. The Fourth Estate is an 8.5 by 11 general magazine, created on MAC computers on Adobe InDesign CC2020, using FreightNeo Pro and Big Caslon font families and printed on glossy paper free for students, and $30 for an annual subscription. The magazine is distributed to all Upper School students and faculty through the school’s advisory program and sent by mail to subscribers, as well as distributed to alums, with 450 copies printed. We are associated with NSPA, CSPA and JEA.

4 • NEWS thefourthestate.net

Is the SAT Dead?

Among the long list of routines and practices disrupted by COVID-19, the validity of standardized testing is also being questioned. In light of this, the College Board discontinued the SAT essay and subject tests.


or many high school students, the prospect of waking up one day and being told that their SAT or ACT scores are no longer required for college applications might be a very stress-relieving concept. Whether it be colleges going test-optional or the College Board discontinuing the SAT essay and subject tests, this fantasy is a reality, to some extent, due to COVID-19. Individual testing centers and local health guidelines dictate the possibility, of in-person testing. This means that the testing availability for students changes depending on their area. With such inconsistencies in testing opportunities, virtually all colleges and universities decided to go completely test-optional for the class of 2021. As standardized testing and Advanced Placement courses experience increasing opposition, COVID-19 and the lack of testing established an opportune time for colleges to experiment and decipher how crucial test scores really are to the application process. These patterns are already continuing into the class of 2022, as Boston University, Hamilton College and Northeastern University, among others, have all gone test optional for the class of 2022. In addition, the UC system suspended their testing requirements until 2024, and plan to have their own test in place by 2025. “It’s a really good feeling to have that choice. Not everyone is a very good test-taker, so I’m glad schools are starting to leave up the option even if it’s because of COVID,” junior Harrison Jones said.

On the other hand, some are frustrated with these decisions. “After having heard that schools are now test optional and essays aren’t required, I just feel like it’s stupid. After all the time that I’ve spent literally for a year practicing for the test, preparing and tutoring for hours on end each week; it just feels like it’s going nowhere,” junior Mike Janey said. Many educators are starting to question the validity not only of standardized tests, but also of letter grades. With this new way of thinking, many wonder if colleges will ever go back to requiring SAT or ACT scores at all. Following this type of thinking, the College Board canceled the SAT essay and subject tests as of Jan. 19. “Since the essay and subject tests have been removed from the SAT, I am worried that colleges will not have enough accurate information to admit students,” junior Sofia Anderson said. For others, the essay affords them self expression. “It’s a bummer because the only thing I was feeling good about was the essay, because I would have more creative freedom and more room to be authentic, but now that it’s gone. It’s all weathered down to this one, standardized exam that does not show any individuality,” junior Lily Connor said. While this is in no way an end to the SAT as a whole, it is an indication that the College Board is trying to adapt to new, innovative thinking surrounding education. The College Board website states that this decision is aimed to “reduce demands on students,” and that goal may continue to develop in various ways. WORDS and PHOTO by FRANCES CARLSON

thefourthestate.net NEWS • 5

Biden’s First 40 Days

Biden takes office with a flurry of executive actions focused on curbing the spread of COVID-19, providing economic assistance to families in need and reversing immigration policies. Here’s what he has accomplished. COVID-19 EFFORTS Just days before the inauguration, Joe Biden unveiled his nearly $2 trillion-dollar relief package. This plan would help struggling Americans recover from the extreme deficits brought by the pandemic and would vaccinate a hopeful 100 million citizens. He staffed large vaccination centers with members of the military, continued mask mandates and is juggling the process of re-opening schools across the country. The vaccination rate has increased to about one million vaccines distributed per day. In the past few months, the Moderna, Pfizer and most recently, the Johnson and Johnson vaccines all have been authorized

for emergency use, with the goal to vaccinate the majority of Americans by August. New information indicates that there is now enough vaccines to have every American adult vaccinated by the end of May.

ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY In terms of the environment, Biden made it abundantly clear on the campaign trail and in the weeks before the election that he planned to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement if elected. In one of his first acts as president, he issued an executive order returning the U.S. to the Paris Climate Agreement (a global initiative to control climate change that Trump pulled out of four years ago).

TIMELINE of the Presidency



ELECTION DAY: Joe Biden wins the Presidential election against Donald Trump.



CAPITOL RIOTS: Trump supporters storm the Capitol, resulting in 5 deaths and over 150 injured.



INAUGURATION DAY: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are officially sworn into office as President and Vice-President, respectively.



IMPEACHMENT CHARGES: The House of Representatives bring Donald Trump’s impeachment charges to the Senate.

An additional plan outlined and restated by the vice president tells us of Biden’s plans to cancel the Keystone Pipeline a major issue highlighted by environmental lobbyists and conservationists. On Jan. 26, Biden signed an executive action, effectively suspending new leases for developing natural gas and oils. Most recently, Biden increased the cost of carbon, which will hopefully force more to evaluate the damaging pollution imposed by excess carbon.

Biden made it clear that immigration reform will be a priority while in office for the next four years. He intends to revisit asylum policies and laws starting with changing the term “illegal alien” to something less dehumanizing, and plans to reverse the benefit guidelines set in place by Trump for illegal immigrants. Biden introduced a bill into the House of Representatives that will provide immigrants with a clear path to citizenship. The bill includes more border security, and better funding to immigration courts. He also reverted the immigration test to the easier 2008 version. Biden’s actions in regard to immigration, including reopening one of Trump’s for-profit migrant camps, put him in the hot-seat with progressive democrats, as he has not yet followed through with campaign promises to decrease funding to ICE. WORDS by PHOEBE STEIN ART by CLAIRE TOLLES

IMMIGRATION REFORM Immigration—a topic often touched upon and continuously degraded by former president Donald Trump is another area of focus for the coming months.



MEDICAID AND ABORTION: Biden signs executive orders to continue the Affordable Care Act, expand medicaid and revoke Trump’s abortion policy.



REFUGEE ORDERS: Biden signs orders to adjust refugee guidelines, increasing admissions and allowing a “safe haven” for approximately 125,000 refugees.

6 • NEWS thefourthestate.net



INAUGURATION DAY: The President and First Lady offer a message in a Super Bowl Ad thanking front-line workers and engaging in a moment of silence for the victims of COVID-19.



VACCINE UPDATES: Biden announces that the U.S. has officially signed with Moderna and Pfizer for an additional 200 million vaccines, in hopes to vaccinate 300 million Americans by July.



GUN CONTROL: On the third anniversary of the Stoneman Douglass shooting, Biden asks Congress for stricter gun-control regulation.



IMMIGRATION BILL: U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 is introduced. The bill would add funding to immigration courts and increase security around the border.



PARIS CLIMATE ACCORD: The U.S. officially rejoins the Paris Climate Accord after former President Donald Trump left it in June of 2017.



SYRIAN BOMBING: Biden approves a bombing in Syria leaving 22 dead after a series of rocket attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq.

thefourthestate.net NEWS • 7

Keeping Up with Student Council From carrying out school activities to planning events that contribute to school spirit and community welfare, the voice of the student body helped us through the year as we transitioned from Zoom classes to in person school. Meet some juniors on this year’s Student Council.

Vice President: CATIE FRISTOE Why did you choose to join the Student Council? “I joined the Student Council because I really wanted to be a part designing and organizing student events, and I wanted to represent the student body by incorporating their ideas and opinions when thinking about the Upper School on a day to day basis!” What is your position on the Student Council? “I was a class representative in 9th and 10th grade, and now I am vice president.” How has the Student Council changed due to the COVID-19 circumstances? “The biggest change has been the fact that we can’t plan major events like dances and field day, but COVID-19 has also inspired us to come up with some really fun new ideas and activities to reward students during such a hard time.” What do you have to say to future council members? “I would just say to not hesitate to bring up any ideas you have to Student Council members with Blake Dorfman because anything helps and it is always good to start new traditions!” What does your specific job entail? “My job this year is essentially working with Finn to come up with new ideas for events and improvements throughout the year, to make the plans for each weeks Student Council meeting, and help create teams within the Student Council to get our projects going.”

Other Student Council members include: Finn Walker (President) -12th Sophia Webster – 12th Bea Lujan – 12th Kipling Lee (Student Store Manager) – 12th Noah Kamps – 11th Phoebe Ray – 11th Kent Dunn – 10th Victoria Campbell-Goldman – 10th Claire Kellett – 10th Katherine Ball – 10th Molly Morouse – 10th Kendall Keshen – 9th Lucy Wang – 9th

8 • NEWS thefourthestate.net

Secretary: HANNA MASRI

11th Grade Representative: NICOLE KHODABANDEHLOU

Why did you choose to join the Student Council? “I wanted to be a part of making Laguna a better place by making this year as normal as possible. This is through focusing on school events, lunches, and making even advisories fun in the midst of COVID-19.”

Why did you choose to join the Student Council? “I choose to join the Student Council because I thought it would be fun and that I could learn some life lessons as well as gain experiences that will help later on in my life.”

How has the Student Council changed due to the COVID-19 circumstances? “This year, we have been working to keep things as normal as possible and do everything that we usually do while respecting COVID-19 guidelines. This involves making sure that the student store is COVID-19 safe, trying to hold dances and events that we had in years past, and thinking of activities that can help connect students.” What do you have to say to future council members? “I would say that future Student Council members should listen to their peers and learn about what the student body at Laguna wants so they can make the best decisions and suggestions in Student Council.” What does your specific job entail? “As secretary, I take notes during the meetings. I work at the student store every Monday, and I run the Student Council Instagram with Catie Fristoe and Molly Morouse. Sometimes, I help out with activities or things that we have planned.”

What is your position on the Student Council? “I am a class representative for the 11th grade.” How has the Student Council changed due to the COVID circumstances? “It has obviously changed, since due to COVID guidelines we are not allowed to host traditional dances, so we are no longer planning those events. We are also not able to have a Field Day, which was also part of the Student Council responsibilities.” What do you have to say to future council members? “It actually is a lot of fun, but it does come with responsibilities.” What does your specific job entail? “We discuss issues that have been brought up by either the student body or issues that we believe are important, and we help to make a decision on the behalf of the student body.”

WORDS and PHOTOS by CIERRA NERVO and NIKKI MIELCAREK thefourthestate.net NEWS • 9

Desert Island Books

Imagine being exiled to a deserted island with no connection to humanity. But, what if you could bring three books with you? What three books would you choose to take? Four freshmen answer this age-old question.

Lucas Acosta:

Alexia Acosta: “How to Survive on a Deserted Island” by Tim O’Shei “Because it’s a book to know how to survive the deserted island.” “Webster’s All-In-One Dictionary” & “Thesaurus, Second Edition, Newest Edition.” “I would bring this book because I can use it for fires, and it’s not that hard to carry around.” “The Wings of Fire; Moon Rising” by Tui T. Sutherland. “I would bring this book so I wouldn’t get bored and also as fuel for the fire.”

“Mistborn,” “The Well of Ascension” and “The Hero of Ages” by Brandon Sanderson. “I like how the author builds a deep and rich world. This would probably keep me entertained for a long time because rereading the books would just reveal the details I missed while reading them the first time. I could say that I that I think fantasy is great for distracting yourself because you get to see stories authors create that are all unique and compelling.”

Noah Olorin:

Dylan Charney:

“Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss. “[An] example of poetry effortlessly fused into a long novel. The plot and character development of this book are fantastic. It’s incredibly [immersive.]” “The Way of Kings” by Brandon Sanderson. “The plot of this novel is good, [the characters are unique with spirited personalities]. “But, the true brilliance of this novel is the world-building and history. There is a wealth of culture to every place the book touches on [which] makes this book frighteningly immersive. The animals, the lore, the history, and the geography are fine-tuned where it’s as fascinating as the action in the book.” “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. “Incredibly different from the other two on this list, this is a philosophy book about a shepherd who goes on a journey through a desert, and it’s a lovely commentary on the impermanence and changing nature of life.”

“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien. “I would bring this book because simply reading Bilbo’s story is long. It’s a good way to spend time, and I love the magic contained within the story, Smaug as an example.” “The Kingdom of Ash” by Sarah J. Maas. “‘The Kingdom of Ash’ is the 7th and final book in the ‘Throne of Glass’ series. This was a book I very much enjoyed and the escapism it granted when I was wanting to get into the world.” “The Splendid and the Vile” by Erik Larson. “This is a book that I would bring with me to help revive my faith in humanity, as well as satisfy my love of history.”


10 • FEATURE thefourthestate.net

Club Sports During a Pandemic Many Santa Barbara club sports are currently at a standstill, but a handful of teams are able to continue practicing as long as they follow strict COVID guidelines and safety restrictions.


hen the COVID-19 lockdown started, all activities came to a halt, including Santa Barbara club sports. Now, almost a year later, many students who are part of a club team are getting back into the swing of things and are able to practice while doing so safely. Because of problems like the inability to practice and hold meets due to COVID restrictions, most club activities have had to make adjustments and alter their plans for upcoming seasons. For the teams that are still running, safety measures are the top priority. One way sophomore Jacqueline Richardson’s club soccer season has changed is the implementation of new safety precautions and rules. “We wear masks before and after practice as well as doing our best to distance from each other, but other than

that, everything has stayed almost the same,” she said. Athletes appreciate being able to practice, and mask usage and social distancing are some of the key requirements they adhere to. Sophomore club athlete, Kincade Avery, shared the latest protocols and safety precautions required at volleyball tournaments. “We have to wear masks when we play in tournaments, and the courts are wiped down after every game. We also have our temperatures checked every time we enter the gym,” Kincade said. Living through a difficult time demands people to make changes that may be difficult to get used to, but are all necessary to keep people safe. To enhance sanitation, wiping down the courts creates a better and safer environment for the athletes to play in.

Staying in shape for club seasons while sports are shut down has been a tricky issue to navigate. A problem like this requires student-athletes to find ways to exercise on their own at home instead of working out with their teams. Being fortunate enough to be able to have a club team running helps athletes get exercise and work together with their teams. “I think it is a blessing to be currently able to play volleyball with my team at this time, and we are fortunate enough to be able to continue,” sophomore Thomas Couvillion said. It is a gift to be able to practice with your club teams right now, allowing players to not fall out of the swing of things, and stay in shape.

Kincade Avery ‘23

Thomas Couvillion ‘23

Jacqueline Richardson ‘23

“We have to wear masks when we play in tournaments, and the courts are wiped down after every game. We also have our temperatures checked every time we enter the gym.”

“I think it is a blessing to be currently able to play volleyball with my team at this time, and we are fortunate enough to be able to continue.”

“We wear masks before and after practice as well as doing our best to distance from each other, but other than that, everything has stayed almost the same.”


thefourthestate.net FEATURE • 11

Mayflowers 5k Race

In May, the Running for Charity Club will host a virtual race to raise money for the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network.



or the Running for Charity Club, running isn’t just a hobby or a sport. It’s a highly effective and creative way to raise money to local organizations. When the club first began in 2019, there were exciting plans for hosting in-person races, club pasta dinners and public events. However, the pandemic took these opportunities away, and club members had to rapidly shift gears. The mission of the club is to raise money for a selected organization, currently the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network. Club president Hanna Masri selected this organization, citing that she, “fell in love with their cause of rehabilitating and returning animals to the wild. [The Wildlife Care Network] helps recover sick, injured, orphaned, or oil-impaired wild birds, reptiles, and small mammals in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. We also wanted to partner with them because their mission aligned with our ideas of sustainability and being eco-friendly.” Members are committed to keeping the club alive even through the pandemic by putting all of their time into the virtual spring race, Mayflowers 5k. The intention of the race is to get the community moving and involved in a safe way. Through an online app, ‘Open Race,’ individual runners will be able to compete with other runners through tracking their times and distances. Members are coming up with ways to make the race more inclusive and fun for all ages through different prizes such as ‘Best Costume,’ ‘Best Dog-runner Duo’ and ‘Youngest Runner.’ The club hopes that with the myriad of categories and brackets that people will be more inclined to sign up for the race in hopes to win amazing prizes. Every participant will receive a bag of sponsored merchandise and the top 3 winners receive special prizes such as local restaurant gift cards, running shoes and hoodies.

Junior Sofia Anderson is excited that this race is close to coming to fruition, saying, “It will be a great opportunity for people around the community to have something to look forward to since many events have been canceled or postponed within the past year.” That’s why this race is already garnering attention around the running community as virtual races have been the new craze in the pandemic. Being able to get outside, virtually connect with fellow runners, and simultaneously give back to a local organization is just what the community needs.

The Illustrated Interview The Illustrated Interview is The Fourth Estate’s way of highlighting students. Selected students respond to interview questions with a personal drawing or a creative illustration. In this issue, we feature the work of junior Noah Kamps!

Biggest fear?

Do you have a pet?

Favorite holiday?

Go-to Snack?

Favorite album?

What makes you happy?

Club members gather following a club meeting on Merritt Patio: Ganden Walker, Tanner Murphy, Sofia Anderson, Hanna Masri, Dare Fitzpatrick and Daisy Finefrock.


WHERE: Wherever you’d like! (Mountain trails, beach, or on the track) WHEN: All Day, May 1 PRIZES: Athletic shoes, restaurant gift cards, water bottles, clothing. HOW: Using the app ‘Open Race’ DISTANCE: 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) PARTNERED ORGANIZATION: Santa Barbara Wildlife Organization

12 • FEATURE thefourthestate.net

PAGE by TAYLOR SMITH thefourthestate.net FEATURE • 13

Ways to Give Back to the Community during COVID-19 The pandemic has resulted in a rise of homelessness; the need for volunteers and funding is great. Chipping in and providing for one’s community is an action that can change lives. Finding alternative ways to help is a priority.


s a caring society, volunteering and giving back to the less fortunate is the norm, but following the outbreak of COVID-19, volunteers are needed more than ever as charity organizations are overwhelmed with calls for volunteers and donations. Providing for the community can come in many forms whether it’s through donating your time or money. Santa Barbara is headquarters for Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organization, active in all 50 states and more than 80 countries dedicated to supplying aid to those in states of poverty or disease all around the planet. Before COVID-19, this nonprofit’s focus was equipping the impoverished with necessities including medical and hygienic supplies, but since the pandemic Direct Relief is devoting every facet to the COVID-19 response. Volunteering would be the usual method of support, but because contact with other volunteers and employees is a risk, our community is resorting to other approaches. One approach is fundraising and another way to help is spreading awareness through social media. The collaboration with friends and family on public platforms tends to arouse increased support from viewers, which leads to more awareness and donations for Direct Relief.

Clothing racks inside local thrift and consignment store Destined for Grace.

Georgia with Kate Spaulding and Sydney Hlavaty

Georgia performing at the Winter Showcase

The entrance of The Food Bank in Santa Barbara. GoFundMe is an efficient way of raising funds to supply Direct Relief, and, like social media, it brings a community of charitable organizations and people together. Not all have the ability to donate money so donating supplies or food to local organizations such as The Food Bank or Destined for Grace is a another option during COVID-19. The Food Bank of Santa Barbara County is stepping up its efforts to help farmworkers at high risk of contracting COVID-19 in Santa Maria. The organization created the ‘Farm Workers Program’ to help low-income families in the farming industry. Providing not only food but also education and prevention kits that include face coverings for their weekly food drives. Destined for Grace is a local thrift and consignment store with two locations dedicated to aiding children in Haiti. The organization used their profits to establish a school in Haiti. Project Lifesaver International is a for-profit organization dedicated to servicing the community of cognitive disabled by producing the technology to avoid wanderings. Volunteers restore or replace the technology used to locate clients in need. While donating and fundraising provide much needed economic relief, volunteering provides a sense of connection and gratitude. WORDS and PHOTOS by ELLI WESTMACOTT

14 • FEATURE thefourthestate.net

Georgia with Elizabeth Bisno and her chickens

Nafisah Fathima, Georgia Avery and Violet Zhou

The Avery family: Logan, Georgia, Kelly, Bob, Kincade and Olivia

Memories with classmates from the Paris Trip 2018 PHOTOS: LAGUNA FLICKR

thefourthestate.net FEATURE • 15

#springinstagrams PAGE by ELLI WESTMACOTT

“This is a picture that I took with one of my best friends who I ran into while shopping.” (Franky Baron ‘23)

“I took this is when I was with my friend just before it started hailing.” (Zoe Stephens ‘22)

“This is me in Santa Ynez. I saw this really cute spot and decided to take this photo because I hadn’t posted in a while.” (Jacqueline Richardson ‘23)

“What’s better than being in the snow on a sunny day?” (Devin Hernandez ‘21)

“This picture was taken with my friend Lily when we went to watch the sunset at the Douglas Preserve.” (Penelope McKean ‘24)

“I took this picture just before my friends picked me up to take me on a Valentine’s Day friend date at Orpet Park!” (Molly Newell ‘22)

“A few friends and I were taking photos for photography class. We went down to the gym, and I thought it would be fun to take a photo.” (Fiona Hernandez ‘23)

“I took this picture with my friend in a parking garage. We were going to get boba and she randomly said, ‘Go over there and pose!’” (Lily Connor ‘22)

“My sister took this picture on my balcony after we had a family dinner.” (Claire Kellet ‘23)

16 • FEATURE thefourthestate.net

stance of the staff


ur passion brings us together. From the love of learning and teaching to self-expression born from creating and performing, it’s essential to find your niche and allow yourself to find solace in expression. With a global pandemic and a national mental-health epidemic found predominantly in the youth, now, more than ever, we should urge teens to pursue their passions. Passions encourage confidence and resilience, relieve stress and allow for connections to be made. We can rarely find something so simple that pushes us into experiences and, in some ways, gives us a purpose. Right now, our country is at an impasse. The pandemic has its grip on many young people’s mental health, and the palpable tension found within the realm of politics is bringing a distance that is hard to bridge. With so much division and uncertainty, things that bring people closer are rare and necessary. Though it may feel like a challenge to endeavor on the journey of finding or honing a passion, studies show how truly vital they are in times when stress is practically the default setting. The articles in our theme section, show how some of our students are taking their passions to the next level and how our staff members understand the idea of self-expression. By delving deeper into Laguna students’ aspects that aren’t showcased in an academic setting, we hope to show how creative, innovative and genuinely passionate our community can be.


20 • THEME thefourthestate.net

thefourthestate.net THEME • 21

Wellness on Campus Just how important is self-care for high school students? From school to mental health to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year brings challenges that are difficult to manage. Students share their tips to ease the stress.



or many high school students, stress is common, whether that stress is related to homework, grades, mental health, social groups or the pandemic. These trying times only add to the feelings of discomfort and anxiety that come along with being a teenager. Upper school students, in particular, are under a great deal of pressure; the weight of the pandemic is coupled with Laguna’s high-academic standards and other forms of anxiety that might arise outside of the classroom. In a survey of 25 students, 80% said they think that they are under a significant amount of stress, and 72% said that they are somewhat stressed. Meditation Club leader junior Maura Jaye is familiar with the fields of wellness and selfcare. She agrees with the survey results that indicate students’ stress. “[Students] are experiencing a good deal of stress. Whether it be related to COVID-19, college applications, classes or something else; everyone is dealing with an excessive amount of anxiety and stress,” Maura said. Freshman Mina Yazadzhiev agrees with this, saying, “Due to COVID, many of us are stressed.” With such busy schedules involving academics that range from Chemistry labs to APUSH projects and extracurriculars from beach cleanups to volleyball practices, it can be difficult to find the time to sit back, relax and find real peace.

“Large amounts of homework and an uncertain learning environment lead to tons of stress,” freshman Owen Noble said. It is much too easy to get overwhelmed by all of the obstacles from this school-year and fall down the rabbit hole of putting everything else before self-care. “Mental self-care is often overlooked and disregarded in our busy lives, but well-being and self-care are arguably the most essential aspects of our lives at this time,” Maura said. Many upper schoolers are well-versed in dealing with this demanding schedule and know the ins-and-outs of coping

Junior Molly Newell, says that “developing a routine each day” and using apps like “Flow and Notion” on her laptop have improved her attention span and time-management skills. Meditation is one method of self-care that “improves the body’s ability to cope with stress and advances students’ academic achievement. “Meditation also promotes emotional health and enhances self-awareness,” Maura said. Anyone can take part in simple meditation practices. Some of Maura’s favorites include practicing breath work, using the app “Headspace” and setting daily intentions. These practices are highly effective in reducing stress and anxiety, however simple they may seem. Short breaks in between homework and studying can prove to be more beneficial than many might assume. Rewarding oneself with little treats or a spinal stretch can improve one’s attention span and efficiency in working. Taking time to practice self-help can seem like a waste of time during periods of stress and amidst busy schedules, but personal care is the foundation for success and the first step in creating a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Any time taken to improve mental health saves time in the later hours spent stressing. Allowing oneself moments away from work is necessary to maintaining mental stability and pursuing success.

“Mental self-care is often overlooked and disregarded in our busy lives, but well-being and self-care are arguably the most essential aspects of our lives at this time.” with substantial amounts of stress. While it is difficult to figure out how to navigate one’s way through a busy schedule, some students are ready to share their advice. An important part of retaining a healthy mindset is to, “Make sure you’re taking time for yourself. Even if it’s only five minutes between homework assignments or studying, remember that you’re only human and not a machine. Do things that make you happy just for the sake of doing them,” junior Olivia Davenport said.

22 • THEME thefourthestate.net

thefourthestate.net THEME • 23

Is Free Speech

Weakening Our Country?

Free speech has become a polarizing issue in our country. Should social media platforms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter be treated as publishers or platforms?

Anti Restrictions



ree speech can be argued to have resulted in terrible things. For example the Capitol riots might have been prevented had we censored Trump or QAnon instead of allowing their free speech. Furthermore, dictators like Mao and Hitler came into power by spreading their messages to the people. In Mao’s case, calling people to action to fight against the government, and in Hitler’s case, gaining enough support to be appointed to a position of power, with large rallies that were not restricted and spread their dangerous ideas. Conspiracy theories are experiencing a renaissance in part because of unrestricted free speech online. An example of this is QAnon, which has adherents from right-wing groups. Conspiracies can be harmful by making people think that the world is entirely different from how it actually is. People have committed violent acts based on these theories that are not true. If all this is true, shouldn’t we limit our freedom of speech? No. Despite all the negatives of free speech, there are also many positives. For example, that democracy cannot function in a system where certain people are censored. If people’s voices cannot be heard, how are we supposed to have people’s ideas represented in the government? Sure, anti-democratic ideas are dangerous for democracy.

Still, if we believe in democracy, in a scenario in which the majority of people believe in authoritarian ideas, we should allow democracy to be used to overturn it, as democracy puts who the people want in power. If you don’t believe that democracy should be allowed to bring about authoritarianism, free speech is also necessary. Many people would want to start an insurrection against the government, with reason, if a true authoritarian came into power and began violating basic freedoms. In this scenario, an ability to call for violence against the government becomes justified, and as such, this ability must be protected at all costs. Once we give up rights like these, they’re not coming back, assuming that the rise of authoritarianism, both left and right wing, around the world and in the U.S. holds true into the future. This right to insurrection and calls to violence can be misused. For example, calls to violence were used to organize the capital riot this January. It is essential to qualify this by saying that many of the people involved genuinely believed that they were protecting democracy by stopping the certifying of the vote. Still, whatever they believed, their end goal became tearing down democracy. Despite how it may seem, censorship is one of the worst possible things you can do regarding conspiracy theories and the aforementioned people. Depending on the scale of the censorship, it may be possible to stop the spread of the ideas. However, you confirm those conspiracy theorists’ ideas making them even more dead set in their beliefs. You also take their ideas out of the marketplace of ideas. No one can debate them and expose them to contra-

dictory facts or expose the flaws in their arguments. It is terrible to assume that people who have embraced conspiracies cannot come out of it as many do. If that was true, how come people can come out of cults, and some people have come out of conspiracies. It may be a long process and unpleasant for those involved, but conspiracy theorists have an internal struggle when shown facts. While meant to stop conspiracy theorists, censorship supercharges them and gets rid of the potential to bring them back from their false ideas. Censorship can also make something popular. For example, the song “Relax” by the band Frankie Goes to Hollywood was censored by the BBC. The controversy boosted a song that most likely would’ve faded out with time to the most popular song in the United Kingdom, which is an example of what can happen if censorship isn’t fully implemented. The controversy over the issue draws people in and allows them to learn about what the censoring person doesn’t want them to. There is also the legal issue about whether social media companies should be treated as publishers or platforms. Social media companies should be one or the other. At this point, however, social media has become public discourse. People talk online sometimes more than they talk in person. As such, social media companies should be platforms for public discourse. Censorship online is equivalent to stopping people from advocating their beliefs on the street. Furthermore, a ban from a social media platform is equivalent to forcible exile from that street.

24 • THEME thefourthestate.net



e have a massive problem online. Conspiracy theorists, propaganda and alternative facts have already convinced 17% of Americans that a secret cabal of pedophile “satan-worshiping” elites are trying to control our politics, and white supremacists are radicalizing an entire generation of young susceptible white men. Baseless claims of widespread voter fraud incited thousands of Trump supporters to violent insurrection, and COVID-19 denial inspired militia members in Michigan to plan to kidnap and murder Governor Gretchen Whitmer. We are in the death knells of our democracy unless we act: fast. We already have rules on what you are allowed to say. Though some may dispute this on ideological grounds, our laws already restrict free speech, by preventing people from freely slandering, inciting violence, disseminating child pornography, classified information, trade secrets and much more. In addition, the argument that the government cannot legally restrict social media is factually incorrect, as we already have massive regulations on the airwaves. Our democracy didn’t crumble when airwaves were regulated, or when we collectively decided it was bad for society to have it legal to shout “FIRE” in a crowded theater. The Supreme Court held in “FCC v. Pacifica Foundation” that it was constitutional to ban things that are considered constitutionally protected outside of the airwaves. It is also considered constitutionally permissible to restrict the manner in which people might speak if they have enough other options.

Due to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, platforms are NOT legally liable for content spread on their platform, but they ARE allowed to moderate their content, meaning it is legal to ban, restrict or remove content even if it is constitutionally protected. So companies have a legal and moral right to moderate their content. We have seen the failures of completely free sites like 4chan and Parler, where the platforms have been completely infested with Nazis who post content advocating for race wars and for the murders of political officials. If companies couldn’t moderate content, the internet would quickly become an inhospitable place. However, it’s clear the current system isn’t working. Section 230 is vital, but it needs to be reformed so that companies ARE treated like publishers and can be held accountable for letting constitutionally-restricted content be spread. In addition, the government must regulate these massive social media companies like they do the airwaves, by requiring fact checks and moderation of conspiracy-theories. This isn’t an ideological issue, it’s a public safety issue tied to the survival of our democracy. We can no longer stand by and let millions of people turn to lies and hate. We have a moral right, to protect the vulnerable against intolerance and violence, and to keep our nation safe from those who would wish to take away our rights and liberties. The path forward is easy. We just have to alter one law: so that publishers online are held to the same standards as every other mode of communication.

thefourthestate.net THEME • 25

The Show Must Go On

A collection of interviews with the cast and crew of “Almost, Maine”

Freshman Amelie Dalporto prepares herself for a scene as juniors Madeleine Nicks and Noah Kamps go over some last-minute blocking

Q: What do you like most about “Almost, Maine?” Junior Ava Rice steps onto the set ready for action (left) as juniors Lily Connor and Foster Smith perform during filming.

Q: What has been the biggest change this year in the theater program? A: “I think the biggest change is that there is no audience. We moved from a live performance to a filmed video, so the pressure is off, but a new pressure is added which is on camera.” Lily Connor ‘22 Q: How hard has it been for you with the new protocols in the theater program? A: “The new protocols were fairly easy to adjust to considering they’re made up of the same basic rules we’ve all been following. Elvis did a really good job of keeping everyone safe and reminding people of all the [COVID] regulations.” Elyse Weaver ‘24 A: “Honestly, I’m so used to following COVID protocols so bringing that to the theater is virtually no different, though it is hard when it comes to blocking.” Lily Connor ‘22 A: “The hardest part with the new protocols is definitely the inability to be with-

in six feet of another actor because of how important that is, but even though we had these protocols; we have done a great job of making the best out of what we could, and we came out with a very good final product. Foster Smith ‘22 Q: What do you like most about “Almost, Maine?” A: “I think my favorite thing about “Almost, Maine” is that it all takes place at the same time in the same [place], I love how all the characters are interwoven, and each scene ends with the northern lights which ties the play all together.” Lily Connor ‘22 A: “The thing I liked most about “Almost, Maine” was being able to work with an entirely new cast. We had a lot of people in theater graduate last year, but it was amazing for everyone to be learning the process and experiencing a show-week together for the very first time under such special circumstances.” Madeleine Nicks ‘22

Noah Kamps recites a monologue

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A: “I feel like “Almost, Maine” is a great story that really relies on the actors and their ability to bring out characters’ personalities as one person plays multiple parts. Along with [that] “Almost, Maine” is a story that most people can relate to even in small ways because of the wide range of characters and their varying personalities.” Foster Smith ‘22 A: “This vignette-style play was a very intentional choice for this pandemic year, as the 2-3 person minimalist scenes provided the best opportunity for students to engage in meaningful material, while maintaining the integrity of safety protocols. It gave us flexibility to focus-in on the heart of this sweet and whimsical story: a singular moment in time, in the lives of regular folks struggling through life’s heartaches, in the middle of a long, cold, dark winter, who encounter precious moments of beauty and magic along the way. Working on “Almost, Maine” has been one of the greatest sources of joy during one the most challenging years we have ever faced as a school and global community.

The love and dedication our students have shown through our work on “Almost, Maine” has moved my heart profoundly: the commitment to their passions - both on the stage and behind the scenes - and above all, to each other too, to keep each other safe and rising time and again above ever-evolving formations of what rehearsals and performances look like.” Dana Caldwell Theater Director Q: How has the new filming process changed the way the theater operates and what are the good and bad things about? A: “Filming the show has completely changed the way that theater operates. We spaced out each scene so there were never more than two students acting every night, we got dressed and did our makeup completely by ourselves and did each scene multiple times. I would say the biggest change has been not being able to perform in front of an audience, which is always so much fun. But it was also very relaxing to be able to ask for a line if we needed it and take our time doing each scene.” Madeleine Nicks ‘22

A: “For us theatre folks, I think waiting for the film will be the hardest part while the final product is being crafted in post production! Thespians love the immediate, live experience—a dark house filled with friends and family, post-show celebrations and all the other traditions we revel in. We cannot wait to come back together once again with our whole community for these milestone moments, but we are immensely proud of this work and cannot wait to share it with our big Laguna Family!” Caldwell A: “Filming has been a very good experience because although the actors have been still working very hard in perfecting [their] characters, and the thought that our crew can go back and fine tune things in editing ensures that the actors do not go through too much nerves in the play. The most important part is that we come out [of this] with a final product


Foster Smith ‘22


thefourthestate.net THEME • 27

Our Ascending Voice of Hope

Amanda Gorman, the youngest poet to speak at an inauguration, is the rising voice for unity and harmony in America. Her poetry reminds us that peace resides in togetherness, providing hope during the divide of our country.



er inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” delivered a sense of aspiration following the Capitol

The 22-year-old poet produced three books, “The Hill We Climb,” “The Hill We Climb and Other Poems” and her debut riots. picture book, “Change Sings,” which is Amanda Gorman said herself that set to be published in 2021. she wrote a poem that did not “gloss According to a report on CNN, there over what we’ve seen over the past few is such a high demand for her works, her weeks,” and clarified that her intention three books will get a million first prints in the work was to provide a place for due to overwhelming demand. the country to “come together” and Her publisher, Penguin Books, de“heal.” clared that they will be printing one milAn important message behind this lion copies of each title. powerful poem is that our country is Gorman is an admirer of the art of not flawless, for we are still evolving and literature. In the feature article “Meet improving, but we live in an environment Amanda Gorman, America’s First Youth “where a skinny Black girl descended Poet Laureate,” published by The New from slaves and raised by a single moth- York Times, the literary artisan is deer can dream of bepicted throughcoming president “Gorman’s inaugural out her secondonly to find herself school and poem surpassed all of ary reciting for one,” university life as meaning that we, as the other speakers. “The a life-long deva nation, are in the to femiHill We Climb,” was otee process changing for nism, who was the better. intriguing and powerful p a r t i c u l a rl y As students gathinfluenced by ered to watch the in- to both my friends and the acclaimed auguration in classes Pakistani acme.” across campus, many tivist Malala were moved by Gorman. Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Lau“Gorman’s inaugural poem surpassed reate. all the other speakers. “The Hill We Gorman is the first person to hold Climb,” was intriguing and powerful to the title of National Youth Poet Lauboth my friends and me,” sophomore Fio- reate. Her voice touched the hearts of na Hernandez said. so many throughout our country and In an age when our country is enduring world. Her words are now inspirational an exponential divide, Gorman’s words quotes and hashtags trending on social illuminated the possibility of a brighter media as messages of hope: “Her poetry future. A future where “cultures, colors, exist[s] in that tradition of truth-telling.” characters and conditions of man” may When one person can ignite emostrive for harmony. tions of aspiration and determination The Harvard graduate uses the ideas throughout an entire country, one can of discrimination and oppression to in- assume that she is certain to lead a fluence her insightful poetry. She con- powerful life. “For there is always light, tinues to use the issues of race, femi- if only we’re brave enough to see it. If nism and the diminishing of freedom of only we’re brave enough to be it.” Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II speech in her upcoming poetry books.

Presidency Post Trump

After four years of a president desperately trying to cling to his power, how has the state of our democracy been able to survive?



n the last four years, the U.S. has had a president who praised conspiracy theories and scandalized reputable news sources. Trump argued to expand the president’s executive power. Instead of uniting the country, former President Trump incited riots, and in doing so, divided America more than ever. Now that Trump is out of office, what will happen to the presidency? Historically, the president was a figure of respect. Even when we disagreed with presidents, we respected them. After Trump’s presidency, the people’s respect for government, and the presidency in particular, has plummeted. Trump started a cycle that may spell doom. When he first came into office, he undid many of the policies that Obama put in place. Trump pulled out of North American Free Trade Agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Iran Nuclear Deal and the Paris Climate Agreement. This seems to have become a trend among presidents as Biden has undone many of Trump’s policies and reinstated some of Obama’s. If every time a president came into office they undid their predecessors’ legis-

lature, growth would be impossible. No president has ever implemented so many policies to undo everything the previous president did. Trump abused executive power by appointing biased judges to gain more power. He appointed more judges per year than most recent presidents. According to the Pew Research Center, Trump appointed 226 judges in his one term, including appointing three Supreme Court judges: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. George H.W. Bush appointed 187 in his one term and Obama appointed 320 in two terms. Since judges serve for life, Trump may have pushed the ideological balance of the court system and, more importantly, the Supreme Court for generations. If this proves successful, progressive reforms that Trump disagrees with, but are popular among the population, may not pass until the judges he appointed retire. Trump undermined the presidency by praising conspiracy theories. The most notable of these conspiracies was QAnon.

QAnons believe that the world is run by devil worshiping pedophiles, and that Trump has come to Washington to free the world from them. QAnon rapidly gained power and followers, including a congresswoman in the House of Representatives, Marjorie Taylor Greene. Trump’s endorsement of QAnon led to the modern reality in which, according to a poll by NPR conducted in Dec. 2020, 17% of Americans believe in QAnon. A functioning democracy cannot exist when under siege by a group of people who are so detached from reality that they believe satanists run the government. Democracy relies on an informed base of voters who can make accurate choices. Without education and truth, the politician who can indoctrinate the most voters will win, no matter how corrupt or terrible that politician is. The U.S. isn’t necessarily headed for such catastrophe, but, as we approach the possibility, we need to reevaluate our ideals and make sure we can think for ourselves so that we can avoid the possibility. Be vigilant and make sure you don’t fall into a trap of misinformation.


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thefourthestate.net OPINION •29

Comparing Higher Education America’s college education system is the most renowned and most criticized in the world; with such stark pros and cons of American higher education, a college experience outside of the U.S. may be the best choice for prospective students. WORDS by DARE FITZPATRICK and ART by LILY CONNOR


he United States and the United Kingdom consistently align as the countries with highest-ranking universities in the world. US News and World Report’s, “2021 Best Universities in The World” ranked eight American universities and two British universities among the top 10 including Harvard, Stanford, University of Washington, University of Oxford and University of Cambridge to name a few. The majority of university students in the U.K. and the U.S. are citizens of the countries their schools are in. However, some privileged students have the option to go to school abroad.

The idea of moving seems daunting for some young adults, let alone taking the leap to live across the Atlantic. Depending on the level of freedom a particular student seeks and the proximity to home one wants, attending college abroad could be an impossible stretch or an amazing opportunity. Before making such a life-changing decision, students must consider the differences of applying for and going to college in a foreign country. High school students in the U.S. are aware of the process required to enter into higher education in this country. Standardized tests are one of the most important and influential parts of the college admissions process. The ACT, with 1.8 million test takers in 2019, and the SAT, with 2.2 million test takers in 2019, are two of the most popular tests in college admissions according to US News. However, the tests have grown out of style in recent years. The ACT and SAT tests are losing credibility as more research is published denouncing the effectiveness of standardized tests in determining academic knowledge. During the pandemic, many colleges and universities in the U.S. have had to make standardized tests optional for admission. Advanced Placement (AP) classes are still very popular throughout the country, even amidst COVID. These courses are optional for students but many high-achieving students take them. For U.K. schools, on the other hand, educators and universities emphasize students take standardized tests from young ages. The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is a standardized testing program for 14-16 year-olds, and is a part of the secondary education system. The program usually runs 2-3 years. After taking the GCSE tests at the age of 16, students can either end their education, or go onto what is called ‘further education.’ A-Levels are subject-based qualifications for students aged 16 and above, and a part of the further education system known as 6th form or college. The tests are a part of a twoyear program required for higher education; students normally take 3-5 A-Level tests.

30 • OPINION thefourthestate.net

Top British universities look for grades in the A+ and A range. For American students, many universities require a score of five on AP tests as an equivalent to the A-Levels. One highly debated topic—after admissions—is the student loan crisis in America. The total student loan debt in 2020 was $1.56 trillion among 44.7 million Americans according to an article published in Forbes. The average student loan debt was $32,731. Only about 1,500 people (out of about 136,000 who applied) got approved for public loans. The most populous states, like California, Texas, Florida and New York had the highest student debt. Other countries worldwide, including the UK, do not share this extreme student loan crisis. When going to college is required for many careers, it should not be a privilege to receive a higher education—yet in America, it is. Colleges and universities charge absurd tuitions, especially when compared to the median income in America, which was $31,133 in 2019. The average tuitions of 2020-21 are $9,687 for public in-state universities, $21,184 for the public out-of-state universities and the whopping $35,087 for private colleges according to US News. The U.K. has student loan issues of its own, but not nearly to the same extent as the U.S.. The U.K. uses public and private loans, as the U.S. does, but the policies for public loans are much better fit the country’s economy and the interest of the students and families. Public loans ensure that the government wipes all debt after 30 years and the amount owed depends on fiscal income. The loans do not change credit scores, and people do not start paying debt until they earn over £26,575 a year. Once this threshold is reached, people pay 9% of their income after that. The U.S. and the U.K. are thought of as relatively similar countries in terms of culture; the two countries speak the same language, communicate in somewhat similar ways and share some popular culture. However, the differences between the higher education systems in each country are very different. The varying values of education and economic systems are at the root of the differences between the countries. While the U.S. stresses the importance of getting a well-rounded education into later years, the U.K. focuses on zeroing in on specific areas of interests from a younger age. The U.S. nearly requires a college education for a decent and lasting careers, but doesn’t make it accessible to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds while the U.K. enables more support in terms of student loans. So, where does an American high school student fit into all of this? One of the most important considerations in determining where to pursue higher education is the factor of tuition.

The tuitions of U.S. private colleges are substantially higher than public universities, specifically in-state universities. For the least expensive overall tuition, an in-state public college is the way to go. However, if looking for a private college that may be smaller and more focused, a U.K. school could fit the long-term plans since the student-loan program is much more forgiving than that of the U.S..

thefourthestate.net OPINION • 31

Are APs Losing Importance? When deciding what classes to take in high school, APs are often heralded as an essential part of the high-school experience. Is all the hype around these classes and tests deserved or are they simply overrated?


n the fast-paced world of high school and college prep, one can easily get buried under the expectations to succeed. Whether it is a perfect 4.0 GPA or an impeccable assortment of extracurriculars, students are told that they must have it all to get into a “good college” and “succeed.” In the midst of all this are AP classes— every freshman knows about them and every senior knows them well, possibly too well. Advanced Placement courses are a major tenant in almost every high school student’s career, but what are they? Why does everyone take them? And how important are they really? AP classes come from the College Board, the company that creates and administers the SAT. They are described as “college-level classes designed for top-achieving high school students,” that come with a cumulative test at the end of the year according to standardized test-prep company, Kaplan. An exam that, if a student passes, can qualify for college credit at some colleges. This is often cited as one of the major benefits of taking AP classes— getting college credit with a high test score and getting a head start in college. Qualifying for this credit places students out of introductory classes, starts students in more advanced classes. AP classes not only give students a head start on the actual content in


the higher education system, but also help prepare students for the workload of college. These classes are seen as equivalent to an introductory college course in workload and rigor. Because of the test at the end of the year, these classes move at a faster pace, cover more material than regular classes and sometimes require independent work like research and analysis. “AP classes have much higher expectations as far as homework and assignments as well as difficult material,” junior Sofia Anderson said. APs can prove helpful for getting a feel of what school would look like in college. Also, often noted as a benefit of APs, they give your GPA a boost where getting a B in an AP class is often a better choice than getting an A in a regular course. This is because the grades in AP classes are measured on a 5.0 scale whereas regular classes are measured on a 4.0 scale. A higher GPA can prove crucial to college acceptance. AP classes allow students to study and discover what they are passionate about. Taking AP Biology or AP Chemistry can open the door to a world of science for students who favor STEM while

classes like AP Literature or AP Language would work better for students who prefer humanities. “[The classes make] you definitely learn a lot about yourself as a student,” junior Noah Kamps said. Most agree that AP classes signal to colleges that you are a capable, intellectual and ambitious student. They signal to the admissions office of colleges that you challenged yourself in high school. They are ultimately used as a way to compare students nationally because “One school’s A on a transcript might be a C at another place,” Laguna Blanca college counselor Matt Struckmeyer said. “[T]he AP lets colleges make an ‘apples to apples’ comparison,” Struckmeyer continued. Additionally, with the recent changes in SAT and ACT requirements, AP scores could become more important for students. AP tests are comparable to SAT subject tests in that they are a small part of a bigger picture of a college application. With many colleges being SAT-score-optional and the College Board completely omitting subject tests, AP scores could carry a larger weight in college applications. They could become the new SAT—a standardized test score that provides a

benchmark against which to compare students to their peers. “I’d say they’re definitely weighted a bit more [because of COVID-19], especially if the student didn’t submit SAT or ACTs. “They are a national test, the same for students everywhere, and they validate, or invalidate, what’s on a transcript,” Struckmeyer said. But, when talking about APs it would be remiss not to mention the drawbacks to AP classes. Student stress and pressure are always in the conversation of whether these classes should be so crucial to high school students. The intense workload can often overwhelm students and lead to serious mental health struggles. Anxiety from worry about an overwhelming amount of work or even depression from being stretched too thin is common. “AP classes are definitely a learning experience. At first, the workload is fairly shocking and can be very draining,” Noah said. Not to mention the physical challenges that come with having extreme schedules. Sleep, proper self-care, exercise or eating a balanced diet are some of the first things to go with the time-consuming work that students encounter in the world of Advanced Placement classes. “I find myself struggling to keep up with everything across all my classes, and it is even more stressful when I remember that many of my classes involve a cumulative AP test. “The AP classes tend to move at a much faster pace that is very hard to keep up with, and I am often having to stay up late cramming for a test or desperately trying to reach the word count for an essay,” Sofia said. Students at Laguna Blanca are no strangers to academic rigor and competition, and so, many take multiple AP courses, starting as early as freshman or sophomore year.

Junior Catie Fristoe took AP Chemistry sophomore year. “[It] gave me a lot of work, but thinking back to it, it also taught me how to study for tests in the best way, and get homework done ahead of time before taking more APs junior year,” Catie said. In an effort to get ahead of peers, many students take the most APs possible to get the most possible benefits out of the system: AP Literature, AP US History, AP Calculus, AP Physics, and AP Spanish for example, and end up getting overwhelmed with the realities of the workloads. Students take these classes to reap all their benefits but are left investing time into subjects that they may not be passionate or excited about. Laguna put in measures to ensure that students don’t spread themselves too thin with their AP choices by limiting students to only 4 AP classes and creating a schedule with predicted time commitments for classes during course registration.

AP classes are important. Such a student wouldn’t be expected to take every science AP,” Struckmeyer said. AP classes have many benefits but those benefits can quickly can be offset by overloading on these courses. It’s crucial to remember that you will get into a college without taking APs. You may not get into Harvard or Yale, but you will get into a college and even a good one at that. Harvard and Yale are not for everyone. Not all of the famous uber-selective colleges are the best fit for everyone, and every student shouldn’t dream of super-selective schools because super-selective schools won’t work for every student. When making decisions about AP classes or your high school experience as a whole, you need to assess what kind of person you are, what kind of future you want and what kind of college will best fit your goals. If you like school and learning, a more rigorous school may work best for you, but, if you don’t want the academic challenge that comes with these “brand name” schools, another school may work better. Everyone doesn’t have to go to college if it doesn’t align with your goals. You don’t have to be intensely focused on school if it means sacrificing your mental and physical health. If you do what is right for you, what you enjoy, colleges will notice, and, more importantly, you will be so much happier. Colleges value students who take a challenging amount of AP classes, but also value students who take tough classes that interest them. “APs at Laguna show how much rigor you can handle from the school’s most experienced teachers; they are Laguna’s topmost courses. But it’s also important to take classes that align with your goals and values. These aren’t mutually exclusive aims,” Struckmeyer said.

“They are a national test, the same for students everywhere, and they validate, or invalidate, what’s on a transcript.” Despite these strategies, students can still become inundated with the work load and commitments of these classes to keep ahead of the competitive college landscape. “[T]here’s no ‘right’ number of APs,” but “at Laguna they are pretty darn important if a student wants to attend an ultra-selective institution,” Struckmeyer said. The opinion of many educators and experts is to take as many APs as possible but to be cautious of their daunting nature. “Students are viewed in categories. If a student excels in English and the humanities, those

Rise of Teen Drinking In the twilight of their teenage years, high school students are experiencing the pandemic from a unique perspective, which includes isolation, mental health struggles and an underlying growth of alcohol dependency. WORDS by DAISY FINEFROCK ART by TAYLOR SMITH


he media spotlight rarely includes how teenagers are coping with the pandemic. Teens don’t typically fall into the atrisk categories, and generally appear to be adapting well to new learning environments. However, what is lurking behind the media press on vaccine distributions and new COVID strains, is—the rise of alcohol dependency in teenagers who use it to cope with isolation. This time for self-reflection and extended isolation presents Gen Z with an unfamiliar sensation—boredom. Today’s teenagers have had in-person school, sports and graduation ceremonies taken away from them and have had to learn to live with the consequences of the pandemic. “With not much to do on weekends, I’ve seen many kids resorting to just going over to a friend’s house and getting blackout drunk or using alcohol as a way to have fun because there’s nothing else to do,” one student shared. Given the lockdowns, one would think that teenage drinking would naturally decrease as parties no longer occur, and there’s limited socialization. However, this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, the opposite is true. Whereas drinking would’ve been a social activity before, now there’s a new norm: drinking alone or at home with a couple of friends. In a pre-COVID world filled with a myriad of social media apps, extra curriculars and social obligations; there simply wasn’t time to be bored. “People were so over stimulated before with everything going on, that with the pandemic, substance use can be part of relief for boredom,” said School Counselor Kim Valentine. It’s clear that although the setting may have changed, the frequency has not. Nationally, alcohol sales are up 80%. When alcohol use turns from a social activity to a self-comforting activity, is when it becomes an issue.

This is not to say that teenage drinking should be publicly condoned, but it is a part of youth culture. When we see rising trends of alcohol abuse, it isn’t necessarily caused by huge parties and gatherings. It is something not making the nightly news—it’s the rise in substance use for relief. “Just because parties can’t happen, doesn’t mean students have stopped drinking in any capacity. If anything, I think that they drink more now than ever,” a student shared. Before COVID, 28.6% of teens tried alcohol, and now, about 30.4% actively drink. We can logically assume that the percentage of teens who drink is higher than the survey suggests since many underage drinkers would hesitate to admit they broke the law. Even a mere couple of percentages equates to approximately 800,000 teenagers in the U.S. who are taking up drinking since lockdowns began.

have these really strong pillars around you that you can lean on, but when it’s collective trauma like this, it’s very hard to find those pillars because everyone is experiencing the same trauma.” When everyone surrounding you is struggling, it is hard to feel validated. It’s that “tough it out” mentality that will have long-term effects on this generation. With parents laid off from their jobs, loved ones dying and school reduced to pixels on a screen; it’s difficult to sit and reflect that it doesn’t all have to be OK. According to a federal emergency hotline for people in emotional distress, there was a 1,000% increase in calls since the pandemic started. People are suffering in ways beyond the virus. They’re hurting mentally, and for many, hurting silently. Of course, there are other global tragedies for the media to report, but does that mean the pandemic’s repercussions on Gen Z holds any less weight? The mental-health issues that will stay with them for the rest of their lives is something to discuss in great depth. We’ve only seen the surface of these issues, and to act as if once the vaccines roll out, that the substance abuse will magically disappear is to live in a fantasy world. The pandemic bears no prejudices. It attacks people of all ages and backgrounds and threatens their livelihoods. Teenagers are no exception. There is no “fixing” this issue, instead, we must open a discussion—free of judgment and stigma in which a teenager can open up to an adult about substance abuse without the fear of retribution. No community is immune to this pandemic, or to the underlying problems it creates. Unless addressed, the longterm implications of teen’s substance abuse will only deepen. If we have learned anything from the way we handled the pandemic, it’s that we, as a global community, must address looming whispers of a problem before they become irreversibly catastrophic.

“People were so over stimulated before with everything going on, that with the pandemic, substance use can be part of relief for boredom.” Still, can we blame this dependency on teenagers? While adults may see the lockdowns as a blip in their long lives, teenager’s formative years are being spent in an isolated bubble. This is the side we must consider. Instead of pointing fingers at teenagers, we must look to the root of the problem—mental-health struggles, which include depression, trauma and anxiety and which have significantly increased since March of 2020. Talkspace, the #1 online therapy company with millions of users, reported a 65% increase in clients following the rise of the pandemic. “It isn’t as if mental health issues never existed before 2020, but, now, we face a different kind of mental health issue. It includes a term, “collective trauma” as Valentine pointed out, saying that other traumas are “isolated and you

thefourthestate.net OPINION • 35

Our Democracy Is Threatened How can our nation survive when we, as a democratic people, can’t seem to agree on the reality?



ohn Adams, a Founding Father of our democracy, said, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” For 240 years, the United States has maintained its peaceful transition of power through a civil war, two world wars, and multiple presidents’ assassinations. Never has our line of succession and democracy failed. Now, American exceptionalism is thrown into question: how long can our democracy continue to survive when our citizens cannot even agree on reality? In the recent election, the truth was thrown into question. Throughout 2020, anti-lockdown groups and the ultra-right wing of the GOP elevated conspiracy theories claiming that COVID-19 was produced in Chinese labs, a globalist cabal of Zionists are microchipping through vaccination, and Black Lives Matter and “antifa” are a paid operation by George Soros. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA), a radical conspiracy theorist who shot into Congress on a platform of “Stopping Socialism,” was recently exposed to have called the Parkland and Sandy Hook school shootings “false flags.” Even before the November election, Trump and his enablers began crafting a false narrative on fraud, convincing his supporters that the only way Trump could lose was if there were massive cheating and illegal voting. Representatives like Mitch McConnell supported Trump’s voter-fraud claims because of personal and political reasons, not because of facts. Then, after the election, Trump’s campaign repeatedly attempted to overthrow democracy with lawsuits that aimed to disenfranchise millions of voters in battleground states.

Trump tried to use the courts to reverse state-election laws so that Republican gerrymandered state governments could send Trump electors to the electoral college who would ignore the election’s actual results. Propagated through social media, conspiracy theories radicalized millions and swelled the ranks of neo-fascist groups like the Proud Boys, leading to a massive uptick in political violence. On Jan. 6, we all watched horror-stricken as a mob attacked the Capitol Building in an attempt to supplant the election results. Social media exploded with real-time updates: videos showed police officers overwhelmed and beaten with poles

Trump failed when 43 Republican Senators decided to put their political careers over the good of the nation. Now, advocacy organizations and state attorney generals are picking up the slack the federal government left. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS), alleging that Trump violated the Ku Klux Klan Act when he organized an illegal conspiracy that interfered with congressional duties. Prosecutors in Atlanta, GA, are investigating whether Trump committed a crime when he called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Jan. 2, and tried to get Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes. Congress must commit to forming an inquiry into the insurrection. Like the 9/11 Commission, we will need a broad investigation into how the Capitol Police were so under prepared, how the rioters organized, what their goals were and how close they came to tearing down our democracy. As for the millions of disaffected, radicalized people, our government has only one path: govern well. We will not convince Q believers by sending them fact checks; the only way forward is to fix the problems that led them to believe in conspiracies in the first place. The stakes are high, and the harm done by Trump and QAnon will not simply vanish. Instead, we must lay down a path of leadership and commitment to our shared values of liberty and democracy so that our nation can heal.

It isn’t an exaggeration to say that many representatives narrowly escaped death.


and fire extinguishers, rioters storming through barricades and windows, and the mob breaking into the Senate Chamber. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that many representatives narrowly escaped death. Lies are deadly to democracy. These deadly forces inside and outside the government threaten us all. Throughout Trump’s presidency, the truth had its meaning, but especially now, when millions are becoming so radicalized, they are willing to participate in an insurrection. Without a vigorous defense of our democratic ideals, our checks and balances will fail, and our nation will fall into an endless cycle of political violence. We must punish those who incited insurrection. The second impeachment of Donald

Photograph #209 - AOM A https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/capitol-violence-images


“WandaVision:” The New MCU Marvel’s new mini-series, “WandaVision,” promises so much hidden content to unpack and so many unanswered questions to address. Could crazy vlogger theories ring true? Or is Marvel just getting started in the unveiling of the post“Endgame” MCU? Be warned, the following review contains spoilers.


hen Marvel released the “Avengers: Endgame” in April 2019, some fans thought that the MCU had its last big hurrah, ending a beloved saga forever. Fortunately, this was not the case as Marvel announced the fourth phase of the MCU: a plan to release shows and movies that went beyond the classic Avengers films.

On par with true Disney+ form, Marvel’s newest show “WandaVision” releases one episode each week, with the pilot airing in early January. What is the purpose of this style? To keep viewers on the hook? To beat back the hunger of a content-craving society? Regardless of the reason, Marvel fans sit on the edge of their seats, eagerly awaiting the next episode. Observer critic Brandon Katz writes, “ Wa n d a Vision” works

best precisely because it’s unlike anything the MCU’s model has ever produced.” “WandaVision” is a Russian-nesting doll of a series: it’s a show within a show. The story centers around Wanda, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and Vision, played by Paul Bettany. The two portray a young, married couple in a surreal sitcom version of reality. The premiere episode, filmed in black and white, plays on tropes from famous shows like “I Love Lucy,” “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Bewitched.” Of course, woven into this facade of innocence and comedy is an ominous tone—only apparent in the occasional odd phrase, awkward silence or obscure MCU reference. Because of both these aspects, the show is equally enjoyable whether you’re a hard-core Marvel fan or simply familiar with old sitcoms. “Whatever is it, ‘WandaVision’ is the weirdest entry yet into the MCU, and a significant artistic step forward in its storytelling,” says Detroit News critic Adam Graham. With each episode, viewers get little bits of information and more unanswered questions. The main one being is Vision really alive? Since Vision’s death in “Avengers: Infinity War,” many thought the character was gone forever.

In this way, the show is “reshaping expectations for what is possible in the MCU,” says critic Jeffrey Lyles. It is this fresh and creative style that earned “WandaVision” a 93 % on Rotten Tomatoes. Tension builds when characters start seeing through the sitcom reality. Suddenly, in Episode 3, the show becomes colorized, clearly moving eras from the 50s and 60s to the 70s—the clothes, makeup and film quality all change to fit the time period. Episode 4 shocks viewers with the revelation that Wanda is not the victim of this fake reality, but its creator. It seems that a grief-stricken Wanda somehow brought the Vision back to life, figuratively speaking. Wanda’s agony over losing the love of her life causes her abilities to grow beyond anything shown in the Avengers movies. Allegedly experiencing a psychotic break, Wanda creates a new bubble reality called Westview: an idyllic town where she and Vision can lead ordinary lives. The internet now swells with outlandish vlogger theories about Wanda’s abilities and her intentions. In the Episode 5, it becomes clear that Wanda’s fake reality keeps innocent people hostage, and her intentions may not be all that heroic.

News of Wanda’s switch to the dark side resulted in an explosion of theories ranging from ‘Wanda is under Hydra’s influence’ to ‘she has developed a Smeagol-Golem type personality split.’ If “WandaVision” sets a precedent for the ‘MCU Phase Four,’ then Marvel Fans eagerly expect something equally thrilling for its other, soon-to-be-released se-

thefourthestate.net LIFESTYLE • 39

ries: “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” (airing March 19) starring Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan and “Loki” (airing May 2021) starring Tom Hiddleston. The only thing that critics, vloggers and internet trolls all agree on is that no one is quite sure what to expect from this unique TV series, but everyone is tuning in. WORDS and ART by CLAIRE TOLLES

Red Velvet Cake Revisited

The ultimate Red Velvet Cake recipe perfect for Valentine’s Day or to make any day special.

This is the red velvet cake to end all red velvet cakes. We latched on to this recipe when we were only six-years old and in kindergarten, and would find any excuse to make it for our parents or classmates. During a recent wave of nostalgia, we revisited the cake and found it was just as delicious as we remember. It is unbelievably satisfying to see the batter come together with its rich and creamy texture, and the frosting is silky and easy to decorate with. The recipe, adapted from Annie Bell’s “Baking Bible” is almost foolproof, and is especially fun to make for Valentine’s Day.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CAKE 1 stick unsalted butter, diced 1 ½ cups granulated sugar 2 eggs 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour, sifted 1 cup buttermilk 1 tsp salt 1 tsp vanilla extract 1.4 cup cocoa powder, sifted red food coloring 1 tbsp white wine vinegar 1 tsp baking soda


• Alternate adding the flour • Mix the vinegar and bak- • For the frosting, cream and buttermilk in three ing soda in a small bowl the butter and sugar and batches, starting and till it fizzes and then comthen blend in the cream ending on the flour until bine it with the batter cheese fully combined • Transfer the batter into • Mix in the salt, vanilla and the cake pans and bake • Divide some of the frostcocoa for 20-25 minutes ing between the two layers and spread evenly, • Add in red food coloring • Cool for about 10 minutes and then decorate howuntil you have a dusky rust ever you want! color or until you achieve the color you want

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees • Grease the cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper • Cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes until creamy, light and fluffy

FOR THE FROSTING 1 ½ sticks softened butter • Add the eggs one at a 1 ½ cups of sifted confectioners time, combining each one sugar thoroughly 2 cups of cream cheese vanilla extract to taste


Cut off any dome from the top of the cake so that when you stack the layers they are even!



Put aside some frosting and dye it a color of your choice to jazz up your decorations!

40 • LIFESTYLE thefourthestate.net

thefourthestate.net LIFESTYLE • 41

Truly the Most Dramatic Season Yet America’s favorite reality TV series, “The Bachelor,” makes history in its 25th season. Warning: the following article contains spoilers.


onday night is a sacred time in “Bachelor Nation.” Across the country, thousands tune in to see the new two-hour-long episode, no doubt filled with tears, romance, drama and bad dresses. The show’s basic structure consists of around 30 women, none over 30 years old or over 130 pounds. Over the course of a couple of months, the Bachelor gets to know the contestants through conversations, cocktail parties, group dates, and one-on-ones with the hope of finding love and winning a big, sparkly engagement ring, free of charge from Neil Lane. Amid COVID-19, the demand for “The Bachelor” only grew. Unfortunately for the most recent bachelorettes, Clare Crawley and Tayshia Adams, their season of “The Bachelorette” took place at the some would say, sub-par La Quinta Inn. This season of “The Bachelor” is striking in comparison, taking place at Nemacolin, a beautiful, sprawling resort located amongst the scenery of Pennsylvania’s forests, obviously, a dramatic budget increase. Matt James, the new Bachelor, is like none we’ve ever seen before. While it’s customary for the Bachelor to be plucked from the cast of a Bachelorette season, James has never been a part of the franchise. Rather, ex-Bachelorette contestant, Tyler Cameron, introduced James to producers and fans of the show. Cameron was the runner-up on Hannah Brown’s 2019 season of “The Bachelorette,” and Matt James is one of his best friends.

James enters the first episode like a deer in the headlights with an entirely new and fresh perspective, and it’s clear he hasn’t had the same producer-grooming as past leads. James makes history for being the first Black Bachelor on the show in all of its 25 seasons. The bachelors and bachelorettes, and those who gain the most advertisements, brand deals and fame, were white for the first 15 years of the show’s tenure. It wasn’t until 2017 that we see the first Black bachelorette on Season 13 of “The Bachelorette.” It wasn’t until 2021 did we see the first Black Bachelor.

between the house’s women. The move, which was producer-driven, provoked chaos where many women were angry about the show’s essential commodity: time. Some women in the house like Anna Redman, self-appointed “Queen,” Victoria Larson, and MJ Snyder tried to create a separation between the “OGs” or “varsity team,” referring to the women who were in the show from Episode 1, and the “newbies” or “JV team,” referring to the new contestants. The “OGs” were angry that the new women’s introduction led to more of their time with Matt being taken away, which made the house’s toxic bullying culture worse, subjugating the latest women to insults and groundless allegations. Another “OG” contestant, Katie Thurston, raised James’ attention to the bullying happening at Larson’s hands, which led James to remove Larson from the show. Upper School Head and dedicated “The Bachelor” fan Melissa Alkire says that although she doesn’t know Larson personally, “[I want] to believe [Larson] wants to be this season’s villain because the way she talked was like a caricature almost. And there were glimpses of her not behaving that way which made me sad because she, maybe, chose to be the season’s villain.” Alkire continues to say she “[doesn’t] know if Victoria can [redeem herself]. I think she went too mean-girl.” But, the drama surrounding the season doesn’t end there. Recently, allegations have come out that one of the last three contestants, Rachael Kirkconnell, engaged in racist behaviors and actions.

The drama is never ending in “Bachelor Nation,” and this season in particular takes the meaning of the word to a whole new level. This season is different not only because of the new Bachelor, but also because of the COVID-19 precautions and the women. With a record-breaking amount of applicants, competition for James’s heart is at an all-time high. The show begins with a record number of 32 women; six new women join throughout the season, which hasn’t happened until now in “Bachelor Nation” history. With all these women looking for love and only one Bachelor, drama, tension and jealousy are inevitable. A leading source of drama in this season surrounds an excessive amount of bullying between the female contestants; a few women are described as the season’s villains. Viewers say that the introduction of a new group of women in Episode 5 threw off the power dynamic

42 • LIFESTYLE thefourthestate.net

Kirkconnell’s former high school peer, Maddy Bierster, called Rachael out for bullying her and other girls “for liking Black guys” in a TikTok post, which is ironic considering the Bachelor, Matt James, is Black. Other allegations expose Kirkconnell of attending an antebellum-themed party at a southern plantation. The contestant responded to these allegations with a public apology on Instagram, saying her “ignorance was racist,” and she apologizes “to the communities and individuals [my] actions harmed and offended.” Some fans are accepting her apology, while others are reluctant to forgive her so fast. One fan says, “We still love you, girl!” in the comment section of Kirkconnell’s post, while another Instagram user says, “I don’t forgive you, but you can earn my forgiveness.” Chris Harrison, the host of the franchise, is facing scrutiny recently over an interview he had with ex-Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay. The interview consisted of Harrison coming to Rachael Kirkconnell’s defense for the contestant’s photos at the antebellum-themed party, though many saw these photos and the event as outwardly racist. However, Harrison did not see it this way. He claimed that since the photos were from 2018, “there’s a big difference” in how we should condemn Kirkconnell since 2018, a mere three years ago, was a wildly different time. Harrison further defends Kirkconnell in terms of her delayed response to the incident. It was six weeks since the photos were released at the time of the interview, and many fans of “The Bachelor” started to question how Kirkconnell was handling the situation. Chris Harrison said, “The woke police is out there” and “It’s a slippery slope,” insinuating that it is challenging to come up with a public apology or statement that would please everybody. Was the right decision to delay her response until weeks after the photos surfaced?

Or is there simply no winning for Kirkconnell in this situation? Should the contestant be excused from scrutiny since 2018 was a different time, or because she was young? Or should Kirkconnell be fairly condemned for her actions? Bachelor Matt James finally addressed the controversy in late February after the interview with Chris Harrison was released. In his public statement James said, “Chris’s failure to receive and understand the emotional labor that my friend Rachel Lindsay was taking on by graciously and patiently explaining the racist history of the Antebellum South, a painful history that every Amer-

ican should understand intimately, was troubling and painful to watch.” James also claims that “Bachelor Nation” as a whole has deep-rooted racial justice problems saying the scandal is “a clear reflection of a much larger issue that The Bachelor franchise has fallen short on addressing adequately for years.” With all the season’s drama, students are ready to cast their votes as to who they believe will steal Matt James’ heart and win the diamond engagement ring. The Bachelor is left to choose between Michelle Young, Bri Springs and Rachael Kirkconnell. In a survey of 22 students, 13 people, or 59.1%, voted that Michelle would win James’ heart, while nine people, 40.9%, voted that Rachael would win the season. Shockingly, no votes anticipated Bri’s win. Alkire says that she believes Rachael Kirkconnell is the winner “because of all the controversy that occurred, [I don’t] think Chris Harrison would have gone to that interview and fought so intensely and so incorrectly for Rachael; if she wasn’t the one that was picked. “I wish [Matt James] would pick Bri because [I think] she is lovely.” The drama is never-ending in “Bachelor Nation,” and this season, in particular, takes the meaning of the word to a whole new level.


thefourthestate.net LIFESTYLE • 43

Netflix Scrambles for Content

While stuck at home in quarantine many found refuge in binge-watching movies and TV on streaming sites such as Disney+, HBO Max and Hulu. When Netflix started losing some of its best content due to streaming wars, the service’s reputation as a high-quality streaming site was called into question.


treaming wars is a phrase used to describe the battle between entertainment sites over what content is housed on a specific site. Since the launch of Disney+ in Nov. 2019, the platform ushered a new era of streaming: an era where established industry leaders like Netflix, Hulu, HBO MAX and Amazon Prime Video started facing growing competition from major new players in the industry. While heavily hyped new platforms like HBO Max, Disney+ and Peacock gain popularity from viewers due to their unique and wide array of content. Licensing agreements drastically drop the viewer count on platforms like Netflix, which is heavily affected since fan favorites have either been canceled or removed from the site. Some people are outraged that the world’s largest streaming platform, with roughly 183 million paid subscribers worldwide as of March 2020, is not keeping up with what viewers want. Movies like “The Craft” and “Pride and Prejudice” are no longer available on Netflix. The site also suffered when it removed many fans’ favorite bingable TV shows. Among those lost by Netflix and added by other services include “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” which was taken by Peacock. WarnerMedia took “Friends” in a bidding war for $85 million per year, and Netflix lost “Once Upon a Time” due to contractual obligations. “That 70s Show” is gone because Netflix decided not to renew its licensing deal and HBO Max acquired “Gossip Girl.” Additionally, Netflix canceled future seasons of some fan-favorite original shows; among these were “Anne

WORDS and ART by CLAIRE TOLLES 44 • LIFESTYLE thefourthestate.net

with an E” and “I am Not Okay With This” whose seasons were canceled due to COVID-19 raising production costs. On top of these major losses, all of Disney’s live-action and animated titles left Netflix on Jan. 1— just a couple of months after Disney+ launched. “Netflix licenses TV shows and movies from studios around the world. Though we strive to keep the titles you want to watch, some titles do leave Netflix because of licensing agreements.” “Shows like ‘I Am Not Okay With This’ have great representation, so once that show was canceled, people were not only angry their show was taken down, but they also felt robbed of that representation. The viewer count will likely decrease,” junior Olivia Davenport said. “Netflix removing some of their most popular non-Netflix Originals will make people mad, especially because they replaced them with bad movies like ‘The Kissing Booth,’” freshman Sasha Drucker said. Sasha believes that Hulu is Netflix’s biggest competitor because “A lot of the shows that Netflix removed are now on Hulu.” What this means for the future of Netflix is unpredictable; will the site make up for its loss of favorite TV shows and movies with better entertainment? Or will Netflix’s popularity decrease and jeopardize its position as the world’s largest streaming platform? These are questions that remain unanswered. WORDS by CIERRA NERVO ART by NIKKI MIELCAREK

thefourthestate.net LIFESTYLE • 45

Mōr Doughnuts

Laguna alum Tommy Chang ‘06 launches a successful small business in the midst of the pandemic.


ochi doughnuts, a chewy and an Asian twist that all people can enjoy.” each flavor. Chang describes how stories light treat made from scratch Chang explains that by choosing inspired his flavors. and served daily is now doughnuts, which many Americans are “The Oreo Milk, while others can say available in Santa Barbara. familiar with, allows him to incorporate it’s Cookies and Cream, it is not. For me, Tommy Chang started Mōr Doughnuts, an “Asian twist.” when I was little I would always get a six which features mochi doughnuts. The flavors vary from conventional to pack of Oreos with my brother and when The local business opened its doors rare options ranging from Fruity Pebbles I would get home, I would first put an Nov. 2020, and it is not an exaggeration and Ferrero Rocher to Thai Tea Oreo Oreo in a glass of milk and then slowly to say that business is booming. and Browned Butter Maple Blueberry enjoy the other Oreos slowly dipping Despite Chang opening in late 2020 depending on the week. them in milk. in the midst of COVID-19, his business When his Black Sesame mochi “By the time I was done, the Oreo is flourishing—a fact that can be seen doughnut, a popular flavor in Asian that I put in the beginning would have with the fast sellout of doughnuts every culture, was first introduced, Chang was disintegrated and I would stir the Oreo in week. surprised with the very positive response the milk which would make Oreo milk,” The doughnuts can be ordered on it received. Chang said. the website “mordoughnuts.com” with Despite the doughnut being an Chang describes how fun it is for pre-orders available every Thursday for inherently Asian flavor, its popularity him to tell customers the story behind pickup between Friday and Sunday. makes Chang excited to see different the flavors as it sparks conversations, With only a limited number of cultures coming together through food. and allows him to have meaningful doughnuts available each week, Chang’s Another doughnut flavor, Mango Tajin, conversations with others. doughnuts sell out immediately and are which is a combination of Taiwanese This type of interaction can be rare in high demand. and Mexican flavors, received positive due to stay-at-home orders this past The doughnuts come in a popular feedback, which thrilled Chang for the year. bubble mold and are covered with growing acceptance of diverse cultures’ The stay at home order is not the colorful icing and fun toppings. flavors. only thing that has resulted from the They are packaged in aesthetically There is a deeper meaning behind pandemic, but the loss of jobs has been appealing boxes with a momentous as well. holographic design on While many are losing the inside along with a their jobs during the note from the owner. pandemic, Chang was able With flavors to start his own successful changing every week, business which came as a the doughnuts offer a shock to many. variety that customers Chang’s business are love to explore. venture is an inspiration, as In reflecting on most would not consider why he chose mochi starting a business during doughnuts in particular, the pandemic. Chang said that he Chang describes how, wanted to incorporate like many others, he lost both his American his job because of the and Asian cultural pandemic, and because of backgrounds in a food. his loss, he wanted to do “Doughnuts, an something for himself. American staple, when Having previously added with chewy rice worked in marketing and flour found in mochi, branding, Chang used this and nostalgic to Asians, knowledge to start his creates doughnuts with business. The Black Sesame mochi doughnut is a customer favorite.

46 • LIFESTYLE thefourthestate.net

A classic strawberry flavored mochi doughnut

Owner Tommy Chang

The Mango Tajin mochi doughnut

However, despite his hard work, his company let him go because of the pandemic. “I want to do something where I am in control and where all the work I put in a company is meaningful to me and not thrown out the bucket like with my previous company,” Chang said. He knew that the journey to starting a business was not going to be easy, but with the support of his parents, Chang felt motivated to launch Mōr Doughnuts. “During the pandemic, I first started making mochi doughnuts for fun, but after my mom tried it, she really liked it and suggested that I sell it. This surprised me a lot, but with her support and later my dad’s as well, I decided to fully invest in this business.” Because of his experience in losing his job, like many Americans this past year, Chang decided to name his business Mōr Doughnuts, not only because he hopes “more” people will come back for his doughnuts, but also because he is able to have small talk with them, which he hopes will make them “more” happy despite the pandemic. “My business is centered around what more can I do beyond doughnuts, because life is more than doughnuts.

“Through my short interactions with people, or just trying to remember certain things customers like, I hope that through my doughnuts I can bring people happiness despite tough times,” he said.

[he][has] to transport the doughnuts, there is a lag time between the freshness of the doughnuts.” However, in terms of expanding his company to a permanent location and having more team members, he says, “As long as the opportunity presents itself, the space is right and the people involved are right, then I am all for it. “If expanding is a forced business decision, then I would want to wait to expand.” Since Chang’s company is based around having his doughnuts bring people happiness, he would want to expand with people who have similar goals. For the time being, Chang is enjoying sweet success and looking forward to meeting new customers. Mōr Doughnuts is located at 517 De La Vina Street in Santa Barbara. Website: https://www.mordoughnuts.com/

“I hope that through my doughnuts I can bring people happiness despite tough times.” Chang is also thinking beyond his current operation. He hopes that if he is successful enough with marketing his doughnuts, he can grow and possibly sell his doughnuts in other small restaurants or cafes to “help bring other small businesses foot traffic.” With Chang’s business becoming increasingly popular and still having a limited number of doughnuts each week, Chang is still waiting for the right time to expand. Currently, he is not thinking of expanding the number of doughnuts produced each week because, “[He doesn’t] have [his] own kitchen and since


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Calisthenics in COVID Calisthenics is a style of exercise that can be done anywhere, without any equipment and is ideal for staying in shape at home.


itness is extremely important for long-term health. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic’s stay-athome orders, being able to work out at home is a must. While many may prefer to go to the gym rather than workout at home, there are multiple benefits to exercising at home. Calisthenic exercises only require a person’s bodyweight, so they avoid the membership costs and risk of getting COVID. For those who are trying to put on muscle mass, there is a misconception that it is impossible to become shredded with only calisthenics. This is simply not true, there are many bodybuilding programs specifically designed to utilize bodyweight exercises. When 35 Laguna students were surveyed, more than 34 percent responded that they are exercising less due to the pandemic. If you are looking for a simple fitness regime, then follow these exercises together for a full-body workout a few times a week, doing as many reps relative to your strength level. If the goal is to increase size or weight, try to schedule a time to workout at least 5 times a week with some kind of rotating program. For example, alternate between push and pull exercise days. Fitness is more than just exercise. Mental health and healthy eating are equally as important. It’s important that workouts are diverse when getting started. Keeping the body in balance is key. Working only one part of the body will not produce the health benefits that motivate people to workout. Here are the main muscles and calisthenic exercises that lay the groundwork for full-body fitness:


CALVES Calf Raises: Great calves are so easy, yet so hard to achieve. Good-looking calves can largely be attributed to genetics, but calf raises can strengthen and increase the size of the calf muscle. Stand up straight, then push with your toes and raise your heel until you are standing on your toes. QUADS Squats: Squats can be done in many different ways. Jumping squats, one leg squats, or classic squats can all help work quads. For a simple squat, stand straight up with feet hip-width apart, tighten your stomach muscles, and drop down as if sitting down to form a 90-degree angle with your legs. Then straighten your legs to stand back up. HAMSTRINGS Glute Bridge: This exercise may look silly but it is extremely effective. Lie down with your back, palms, and feet flat on the floor, knees bent. Press both feet into the ground as you raise both hips up toward the ceiling. Then at the top, squeeze your glutes together. CORE Plank: There are plenty of good different core exercises that will work different parts of your abs, but the plank is one of few that works the entire core. Put hands slightly wider than your shoulders like you’re preparing to do a pushup. Keeping legs and back straight, push up and hold yourself at the top. BACK Superman: It is important to work back muscles to prevent injury and improve posture.

To do a superman, lie face down on the floor with arms and legs extended, raise your arms, legs, and chest off the floor. CHEST TRICEPS Pushups: Specifically, diamond pushups are great for working both chest and tricep muscles. On all fours, touch your thumbs together with your hands flat on the floor. Straighten your arms and legs, and lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor, then push yourself back up. SHOULDERS Pike Pushup: Shoulders not only look good but they can be very useful for playing sports and lifting heavy objects. Place both hands and feet on the floor, shoulder-width apart, with hips in the air form a triangle with the ground. Bend elbows bringing head towards hands then push up. BICEPS Bicep pushup: Pushups are the “jack of all trades” when it comes to calisthenics. To make a traditional push-up a bicep workout, simply flip the hands so that instead of pointing forward, the fingers point backward. Then proceed as normal, with a straight back, lower, and push back up straightening the elbows. FOREARMS Crabwalk: This exercise works abs and forearms. Push hips off the floor and bend knees at a 90-degree angle, keeping feet placed firmly on the ground, forming a reverse tabletop position. Then walk forward without changing the posture.

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Debate Over the GOAT

GOAT, an acronym for Greatest Of All Time, applied to athletes believed to be the best. A debate exploded in recent years, with many attempting to make a case for who truly deserves to be called the GOAT.



any people who watch sports have an opinion Another player on a pedestal due to his record-breaking on who is the greatest to ever play. accomplishments is Wayne Gretzky. His nickname is “The It is a much debated topic with little consen- Great One.” He is widely acknowledged as the greatest sus. Every great athlete has a case to be made, whether NHL player of all time. it’s Lebron, Jordan, Brady or Gretzky. He won the MVP a record nine times and won four StanTom Brady is the most recent of those mentioned to ley Cups championships in his career, with most of his acmake a contribution to the conversation. His win in Super complishments received during his time with the LA Kings Bowl LV cements his place as the most successful player and Edmonton Oilers. to ever play in the NFL. He is also one of only two players to have their numHe alone has more Super Bowl bers retired league-wide in Ameriwins than any player in NFL history, sports, the other being Jackie “Brady is the greatest because can and more appearances in the game Robinson. than all but one team, the New En- of his accomplishments at The rise of hockey in the U.S. can gland Patriots. partially be attributed to Gretzky’s He has also been the starting such an age. Nobody has done mid-career trade to the LA Kings. quarterback for each of his Super His great ability, combined with anything like it before.” Bowl victories. playing in a major market, was a These accomplishments alone huge boost to the popularity of the would qualify him as the best to ever play football. One NHL in the U.S., and is often cited as one of the reasons cannot help but marvel at the age at which he reached that the NHL was able to expand across California and the such heights. The majority of his titles came when he was Sun Belt. 37 or older. In the NBA, there are really only two players who are Considering the average length of an NFL career is only thought to be the best, those two being Lebron James and three years, he far surpassed the expectations set when Michael Jordan. he entered the league and continues to break records relThese players’ accomplishments are numerous, each ative in age to most NFL players. of them earning multiple MVPs and champiSenior Finn Walker believes that “Brady is the greatest onships. Each has a legitimate case to be because of his accomplishments at such an age. Nobody regarded as the best basketball has done anything like it before.” player of all time, if not the best athlete.

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Sequel Scrutiny

Sequels are an invariable piece of the puzzle of the movie business. The films are debated to be simply ways studios and producers to make a quick buck.



urrently, there are at least 110 sequels in the works and at least 50 are being released this year. With these movies on the horizon, one is reminded of the all-too-common pattern in Hollywood: a movie is well-received and a sub-par sequel is made, disappointing viewers. It can be seen in movies like “The Blair Witch Project,” and its sequel, “Independence Day,” and its sequel, “The Hangover,” and its sequel or even “Iron Man,” and its sequel. The question is, why? Why are these sequels getting made and how do they impact Hollywood? Among the sequels set to release this year, audiences can expect “The Kissing Booth 3.” The movie is the third installment of the “Kissing Booth” trilogy on Netflix. The first movie, “The Kissing Booth,” got a whopping 17% on Rotten Tomatoes among critics, but fared well with audiences receiving 57%. The movie amassed a following which is undoubtedly why a sequel was made, named, “The Kissing Booth 2,” which fared surprisingly better with critics with 28% but falling among viewers getting a 39% audience score.

“I thought the first one was good, but then they got kind of worse with each movie,” junior Julianna Seymour said. To its credit, critics described the second film as “not as aggressively problematic as its predecessor.” But, the movie still received lower ratings from viewers, notably more important than critics. Despite these low scores, a third film, creatively named “The Kissing Booth 3,” will be released sometime this year. It will follow the main character, Elle, in her summer before college making her college decision—a big decision she’ll make with the contrasting views of her best friend and boyfriend, the same plot as the past two movies. “[The sequel] was cheesy, sappy and extremely predictable. It’s a teen romcom which follows every cliche in the genre. There are so many other movies that I would rather re-watch before I would watch [the third movie],” junior Nicole Khodabandehlou said. A sequel’s job is to make as much money as possible. “The average sequel makes more than eight times the average original release,” Zachary Crockett from Vox describes.

Because of the “risky” nature of original ideas compared to “safer” sequels, as journalist Shane Snow describes, studios and directors would be “better off filming a repeat re-imagining a family or action movie from a generation ago, even if it means sinking a franchise into the mud.” And that “the paradox of the movie business is that while original movies change the game, safe bets,” sequels, “pay the players.” At the same time, sequels can be creative. In the case of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” the main character is not a white, brown-haired Peter Parker but instead Miles Morales, a 13-year-old biracial protagonist. But, still, it had the same bones of a story we have seen on our screens for years. It’s not to say that these movies are bad, they have just been done before. Sequels can be good and can change what it means to be the lead of a Spider-Man film, but they are not original. Sequels take the place of new, original stories, stories that could be better for the current social and political landscape, and could launch the careers of new actors or stories that are just, put plainly, better.

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Profile for The Fourth Estate

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