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Inside the Pages

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An increase in failing grades from last semester has urged teachers to continue making accomodations.

Life and Art, p.8-9 Features, p.12 Twenty-one days into the year, 2021 remains high with anticipation in a occassion-studded calendar year.

Math teacher Leah Ulloa builds memories and furniture through woodworking with her father.



thematadorsghs.us THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 2021


Freshman Angelina Tranwu attends an online Zoom class and takes notes in preparation for an upcoming test. Without being present in a physical classroom environment, teachers worry that students may lose the initiative to study on their own.

Teachers alleviate grading concerns BY KELLY MA NEWS EDITOR


p until recently, the idea of learning from home was commonly idealized by students. Many believed that classes would be easier due to the flexibility with the learning environment, decreased workload, and grade inflation. However, the experiences of both students and teachers following their first semester of online learning depicted an image that proves otherwise. Seeing an 55.7% increase, first

semester D and F rates spiked from 11.5% in the 2019-20 school year to 17.9% in the 2020-21 school year. Due to the decline in academic performance, teachers have made efforts to ease the difficulties of online learning. Along with office hours, teachers addressed concerns about grades by granting extra credit opportunities and assessing students through more presentations and projects rather than tests. Math teacher Jessica Chow began accepting late assignments and believed that “assigning less work and grading easier was a must for this year.” “It does not surprise me that

there are students who are doing worse than ever before,” Chow said. “Teachers need to keep in mind that this is not the ideal situation for anyone, so we should be lenient. I hope students know that simply telling teachers about their situation can change a teacher’s mentality about how they grade assignments.” While some students felt that grade inflation undermined their efforts, others appreciated it because they struggled to engage in their learning through a virtual environment. Difficulties transitioning to an online learning system, as well as personal struggles caused by outside factors, inhibited

students’ education. “I feel like I am just watching a tedious four-hour video every day, so it is much harder to concentrate and maintain the motivation to learn,” sophomore David Chau said. “I was scared that I would do poorly this year, so I am glad that teachers are making changes to accommodate everyone’s circumstances.” Due to shortened instructional time, many teachers planned to cover less material this year. For many students, especially those planning to take AP classes, passing classes was not as important as receiving a quality education.

“The district advised teachers to focus more on the essential, core standards, so it is true that students may not be able to learn everything that they would normally be able to cover,” Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Janet Lees said. “For me, learning is not only about learning every detail of the material, but being able to utilize and apply the information.” The district will be reviewing semester grades at the end of this month. It will be discussing recommendations about providing students with the support they need to better engage in distance learning.

School remains under distance learning, reopening anticipated The district enforced new hybrid-learning guidelines in preparation for reopening. WALLY LAN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, PRINT


After 10 months, the campus remains empty. The district is working in conjunction with Governor Gavin Newsom’s school reopening framework to determine when students will return.

The school will remain under distance learning through Feb. 26, prompting adaptation procedures along with insight over the process of hybrid-learning. Earlier this month, the Board of Education voted to approve the extension of distance learning. There is not an exact reopening time frame. “We have put together the infrastructure that will allow us to begin bringing students safely back to campus once the infection rate in the surrounding community is brought under control,”

superintendent Denise Jaramillo said. “When it is time for students to return to campus, families will have the option to remain on distance learning.” Currently, the district has not outlined a definitive picture as to what life on campus will look like once students return aside from safety measures. “Safety measures will include social distancing, the use of masks [and] PPE, frequent handwashing, a daily symptom screener before coming on campus, and a temperature screener upon arrival,” Public Information Officer Director Natalie Tee said. “Students will be in cohorts and seated six feet apart and will follow any other Department of Public Health orders and Los Angeles County Office of Education guidelines that are in place at that time.” In consideration of the administration revising certain distance learning logistics, such

as the new bell schedule, students still find themselves experiencing pressing issues. Reflecting on her online school life, freshman Angelina Tranwu was among the many students who described their motivational barriers of distance learning. “Sometimes going to school online feels like an option,” Tranwu said. “I imagined my freshman year to be filled with new friends, fun activities, sports, and clubs. Because of distance learning, the lack of social interaction affected my education and experiences in school.” The district is pausing all-in person assessments along with drive-through services unrelated to food distribution or instruction. For now, it will continue providing meals, counseling, and academic support. It will re-evaluate all factors before deciding whether to continue distance learning in early February.

thematadorsghs.us THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 2021



BRIEFS Revised bell schedule extends passing period BY LAURA CAI

After continuous feedback and requests from parents during principal discussions in October, the school revised the bell schedule for the second semester. Following a series of meetings and consultations with department chairs and the Advanced Placement administration, the passing period was extended to eight minutes, enabling students more time to prepare for their next class. “Since the start of distance learning, I have experienced instances where my WiFi would suddenly stop working,” sophomore Yvonne Ho said. “In those five minutes, I would be panicking and rushing, trying to find what the problem is. With a longer passing period, I have been able to [notify] my teacher and [explain] my situation.”

March For Our Lives San Gabriel advocates for gun control BY LEANE CHE


Wanting to give back to their alma mater, alumni Alyssa Tan (left) and Jimmy Huynh (right) stopped by the school to take a few nostalgic photos before delivering the rest of the gifts to families.

Alumni, Lotus Property Services sponsors families As the holidays neared, alumni partnered up with the Lotus Property Services Inc. to support the local community. BY LEANE CHE NEWS EDITOR


ecalling the challenges classrooms were facing amidst a pandemic, alumni Alyssa Tan and Jimmy Huynh, along with the Lotus Property Services Inc., sponsored 20 local families, three of which are from the school. Necessities and other supplies were delivered to the families on Dec. 23. 2006 graduates Tan and Huynh, currently a math tutor at the school, initially discussed several months prior regarding how the Lotus Property Services Inc. annually sponsors struggling families during the holidays. As Tan is also the Controller-Director of Human Resources at the company, she reached out to Huynh, who then brought the idea to the administration. “Huynh mentioned how a lot of students have to turn off their cameras while on Zoom because many students did not have the best ideal living situations,” Tan said. “And so, I reached out to him to see if there were any families in need who we could potentially help.”

Many of the selected families were severely affected by COVID-19, either by the death(s) of a family member, loss of income, and the ongoing struggle to battle the coronavirus. Each family was

“It opened my eyes to see how so many people are struggling, but I do not know their stories. As an educator, I try to understand what they are going through.” Jimmy Huynh Alumnus and math tutor requested to create a wish list for household needs and gift ideas for kids, if any. The families asked to remain anonymous. “One parent stated they received shoes, shirts, underwear, socks, and

other hygiene items,” Assistant Principal of Instruction Amy Wu said. “They also received gift cards to purchase food. It was very helpful because the daughter is the only one working to support the family, and she has been off work for a month because she has COVID-19. They are very grateful to all for keeping them in mind and providing this help to them.” Through conducting these donations, Huynh, who continuously assisted the community throughout his days in high school, said “it just felt really good to give back.” “It opened up my eyes to see how so many people are struggling, but I do not know their stories,” Huynh said. “As an educator, I try to understand what they are going through. It is more difficult during distance learning, and most students do not ask for help.” As these donations were during an unprecedented time, Principal Debbie Stone was both proud and appreciative of these former students. “San Gabriel High School is like a family,” Stone said. “When things get tough, our community reaches out and helps each other.”

In light of increased gun violence within the U.S., juniors Jaxon Huynh, Mytam Le, Ashley Macias, and Jhozibel Medina co-founded March For Our Lives San Gabriel (MFOLSG), a grassroot chapter of MFOL California (MFOLCA), to address its intersectionalities, such as mental health. Through MFOLCA’s resources, MFOLSG plans to focus on providing people of color a platform and integrating ethnic studies into local high schools. Members will be able to participate in informational meetings led by influential speakers and MFOLCA’s mental health podcasts. The club meets every other Monday at 12:50 p.m. on Zoom.

College Board drops SAT subject, essay tests BY WALLY LAN

Fueled with controversy over impartiality and logistical challenges during the pandemic, the College Board will no longer offer the SAT subject tests and optional essay section for the main exam. Traditionally, students displayed their proficiency at subjects, such as math or English, through the subject tests. Colleges then used the test scores in consideration for where they placed students for first-year courses. Now, with the decision, many view this as a burden toward the admissions process. College Board Chief Executive David Coleman said that the decision was not linked with financial motives but an attempt to mitigate the stress of high school students. To read the full articles, visit www.thematadorsghs.us.

News around the globe BY JUSTIN FANG

COVID-19 VACCINATION CAMPAIGN India began vaccinating their health workers in what is likely the world’s biggest COVID-19 vaccination drive on Jan. 16. The Indian government hopes to give shots to 300 million people, consisting of 30 million frontline workers and 270 million others, which is roughly equal to the U.S. population. EARTHQUAKE IN ARGENTINA A magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck northwestern Argentina near the border with central Chile and caused power outages. As a result, no early reports of injuries were reported, and although Chile felt the earthquake, officials said there was no damage reported in the nation. UGANDAN ELECTION SCRUTINIZED Uganda’s electoral commission said that President Yoweri Museveni won another five-year term on Jan. 16, making this his sixth win for presidency. His opponent, Bobi Wine, declared the results were “fraudulent,” and officials are struggling to explain how polling results were gathered during a blackout.

4 OPINIONS Newfound opti’ma’sm


thematadorsghs.us THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 2021

Class of 2024's warm welcome to the school ILLUSTRATION BY ANDREW LAM

Silent judgement KELLY MA NEWS EDITOR


was that one quiet, seemingly studious girl who sat in the front of the class. I kept my distance from everyone, not because I disliked them, but because I was avoidant and withdrew from social situations in fear of criticism and rejection. That mindset first emerged when a friend who I was once completely dependent on replaced me with new friends, calling me clingy and annoying. But that didn’t matter anymore—what mattered was that my mind was full of doubtful, pessimistic thoughts that needed to go away. I convinced myself that others didn’t want me around. No matter how outgoing I tried to be, once they got tired of me, they would leave. Besides, everyone had closer friends than me. I was replaceable. These thoughts supposedly protected me from experiencing negativity from others, but they also prevented me from forming emotional connections. While trying to avoid being hurt by other people, I became isolated, ironically hurting myself. Feelings of inadequacy were the root of my problems. I thought that, in order for people to like me, I had to fix myself. I became obsessed with calorie-counting, and I set up unrealistic restrictions on my diet. Everything was fine until I started feeling cold and lightheaded all the time. I literally had to pass out before realizing how absurd my life had become. No matter how much I tried to change, even if I forced myself to participate in club activities or raise my hand in class, I was still alone. So, what was the magical cure to loneliness? It was to break the cycle of harmful thinking that caused it in the first place. I needed to stop questioning my self-worth and start believing that others could see more to me than my faults. I never noticed this until recently, when I let myself get attached to someone new again. When they suddenly disappeared from my life, I assumed that they had finally gotten tired of me. However, upon communicating how I felt with them, I found out that my negative thoughts were simply ideas that I had formed on my own. The reason why I failed to maintain any relationships was that I expected them to fail. I can’t say that I’m completely confident with who I am yet, but at least I have the first step down: becoming self-aware and learning to live with a more optimistic outlook.


School continues to fail freshmen


ncoming freshmen often fear adapting from their middle schools to a foreign environment. With distance learning in place, the school’s duty to aid freshmen with transitioning to high school is now more important than ever. However, the school, once again, is irresponsibly neglecting its duties by being extremely uncommunicative and unorganized. Motivating Matadors (MoMa), a freshman assimilation program, carries the responsibilities of introducing freshmen to the campus and assisting them with adapting to high school. Yet, regardless of being cognizant of the vital role they play, the club has done nothing since school began. The first couple of months MoMa attempted to coordinate ultimately amounted to nothing, denying freshmen of a smoother transition. MoMa's inactivity greatly impaired freshmen as the first months are crucial when acclimating into new surroundings.

MATADOR BULLRING Students share their opinions on current topics.

To what degree has the school offered support for freshmen this year? INTERVIEWS BY LAURA CAI PHOTOS COURTESY OF INTERVIEWEES

While MoMa is the main source of support for freshmen, the administration is just as accountable for helping them. By not displaying an ounce of effort to assist freshmen with adjusting to high school, the administration left an entire incoming class feeling lost, confused, and stressed. The administration disregarded hosting a freshman summit and instead diverted the responsibility to student bodies, namely ASB. However, ASB was just as ineffective. Having freshmen rely solely on ASB’s weekly homeroom videos is a futile attempt at distributing information. Homeroom videos hardly scrape the surface of information compared to what MoMa supposedly covers. Besides homeroom videos, ASB’s club fair was a debacle. The club fair's poor organization defeated its purpose of teaching freshmen about clubs, hindering them from becoming involved with the school.

The club fair was not advertised whatsoever, and the times, locations, and dates were neither announced nor clarified. Admittedly, it is more difficult to aid freshmen with transitioning to high school in a virtual setting, but the school is obligated to produce a greater effort to help freshmen adapt to high school. There is no excuse as every other aspect of school, including classes and extracurriculars, adapted. The bare minimum is being organized and communicative, but the school failed to accomplish either of those. It is unrealistic to have one school group bear the responsibility of being freshmen’s main source of guidance. MoMa must become active and collaborate with other school resources, such as ASB, to accommodate the needs of freshmen. Through virtual meetings, freshmen can communicate any concerns as MoMa is meant to be a welcoming community of peers.

Angela Huang, 9

Kaylie Zhao, 10

"The school has accommodated me well. I appreciate our change in schedule since I can asynchronously work, their efforts to send out emails, and the system of picking [up] and dropping off textbooks."

"This year's support for freshmen has improved. All the videos shown during homeroom help keep them updated, which we didn't have last year. There are also many videos specifically made for this year's freshmen.”

Alejandro Hernández, 11

Juan Obregon, 12

"The support for freshmen [has] been different. With the pandemic, there is no 'real' motivation, especially for freshmen, and the freshmen need more support [and] motivation."

"The support that the freshmen [have] been getting this year is not as much as my freshman year. The lack of faceto-face communication makes it very difficult for the school to offer much support.”


thematadorsghs.us THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 2021



Struggle with responsiveness impairs students

Infr’ang’ible fear



o ensure that students are not left confused and student publications can write complete stories, a school environment depends on teachers and staff being willing to answer questions. Unfortunately, this availability has suffered, with emails and other forms of digital communication left unanswered. Teachers and staff must not neglect maintaining a line of communication so that students are not left unaware about important inquiries. Transparency has suffered as a result of some teachers and staff being unresponsive to emails. Oftentimes, emails from The Matador requesting information have gone unanswered by administration, in turn leaving the school population in the dark. Lacking the opportunity for traditional in-person interviews, the importance of responding to these emails, as one of the only methods of communication, has been heightened. Details from such interviews are integral to a student publication’s efforts to provide the complete story to its readers. Impeding on these efforts only bars students from receiving an informed and balanced story and hinders The Matador’s vital role of informing and educating the community. Digital communication is not only used by student publications, but also by students for assistance on assignments. After many repeated instances of being ignored through emails, students may be discouraged from trying to contact teachers and staff for help when student engagement is already suffering. Unanswered emails both hurt students seeking help beyond the class lesson and undermine the concept of “availability” and “support” many teachers endorse. Understandably, circumstances give

Distress in perfection JUSTIN FANG COPY EDITOR


rise to inflexible schedules that do not allow time to respond to emails. But, as educators, it is the role of teachers and staff to respond to students’ questions and increase student engagement. Leaving attempted communication for help or information unanswered is a failure to fulfill this essential role. The centrality of this role to teachers’ and staff’s jobs requires schedules to be reorganized to leave time to help students. To improve responsiveness to students,

teachers and staff must adapt the mentality of being honest with their reply time. Instead of misleading students with phrases such as “contact me if you have any questions,” which suggests a student will get a quick response, a reasonable time frame should be given so students know what to expect. This way, teachers and staff can still be available without students feeling like they are being ignored while their question is in the process of being answered.

The College Board improves on 2020 disappointment The modified AP test changes are a step forward from last year’s exams. AARON LU OPINIONS EDITOR


ollowing the abrupt, disastrous changes to AP exams last year, the College Board has made tremendous strides in improving the 2021 exams as the pandemic continues to disrupt learning. Student voices complaining over how poorly the exams were conducted after an entire school year of studying have evidently been heard by the College Board, prompting appropriate changes for this upcoming May. As the pandemic continues to rage on, the College Board has made efforts in relieving any pressure students may have. The new back-out system allows for a full refund with no cancellation fee up until the day of the test. Students are now able to decide whether or not they feel prepared to take the test, mitigating any worries that if they opt out, their money will go to waste. Seeing as virtual learning may pose as a barrier for many, it is only appropriate that students fully focus on the material taught rather than any doubts of testing. AP daily videos are also being released on a more frequent basis, being available for students to access on AP Classroom. Whereas the review videos in preparation for last May’s

exams were long winded and slow-paced, these videos are much briefer, focusing on the specific key ideas for students to grasp. With practice problems in every video, the College Board is providing an amazing resource for students to supplement their current learning progress. The most recognizable change to the upcoming exams is that original full-length tests will now be administered. At first glance, concerns arise as to whether students will be capable of taking an entire threehour-long exam from home. However, last year’s dramatic condensation of the tests only caused more harm. Students and teachers prepared for months on end with old testing formats in mind, including multiple-choice and various free-response questions, but tests only zeroed in on one topic and format. But these modifications allow for a demonstration of knowledge of the full curriculum rather than one singular topic. The College Board has announced productive adjustments in assisting students through an unorthodox learning year. As the 2021 AP exams inch closer and closer, more details will be released, but current regulations prove to embody a more holistic assessment of students’ understanding. Given more time in preparing for this year’s exams, it is only fitting that the College Board’s execution is of standards.

THE MATADOR Editors-in-Chief, Print Editor-in-Chief, Digital News Editors Opinions Editors Focus Editors Life and Art Editor Sports Editor Features Editors Copy Editors Business Manager Social Media Managers Photoshop Editors Reporters


Wally Lan Qilin Li Amanda Lerma Leane Che Kelly Ma Andrew Lam Aaron Lu Chelsea Lam Chelsea Nguyen Ken Yu Eric Mai Mytam Le Tiffany Nguygen Justin Fang Lynda Lam Tammy Vuong Lily Cam Tammy Vuong Leane Che Lynda Lam Laura Cai Adwik Chaturvedi Nan Jiang Hanna Jalawan

The Matador is published monthly online and bi-monthly on PDFs by the journalism class of San Gabriel High School. The Matador is a public forum for student expression and highly encourages responses in reaction to issues discussed in the paper. The opinions expressed are those of the writers, not the faculty or administration. Articles without bylines are the opinion of the entire staff. Submit comments as a letter to the editor, signed (anonymity is guaranteed if requested) to Ms. Jalawan’s email.

eart racing, palms sweating, uncontrolled shaking. This is what I feel when called to perform in front of a crowd. However, my experiences with fear of public performance can be traced back to a time when I was on stage quite often. In elementary school, I played the cello in the school’s orchestra. During my first few years, performing in public was easy as I clung to something one of my teachers said. “Everyone makes mistakes. On stage, if you make a mistake, there’s a chance that no one noticed.” Unfortunately, that mentality failed me in the following years. At my school, I was among the older students, which meant that other students looked up to us. There was no room for error. During one of the many rehearsals that we had for a concert, there was a suffocating pressure to play flawlessly for the eager and attentive eyes in the crowd. I initially thought that playing in a concert hall was no different from playing in a small cafeteria. I was mistaken. The moment I stepped onto the stage, I was overwhelmed by the brightness of the spotlights and the seemingly unending darkness. The loud applause only further intimidated me. As I sat with my cello, trembling in fear, a part of me felt like a bubble ready to burst. But I managed to pull myself together and played. I kept my focus on maintaining synchronization with the rest of the cello players. As the sound of the final note faded, the hall filled with applause once again. We walked off the stage and I settled down. Despite being congratulated by many, I was still scarred. Since then, the thought of being perfect in the public eye never left my mind, and anything involving me and a large group of people became my worst fear. During the pandemic, I realized that even though everyone said I looked confident, the only way I was truly going to excel at speaking in front of people again is if I believe in myself, guiding me to something that I encountered online. “Making mistakes is better than faking perfection.” That motto resurrected the mentality that I had before the “perfect” mentality took over. Through this enlightenment, I came to the conclusion that being perfect was like trying to push a boulder up an endless mountain, a goal that could never be reached.



thematadorsghs.us THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 2021

Financial struggles during the pandemic TAMMY VUONG BUSINESS MANAGER SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER

The holidays welcomed another surge in the pandemic, further stressing the importance of remaining quarantined to help prevent the spread. In turn, financial struggles among families have continued to increase. Unemployment has been on the rise, induced by a surge in COVID-19 cases and leaving many families without a steady source of income. Yet, the responsibilities of paying for housing, food, GRAPHIC BY WENDY CHAU

and other necessities have remained unchanged, burdening individuals with more and more debt. In a time of such crisis, people are not seeing much financial relief, even prompting students to take on part-time jobs to provide for their families to survive the year. As people continue to quarantine, utility bills are exceeding average costs. Due to frequently spending time at home and changes in the weather, individuals are using more central air to heat or cool their surroundings. The cost of utility bills is currently up 34% compared to previous years, not including the abundant amount of necessities that need to be

bought overall. As a result of this, individuals will struggle to pay off expensive bills. With indoor dining widely prohibited, ordering takeout or delivery from restaurants has been encouraged for quarantine; however, it is extremely pricey. Since Proposition 22 was passed in November, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, and Postmates drivers accept increasing benefits from their labor. This means that drivers will earn more than they previously have for every order, making online orders more expensive for consumers. With other additional bills and essentials, individuals are prone to be financially unstable.

thematadorsghs.us THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 2021



‘Tran’sforming for family Junior Ivy Tran tackles a part-time job to help relieve family's financial burden. BY MYTAM LE FEATURES EDITOR


t was just another Saturday. Her eyes could barely stay open, and her head continued to throb. It felt as if a rubber band was tightening around her brain. After a long day of making and serving boba, junior Ivy Tran wanted nothing more than to take a long nap on her bed, but she knew her night was far from over as a pile of homework on her desk awaited her return. When the pandemic first emerged, Tran’s family faced financial struggles. Witnessing her family struggle prompted Tran’s urge to help. Although her parents were fearful for her health, she was still determined to assist her family, resulting in her applying to and getting a job at Sharetea, a boba chain. After notifying her parents about her new job at Sharetea, they eventually allowed her to work.

“Most of my family became temporarily unemployed,” Tran said. “And knowing the virus affects the elderly the most, I felt guilty and was worried, so I tried to help out and decided to get a job.”

her anxiety when interacting with customers. "Everyone that’s currently working is much more cautious, but we’re all trying to maintain our health,” Tran said. “It just puts more weight onto my heart,

"Even through tough times and when I act unreasonably, they still care for me, and I want to do the same for them." Ivy Tran Junior Tran’s schedule ranges from four to nine hours throughout the week, as well as switching among three different Sharetea locations weekly. As more workers quit their jobs, she and her coworkers were overwhelmed with the amount of responsibilities, worsening

and I am scared that I might accidentally catch the virus and bring it home. But I get tested monthly or bimonthly just to stay safe.” Even with precautions, there are still moments where Tran regrets taking on the job in the midst of a worsening

pandemic. In addition, the stress from school has also made her feel as if quitting would be the best solution for her. “It was still hard to maintain my grades and work,” Tran said. “Sometimes, I felt like, ‘I should just lose the job and focus on myself and grades.’ When I see that L.A. has the most COVID cases, the customers scare me more, and I doubt my decision.” However, Tran eventually remembers that her family has constantly supported her, and giving up would not be an answer. Tran understands that she now has a responsibility and an important role to assist her family. “My parents raised me, and since I'm still young, I can’t do much for them, so I’ll try to do my best in what I can right now,” Tran said. “My parents are important to me. Even through tough times and when I act unreasonably, they still care for me, and I want to do the same for them.”


Financial relief: government assistance LYNDA LAM COPY EDITOR

Due to the pandemic, many Americans have lost their source of stable income or are facing reduced working hours. People who fell into financial ruins are struggling to put food on the table and pay rent. To alleviate stress, the government offers programs and laws for the general public to utilize to their advantage. Applying for unemployment insurance is an option for those

seeking help from the government. The benefits range from $40 to $450 a week, but there is an application process, where people must provide their work history for the last 18 months, their Social Security number, driver’s license or ID card, and proof of U.S. citizenship. A green card or a visa that provides authorization to work in the U.S. will suffice as verification. Those struggling to get food can seek assistance from Calfresh. Normally, Calfresh has a minimum and maximum amount of benefits

a recipient can receive, which is determined by how much they spend and their income. However, because of the pandemic, Calfresh offers everyone the maximum amount. Anyone who is low income can apply for the program at any time. It takes an average of 30 days for an application to be approved or rejected, but it could be processed faster for those in urgent need of assistance. Anyone who can prove they are unable to pay rent due to COVIDrelated hardships are allowed to

invoke the Homeowner and Small Landlord Relief and Stabilization Act of 2020. When landlords desire to evict tenants, the latter must provide a document that states that they cannot pay rent due to the pandemic. If the tenant is unable to give the landlord a signed form within 15 business days, eviction may proceed, unless they can provide a “good reason” why they were unable to in court. Tenants must be aware that all rent money is still owed to the landlord and that eviction for safety reasons are still allowed.


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thematadorsghs.us THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 2021

A new year begins—a new set of surprises and events anticipated. What does 2021 hold in store for us? BY WALLY LAN AND KEN YU EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, PRINT LIFE AND ART EDITOR


t is New Year’s Eve of 2019. Excited to enter a new decade, you draft your resolutions for the year. One month later, Australia is ravaged by intense wildfires. Two months later, a novel virus, SARS-CoV-2, creates international hysteria. Three months later, your state enters an economic shutdown amid a pandemic. Six months later, violent protests erupt as the Black Lives Matter movement peaks. Eleven months later, claims of massive

electoral fraud in the presidential election sharply polarized the political world. Although a tumultuous year, 2020 has given us much to look forward to in optimistic changes and outlooks. Normalcy appeared foreign when the nation ground to a halt last March. It was dangerous to interact with friends and loved ones. School was different. Shifting to a virtual learning platform was something neither students nor teachers were ready for. However, a year later, things are looking to be different. Several vaccines have been developed to fight the coronavirus. While the distribution shows that the coronavirus is far from disappearing,

there is now a light at the end of the tunnel to firmly fix our sight on. Schools are gradually announcing intentions to reopen next fall, introducing the distant possibility of reconnecting with friends physically. Friendships that have weathered the difficult times will be strengthened, becoming stronger than ever. Awaiting in the new year are new social and political landscapes counter to the tense unrest in 2020. Joe Biden was inaugurated, signifying a new direction of political and social changes. Whether for better or worse, changes will undoubtedly bring sweeping consequences to the nation. Social movements will be inflamed.

Voices will be heard. Students will continue to confidently gaze at headlining issues and advocate for change in the unknown future of 2021 from social media platforms to the classroom. While the normalcy we grew accustomed to is nothing like what we ever considered normal, it is still something to remain optimistic about while we take gradual steps toward a better future. 2021 is the year where we sit on the edge of our seats for the inevitable change that awaits every day, brought forward by the struggles we faced in the previous year. The seeds of change were planted. We are ready to harvest.

Moving forward: events shaping the future of 2021

Eurovision Song Contest

MAY 18 Held annually, 41 countries are lined up to participate in the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest taking place in Rotterdam, Netherlands, the 2019 winner of the contest. The contest is one of the longest-running internationally televised competitions and represents not only a variety of music genres, but also a variety of up-and-coming artists and songwriters. WRITTEN BY KEN YU PHOTOS COURTESY OF CREATIVE COMMONS

UEFA European Championship and Copa Ameríca

JUNE 11 Rife with anticipation and excitement, 2021 will see two major football championships running concurrently in South America and Europe. The UEFA European Championship’s opening game will be held at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome while Copa America’s first game will be held at the Estadio Monumento in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony

JULY 23 The summer edition of the 2020 Olympics, Japan’s fourth time hosting the event, is set to open in the revamped National Stadium in Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. Organizers of the events plan to use as many competition venues from past Olympic games, aligning with one of the fundamental, central themes of this year’s Olympics: passing on the legacy for tomorrow.

A c e 2 M E w y a


thematadorsghs.us THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 2021


Skimming the lineup: games, shows, movies Keep an eye out for these heavily anticipated releases. They will not disappoint.


Movies and Shows

In the Heights romance, drama, musical Bodega owner Usnavi de la Vega explores his hopes and dreams while battling the hardship of being a Dominican-American resident of Washington Heights. That is until he inherits his grandmother’s large fortune and must make a tough decision that will forever change his future. In the Heights is based on the Broadway musical with the same title. It is scheduled to be released in theaters and on HBO Max on June 18.

Blue Protocol

mmorpg, rpg, fighting, action Taking place centuries after a civilization collapses, players will explore ancient ruins and a lost society to uncover hidden knowledge. With colorful graphics and fast-paced combat, “Blue Protocol” focuses on teamwork among players of different character classes in order to overcome challenges. No specific month has been announced for its Japan-only release, but a global release is also being discussed.

Fate: The Winx Saga

Far Cry 6

Shangchi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Sports Story

coming-of-age, fantasy A live-action adaptation of its animated predecessor, Winx Club follows five fairies who attend the Alfea School for Fairies in the Otherworld. There, they learn to master their magical powers alongside other mythical creatures while navigating the struggles of adolescence. The first season is expected to be released on Netflix tomorrow, Jan. 22, with six episodes.

adventure, superhero Wushu and Kung Fu master Shang-Chi faces his troubled past when he is roped into the Ten Rings organization, a terrorist group whose goal is to wreak worldwide havoc. Although Shang-Chi has no superpowers, he uses his knowledge of weapons and martial arts to restore peace to the world. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is expected to release on Disney Plus on July 7 and in theaters on July 9.

first-person-shooter, action-adventure Players will face off against Antón Castillo, a fascist dictator who wants to maintain his family’s power over Yara. While Yara continues to be in turmoil, players will embody Dani Rojas, a guerrilla soldier fighting for a resistance, while completing numerous side quests. The game will be available on the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, PC, and more on May 25.

adventure, rpg, sports, indie Similar to “Golf Story,” this upcoming RPG game allows players to train their character’s athletic skills on the Nintendo Switch. While sports is the main focus of the game, players can also go on random adventures, catch fish, explore creepy dungeons, and much more. This game can be played with friends, up to four players maximum. Its release date is to be decided.


United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26)

2020 World Expo

James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launch

OCT. 1

OCT. 31

NOV. 1

An international gathering of over 190 countries to create a global stage for unfolding each country’s culture and achievements, the 2020 World Expo opens in Dubai, the first Middle-Eastern country to host a World Expo. The global event will bring to life a world reflecting the central themes of this year’s historic event: opportunity, mobility, and sustainability.

The JWST’s development began in 1996, experiencing several delays and cost overruns during the process. Though completed in 2016, the JWST saw extensive testing that it is still undergoing now in preparation for its launch in October. The successor to the 1990 Hubble telescope, JWST will allow examination of the universe in closer detail and expand their observations to farther reaches.

Spearheading the global effort to mitigate and address climate change, the COP26 is being held in Glasgow, United Kingdom. COP26 will also be the first time the signatories of the 2015 Paris Agreement evaluate the collective progress towards the agreed goals outlined in the international treaty in the planned quinquennial “global stocktake,” allowing for measures to be taken.



thematadorsghs.us THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 2021


Senior Dylan Castro stands in front of the golf tee at the Almansor Golf Course on Nov. 19. He swings his golf club and sends the ball flying across the air.

Castro gets back into swing of golfing After a hiatus during quarantine, senior Dylan Castro picks up his former hobby. BY TIFFANY NGUYGEN FEATURES EDITOR

The car comes to a stop. Senior Dylan Castro steps onto the green lawn of the course with a golf club and ball in hand. He focuses all his attention into his club, running through the motion in his head. As he swings, the ball soars across the sky, and his worries fade away with the quiet breeze.

Updates on sport guidelines for new year ADWIK CHATURVEDI REPORTER

Updates on timelines, modified schedules, and the current status of outside competitions were released by the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF). In the middle of the 201920 school year, CIF announced

Castro grew up wellacquainted with sports. He started playing basketball when he was four, baseball at the age of eight, and now, golf. Given his long history of playing sports, Castro loves an opportunity to be active. As such, the pandemic, instead of deterring, actually resparked his love for his most recent endeavor—golf. “A couple months back, my dad said, ‘Let’s go golfing again,’” Castro said. “He wanted to bring back old times, so he

took me to go play in my first golf course ever. Now, golfing is a hobby of mine all over again.” Castro cites his time playing baseball as pivotal to his current love for golf. With social distancing protocols in place, team-based sports are no longer viable options. As a result, he finds a way around them with golf while also finding solace in the sport. “It wasn’t that bad of a transition from a faster, collaborative sport,” Castro said. “I didn’t really mind that

that the sports season will start with modified schedules. This is the exact case for the 2021 sports season as well. Along with this, CIF predicted the seasons would either start last month or this month. Since December 2020 passed along, January 2021 is the time range CIF is aiming for. Each modified schedule will be given to a section office, and as such, schedule dates may vary throughout California. “Each CIF section office will release their own calendar to reflect regular season starting and ending dates and section playoffs,” CIF said. However, CIF stated that these announcements are not fixed as they are cooperating with the guidelines made by the Governor’s Office, the California Department of Education, the California

Department of Public Health, and local county health departments and agencies. “As these guidelines change, CIF sections may allow for athletic activity to potentially resume under the summer period rules of the local section,” CIF said. As the case was for 2020, CIF is temporarily suspending outside competitions throughout the whole year until advised otherwise. However, students will be able to practice with the team and sport that they participate in. Current circumstances stipulate that sports in the 2021 school year will play out similarly to the 2020 school year, but there will be fewer restrictions on how teams will be able to practice and play. For more recent updates, visit the CIF website.

change either because as long as it’s something I enjoy, it’s something I will be willing to do. I got into golf pretty quickly because, back then, I played baseball for six years, and I stopped once high school started. Swinging a golf club brings back old memories of me swinging a bat.” That feeling is what assures his return to playing golf despite his time-consuming responsibilities of classes, extracurriculars, college, and his social life.

“Just watching the ball fly in the air is one of my favorite things,” Castro said. “It’s just the way the club feels to me when it connects to the ball. I also get to relax and take my time without the feeling of being rushed.” Currently, Castro plays golf every other week due to the spike in COVID-19 cases in L.A. County.When it is safer to do so, he wants to go back and play with his father more frequently and expand his repertoire of sports. PHOTO COURTESY OF CREATIVE COMMONS

A baseball player wears a mask as he starts to play with his team during the COVID-19 pandemic. More and more school sports will be required to take precautions being taken similar to this to be able to play during the pandemic.



thematadorsghs.us THURSDAY, JANURARY 21, 2021

Garcia discovers comfort within dolls NAN JIANG REPORTER


Math teacher Hoang Nong was born in Vietnam. He rushed to leave his immediate family behind with his aunt on a boat, such as the one pictured above, to seek refuge. He then stayed in the Philippines for a few months before immigrating to the U.S.

Nong endures hardship through positivity BY MYTAM LE FEATURES EDITOR


e gasps for air. Struggling to stay afloat as water fills his lungs, he continues to swim toward the small island with scraps of wood from his broken boat surrounding him. As he finally reaches land, he sighs a breath of relief knowing that he had survived another day. Math teacher Hoang Nong was born in Vietnam, and by his early adolescence, he evacuated due to the harsh living conditions. Wanting Nong to have a promising future, his parents urged him to leave with relatives for better opportunities in the U.S. “I left with my aunt’s family because it was costly to go,” Nong said. “It was difficult to leave my parents because I was young, and there were times where I wished they were there to help me emotionally.” Nong finished his paperwork for U.S. citizenship in 1988.

Although he struggled to form complete English sentences, he excelled in his classes, graduating in the top 20 of his high school class and attended California Polytechnic State University, Pomona (CPP).

“I enjoy helping, teaching, shaping my students’ thoughts, and motivating them to be better people.” Hoang Nong Math teacher “My family background motivated me to do well in school,” Nong said. “My parents valued education because it was the only way for a better future, and they stressed the importance of education.” Initially, Nong entered CPP as an engineering major but switched his major to math after

a recession. After seven years of balancing school and odd jobs, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in math and decided to become a teacher. “I really enjoy helping, teaching, shaping my students’ thoughts, and motivating them to be better people,” Nong said. “I want them to learn and to take advantage of all the opportunities available. I welcome everyone with open arms, and I want them to leave learning as much as they can.” Reflecting on his journey to the U.S., Nong realizes that his constant positive attitude allowed him to survive in the face of adversity. Nong continues to put on a smile, especially for his children and students, and encourages them to never give up. “My philosophy when I was younger was to not let the past haunt you,” Nong said. “I look at life as a walk through a forest, and you don’t get angry at the thorns that scratch you. Instead, you slowly detach the thorns and try to find your way out of the forest.”

After a long day of completing mountains of school work, senior Chris Garcia frantically searches for his dolls. The stress of online school gets to him sometimes, but he knows that he can always go to his safe space. Holding his favorite doll, “Swag,” everything feels peaceful again. The start of distance learning was a drastic change of pace for Garcia’s life. From an increase in academic workload to more responsibilities at home, his troubles continued to multiply. In search of comfort, Garcia turned to doll collecting, a hobby he lost interest in for years before, but in the midst of the pandemic, Garcia rediscovered his love for. “In March, I took my Monster High dolls and began putting them in my room,” Garcia said. “Being bored at home definitely recaptured my interest in doll collecting. It was pretty unexpected.” As Garcia reignited his love for doll collecting, he realized that dolls can be much more than just part of a collection. They can also be ways to manage stress. “The dolls kind of help me go through life every day,” Garcia said. “There are days when I’m stressed, and I can’t help but to


Senior Chris Garcia has collected over 20 dolls since March. They are a safe space for him. “It brings me joy,” Garcia said.

hold a doll in my hand that I personally connect with. It sounds silly, but sometimes that’s all it takes to help.” Creating unique personalities for each doll is Garcia’s favorite way to interact with and deepen his relationship with them. “Imagining their personalities gives me a chance to be creative and helps me take my mind off things,” Garcia said. “It’s like my therapy.” Garcia’s experience within the doll-collecting world has been positive thus far, and he hopes to start a YouTube channel in the future to share his passion. He aims to normalize doll collecting for males as much as his community of friends and family has for him.

Blending two worlds

Since 2009, Career and Technical Education Adviser and makeup artist Paulina Serrano has been a part of the wedding glam team Le Hair Shack. Now, Serrano finds balance in both of her careers by incorporating more creative expression and less structure daily. To read the full article, visit www. thematadorsghs.us




thematadorsghs.us THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 2021

Ulloa Ulloa constructs constructs meaningful meaningful memories memories with with father father With the pandemic resulting in many losing their connections, math teacher Leah Ulloa and her father fought to strengthen their relationship. Spending hours diligently woodworking provided a space for the duo to find solace among the chaos of the world.



ooden slabs covered the work surface as the loud roaring of the table saw filled the air. A faint scratching sound was heard when sandpaper smoothed the wooden surface as math teacher Leah Ulloa worked alongside her father. Assembling the pieces and handling each other tools, memories were nailed into place as they made progress on the kitchen island. Following the start of the pandemic, Ulloa found herself needing new furniture, leading her to explore a new hobby that would also bring her relationship with her father closer: woodworking. Ulloa strived to join this

pastime with her father who is experienced in woodworking and produces projects for friends. “Woodworking has been a way for me to connect to my family, and that’s one of the blessings that I think has come out of this pandemic,” Ulloa said. “I felt like it was a relatively safe activity for us to do since we work outside, we wear masks, and we can keep socially distant.” Already having a close relationship with her father, Ulloa views woodworking as a time for them to bond against the rotating hours of stress from working at home and the pandemic. The hours dedicated to working on the projects were heartwarming, allowing them to simply spend time together and converse. “My dad means the world to me,” Ulloa said. “I was

always a daddy’s girl growing up. I didn’t get to woodwork with him when we were kids because we were in dance and stuff like that, so now, being able to do these projects with him has definitely been really special.” Ulloa recalls a particular instance when her hearing was fading in the latest project due to the loud machinery. Her father joked by pretending that he was unable to hear her and kept making her repeat herself. When she realized he was joking, they both began to laugh. The memory not only provided laughter, but it was also when Ulloa was given her grandmother’s old headphones to protect her hearing while woodworking. “I was like, ‘This is so cool,’ because even though my grandma passed away, her spirit lives within me,” Ulloa

Math perfe teacher Lea cting hand h Ulloa a mad e wo nd her fa oden th cutti er work ng b oard on s.

ther er fa h d n lized oa a , Ull persona g n i k r with dwo woo reativity h g c u Thro ss their e expr ure. it n r fu

at one another and her father look loa Ul k, ea br ort sh Taking a mbled together. en island they asse ch kit the er ov dly prou PHOTOS COURTESY OF LEAH ULLOA GRAPHICS BY CHELSEA LAM, MYTAM LE

said. “I just felt like she was doing this project with us as well. It really has brought together the love in my family.” Although Ulloa previously worried that woodworking might be too strenuous for her father, as he conducts the heavy lifting, her father constantly reassures her that he enjoys working alongside her. She specifically recalls a moment when he called his friend to share what a good time they were having, and it made it clear that any heavy workload was all worth it. “Sometimes, I forget that my dad is 71, but he does enjoy woodworking with me,” Ulloa said. “I hope that we can keep doing more projects together. I have all these little pieces around my house that my dad and I did together, so there is a memory in each piece of furniture.”

Profile for The Matador

The Matador: Issue 5 - January 21, 2021  

The Matador: Issue 5 - January 21, 2021