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FIRST DATES Couples, both old and new, share their stories about their first dates with their significant other


EYES ON YOU How far is too far? Life360 introduces a new way for parents to keep tabs on their children


TRIBUTE Remembering L.A. Lakers basketball superstar and inspiring role model Kobe Bryant



FEBRUARY 2020 | Van Nuys High School | Van Nuys, California



on the attack PAGE 8

Should you be worried about getting sick?

Getting through the onslaught unscathed

Is hand sanitizer enough to protect you?

California has confirmed six cases of coronavirus — a contagious respiratory illness — with at least one in Los Angeles County. As the disease infects thousands worldwide, research is being conducted on how the virus spreads and how those who are infected can be cured.

Disease knows no borders. In our interconnected world, infections can spread from rural villages to major cities in a short time, entering a human host through the mouth, eyes and nose and more. Daily activities make the spread of illness very easy. How can you protect yourself and others?

Germs and disease are everywhere: in the air, on our food. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing hands whenever possible to reduce germs, or to use hand sanitizer. Also, studies show that face masks may be effective in helping to keep you well.



2019 school shootings

FEBRUARY 2020 vnhsmirror.com


‘‘ ‘‘

CHRIS CONTRERAS Student, on the rumored pile of manure, which is actually compost, on the quad.

LEILANI LEE Student, on the first ever Van Nuys pep rally.



6 PHBAO Parent Confer-

ences: 5-7 p.m. 7 Short Day Dismissal; Black History Concert: 7-9 p.m. 10 Teen Court: 3:15-4:15 p.m. 10-14 ELA & Math Spring Interim Assignment

14 Volleyball Alumni Game: 6-8:30 p.m. 17 Presidents’ Day:

No classes 18 Valley Day College Fair: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Debate: Trump’s Impeachment: 12:30-1 p.m. 19 Multicultural Day

0 Dance Company 2 Showcase Matinee: 3:30-6 p.m. 24 Teen Court: 3:15-4:45 p.m.


The American Teenager Remembering the Parkland massacre by Rafid Alam

I dont understand why it’s there [the pile] but I just try to ignore it.

It was pretty good for the first pep rally, but it felt like they picked the hottest day to have it.


Five people were killed and 17 injured in five school shootings last year. That averages out to one shooting every 73 days.

Editor’s note: Feb. 14 marks two years since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where a former student opened fire within the halls of the school, killing 17 and sparking a student movement across the nation demanding stricter gun laws.


t was a bright morning, with sunlight shining over the whole San Fernando Valley. There were cars honking and driving. Parents were taking their children to school. I brushed my teeth and washed my face. I put on my navy blue polo shirt, my blackpants, and my white socks. The date was Feb. 14, 2018. It was your average Wednesday. I go to school, get bored to death, and then wait until it is time to go back home. I got in my dad’s car and he was taking me to the bus stop. My dad dropped me off and I saw my friend, David. We got on the bus together and my friend started playing Fortnite, while I watched. David and I got off the bus and


went to the area where our group of friends always hangs out. We talked and laughed until the bell rang. Edgar, my other friend, Nico, and I headed to English class. Lunch was the best part of the day. I was ready to finish two more periods and then go home. I was expecting nothing to ruin my mood. When I sat down in my History class, my teacher told us the bad news: a lone gunman killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It was one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. The shooter was a former student. “Do not be scared to come to school,” my teacher reassured us. “During a school shooting, this classroom is actually a very safe place to be in because it used to be a computer lab. There is no doorknob outside of the classroom, just a keyhole. The door is also really thick, which is going to make it tough to get in,” he explained. As I sat in my seat, I thought about the families of the victims. It was the only thing I could think about. In science class, my teacher also discusses the shooting. I just wanted to go home and forget about all of this. No parent ever thinks twice before sending their children to school. No one expects anything bad to happen because who in their right mind would ever want to kill stu-

dents trying to get an education. They’re trying to make it somewhere in life. As David and I rode the bus I sat there, thinking about what I would do if there was a shooting while I was in class. I became absolutely terrified. The bus arrived at my stop and I got in my mom’s car. She asked me about the shooting but at that point I was so tired of everyone mentioning the shootings so I told her, “Let’s please not talk about it. It makes me upset.” After we got home, I went on Instagram, where all I saw were posts of teenagers talking about the shooting in Florida. There were videos of the sounds of the gunshots, of the students exiting the school with their hands on their heads and of the families of the victims wailing and mourning for their murdered children. One thing that surprised me is that they had one thread: the government should make stricter gun laws. I was completely amazed. I felt proud of my generation. I’ve never seen my friends so upset. They cared about people they don’t even know. Exactly one month after the shooting, there was going to be a nationwide protest where kids would walk out of class to honor the Parkland victims. On the day of the walkout my math teacher told us “If you sup-

port it, you can go out and participate. If you don’t feel like you belong there, you are welcome to stay in the classroom.” I asked my friend Edgar if he was going. “No, I support that stuff, but I don’t feel like I would make a difference being there,” he said. “Let’s just stay in class and do our math homework,” I replied. At 10 a.m. the principal made an announcement. “It is now time for the walkout.”Three-fourths of my class left. A few of my other friends and I stayed and did our math homework together. After the walkout was over, I saw David, who had participated. I asked, “what was it like?” “There were a ton of people,” he answered. “They talked about how the government needs to pass stricter gun laws. ” Even though I didn’t participate, I went home proud that day. Posts on Instagram from different states and cities showed huge crowds of teenagers united and fighting for one cause. Teenagers all with different ethnicities and backgrounds. Teenagers that have different skin tones. Teenagers that practice different religions. People of my generation, no matter what they look like, will come together during terrible situations. My generation showed the whole country what the future is going to look like. That is the American way.

Nicholas Cruz opened fire at StonemanDouglas High School in Florida, killing 17 people.


The Mirror makes every effort to maintain accuracy, however, in the Nov. 2019 issue, the article “Girls golf team wins league championship” on page 16, inadvertently omitted Kristen Vitolo as co-captain of the girls golf team.



School named a National Magnet High School of Excellence

Freshman wins Gold Key in regional writing competition

History Bowl will host Spring Competition on campus

ROTC program accredited with near-perfect score

Van Nuys High School has been named a National Magnet School of Excellence by Magnet Schools of America. Principal Yolanda Gardea will be recognized and receive a National Magnet School of Excellence Merit award on behalf of the school on April 13 to 17 during the Magnet Schools of America’s 38th National Conference in Clark County, Nevada. Magnet School of Excellence Awards are only given to schools that demonstrate the highest level of excellence in academic standards, curriculum innovation, variety of classes and activities and successful diversity efforts. ANI TUTUNJYAN

Freshman Rachel Sang received a Gold Key in the 2019 regional Scholastic Art and Writing competition in the category of Personal Essay and Memoir. Gold Keys are awarded to the “very best works” submitted to the program are are automatically considered for nationallevel recognition. “I was very happy when I found out I received an award,” Sang said. She expressed her long-existing passion for writing, although she does not plan on pursuing a career in writing. “[W]riting is a necessary skill that you need to have, no matter what your career is.” ANI TUTUNJYAN

The History Bowl team will be hosting the annual Southern California History Bee and Bowl Saturday, Feb. 8 on campus. High school students demonstrate their knowledge on various topics with an emphasis on history in the buzzer-based competition over various rounds. “[W]hen the coordinator of History Bowl emailed me, I was really happy to be able to organize a competition here and give our school such much deserved love in terms of attention from all these prestigious competitions,” said team President Anthony Oliveira. The team is hoping to place in the playoffs and qualify for nationals. PAMELA SERRANO

The Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program has been accredited with a score of 99.75 out of 100. The accreditation took place on Wednesday, Jan. 22 in the ROTC room, involving presentations given by the program’s Battalion staff. The Director of LAUSD Army Instruction inspects JROTC programs every four years and accredits those that demonstrate a commitment to student performance and improvement to education. “All the students who participated in the inspection gave their 100 percent,” said SFC (R) Jorge Martinez, the Army Instructor for the program. STEPHANIE CACERES

Opiod crisis


Opiods account for more than half of all drug overdose deaths and is he leading cause of death in the U.S. for adults under the age of 50. PEXELS | DIDS


vnhsmirror.com FEBRUARY 2020



Doctor Burnout: A syndrome with a very large price tag By PAMELA SERRANO



s your doctor about to call it quits because of too much stress? According to a recent study, that is the case for an increasing number of physicians. Doctor burnout is costing the U.S. healthcare system roughly $4.6 billion a year, according to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine. The medical profession now burdened with an increased paperwork load, adding stress to doctors’ lives, the study finds. The study defines burnout as a syndrome characterized by “emotional exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment from work, and a sense of low personal accomplishment.” To measure its economic effects, the study authors took data from recent research findings and reports and ran a mathematical model to estimate the costs associated with burnout, focusing on the costs of physician turnover. A previous study by the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that 54 percent of doctors reported experiencing at least one symptom of burnout, almost twice the rate of the general U.S. working population. Burnout is a problem that extends beyond physicians to nurses and other health care staff as well. Although Dr. Ulf Lando does not experience burnout, he believes that the paperwork involved with the job is added stress. “I used to work much more than I do now. I didn’t experience burnout, but I experienced a lot of stress,” said Dr. Lando. “All the forms and all the regulations involved add a great burden to the job.” The study calculates that the cost of burnout comes out to $7,600 per physician per year for healthcare organizations. The study notes that their cost estimate was conservative, only tak-


The concept of doctor burnout is scary but I do believe if there is a strong determination and a sense of purpose then it can be evaded.” SHAYRA NAWSHEEN

ing into account lost work hours and physician turnover. Other research referenced in the study finds that burnedout doctors have higher rates of self-reported medical errors, less satisfied patients and more malpractice lawsuits, all of which have indirect costs. Doctors also have higher absenteeism rates and are more likely to report an intention to reduce their work hours or leave medical practice all together. “The concept of doctor burnout is scary but I do believe if there is a strong determination and a sense of purpose then it can be evaded,” said Shayra

Nawsheen, a senior who plans to pursue a career in the medical field. “During my internship, when the patients thanked me dssfor my work, it gave me a sense of achievement that washed all the tiredness away. The ability to save a life and the opportunity to be able to learn science at the same time is a big driving force.” The current study is accompanied by an editorial also published in the Annals of Internal Medicine by the executive medical director of Southern California Permanente Medical Group Edward Ellison. The healthcare provider, a division of the HMO Kaiser Permanente, employs over 8,500 physicians. Ellison writes that burnout is associated with “anxiety, depression, insomnia, emotional and physical exhaustion, and loss of cognitive focus.” He also notes that the physician suicide rate is much higher than the general publics’ and even exceeds that of combat veterans. The study authors found that putting a cost on doctor burnout and using the language of policymakers and CEOs can compel organizations to act. “This is good news. It shows that burnout is being addressed nationally and programs are having some impact,” Lotte Dyrbye, a physician and professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and co-author of the study, said in a press release. UP IN SMOKE: The burnout some doctors have been experiencing adds to rising healthcare costs.




The widely accessible overthe-counter drug, Kratom, may be more dangerous helpful.

Kratom: Is the herb healing or harmful? By STEPHANIE CACERES



ver 10.3 million Americans misused opioid prescriptions in 2018, and now a new substance has come on scene which may have the same addictive effects but is legal in most states without a prescription. Kratom, a widely-available herb, is the subject of ongoing debate over its risks and benefits. Usually chewed, brewed or crushed into a fine green powder, the herb comes from a tropical Southeast Asian tree. Chemicals in Kratom can have effects similar to both opioids and stimulants by interacting with different receptors in the brain. A small amount of Kratom can perk you up, while a large dose has a sedative effect like opioids. Some people who struggled with opioid addiction have switched to Kratom and swear by the substance’s positive effects on their lives. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) worry that Kratom carries the risk of physical and psychological dependency and, in some cases, addiction. The FDA warns consumers not to use the substance, and the DEA classifies Kratom in the same category as heroin and LSD. Some users credit Kratom with turning around their mental health or preventing opioid relapse. However, finding a high-quality supply of Kratom, often sold as pills, capsules or extracts, is difficult. The FDA has recalled dozens of salmonella-tainted products sold online or in convenience stores. Toxic heavy metals have also been found in Kratom supplements. Not all reviews of the supplement are positive. National Public Radio (NPR) recently reported on a young patient who got hooked on painkillers after his dentist pulled his wisdom teeth. He used bitcoin to also buy Vicodin and fentanyl on the dark web. Eventually he wanted to kick his opioid addiction and saw testimonials on YouTube and Reddit swearing that Kratom could be the way out. Soon he was popping multiple Kratom capsules a day, believing that the natural herb supplement could provide the same benefits of an opioid without the risks. During his freshman year at UC Davis, the young man started hyperventilating regularly. The incidents worsened ending in several trips to the emergency room. No doctor thought to test for Kratom. He eventually died. The toxicology report listed “acute mitragynine intoxication” — one of the chemicals making up Kratom — as the cause of death. “Kratom is a promising but not proven treatment for opioid addiction and acute pain management but it is not risk free,” said C. Michael White, head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Connecticut. White says that the collection of human data has only just begun. He says scientists need to conduct more research before the effectiveness of the drug is clear. Instead, he recommends trying methadone or suboxone before trying Kratom. Both methadone and suboxone are FDA approved. White says the safest place for Kratom is behind pharmacy counters, for people over age 18, but with no prescription required.



Peanut wizard

Born a slave, George Washington Carver became a prominent scientist and inventor, best known for devising over 100 peanut products and popularizing peanut butter.

FEBRUARY 2020 vnhsmirror.com





House of Blues music foundation partners with Technical Arts By ANI TUTUNJYAN & DENNIS GALIN THE MIRROR STAFF


ights, sound, action. These are just some of the backstage components needed to stage a performance. The House of Blues Music Forward Foundation, a Los Angeles-based organization that focuses on accelerating career skills for youth through music, will be emphasizing the technical arts in its collaboration with the school, the only school selected to participate in the partnership in the San Fernando Valley. House of Blues is an American chain of live music concert halls and restaurants founded in 1992 by Isaac Tigrett, the co-founder of Hard Rock Cafe, and Dan Aykroyd, co-star of the 1980 film The Blues Brothers. In 1993, House of Blues established the International House of Blues Foundation, the initial name of Music Forward, to provide services for the youth through arts programs. The partnership’s goal is to promote and enhance the school’s technical theater department, lighting design, stage design, film and business

BACKSTAGE House of Blues Music Forward Foundation has impacted over one million kids, as well as invested $25 million in providing workshops and showcases, kickstarting careers in the industry for over 25 years.

aspects of the industry. “What the House of Blues Music Forward Foundation wants to do is mentor and teach our kids the behind the scenes aspects of performing arts, and the ins and outs of the music industry from the backstage component,” said Performing Arts

Magnet Coordinator Ms. Fanny Arana. The semester will kick off with numerous workshops beginning in February introducing students to various career pathways in the music industry including participation on artistic teams, venue teams and production careers through live performances, panel discussions, and hands-on activities. Ms. Arana stresses the importance of students’ awareness of these different career pathways. “Realistically, you’ve got people on stage and that’s great, but without sound and lights, you’ve got nothing,” she said. “You’ve just got a bunch of people standing around in the dark yelling at each other. Without documentation and the business aspect of it, you’re not going to have an audience. Who markets it? Who gets the word out? How do you get the word out? There is so much that goes into planning a show.” Throughout the year, students will have the opportunity to job-shadow, create a personal brand and craft a resume. “Networking will be a key component to getting our students jobs in the industry,” said Ms. Arana. Students involved in the Technical Theater Department will be most involved in the partnership. “The program teaches responsibility and accountability,” Jude Struble, a technical arts student, said. “You have to know what you’re doing with other people. I’m excited to involve myself and learn more about the industry.”

Palforzia: A “game changer” for Americans with a peanut allergy BY ANI TUTUNJYAN



or nearly 2.5 percent of children and teenagers, one of their biggest fears is accidentally eating something that contains traces of peanuts. Those with peanut allergies can experience severe reactions and even die. But help may be on the way. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first treatment for peanut allergy in children ages 4 to 17. The drug, sold under the brand name Polfarzia, is a peanut protein in powder form which is given to children in increasing, controlled doses. Every two weeks, the dose is ramped up until it hits a target of 300 milligrams, which is the equivalent of about one peanut. Polfarzia does not cure the allergy, but rather reduces the severity and number of allergic reactions. Users will still have to carry an EpiPen and avoid peanuts. The medicine is similar to oral therapies offered by some allergists, but it is the first to be approved by U.S. health regulators. “Not only is Palforzia the first approved therapy for peanut allergy, but it is the first approved therapy for any food allergy,”

SMALL BUT DEADLY: Peanut allergy is the second most common allergy in children, occuring in about 1 in 50 children and 1 in 200 adults.

Daniel Adelman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Aimmune Therapeutics, the company that developed the drug, said in a press release. Dr. Alan O. Khadavi, an allergy and asthma physician, believes that the drug could be very helpful for hypersensitive patients who may accidentally consume something with traces of peanuts. “It would be very good for patients who are hypersensitive who sometimes have accidental exposures that can cause reactions,” said Dr. Khadavi. “This is something we can offer patients who are very scared of accidentally eating a peanut. It gives another treatment for them.”



It would be very good for patients who are hypersensitive who sometimes have accidental exposures that can cause reactions.” Dr. Alan O. Khadavi

Although the drug does not cure patients or work for everyone, Aimmune says the benefits can be life-changing to parents and children who worry about the potentially fatal effects of accidental

exposure to peanuts. “This is a defining moment for the peanut allergy community and for Aimmune Therapeutics,” Jayson Dallas, CEO of Aimmune Therapeutics, said in a press release. The company is also studying the medicine in children ages 1 to 4, allowing a larger number of the roughly 3 million Americans with peanut allergies to undergo the treatment. “Having an allergic reaction is not a very fun experience at all,” said Ryan Limpasurat, a student with a moderate peanut allergy. “Having this treatment will make day-to-day life more simple since I will be less stressed about reading each and every ingredient list.”



Trailblazing Black Anchorman

The first African-American network television achor, Max Robinson, co-anchored ABC’s “World News Tonight” from 1978-1983. He died of AIDS in 1988. SOURCE: NEW YORK TIMES


vnhsmirror.com FEBRUARY 2020


Media outlets are pursuing a “sugar coated” version of the news, according to students

PRESSED Reporters and camera crews cover a big news event. Our survey suggests that students distrust the news media.


The Mirror survey suggests students view news as biased and containing inaccuracies. By ANI TUTUNJYAN



ocial media, television and news media sites are among the most popular sources for students to receive news from, but these sources have an overwhelmingly biased nature. In a survey asking students how they receive and perceive news, 73.1 percent indicated that news contains inaccuracies and distortions. “News seems to be radically in favor of the extremities,” said senior Anthony Oliveira, an avid news follower. “Outlets like CNN and Fox are horrendously biased and are almost never willing to concede any points or cover any stories that favor the opposing side.” Over 65 percent of students responded that they prefer receiving news that is as neutral and objective as possible, even if that means the story is not as interesting. “Media needs to pursue a less sugar coated reporting path rather than focusing on keeping the public eyes and ears at bay from what really is happening around the world,” said senior Jan Martinez. The most popular connotations associated with news, based on the survey, are “depressing” and “negative,” but despite that students still consider news useful. Many students also believe news is sensationalized. “[Most] mainstream news outlets sensationalize stories [to generate] clicks which produce revenue and for their own political agenda,” said Alvaro Gutierrez, a junior who checks the news regularly. 80.8 percent of students receive

news from social media, with Instagram and Twitter being among the most popular. With such a large population of students accessing news from social media, the accuracy of these sources come into question. Since sophomore Nicole Gasparian often receives most of her news from social media outlets, she believes that media sites should enforce stricter regulation to prevent the general public from being fed biased and inaccurate news. Surprisingly, almost 56 percent of respondents agreed, indicating that the “government should restrict what the news media publishes.” In other words, they seem to support increased censorship. “When dealing with news on social media, I believe that information by sources should be regulated. This is due to the significant amount of fake news that has been going around within the media,” Gasparian said. “In order to provide the people with the most accurate, unbiased news, there needs to be certain regulations even if it interferes with the right to freedom of speech on some accounts.” When hearing conflicting versions of a story, students trust CNN for the most accurate reporting of news while Fox News is the least trusted. “We the people should push back and refuse to watch and consume news from sources that repeatedly lie,” added Gutierrez.

How do you get most of your news?

Social Media


Radio 1.9% Television 1.9% News Media Outlets 11.5% Print Newspapers 0% News Apps 1.9% All of the Above 1.9%



Contain inaccuracies and distortions


Social Media 80.8%

Which social media site do you receive news from most? Twitter 38.5% Facebook 1.9% Instagram 51.9% Snapchat 0% Youtube 1.9% Youtube & Reddit 1.9% Apple News 1.9% Reddit 1.9%

I think news stories usually.... Get facts straight 26.9% Contain inaccuracies and distortions 73.1%


6 Perspective


FEBRUARY 2020 vnhsmirror.com

Five First Dates


here’s a first time for everything. Most firsts are unforgettable and stay with you your whole life. But whether they’re good experiences or bad ones, they are significant. First dates are a pivotal moment that often determine where a relationship goes. It’s a moment where two individuals get to know one another and see if anything sparks between them. Relationships aren’t easy. They involve multiple pressures like how to keep the conversation going and who’s going to pay. We spoke to five couples who agreed to share their first date experiences for Valentine’s Day. KAITLYN JUNG

Nathan Soto & April Casillas

Angie Hernandez & Oscar Machado



Our first date was when we were one month into our relationship. It was after school and we went to Carl’s Jr. because that was all we could afford. My mom saw us kiss for the first time and it was memorable because it was just him and I. We just laughed so much. What made me realize Nathan was the one was showing me what true love is really like and showing me how a man is supposed to treat me. He has always been kind and when he was my best friend before we dated we would always laugh together and could never stay mad at each other.

Our first date was kinda funny. It was at school after multicultural day and we hung out at the church in front of the school. I first snapped at him thinking he wouldn’t come but he actually came. It was really awkward and we just talked about random things but it was a little flirty so that’s what I liked from the start. What made it memorable was when he threw a fake spider at me, I really hate spiders. But I realized that he was the one when I started getting attached to him and his family and realized how comfortable I am with him.

Cesar Martinez & Venus Ancheta

Jaymee Domenden & Anthony Asis

We’ve known each other since summer. Our first date was a very simple one. We went to eat and then we spent the whole day talking about life. I think every day is memorable with her but to be honest it’s just the way we both are so similar but yet different enough to like each other. That day she was as she’s always been, a humble person with a caring personality. I realized that she was the one when we clicked during this conversation we’ve had. She came unexpectedly to my life and that’s the reason I knew she was the one.

My first date with Anthony was such a good time. We went to the summer movie festival at CSUN for the first time to watch “The Parent Trap.” The most interesting thing that happened was trying yakiniku (Japanese grilled meat) fries with him from the food truck. The first date for me was memorable because it was the first time we held hands. I was nervous to do that, even with him. Being able to be myself around him comfortably made me realize that he’s the one for me. He accepts me for who I am and loves me no matter what. He makes me laugh at the dumbest things and reassures me when things go wrong.



Alexa Abrego & Ashley Bonilla DATING FOR 1 MONTH

On our first date we went roller skating. We didn’t think it was our first date until the next day when we hung out again. Someone asked if we were dating and we weren’t too sure. We asked ourselves “are we?” and decided we were, so we made it official. What made it memorable was that I had liked her for a while and I was so confused whether it was a date or not but regardless it was amazing and I laughed a lot. THE MIRROR | PHOTOS BY IVAN DELGADO & PJ RATTAPITAK

Perspective 7


vnhsmirror.com FEBRUARY 2020

Why Black pride is important

Black History: Moving forward by looking back By CAROLINE ORTIZ & KAITLYN JUNG




t’s such beauty in Black people and it really saddens me when we’re not allowed to express that pride in being Black and if you do, then it’s considered antiwhite,” said Tina Knowles on black pride in “Tina Taught Me” by Solange Knowles. “I’ve always been proud to be Black. Never wanted to be nothing else. Loved everything about it.” For countless years Black people have been suppressed and shamed, for merely being black. As a direct response to white racism and ideologies, especially during the height of the civil rights movement, Black pride rose within the communities to empower those and encourage the celebration of Black people and their heritage. However, the idea of Black pride is intimidating to those who don’t understand the idea or don’t try to understand, for they deem the movement as “anti-white” or “reverse racism.” Embracing and lifting up Black pride has nothing to do with hating white people. Pro-Black doesn’t mean anti-white. In the United States as of today, racism is still very present. Though the country has removed some of its institutional, legalized racial discrimination — slavery, Jim Crow laws, “separate but equal” schools and prohibitions on voting or owning land — there’s still huge inequality in education, housing, employment, wealth, representation in leadership positions, government surveillance, incarceration and drug arrests. The unification of the Black communities helps combat the current system, allowing for alternative ways for Black people to flourish in a society that benefits them little or none. From a young age, Black youth are exposed to anti-Black microaggressions, which are damaging to their mental health. In a study conducted by the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 101 Black youth between ages 13 and 17 from predominantly Black neighborhoods in Washington D.C. were surveyed each day for two weeks about any racial discrimination they had faced, while changes in their mental health were measured. Over that period, the teens reported over 5,600 individual instances of experiencing racism, leading to short-term symptoms of depression. The racism they


lmost 60 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. “I have a dream,” he started, forever changing the course of Black history. The role of MLK in the advancement of civil rights and other Black activists have been annually celebrated the whole month of February as Black History Month. To recognize Black culture and history, Morgan Agee and Jazzmyn Ward decided to start the “Black Student Union” or BSU earlier this school year. Ward believes the month is a chance to celebrate and recognize the strengths and accomplishments of Black men and women. BSU hopes to unite the campus community of all ethnicities to commemorate Black history and help each other embrace their culture and color. Although their culture arose from a dark past of colonization, segregation, and discrimination, African-Americans have overcome that obstacle. Yet, issues of racial discrimination still persist. “I love being Black,” Agee said, “but so many people don’t understand the issues we go through.” So in combat of their dark past and current struggles, Ward says that BSU gives “a chance to educate the ignorant and uninformed people, so that we, as a nation, can grow and learn from past omissions and harm directed towards the African-American community.” The community has taken immense steps to break free from past social oppression. Many influencers and artists


Notable African American leaders, (clockwise) Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson and Oprah Winfrey, who have impacted Black Empowerment.

experienced, which occurred primarily online, went from getting teased about physical appearance to digs about culture. No wonder a Black person feels inferior when they are bombarded by nonstop critiques of their hair, their skin and their culture. Added to this is a lack of positive Black representation in the media as Blacks are portrayed stereotypically and negatively. Being black is not a good thing; racism is internalized. Throughout the years however, Black people have been resilient, despite the challenges they have faced and continue to face. In a white-dominated society empowering, valuing, loving yourself and Black people collectively is powerful and important. Black is beautiful. There’s a reason to be proud. KING: U.S. ARMY RESERVE | GLORIA HOLT; WINFREY: FLICKR | APHRODITE-IN-NYC; ROBINSON: PIXABAY | JANEB13; TUBMAN: FLICKR | THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS; PARKS: SOURCE | CREATIVE COMMONS; OBAMA: CREATIVE COMMONS | PETE SOUZA

embrace their heritage and empower other African-Americans through their platforms. “There are so many amazing influencers today like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Kobe Bryant, Nipsey Hussle, Beyonce, Rihanna,” says Andrea Derrington, a sophomore. “What makes me proud to be Black is everything in our culture from our hair to our clothes and music,” said Jimmy Curtis, a junior. “African-American culture is what makes me proud to be Black,” said Junior Zainab Jamoh. “Our culture is so rich and has so many different elements to it.” To share a part of African culture to students on campus, the club representatives and members will be participating in “Multicultural Day” on Feb. 19. They will be bringing their culture’s food and drinks to sell to students. Although one month is dedicated to appreciating African-American culture and history, U.S. History teacher Mr. Jacob Ferrin believes we should take a step back and recognize if a month is really enough to recognize a deep, complicated and important part of history. “All American history is Black history,” said Mr. Ferrin. “African-Americans have been a part of the American story for a very long time.” Black History Month stemmed from just a week-long commemoration known as “Negro History Week.”

In 1976, President Gerald Ford established Black History month to further recognize the accomplishments and the history of Black Americans. The theme of the month is “AfricanAmericans and the Vote.” It pays homage to the 19th amendment that granted women the right to vote in 1920 and to the 15th amendment that granted Black men the right to vote in 1870. This year, the National Park Service decided to commemorate the landing of the first enslaved Africans in North America in Aug. 1619 at Virginia’s Point Comfort, which is now a part of Fort Monroe National Monument. The Library of Congress also has established the first major exhibition to showcase the Rosa Parks Collection in 2014 recognizing Parks who rose to prominence in the 1960s civil rights scene after refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger in a segregated bus. The collection chronicles her life and her public activism. “Growing up Black and living in this world has shaped me into the type of person I am,” Jamoh expressed. “When you are Black there is a resilience that is ingrained in you.” “I’m strong, beautiful, and bold because I’m Black,” she said.

8 COVER STORY FEBRUARY 2020 vnhsmirror.com








ix cases of coronavirus, a new virus that first appeared in Wuhan, China last month, have been confirmed in California. One case each in Los Angeles and Orange County and four in Northern California have been reported. These reports follow after the first cases in the United States were confirmed in Boston, Washington, Arizona and Chicago. There are a total of 11 cases nationwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the coronavirus a global health emergency, as the virus has spread to 23 countries worldwide. Globally, at least 14,557 cases have been confirmed. This number, however, continues to increase over a thousand each day. It has killed at least 304 people. Only one death has been reported outside of China so far — a man in the Philippines. The total number of people infected with coronavirus in mainland China surpassed those infected with the SARS during the 2002-2003 epidemic. The virus is thought to have originated in Wuhan, China, a city almost three times the population of Los Angeles. Coronavirus is considered a zoonotic disease — initially transmitted from animals to humans. Most of the people who initially got sick in Wuhan had a link to large seafood and live animal markets. As of now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed two person-toperson transmissions in the U.S. It was spread from a woman who recently traveled to China to her husband upon returning to Chicago. The other case followed a similar pattern. The first U.S. case was detected in an unnamed man who spent time in Wuhan. Four days after his arrival at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, he felt ill and sought medical care and doctors were able to confirm the virus on Jan. 21.




he United States may be headed into a bad flu season, as the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) figures show “widespread” flu activity in Puerto Rico and 48 states with the season beginning unusually early. A total of 140,000 to 250,000 flu hospitalizations and between 8,200 and 20,000 deaths have been estimated between Oct. 1, 2019 and Jan. 18, 2020 by the CDC, with the highest rates of hospitalization and death rates among children ages zero to four and adults ages 65 and over. These statistics shot up almost to the peak




ertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, is a highly-contagious respiratory disease that induces violent coughs that sound like a “whoop.” Caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis, it can only be found in humans, although it can infect anyone, infants aged one-year-old or younger are most susceptible to the disease. Even though 5,066 cases of pertussis were reported to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) in 2019, only one person died. In Los Angeles alone accounted for almost 40 percent of the


Helping hens

The most common way to make flu vaccines is using an egg-based process. Live virus is injected into fertilized hen’s eggs to replicate, then harvested, killed and purified to make the vaccine. SOURCE: CDC

ot a major threat yet in the U.S., ficials take precautions anyway The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed that the first case in L.A., reported on Jan. 22, followed a similar pattern. In the most updated news release, the department stated that the first case in L.A. was a returning traveler from Wuhan, China. The patient is currently being treated at an unnamed local hospital to protect the patient’s privacy. Officials are identifying people the infected patient came into contact with and are monitoring them for symptoms of coronavirus-related illnesses. After news of the spread of coronavirus to the US, five airports implementing extended screenings of passengers who have recently been to Wuhan, including Los Angeles International Airport. All major U.S. airlines have cancelled all flights to China. Arriving passengers will answer questions about respiratory-related symptoms and have their temperature taken. They are screened for any symptoms indicating the presence of the virus. Those whose symptoms match that of the virus will be detained. According to the CDC, symptoms of coronavirus-induced illnesses include runny nose, fever, sore throat and headache. It can be transmitted through direct contact and through the air by coughing and sneezing. “The virus is not as infectious as the flu and the symptoms less severe but it is spread by coughing and sneezing,” said C. Michael White, a pharmacist at the University of Connecticut. The virus can be contagious for up to 14 days before symptoms show. This means that people who seem to be healthy can spread the disease. White, however, noted that the elderly and the very young are “at greatest risk of dying.” The risk of the virus rapidly spreading across the United States is still considered low, according to the CDC and the L.A. County Department of Public Health, even though WHO has classified the outbreak as a potential pandemic. “There is no immediate threat to the general pub-

lic, no special precautions are required, and people should not be excluded from activities based on their race, country of origin, or recent travel if they do not have symptoms of respiratory illness,” a press release from LA Public Health Department stated. As of now, there are no known treatments for coronavirus infections. The CDC assures that it is working with the WHO in monitoring the situation and finding ways to prevent the further spread of the virus. Scientists and health officials are rushing to create a vaccine against the virus, which at a minimum could take six months. Any distribution of a vaccine to the public, however, will take even longer, considering the need for trials and approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The Director of Public Health in L.A. County, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, stated that the department is working closely with federal, state, and local partners to take precautionary measures and to continuously update the public of news about the virus. “L.A. County is well prepared to manage cases and suspected cases of novel coronavirus,” Dr. Ferrer stated in a news release statement. For now, the CDC recommends people to regularly wash their hands to protect from the virus. Personal belongings must also be cleaned and disinfected. Those infected with the virus are asked to avoid direct contact with others and to wear face masks to preclude further infection. The CDC advises those infected to take pain, fever, cough and sore throat medicine. Resting, drinking fluids and anything to alleviate sore throat and fever are also recommended. “Los Angeles residents, students, workers, and visitors should continue to engage in their regular activities and practice good public health hygiene as this is the height of flu season across the County,” the LA County Public Health news release stated.

may not offer much protection reached at the height of the 2017-18 flu season, which was the most severe in the decade. About 61,000 Americans died of the flu that season according to the CDC. This year’s vaccine may not be particularly effective against the B/Victoria strain of the virus now widespread in the U.S., the CDC said. However, it is worth getting the shot since people who are vaccinated are better off if they get the flu than those who are not. “Even if you do get the flu vaccine and still get sick, you are hopefully preventing yourself from getting the worst strain,” said school Nurse Ashley Smith. The current season did begin unusually early this

year. By late November, the virus broke out from Texas to Georgia and made its way to California. It is still too early to know how severe this flu season will be, the CDC reports. Thus far, almost none of the samples tested by the CDC have been resistant to Tamiflu or any other common antiflu drug. Those medications do not cure the flu, but reduce the severity of an infection and its symptoms if taken early. “The number one thing everyone can do to prevent getting the flu is washing their hands frequently,” said Smith. “Vaccinate, wash your hands, cover your cough, and stay at home if you have a fever.”

Outbreaks still threaten L.A. schools reported cases. Last semester, an outbreak occurred at Van Nuys High School when a number of students tested positive for the disease. The students were sent home and letters were sent to parents of all students in their classes informing them of the situation. The students could only return to class with a doctor’s certification. In February a year ago, Harvard Westlake School, an exclusive private school near Van Nuys in Studio City, experienced a pertussis outbreak in which 30 students were diagnosed with the disease. According to the CDC, early symptoms include runny nose, mild cough and fever. As the disease

progresses, symptoms are more extreme and noticeable, particularly successive, heavy coughing may cause vomiting and exhaustion. Antibiotics are used to treat the disease. There are currently two vaccines to prevent transmission, although a resistant strain can still be contracted, even though a person has been vaccinated. “Whooping cough remains a threat,” said school Nurse Ashley Smith R.N. “The best way to combat this is to be vaccinated.” In 2014, L.A. Unified School District required that all incoming seventh grade students be vaccinated. LAUSD offers free vaccines at select clinics throughout the district.


The [coronavirus] is not as infectious as the flu and the symptoms less severe but it is spread by coughing and sneezing.” C. MICHAEL WHITE Pharmacist at the University of Connecticut


L.A. County is well prepared to manage cases and suspected cases of novel coronavirus.” DR. BARBARA FERRER L.A. County Director of Public Health

PROTECT YOURSELF Wash your hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home when you are sick. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. SOURCE: CDC


Even if you do get the flu vaccine and still get sick, you are hopefully preventing yourself from getting the worst strain.” NURSE ASHLEY SMITH



With the Wuhan coronavirus spreading rapidly to different regions of the world, individuals are scurrying to protect themselves and their loved ones from the infectious virus. Because of the lack of information on the virus, many in infected areas are wearing surgical masks to prevent becoming infected, resulting in a shortage of masks in cities in China. Many Amazon. com merchants are sold out. However, even with the popularity of masks, questions remain about their effectiveness. Some viruses, including coronavirus and influenza, can be spread through coughing or sneezing. According to at least one study, when masks are used the correct way, they lower risks of catching the flu by up to 80 percent. Masks do curb the spread of airborne viruses, but if those infected touch their eyes or nose, then another person or surface, whoever they came in contact with and those who touched the contaminated surface are at risk of falling sick as well. So even though masks do help keep the virus from spreading, they are not as effective in protecting the wearer from being infected. There are two different types of masks available: surgical masks and respirators. Surgical masks are typically used by doctors, nurses and dentists while treating patients to protect from splashes and sprays, such as sneezes, coughs and other hazardous fluids. While they create a temporary barrier, tiny particles nonetheless can easily seep through the mask because of its fairly thin material and loose fit. Respirators, commonly used by construction workers, use denser materials to filter out about 95 percent of airborne particles, including viruses and bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the CDC hasn’t issued an advisory for the general public to wear masks, health experts do recommend taking the same precautions you would take for a regular cold or flu: wash your hands often, avoid touching your eyes and mouth, stay away from others who are sick and stay home if you are sick. PILAR SIMS

PURELL MAKING FALSE CLAIMS? Marketed as the hand sanitizer that “kills more

than 99.99% of most common germs that may cause illness,” the maker of Purell hand sanitizers have been given a warning by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to stop making unproven claims of being able to prevent Ebola, MRSA or the flu. In a warning letter sent last month, the FDA told Purell’s makers, Gojo Industries, that its claims that their hand sanitizers could reduce the potential for infection or prevent illnesses violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Within the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the Gojo website, statements suggest that Purell hand sanitizers may be effective against contracting viruses, ranging from Ebola to the flu. The FDA said that it was “unaware of any adequately regulated studies demonstrating that killing or decreasing the number of bacteria or viruses on the skin by a certain degree produced a corresponding reduction in infection or disease caused by such bacteria or virus.” The agency’s letter outlined further claims from the company’s websites and social media accounts that it had issues with, such as the statement that said “Purell products are proven to reduce absenteeism,” the practice of regularly staying away from an obligation without good reason. The FDA has given Gojo Industries two options: stop making false claims or file to designate Purell as a drug. Until then, the agency said that Purell will be reclassified as an unapproved drug, rather than an over-thecounter product, which means the company must correct the violations or face legal action. KAYLA LEE




FEBRUARY 2020 vnhsmirror.com

Why are we only respected when we use our “white people” voice?


Mhar Tenorio


Seungyoun Kim


Kaitlyn Jung


Gwen Langi

believes that speech altering is directly linked to the preservation of culture. “I do think that some THE MIRROR | KAYLA LEE minority groups want to avoid ‘speaking white’ in fear of selling out their own cultures,” she said. “However, when under pressure, some people will try to sound white so that they don’t feel out of place.” “The assumption is that any other language that does not ‘sound white’ is not good enough and therefore not legitimate,” she said. She also thinks that when subgroups try not to sound white, they are really rebelling against the conformity of the English language. Ms. Navarrete feels that we need to do a better job in school to value subgroups and their variations of English and to include “sounding white” as just another variation and not the norm. “Scholarly English is just that—standard—and it should not be associated with being white,” she finished. As a young black male, Anthony Turner, is familiar with the switch to white mannerisms especially when voicing his opinions. “I’m perceived as the stereotypical angry black person. I have to use white mannerisms to get my point across and I shouldn’t have to. My opinions and emotions are valid regardless of how I speak or act. I shouldn’t have to water them down with white mannerisms to be heard and respected,” he said. Turner describes it as “rude and intimidating” when he’s told he speaks white. “I’m around other people of color and they tell me I speak white, I think ‘should I change how I talk?.’ Growing up around a majority of white people helped communicating with them go smoother but that doesn’t make up for having to change myself to be understood.” It’s our responsibility to make use of our language to bring us together instead of as a barrier. Refraining from using the term “white” to describe someone’s mannerisms is the first step.




Ani Tutunjyan

Appropriating “hood culture” to make a buck

ip-hop and rap music has been around since the 1970s. Urban youth and people of color were treated as a marginalized community, so they used their unique sound as their form of expression. Little did they know their musical form of protest would give birth to a genre that brings people together 50 years later. It seems that there’s a new up-and-coming hip-hop or rap artist every week. We barely get the chance to experience a new rapper long enough before a different artist makes a hit record and claims their fame. Experiencing struggles in everyday life is a common theme in the rap genre, which is not much different than the musical message of New York in the 70s. Growing up in poverty and gang violence are recurring themes.

Kayla Lee, Pilar Sims


he first thing people notice about you when you speak is your accent, pronunciation or vocabulary. Dialect is an important part of a first impression. Having a Southern accent is possible. Having a British accent is possible. However, speaking “white” is impossible. Using this term to describe the way someone speaks is insulting. “Speaking white” or “sounding white” is used to describe the way someone speaks when using complex words or when being articulate with their speech. These terms only normalize the notion that the capability of speaking proper English is limited to white people, which is not and never GWEN LANGI will be the case. PRO|CON EDITOR Linguistic profiling, the practice of using one’s accent and dialect to identify a person’s characteristics, is blatantly discriminatory. From a young age, I learned to change the way I spoke depending on the person I spoke to. I was taught to never converse with an adult the way I would with a close friend in order to show my respect for them. Later, it became apparent that showing respect hardly played a role in the need to speak “like a white person.” It wasn’t about showing respect. It was about receiving it. It was about seeming approachable, respectful and even educated. The sad truth is that society upholds the belief that intelligence is measured by the way you speak. You’re labeled “uneducated” or “inferior” if you don’t follow the rules of standard English. It’s more common than you think. The reason someone might find this hard to believe is because society has done an outstanding job normalizing such beliefs. Tenth grade was the peak of altering my speech and using my “white person” voice. I had a teacher who spoke elegant English and who drilled us heavily about grammar and its importance. My fear of being perceived as uneducated or unworthy of respect was heightened every time we were required to speak in class. I refused to use my usual vocabulary and never allowed my normal tone of voice to slip out. Teachers never tell you what they truly think of you, but linguistic profiling can be subtle. AP English teacher Ms. Nancy Navarrete



The drive and ambithrough then you don’t need tion these artists present to rap,” Williams said. is inspiring, but the stories “It’s unfair to the people they tell through their who are living the life they music have less meaning preach about or the ones if the stories are fake. I who are actually speaking prefer to listen to rappers the truth about the pain who are sincere about they are enduring. That’s their past and their upcalled “Rap Cap,” a big no in bringing. Nowadays, there the music industry. Nobody are rappers who claim wants to hear somebody to have come from the capping—lying—in their raps. “hood” or the “streets”, but The media wants to hear all POSER More rappers are rehave never experienced facts,” she explains. storting to lying for sales. the harsh reality of comNobody wants to listen to ing from such unfortunate backgrounds. music about growing up wealthy or being Lying about experiencing real struggles born with a silver spoon in their mouth. only diminishes the meaning of rap culture. Even if they can’t relate, people would Hip-hop was created to give the margin- much rather listen to music about workalized community a voice, not a platform ing hard to overcome their life obstacles for privileged individuals to lie their way and working their way to success by any into a music career. Such misrepresentameans necessary. tion is a form of disrespect. One reason the exploitation of urban The lies some rappers tell through their culture and community has been normalmusic is a deprivation of opportunities for ized is that it boosts sales. Consumers are authentic artists, according to 17-year-old drawn to the music they find most relatrapper Layla Williams. able. Some artists find it easier to capital“If you gotta lie about what you do, ize off of urban culture when they know where you’re from or what you’re going exactly what their audience is looking for.


Kasey Kim


Andre Rodas


Julia Pfau


Ivan Delgado


Aaron Mejia


Plapol “PJ” Rattapitak


Stephanie Caceres Eduardo Camarena Ciena Carlos Ruben Cocilion Adriana Contreras Noelle Copeland Arsh Dole Dennis Galin Saahil Gaur Dhamara Gomez Anzhela Harutyunyan Andrea Hernandez Oscar Jimenez Estefania Lopez Jimena Martinez Monica Mazariegos Milton Najarro Caroline Ortiz Maisha Rahman Josselyn Ramos Beverly Regino Sandra Sanchez Pamela Serrano Anahit Sharmatyan Angelica Valenzuela Layla Williams JOURNALISM ADVISER

Mr. Ron Goins

ABOUT US The Mirror is the student newspaper of Van Nuys Senior High School in Van Nuys, California, a district of Los Angeles. It is published six times per year. The opinions expressed in bylined commentary articles and columns represent the views of the individual writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mirror or the Editorial Board. DISTRIBUTION Copies are free to students, faculty and staff and are available in Room 112, Second Floor, Main Building. READER PARTICIPATION Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board. Letters to the Editor may be delivered to Room 112 or mailed to The Mirror, 6535 Cedros Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91411. Letters must be signed and may be edited for space to conform to The Mirror style and format. ADVERTISING Questions may be directed to Aaron Mejia at amejia0208@mymail. lausd.net, or by telephoning (818) 788-6800. Publication of an advertisement does not imply endorsement of the product or service by the newspaper or the school. MEMBERSHIPS National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA), Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) and Southern California Journalism Educators Association (SCJEA).



vnhsmirror.com FEBRUARY 2020

Your parents are


An app made for parents to track and check on their kids has hit the App Store: Life360. It’s being marketed as a “safe app,” created for concerned parents. “Feel free, together,” is the app’s slogan. Life360 allows parents to track their child’s every move, including seeing the speed of the vehicle they’re in, MONICA its location and when a target MAZARIEGOS leaves a location. The intentions of the app may be innocent but it has allowed many parents to make their children miserable. Mistrust between parents and kids can only grow with the use of the Life360 app. Obsessive parents now have the ability to constantly check their child’s location. Strict parents create sneaky children. The growing wariness between a child and their parents will only cause the child to rebel even more. As young adults, teenagers should have the freedom to go out on their own and not be spied on. Also, apps can experience bugs or glitches, which could lead to more misunderstandings between parents and their children. More often than not, children are shut down when trying to explain their side of the story. Apps like Life360 enable obsessive behaviors. Instead of creating trust in parent and child relationships, they often destroy it. It is much healthier to teach a teen to communicate with their parents rather than to control every aspect of their lives. Tracking your child’s every move is not progressive but rather strains a healthy relationship. By constantly keeping tabs on your child it can result in more reckless behavior, such as not carrying your phone around to avoid being tracked. It is understandable for parents to want to

know what is going on in their kid’s life, however there are more healthier approaches, like building a relationship with trust so they are comfortable confiding in you. But this behavior doesn’t necessarily end when these teens go off to college. Some parents continue to use these apps to track their kids in college. A parent’s job is to raise their children to be independent and successful members of society. Trying to protect them at all costs and interfering with their ability to learn from their mistakes does not achieve this. It only allows smarter people to easily manipulate them. This has become such an issue that it’s now a TikTok meme. Teens are posting their videos using the hashtag #Life360 sharing the strict punishments they face, like having their cell phones confiscated, being grounded for months and being monitored by security cameras in their own home. Threatening kids with these kinds of punishments make them resent their parents and instead of complying with certain rules and limitations they rebel. These videos may seem funny to some but to others they are reality—a reality that can result in negative impacts on their mental health. A study conducted by ABC News showed that “teens who felt more alienated and, therefore, lost trust in their [parents] were more likely to have high levels of anxiety by 12th grade. This held true for depression as well.” By using apps such as Life360, parents teach their kids that they can’t be trusted, and shouldn’t be surprised when their relationship with their kid is tainted.


Minor’s health choices are protected by confidentiality laws



n California a 12-year-old girl can get an abortion without parental consent. Under the California Minor Consent and Confidentiality laws, minors have the authority to consent to medical services without their parents knowing. They are eligible for other medical services that would otherwise require parental approval. Abortions are common with teen girls who are enrolled in school. Raising a child is a big responsibility, and having a baby means learning to balance taking care of

yourself while also attending to the needs of your child. Financial stability and a strong support system are crucial to raising a child. But the sad reality is that not every teen would have these things if they brought a child into this world. It’s common for teenage girls to be fearful and hesitant to reveal their pregnancy to their parents, especially when they have strict parents with personal beliefs that conflict with those of their pregnant child. A pro-life parent probably would not allow their daughter to terminate a pregnancy—even if she wanted. Such a parent would make her keep the baby. Other parents might be unsupportive, reacting in an abusive way by kicking the daughter out. A teen in this situation is lucky to find a place to stay after her parents turned her away.

In California, such unfortunate situations are being prevented by the confidentiality law. If a minor is sure that carrying out a pregnancy could place themselves or their child in a position of danger, they have every right to terminate the pregnancy without parental consent. When a teen gets pregnant, she needs support. She is often confused and frustrated. She fears how others will react. She may have just made a mistake. The new law is also important because sexual education for teens is often lacking. A former LAUSD health teacher said that most of his students didn’t understand how their own bodies worked and were unable to even label their sex organs. Out of all 50 states, only 13 states require sexual education to be medically accurate. However, the definition of the

term varies and depends on the school district’s curriculum. Teens are miseducated–and even completely uneducated– about sexual activity but in California the law gives them some protection. Laws around the country should be redefined so schools can accurately teach sex education. And no, telling a child to remain abstinent forever does not count as “the talk” or sex-ed. When parents have an accurate, nonjudgmental “talk” with their children, it signals that a child confronted with these situations can be comfortable talking to their parents instead of seeking their own answers. Educating their own children about the outcomes of being sexually active instead of using the “stay abstinent” fear tactic might persuade a teenager to be safe and make responsible choices.



FEBRUARY 2020 vnhsmirror.com

Best Picture... really


In the biggest Oscar snafu ever, 2017 presenters announced the wrong Best Picture Winner. It was really “Moonlight,” directed by Barry Jenkins. SOURCE: CNN A24 FILMS | DAVID BORNFRIEND

2020 Oscars: New year, still no diversity


TikTok to the top: Student celebs

find fame online 15 seconds at a time By ESTEFANIA LOPEZ & MHAR TENORIO


T LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of the Joker earns him an Oscar’s nomination.




ith the announcement of the 2020 Oscars nominees came another controversy. “White male nostalgia” is a term that is being used to address the over-representation of white males in the Oscars nominations. This year’s white male bias can be seen in many categories, including “Best Director.” Many amazing female filmmakers were left out, like Lulu Wang for “The Farewell,” or Lorene Scarfaria for “The Hustlers.” This year, no women will be offered a chance to win this award. The majority of the nominees fit into the maxim of “white male nostalgia.” Only one non-white performer was nominated for the “Best Actress” category: Cynthia Erivo, who played the main role in the movie “Harriet.” Many fan-favorite actresses like Jennifer Lopez, in “Hustlers,” were left out of this category, outraging some observers. “The Oscars nominate whoever they feel was the best, whether they factor race or gender is beyond me,” said Arman Badikyan, a junior who is in film class. “I think that it is unfair that women and colored actors didn’t receive the same amount of attention as white men this year during the Oscars nominations,” said Natalie Veniaminova, a student who has closely followed the controversy and plans to watch the Oscars. “I think there were several colored actors and women that deserved the position just as much as their white male counterparts.” In 2015, a similar controversy erupted because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not include Hispanic or African American actors in the nominee list. Only a few movies with diverse casts were nominated for “Best Picture”, but not for any acting awards. “Selma” and “Martin Luther King Jr.,” fan favorites with diverse casts, were completely ignored. After this affair the Academy took further steps to ensure more variety. When this year’s nominees were announced, pundits immediately pointed out that nominees were pretty much the opposite of what had been promised five years ago. The Academy had a goal of doubling the number of women and minorities that were being nominated by 2020. They reached one of these goals in 2020 by being more racially inclusive and going from having only eight percent of women and minorites nominated in former years to 16 percent. Unfortunately, they didn’t reach the goal of doubling the number of women this year, with numbers slightly increasing from 25 percent to 32 percent.

ikTok: the modern app that struck the Internet and took social media by storm. Released in 2017 after merging with a similar lip-syncing app called Musical.ly, TikTok counts about 500 million users worldwide. Despite being released in the latter half of last decade, TikTok became the seventh most downloaded app of the 2010s, surpassing both Twitter and YouTube. The app consists of user-created content of people lip-syncing and dancing to various songs. TikTok also includes comedy sketches. Videos span three seconds to a minute. TikTok has become a creative outlet for many high school students. Senior Kaitlyn Martinez, @kaateastrophe on TikTok, has amassed more than 57,000 followers on the platform by posting comedy videos and content related to the famous Koreanpop group, BTS. “I decided to start making videos as a content creator on TikTok because lots of people seemed to enjoy my jokes,” said Martinez. Martinez has gained enough popularity on the app that BTS themselves liked her video. A fan even recognized her at a mall. “That inspired me to keep go-

ing and going,” she said. Anahit Chamichyan, a junior, also @aka.tina on TikTok, creates similar comedic content. She focuses on producing point-of-view videos where the user roleplays different characters for a scene. “I downloaded the app as a joke but, then I saw really creative content and it inspired me to create my own comedy and pointof-view videos,” Chamichyan said. She initially gained a following after a video of her pretending to be a British girl garnered over 7,000 views. During Homecoming Spirit Week’s TikTok Day, Chamichyan decided to dress up as a British girl wearing stereotypical British makeup. With her costume, she decided to create a video similar to the “British gir,l” a girl who dresses up as a stereotypical British girl as well. “I felt like I had to do something different from the others who were dressing as e-girls or -boys so I decided to do my makeup like ‘the British girl’,” she said. “At first, I was kind of scared to do it but after I actually felt confident,” Chamichyan said. “Lots of students were either staring at me or secretly taking videos or pictures of me but I was honestly okay with it.” TikTok can also be a place for artists to express their creativity. Jackie Mote, @jackiemote on TikTok, has used the platform to post makeup videos.

In one of her first videos, she did her makeup based on randomly chosen colors. She would use a random number generator and use the corresponding color to the number. She ended up getting 2.3 million views. “I decided to make my own version without expecting it to blow up like it did,” she said. She uses the views and the encouraging comments as inspiration to continue producing more content. “It felt really good to get recognition and a bunch of positive feedback,” Mote expressed. Mote used to think posting videos can be “intense” but she uses the positive comments as motivation. However, sometimes she is fearful of negative comments. “I haven’t gotten hate comments but I have mixed feelings about people seeing me. I sometimes think people aren’t going to like my videos,” she said. While the app has raised the online profiles of several students, Math teacher Ms. Milagro Medrano has noticed her students using it and thinks the app is a distraction. “I just think it’s students trying to get more views and trying to become more popular,” she said. “I think they should spend more time doing their homework and studying instead of trying to be TikTok famous,” Medrano finished.



(L to R) Anahit Chamichiyan, Kaitlyn Martinez and Jackie Mote make TikToks that rack in views.




vnhsmirror.com FEBRUARY 2020










anime picks

Cozy up with your remote and dive into a uniquely Japanese artform By BEVERLY REGINO & KAZI MAISHA RAHMAN



nime (Japanese animation) has been increasing in popularity among the youth worldwide. It has become some sort of “fad” in the young generation of America, with popular titles such as Naruto, One Piece and Fairy tail, at its peak. Yet, there are some others — while not as popular — that are definitely worth watching.


The romantic comedy Nodame Cantabile is about musicians Shinichi Chiaki and Megumi Noda. Shinichi’s upset to discover Megumi, his neighbor, has fallen for him. Nodame Cantabile’s clever use of comedy makes the relationship between Shinichi and Megumi relatable and amusing. The light drama adds realism and is worth a watch. Available on Crunchyroll. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. is a slice-of-life comedy depicting a high schooler with overwhelming psychic powers, Saiki Kusuo, who is in search of a quiet life. The characters have hilarious chemistry with Saiki and stick to a certain cliché, which is the meat of the show. With ridiculous plot-points, it’s remarkably interesting. Available on Netflix.


After losing her beloved Major Gilbert Bougainvillea, Violet Evergarden, a wartrained emotionless killer, begins to transcribe people’s emotions on paper, hoping for self-discovery. This fantasy drama features beautiful character development of a war-ridden girl undergoing a loss. With a heavy, emotional plot adorning its visual magnificence, it is definitely one of the few shows worth sobbing for. Available on Netflix. The science-fiction drama, Girl’s Last Tour, depicts friends travelling through a post-apocalyptic world in search of happiness in the desolate, depressing land around them. Chito and Yuuri are a huge contrast to their surroundings: two cheery friends in an unforgiving world, making the audience feel bubbly. The anime is perfect for unwinding after a stressful day. Available on HIDIVE.


Bungo Stray Dogs revolves around members of the Detective Armed Agency who deal with cases including humans with supernatural powers known as the “Gifted.” Featuring a vast number of characters — each different from the last — the story entertains through a mix of comedy and drama. With three seasons, it’s an ideal show to binge. Available on Crunchyroll. Aspiring manga artist Satoru Fu-

jinuma can travel several minutes into the past, where he saves numerous lives from tragedy. His ability to time travel allows him to uncover what truly transpired 18 years ago. Erased has a well thought-out plot and its use of mystery enhances the curiosity of the audience. Available on Anime Planet.


Three orphans, Emma, Norman and Ray, all try to escape destiny as they discover that their orphanage is a farm where demons feed on the orphans. The Promised Neverland shines in storytelling and building atmosphere. Easily one of the best horror anime, it excels in the unsettling unknown. The show’s second season is set to release in October 2020. Available on Funimation. In Dororo, an action thriller, the young man Hyakkimaru journeys to retrieve his organs, bartered away by his father, from 48 demons. On his journey, he meets Dororo, who claims to be the greatest thief in Japan. Enhanced by unique monsters and bloodshed, the plot keeps viewers anticipated on what will happen next. Available on Amazon Prime.


Apothecary Shirayuki escapes one prince to be saved by another, Prince Zen Wistaria, who she someday hopes to repay. Snow White With The Red Hair is interesting with its clever use of clichés

and romance. Zen and Shirayuki’s maturing relationship is perfect for a light, pleasant story. Available on Anime Planet. The romantic comedy Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku follows Narumi Mamose, an office worker dealing with the side effect of finding love and hiding her otaku, a person obsessed with computers and pop culture, status from her coworkers. However a middle school friend, Hirotaka Nifuji, quickly blows her cover. The light-hearted humor and cute romance makes it a classical fluffy romance. Available on Amazon Prime.


Chihayafuru is centered around Chihaya Ayase, who is content with living under the shadow of her sister. She meets Arata Wataya who teaches her competitive karuta, a Japanese card game, where she hopes to someday become Japan’s best karuta prodigy. Considered to be one of Crunchyroll’s top sports animes, Chihayafuru is perfect for those fascinated by thrilling competitiveness. Available on Crunchyroll. In the sports comedy, Baby Steps, Eiichiro Maruo isn’t captivated by anything other than studying. Enrolling in a tennis school, he uncovers his fascination for the sport but his shortcoming is that he is unathletic. The two-season series lightheartedly shows how he overcomes his weakness. Available on YouTube.



FEBRUARY 2020 vnhsmirror.com


PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT Ready to bat, co-team captain Anthony Islas steps up to the plate.

Baseball: 2020 season preview




ill this year’s baseball team make it to the playoffs? Last year’s team won 12 games and lost 10 for a pretty solid overall winning season. They made it to the playoffs but unfortunately lost with the score of 9-2 against South East (South Gate, CA). Both the team and Coach Alfredo Avila are really confident about their chances this season. Thirteen players are returning that have played together before, so they know each other really well, and they’ve been in back-to-back playoffs together. A more mature and more experienced lineup is ready to take the field. Ricardo Sankago, a twelfth grader, is playing right field, left field and catcher. Eleventh grade Co-Captain Daniel Reyes plays as a shortstop

and eleventh grader Anthony Hernandez is pitching and also plays third base. Reyes feels like he’s going to get a lot out of his talent this year. He knows being team captain can be a tough job but he’s willing and ready to accept the challenge. His mantra for the team is “if you stay ready you don’t have to get ready.” He sticks by his words by always going making it to practice “even if that means waking up early while his teammates are still asleep” He’s the first person at practice and the last one to leave. Anthony Islas, who has been on the team since his freshman year, is moving up. It’s his senior year and he is also a team captain along with Reyes. He has three positions on the team: first base, third base and catcher. “Everyday is a new opportunity. You can build your success or put your failures behind you and start

over again. That’s the way of life.” Freshman Steven Tostado is a very much appreciated addition to the group. According to Reyes, he “has a pitch like no other.” He brings a hard pitch and good batting skills to the team. He can hit the ball over the fence — which is rare for a freshman, and according to Reyes, he’s willing to work as hard as he needs to to make it to playoffs. Keep an eye out for eleventh grader Justin Villanueva, the ace pitcher this season. He has a great cutter, about two inches of break, a really good curveball, a nice two sink fast ball and a really good splitter. He plays first base, pitcher and right field. The person with the best instincts goes to eleventh grader Holden Daddario, who plays center field and pitcher. He’s really smart, calm, knows what he’s going to do before

he gets the ball and really great at planning things out in a short amount of time. He also has the best baseball IQ. Joshua Son is an eleventh grader with jaw-dropping batting skills. Every time he steps into the batting box he’s hitting the ball very hard and hitting it over the fence with ease. Practice makes perfect and the team has been practicing since the summer every Monday through Friday during sixth period and after school. Most players also attend a Saturday practice. Along with practice, teamwork is the key to a strong season. “No matter how bad things get, as long as we stay together and be one unit anything can happen,” said Coach Avila. He’s plans on sticking to that.



vnhsmirror.com FEBRUARY 2020


Girls volleyball team brings home a winning record By DHAMARA GOMEZ THE MIRROR STAFF


aptain Aileen Flores described the beginning of the girls volleyball season as “pretty shaky.” Although the team got off to a rocky start, they were able to pick up the pace and finish with a league record of 7-5, while also making it to the semifinals in the playoffs. “Coming into the new season, I already knew it was going to be a rebuild season, which was going to be a different experience,” Flores said. The girls were able to finish the season, but not without hardships. They started off with a loss against San Fernando but bounced back with a win against Panorama.

Players Catalina Rodriquez and Mariah Martinez both agree that Kennedy High School was their toughest competition. “As a team, they were able to push back just as hard as we were pushing throughout each of our games against them and they always managed to create a challenging game setting at a quick pace.” Rodriquez stated. The team lost both of their matchups against Kennedy, which finished at the top of the league with a 10-1 record. In addition to their league games, the girls also participated in tournaments so they could stay in shape and be prepared for any challenges thrown at them this season. At the peak point of the season, the girls went on a three-game winning streak, getting their revenge against San


GETTING A DIG IN Captain Aileen Flores gets ready to bump the ball from the opposing team.


Overall though it was a fulfilling season and I’m happy with the way things went.” MARIAH MARTINEZ

Cheer squad: On to Nationals in Anaheim

I THREE CAPTAINS (L to R) Karen Linares, Eric Martinez and Christine Rohm all the share the title of varsity team captains.

Fernando. As a team, Martinez believes the girls met their goals and expectations as well as meeting her own personal goals. “I wish that I had contributed more in terms of playing and in terms of spirit and positivity,” she said. “Overall though it was a fulfilling season and I’m happy with the way things went.” The girls took home a win against Phineas Banning Senior High School for their first playoff match. It was an intense battle that ended in bad blood. Some players took to Twitter to insult the opposing team after the 3-1 victory. They advanced to the next round against Venice High School, but were handily eliminated in a shutout, ending their championship quest.

t all begins with practice. The members of the cheer team practice two to three times a week for three hours. The team stays persistent with their practices. Whether it’s in the small gym or in the quad, they make sure to leave the practice with some sort of improvement. Practice starts with stretching before the cheer team members begin working on their routines. Their routines are packed with two and three person stunts and tumbling. They use gymnastics and dance skills throughout their routines. All of the team’s hard work has paid off with a trip to the USA Spirit

Nationals in Anaheim on Feb. 14 and 15, where they will face over 7,500 of the best teams in the nation. “We make it a habit of focusing on ourselves and on bettering our team”, says one of three captains, Eric Martinez. The other two captains are Christene Rohm and Karen Linares. Thanks to their three first place wins at the World Class Cheers competition, the USA cheer team is off to Anaheim in an attempt to take home the nationals trophy. At the moment the USA cheer team remains undefeated. The cheer team consists of two varsity teams and one JV team. While all of varsity competes at

CIF, only half of the team competes in USA competitions, hence the titles of the CIF and USA team. The USA cheer team is comprised of a selected group of various varsity team members. These members cheer on a more advanced level with flexible flyers, advanced tumbling, and boy partner stunts. “I’d have to say, don’t knock it till you try it. I’ve played other sports before and I think cheer is just as difficult”, says Rohm to anyone who has doubts about cheer. “I feel extremely proud of the students and new coaches for qualifying for nationals”, says cheer coach Maria Renard. JULIA PFAU

16 ATHLETICS FEBRUARY 2020 vnhsmirror.com

Most meaningful title

Kobe Bryant’s fifth and final championship meant the most to him. “When we beat Boston in 2010, for me, that’s number one with a bullet,” Bryant told TNT’s Ernie Johnson.




How did Kobe Bryant inspire you?

‘‘ ‘‘

Kobe is the reason why I picked up a basketball in the first place and started playing. I would watch him play every game growing up and it was truly amazing and inspiring. He has inspired millions of lives and his legacy will always be with us and will never be forgotten. JASON TAMAYO My favorite thing about Kobe was the way he used to think. That will continue to blow my mind because he was striving for nothing less than the best. I always try and carry myself with his mentality when it comes to what I want for my future. Thank you Kobe and I love you for everything you did! See you soon Mamba. MIGUEL MORALES

He inspired me to have a better ethic and to never give up on what I love to do. He also inspired me to make better choices in not just the sport of basketball but in general. Putting in the work for something you want to accomplish in life and not giving up is what Kobe Bryant taught me. SHAY DE GUZMAN

I’ve played basketball since I was five years old and whenever I would think about basketball I’d think about the Lakers and Kobe Bryant because he was a very special athlete. I just want to be the best at the sport I love just like he was. I’d like to be the same warmhearted, friendly, and humble person that he was. KALI COLEMAN



earing the news of Kobe Bryant’s death made me freeze in my tracks. A person whom I and many others looked up to, Bryant’s work ethic and mamba mentality inspired a generation of people on and off the court. As Bryant once said himself, “The biggest key, I think, is inspiring the next generation of athletes and how to do that and I think content is an extremely powerful tool of inspiring the next generation of athletes,” Bryant is one of the most accomplished athletes of all time with 17 NBA All-Star appearances, two scoring titles, four NBA All-Star MVPs, 12 AllDefensive Team Selections, two NBA Finals MVPs, five NBA Championships, two Olympic Gold Medals, the 1997 Slam Dunk Championship, the 2007-08 NBA MVP and even an Oscar for his animated short film “Dear Basketball.” His loyalty was one of his greatest qualities. He stayed with the Los Angeles Lakers for his entire career, 20 long seasons that seemed to never come to an end. Not only

wanted to continue her father’s legacy. On “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in 2018 he talked about how fans were always telling him he needed a son for his legacy to be continued. “...they’ll be like, ‘You’ve gotta have a boy, you and V (Vanessa) gotta have a boy. You gotta have somebody to carry on your tradition — the legacy.’” Gianna’s reply to those comments were “‘Oy I got this.’” The father and daughter shared a special bond that was bigger than basketball. Superstar LeBron James remembers the joy Bryant had when he was around his family. “These last three years were the happiest I’ve ever seen him… being able to just be with his daughters,” James said in a tribute at Staples Center before the Lakers game with the Portland Trailblazers. Kobe Bryant’s passing reminded me of the importance of having a hero and someone to look up to. It also showed me how quickly life can be taken away. I had just woken up when I heard the news it hit me hard. In the blink of an eye, nine people were killed on that tragic morning. This sudden tragedy showed me that you shouldn’t hold a grudge with someone over something silly and to make sure you tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. You never know when your last day on earth may be. Kobe Bryant represented what it meant to be an athlete and so much more. May the Black Mamba rest in peace.



that but the man was a great father to his four daughters. Gianna, his 13-year-old daughter who was also killed in the crash, was following in his basketball footsteps. Although he was a basketball legend, he wanted to be remembered for so much more. He wanted to affect change worldwide with his book series, “The Wizernards”, the story about a Fairwood Community Center basketball team that is in desperate need of a coach to help them reach their full potential. On top of creating his book series he was also creating podcasts and producing his own show on ESPN titled “Detail”. Bryant made it very clear that he had no interest in becoming a coach in the NBA, but it was a different story when it came to his daughter. She

BASKETBALL SUPERSTAR Kobe Bryant, 41, his daughter Gianna and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Jan. 26.


Profile for The Mirror Van Nuys High School

Feb. 2020--The Mirror, Van Nuys High School