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Van Nuys High School | Van Nuys, California | Volume 103 | Issue 1 | September 29, 2017 Worried about the college process? Find out how the college application process has changed over the years PAGE 4

How much would you pay for a phone? Check out what students are saying about the thousand dollar controversy PAGE 6

From using special quirks to learning how to defeat villians, see how a hero is made in an elite anime academy PAGE 14


The Mirror

Living the American Dream has been their aspirations their whole lives. Brought into the country at a young age, they’ve never known another life. They are students and employees, friends and family. They pave pathways of opportunities for others. Now, the futures of nearly 800,000 lives are in jeopardy. The countdown to a March deadline will produce unrest and solidarity against the President’s ruthless decision to end DACA.


AT THE FINISH LINE: Commencement 2017 PAGE 8

2 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

News&Analysis | September 29, 2017

VNHS Enrollment Takes an Upward Turn BRIEFLY SPEAKING By MARC CORTES The Mirror Staff


n influx of new students has poured into Van Nuys High School for the current 20172018 school year. Exceeding the district’s admission estimates by more than one hundred students, the school is filling up both in the Magnet programs and in the residential school. The residential school, which was projected to have 1,018 students, exceeded expectations with 1,197 students currently enrolled. The performing arts magnet

also gained a significant amount of newly enrolled students, with a projected estimate of 408 students but an actual total of 450 students in the program. Much of the credit for the increase in enrollment goes to the principal, Ms. Yolanda Gardea, who, along with administration and staff, has embarked on a program over the last several years to showcase the extensive number of programs offered at the school. Last year alone, the school publicized the available opportunities for potential students through an official school video, produced by an EmmyAward winning director, a billboard, a slick brochure and other public relations.

“Ideas are changing about the school,” said Assistant Principal Ms. Phyllis Baer. “Even people outside the area who originally thought that Van Nuys was a horrible place now realize it’s not.” “We have a lot of good things not only in the Magnets. The residential has the Machine and Auto Academy and the 9th Grade Academy. More kids are matriculating to 10th grade and are able to graduate,” she added. The increase in student enrollment has allowed Van Nuys High School to open up more teaching positions. Further increases in enrollment numbers may prompt the school to hire even more instructors.

Junior and Sophomore Board Election Results After a hard fought campus campaign, the results for Junior and Sophomore Board elections are in. Elections for both boards took place on Sept. 18 and 20, and the winners were announced on Sept. 21. The new Junior Board President is Jacqueline Duong, with Celine Bautista as Vice President. Elizabeth Lim is the newly-elected treasurer and Francesca Aquino will serve as Secretary. Results for Sophomore Board are also finalized, with Joy Wyckoff as President, Isabella Shin as Vice President, Lilit Ohanian as Treasurer and Jennifer Lee as Secretary. —CHRISTIAN WALSH

Homecoming Parade, Game and Dance Coming This year’s annual homecoming festivities begin on Friday, Oct. 6. The homecoming parade will begin at 6 p.m. and at 7 p.m. the Van Nuys High School Varsity Wolves Football Team will go up against John F. Kennedy High School. Tickets cost $5 with student ID and $8 for general admission at the door. The Homecoming Dance will be held in the quad on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. This year’s theme is “City of Stars/Night in Hollywood”— based on the the movie musical, “La La Land.” This year’s DJ will be provided by Power 106. Tickets cost $24 for singles and $40 for couples at the door. —JESSICA EUSEBIO

Schedule Changes Aim to Combat Excessive Tardies Don’t be late. New schedule changes have been put in place at Van Nuys High School for the 2017-2018 school year to help reduce the student tardiness rate. First period will now officially begin at 7:50 a.m. without the morning announcements, which have been moved to the end of second period, occurring during the BIC (Breakfast in Classroom) ambassador call. BIC is now 16 minutes long. This change has altered each period by a few minutes; however, the school day will end at same time as last year—2:57 p.m. and end at 1:57 p.m. on professional development days. —TOMMY CHAN

Board Seeks to Tighten Graduation Requirements Members of the LAUSD School Board are considering requiring a minimum grade of “C” in core classes to graduate. Upon seeing data from the class of 2017, boardmembers observed that the overall number of graduating students was too high in comparison to those who were college-bound to UCs or CSUs. As a solution, a proposal was put forward to repeal a two-year-old policy that allows students to graduate despite having Ds in their core classes. School Board President, Dr. Ref Rodriguez, said that this policy may let them see which students “are really able to get into a UC/CSU.” If the board decides to make such a change, it will likely take effect for the graduating class of 2020, but have no effect on the class of 2018 or 2019. —ALLEN PARK

September 29, 2017 |

The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 3



Goodbye Edline, Hello Schoology A new learning management system debuts, but not without a host of teacher complaints By AMANDA GODFREY and WOO HAN

ing year, would be to gradually rollout the program to the rest of the schools in the district. This differed from the district’s The Mirror Staff administration of MiSiS, another LMS, back in 2014 where everything was rolled n another attempt to employ a district- out to the schools all at once. Similar to the MiSiS rollout, Schoology wide learning management system (LMS), the Los Angeles Unified School is riddled with problems, causing many complaints and concerns from VNHS District (LAUSD) has implemented teachers and others across the district. a system known as Schoology as the new “Schoology is more difficult because the platform for all K-12 students. The idea of implementing such a system interface I’m used to using is nowhere near Schoology. So it’s much harder to underwas set into motion by the Chanda Smith stand basic inputting of grades,” said Mr. vs. Los Angeles Unified School District court case in 1993, which was filed against Robert Crosby, AP Government and AP U.S. History teacher. LAUSD by lawyers from the American “It’s not that it’s impossible to use, but Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of it’s a very hard learning curve and its frusstudents with disabilities in LAUSD. trating to use so I don’t want to use it but I Lasting nearly a decade with expenditures costing the district over $200 million have to use it.” This time, however, LAUSD is attemptdollars, the case revolved around Chanda Smith, a student that was unable to receive ing to improve Schoology’s functions through teacher feedback. Any problems crucial special-education aid. with Schoology are being noted and sent to Sloppy school district record-keeping the company to fix. caused staff members to overlook the fact Well aware of the issues surrounding Scho“It’s really effective in that students can see ology, Principal Yolanda their grades real time. Grades get updated Gardea vows to collect real time and grade input is really easy now.” reports about any issues teachers are experiencing. “I want to see what are the things teachthat Smith needed assistance, and high ers are having problems with, what are school officials ignored all requests by her the things we can solve here and get them mother for her to be placed in a special solved, and take the rest of it and send it education program. to the district so that they know that these The final court order mandated an are the issues that we’d like to address,” said obligatory district-wide system to docuMs. Gardea. ment and track student records. Despite the numerous issues, several The Schoology program was first agreed teachers find Schoology useful and effective. upon by LAUSD in October of 2015 and Ms. Peggy Shim, an AP and Honors Biollaunched in the spring of 2016 as a twoyear pilot program. In the plan’s first phase, ogy teacher at Van Nuys, was introduced to Schoology before it was announced as a group of schools volunteered to evaluate mandatory district-wide. and test Schoology before LAUSD made “I’ve been using Schoology for about 4 the decision to implement the system years. Mr. [Brent] Shano said he loved Schodistrict-wide. ology because the kids liked it, you could The next phase, throughout the follow-



Angelina Songco

I prefer Edline because it is simpler to use than Schoology. Most students and teachers have already adapted to it and it was much of a hassle to program it.

Scott Li


put up assignments and homework online, and there’s no grading papers. So Shano kind of sold me on it,” said Ms. Shim. “It’s really effective in that students can see their grades real time. Grades get updated real time and grade input is really easy now.” Apart from the teacher and student use, the district is encouraging parent involvement with the new platform. The Parent Portal, available in multiple languages, allows parents to check grades and assignments through Schoology. Parents are also able to track their student’s progress throughout the whole year. MiSiS only showed semester-reported grades. Parents can sign up for access to the portal at the Parent Center, where they can also learn how to use it. Not all families, however, have access to a computer or wi-fi at home. Van Nuys High School offers free internet and computers at the Parent Center and the library to any parent who does not have access to those resources. In addition, Sprint, a telecommunications holding company that provides wireless services and is an internet service provider, is donating one million free hotspot connections for students without

internet access at home. Before Schoology, students used Edline to access their grades and other school information, but many find that Schoology is a better platform overall. This is partly because all teachers are mandated to use it. “I prefer Schoology because it’s much easier to use. All teachers post on it and they can post assignments and projects,” said senior Saul Prado. “At first, I thought it would be very complicated, but it ended up being easier and more helpful.” “Over time there are a bunch of bells and whistles about Schoology that are great. For people who are tech savvy, it’s going to revolutionize their lives,” said Ms. Gardea. The district has been experimenting with incorporating technology into learning for the past decade from purchasing iPads to distributing Chromebooks. Schoology is another part of the transition into a new digital age of education. Over 1000 districts and 12 million individuals currently use Schoology. “I’m sure it will work out, I’m sure it will be fine in three, four years. The process of going through it the first couple of times will just be frustrating,” said Mr. Crosby.

Do you prefer using the new Schoology or the old Edline?

I prefer Schoology due to the convenience it provides compared to Edline. The Schoology app provides a convenient way to access grades and assignments.

Matthew Lee

I prefer Schoology because the school promo video doesn’t immediately play when you open up the website!

Claudia Haddad

The transition from Edline to Schoology was a bit complicated for the students and teachers. But now, I prefer SChoology because the teachers input grades more often! It’s easier to keep track of our grades and progress in each class.

Saul Prado

I prefer Schoology because it’s much easier to use. All teachers post on it and they can post assignments and projects. At first, I thought it would be very complicated, but it ended up being easier and more helpful.

Aqsa Hussain

Edline is simpler and easier to navigate. Teachers already know how to use it and it’s easily accessible.

Daniel Baek

I prefer Schoology over Edline because Schoology has more information that is easier to access. The layout is simpler which makes it easier for the students and the teachers.

4 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

Features&Profiles | September 29, 2017

The Increasing Competition for College Admissions The process has changed rapidly, making the fight for a dream college spot even more intense. By SEUNGYOUN KIM The Mirror Staff


ollege application deadlines are looming over seniors. As their high school careers are nearing an end, it is finally time for seniors to condense their four years of hard work into a couple of pages, scraping together every extracurricular activity and all the academic work they have ever done to appeal to their dream school. The tension between students has gotten worse than it was a few decades ago as students are under more stress and more anxiety than ever before due to the high standards colleges now expect. Most of this stress and anxiety comes from acceptance rates that have changed drastically over the years. According to IvyWise, students are competing for a limited number of slots, dropping acceptance rates as low as 4.65 percent. In order to be more competitive for selection, high school students are enrolling in even more rigorous class schedules packed with Advanced Placement and honors classes. Students are also undertaking timeconsuming extracurricular activities that range from school clubs to out-of-school programs in different career interests. “People with higher GPA’s than me are applying to the same colleges which lowers

the chance for me to get into that specific college,” said Daniel Berman, a senior. With more students than ever applying, the competition for financial aid packages and scholarships has become more intense. College tuition rises every year, but need-blind colleges are willing to meet all

demonstrated need for a student to attend. Such programs encourage students with stellar academics to apply to certain colleges even though they may not have the financial means to attend. In addition, four-year college degrees are more in demand than ever before, as college

graduates flood the job market. “Without a college degree, nobody would want to hire you because you don’t have an educational background,” said senior May Nuchit. Many international students also apply to colleges in the United States in search of an undergraduate degree. Many colleges have realized how lucrative they can be, increasing the slots allocated for foreign students, who pay full tuition, which only makes situation more difficult for American applicants. “It’s difficult for a student to catch up with the competition because I wasn’t present in the United States for five years, so it gives more advantages towards people who lived here their whole life,” said Luciana Vega, an international student at Van Nuys. The rise has allowed colleges and universities to become more selective of their applicant pool. According to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges edition, the acceptance rate for Columbia University in New York in 1988 was 65 percent, but, in the most recent guide, not even 7 percent of the 33,531 total applicants were accepted. But there is a bright side to the application process. It has gotten simpler. Prospective students can apply to several colleges at once through the Common App and Coalition App. The Common Application allows students to easily send in test scores and essays with the click of a button. In the latest report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling four-year colleges and universities received 94 percent of applications online, a trend that is on the rise.

ATTENTION SENIORS: YOUR COLLEGE APPLICATION TO-DO CHECKLIST College is daunting and a little nerve-wracking to think about. However, it’s never too late or too early to start working on those college applications!


Research colleges and universities that interest you, and check their admissions criteria and deadlines to see if you qualify. Figure out what type of college best suits you. The perfect school might be out there -- you just don’t know it yet!


Start working on those personal statements for private and public colleges. The regular decision deadline for CSUs and UCs is Nov. 30; the Common App deadline for private institutions is Jan. 1. Those interested in Early Action have a much earlier cut off date depending on the school. Submit them earlier to avoid a website crash on the due date!


If you haven’t already, register for the upcoming ACT and SAT tests! It’s still not too late—UC colleges take your scores up until Dec 31st and the Common App is open until Jan 1st; anything later than that will not be taken and may compromise your chances of acceptance.


Gather any supplements that the schools you’re interested in require. Make sure you request a letter of recommendation from your teachers and/or counselor as soon as possible to be on top of their pile of desperate students.

as possible to escape the crippling debt for the rest of your life, hah. (Undocumented students cannot apply for FAFSA and should submit an application for the California Dream Act which allows them to receive state-based financial aid.)

5 6


Request a copy of your official high school transcript to input the classes you took and the grades you received into your online applications. You’ll need them to submit those college apps. Scholarships are essential to avoid paying out of the pocket for college; there’s a wide range of financial aid to apply for that are either from private institutions or governmentally funded. Search up any scholarship website and start applying! Among the plethora of financial aid out there, you’re bound to qualify and receive a grant. They can range from $100 to even $10,000! Every cent counts, ya know.


With that said, start applying for FAFSA, Cal Grant, and CADAA! FAFSA is a financial grant from the federal government while Cal Grant is subsidized by the state. The application is a little tedious and will likely require your parents’ help on the official documents. Avoid student loans as much

Get an idea of your major. Colleges want to know where you are heading in your education and what career you are considering in the future. Don’t stress -- your major is not set in stone until your junior year in college. Most colleges allow you to change it within that time period.


Stop by room 510 to talk to College Counselor Ms. Mary Charlton to get more information and guidance about anything college related. She knows her stuff. Don’t procrastinate! This process is annoying and stressful and a little tortuous, but it’ll all be worth it in the end. Even if you don’t get into the college of your dreams, there are still many options available to reach your goals. Good luck, and may the force be with you. COMPILED BY KHRISTA SAYO

September 29, 2017 |


The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 5


Meet the Voices of Van Nuys THERESA NGUYEN | MIRROR STAFF

By SHIMLA RAHMAN The Mirror Staff


oooooooood morning Van Nuys! These are your morning announcements!” Every morning, at approximately 9:48, booming voices and peppy announcements enthusiastically fill the school. But who are the voices behind the mic? ASB advisor Ms. Janice Carr, past Voice of Van Nuys Jacob Zelonky, and ASB President Allen Zatikian, hosted an audition in August to select this year’s Voices of Van Nuys. After being paired, the auditioning students had their voices sampled on the P.A. The best pair was then selected to make the announcements every weekday morning. Seniors Noah Albert and Clara Pierone, the new Voices of Van Nuys for the 2017-2018 school year talk about their experiences and offer some advice on public speaking.

Why do you think you were chosen for this position?

“Oh we hear your voice” and I’m like, “that’s weird,” but I usually don’t think about it when I’m doing the announcements.

understand. Be clear and make sure you understand the handwriting. Know what you are supposed to say so you don’t mess it up.

What do you wish you knew before you were given the position?

Do you ever get nervous?

Albert: I knew that you do the announcements in a closet and that you talked on a phone. Pierone: The announcements are really quick. You just walk in there and read the slips and then get out. You have to be ready to go right when you walk in.

What are most excited about this year about being the voice of Van Nuys?

Albert: I get to walk around in school and everyone points at me and says, “Hey you’re the voice of Van Nuys!” It’s just cool being somebody with a title. Pierone: I think it’s really fun to say things in an excited way. I play with my voice and try to make it sound interesting.

Given your position, what are you most excited about this year?

Albert: I think it’s because I have a personality in my voice that is very positive, very energetic, and very school spirited. Pierone: I believe it’s because my voice was loud and clear.

Albert: I’m looking forward to announce at every big event. We get to announce the winners for homecoming and prom. I could also host the prom show and the talent show. I’m like the MC Pierone: The prom fashion show sounds like a lot of fun and we have to introduce the homecoming floats and the homecoming games.

Why did you want to become one of the Voices of Van Nuys?

What qualities do you think the Voices of Van Nuys needs?

Albert: I wanted to have more school spirit, wanted to host the Talent and Prom Show, and introduce everybody since I really like being a host. Pierone: I just thought it sounded like fun to do the morning announcements. I like performing and it seemed fun to try something new.

How does it feel having your voice heard all around school?

Albert: It’s embarrassing, but I like being heard. Pierone: It’s weird. People seem to recognize you like

Albert: Be peppy, get people interested, and have a positive attitude in your voice. Pierone: I think there has to be excitement in their voice so people can actually listen to the announcements. Because if it doesn’t sound exciting or hyped, then nobody is gonna care or listen.

What tips do you want to give to the next Voices of Van Nuys?

Albert: Make sure that you make a dialogue with your partner to make it interesting and to get the listener’s attention. Pierone: Read the announcements to yourself before you say them out loud so you don’t mess up a bunch of the words. Because if you do, then people don’t

Albert: Oh yeah, I get the shakies but it’s all good once you get into the closet and look at that paper. Pierone: Yes, I’m always nervous before I walk out onto a stage. I take deep breaths and once I’m on the stage and performing, the nerves just go away.

What tips do you want to give to those with stage fright or public speaking?

Albert: Take a deep breath and try to become someone else. It takes a lot of pressure off. Pierone: Do your thing. Don’t think about the people watching or hearing you. Just let it happen.

Do your extra curricular activities help you with public speaking?

Albert: Definitely. I talk a lot for marching band. I am the drum captain so I have to talk to the freshmen, the sophomores, the juniors, everyone. We coordinate everything together and then I go to the performances and talk to the crowd. So basically, it requires a lot of leadership. I definitely think that my energetic and positive vibe helps because I get to express it through my voice. Pierone: It helps with public speaking. When you’re an actor, you’re on stage all the time, and you get used to it all the time. The experience helps you with school presentations. You learn some helpful tips; like you don’t look at someone’s eyes, you look over their head. They think you are looking at them so you are not as distracted. I am also the president of the vocal department where I have to draw leadership skills and need a loud positive voice.

Do you and your partner work well as a team? Albert: Definitely. We make each other laugh in a friendly way to help alleviate the stress. We reassure each other that someone else is there. Pierone: Yes. We have only done it together a couple of times. So far, so good. We help each other out.

6 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror | September 29, 2017


The Thousand Dollar Question Apple revamps the iPhone line once again, adding facial recognition and new portrait settings. But is the new iPhone X worth it? By ALIZA PATEL The Mirror Staff


hone prices have been steadily increasing in the past decade, but very few have dared to cross the thousand dollar threshold—until now. The much anticipated new iPhones were announced on September 12, but instead of just the iPhone 8 and 8 plus, there will be a third iPhone released alongside it: the iPhone X. The new iPhone X features facial recognition, a higherresolution, edge-to-edge screen, and a stainless steel frame. The starting price of the iPhone X is $999. While many people are excited about the new iPhone X, others think the cost just isn’t worth it. Even though the new phone has many useful features, Amrit Grewal, a student at Van Nuys High School, believes

that a thousand dollars is too expensive. “Phones are mainly just for calling and why would you want to spend that much on a phone?” asks Grewal. Existing smartphone models already have most of the basic features of an iPhone, but come without the huge pricetag. Originally invented for the sole purpose of calling, cell phones can now be used to text, surf the web, take highresolution pictures, play video games, check social media, listen to music, and much more. Some students even use their phones to complete writing assignments like essays. “You are getting calling and texting, but there are a lot more features in a smartphone, and you can search on the web instead of using a computer,” said Kyle de Guzman. “You could spend all your money on your phone and take it everywhere instead of getting a laptop.” The yearly changes to new-model iPhones have become minimal. New additions are no longer revolutionary or

unheard of, but are changes that slightly improve on an already existing feature like the camera and the operating system. The iPhone X’s new camera features are added portraitmodes that create different background effects. Another promised addition is a more natural voice for Siri. “There aren’t really a lot of differences from the previous iPhone.” said Guzman. He thinks since phones do so much it might someday be worth it to splurge on a more expensive one, but buying a new phone every time a new model comes out doesn’t make sense. As smartphone features continue to advance, albeit at a slower pace, prices will likely rise. For just calling and texting, the sky-high price of the new iPhone may not make sense for everyone, but for users who are itching to get their hands on the latest technology, the X could be worth it.


“You are getting calling and texting, but there are a lot more features in a smartphone, and you can search on the web instead of using a computer.”

Important Steps to Take Following the Equifax Hacking By STEFANIE TYO The Mirror Staff


haring information online has become second nature. With a click of a button, anyone can share their status on social media, shop online instead of actually going to the store, or even pay their bills without the tedious task of having to mail them in. But with the convenience comes risk. Witness the largest data breach ever. On Thursday, Sept. 7, Equifax, a credit reporting agency, announced that they were hacked, exposing millions of Americans’ private information, including their credit history, passwords, addresses, and social security numbers. The breached information is now exposed to hackers who have access to bill credit cards, take out loans, and sell private information to other criminals. The disaster has left millions of Americans questioning whether or not their information has been tampered with and what to do to prevent being hacked by cybercriminals. Since the incident, Equifax has provided a link on their main webpage that allows users to enter their last name and six digits of their social security number into their

database to see if their information was tampered with in any way. If data has been compromised, a pop-up will appear explaining the details of the tampered information and offer a second link to which affected individuals can get free credit monitoring. Although it is a helpful tactic, it only bars criminals from creating new accounts, whereas current accounts are still vulner-

able to hacking. However, it is paramount for affected individuals to take initiative through credit freezing and fraud alerts. “Credit freezing” is a process in which credit files can be locked so that only the companies that the user affiliates with can access them. This means that if a criminal tries to create a new credit account under an individual’s name, they can’t receive the


credit report because the account is already frozen. Individuals can also set up fraud alerts with all three credit-reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. By setting up alerts, users can be notified when thieves try to apply for credit under their names, allowing them to quickly shut down the activity. This works for accounts and credit or debit cards; however, the process varies according to which agency the member is a part of. Americans are already given one free credit report per year from the top three reporting agencies; it is recommended to request reports every three to four months. By keeping tabs on credit information, any suspicious activities can be easily tracked to quickly notify the credit agency. Although it is a very precarious situation, users cannot disregard the hacking because it is possible that their information was exposed. Experts suggest that the Equifax hacking will be a long-term situation, and that the majority of leaked information is vulnerable and likely to be stolen. The best thing for Equifax victims to do is to take action and make a plan to secure their information so that they can prevent possible cyber-attacks in the future.

8 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror


The Death of



hey were brought here from foreign lands by their parents when they were babies. They grew up in the United States, going to American schools and speaking English. For most, the United States is the only home they have ever known. They are the Dreamers, hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people who participate in a program called DACA--Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals--that gave them special immigration status. For taking part in the program, they are protected from deportation, receive access to higher education, and eligibility for work permits and social security numbers in exchange for registering with the federal government. Many Dreamers have earned college degrees, pursued careers in a sweeping array of fields, and begun families of their own. But now their futures and their security are in limbo. President Trump ordered an end to DACA on Sept. 5—breaking the government’s promises and leaving the Dreamers with an uncertain future that might include deportation. The Trump administration has allowed a six-month delay for current recipients of DACA, or Dreamers. Unless Congress intervenes, President Trump’s decision

to withdraw the program will jeopardize the futures of 800,000 Dreamers. Enacted in 2012 as an executive order under the Obama administration, the primary focus of the program has been to protect undocumented minors who arrived at the United States prior to their sixteenth birthday. DACA relies on the concept of juvenile justice, which states that children at or under the age of 16 cannot be tried as an adult in a court of law because they are unaware of the extent of the crime they have committed. Therefore, their status as unauthorized immigrants cannot be held against them as a crime with intent. To remain eligible for DACA, Dreamers must be employed or enrolled in school and be free of any misdemeanor offenses. Any instances of domestic violence, burglary, or driving under the influence will harm their chances of remaining in the program. DACA is not a path to citizenship. After reaching the age of thirty-one, Dreamers are no longer protected by DACA and may be subject to deportation. Dreamers are also not eligible to apply for Pell grants or federal scholarships. Within the five years of the program’s initiation, the presence of the approximately 800,000 recipients has had an impact on the nation, and even more so in heavily populated border states, like California and Texas. Their influences and contributions to their communities have been permanently etched into American society, and their departure will surely impact the nation, economically and socially.

If President Trump ends DACA, the Dreamers face the possibility of deportation. Because they registered with the program and willingingly disclosed substantial sensitive personal information, a federal database already exists giving officials easy access to their addresses, social security numbers and employment and school locations. This makes them sitting ducks for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation raids. The end of DACA may have severe economic consequences as well. Not only will the government spend $60 billion solely on deporting Dreamers, but the U.S. economy will lose about $460.3 billion in total domestic income over the next decade, according to government studies. The loss of 800,000 students and workers may create a gaping hole in Medicare and Social Security funds as well. Medicare fund cuts promised by President Trump may become even greater with the deportation of Dreamers, who contribute more than $24.6 billion to the health-care program. “We pay taxes, contribute to this country economically, culturally, and don’t ask for anything besides pursuing a higher education for the betterment of ourselves,” said a college DACA recipient, who wished to remain unidentified. “DACA allowed me to view my reality of going to college,” said a DACA recipient still going to high school. “I realized that although I wasn’t able to receive as many benefits as a U.S citizen, DACA allowed me to have a workers permit and generate my own sustainability,” Unless Congress devises an alternative program within the six-month window Trump has allowed, DACA recipients are certain to lose their legal status and face the risk of deportation. Advance Parole, a program that allows Dreamers to travel internationally, has also been stopped for Dreamers. Without permission to visit their homelands for educational and humanitarian purposes, there is a great possibility that the next time Dreamers see their homelands again will be as deportees. Dreamers will be forced back into countries they don’t remember, where they will have to readjust to a culture and language that in many cases are alien to them. Since Trump’s announcement, new DACA applicants are being turned away. And for current DACA participants, all sense of security is gradually deteriorating as the clock ticks down for Congress to act. “The feeling that I got when Mr. Trump rescinded DACA was not that of many. I believe that in order to have something more permanent, DACA had to come to an end. At the same time, we are risking everything

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worked for through these past years. It’s a are giving up on all we have for something n’t know if we’ll get back what we want in he college student. blican majority in Congress seems to supt Trump’s decision to rescind the proconstitutionality has been hotly debated

ublicans and Trump supporters have en contempt against Dreamers, claiming mented individuals are lowering wages and om more deserving residents and citizens. re is little direct evidence to support this

ensitive topic of Affirmative Action also on mp supporters have also argued that peotizens and not of color are being stripped ies in higher education. They claim that ed students are stealing seats at universities y belong to legal residents and citizens and even more opportunities at institutions for are not of color. ds I would say to people who are against be that it’s not even about race anymore. classism,” said the high school student. % want to stay there and because the poor tion of this country are not well educated, washed to thinking that DACA recipients n why they don’t have jobs or aren’t getting e they deserve.” fear resides over participants as they wait n the issue. Trump shocked both sides of the political en he did an abrupt about-face and called o come up with a legislative measure that ally grant citizenship for the young im-

deal Trump discussed in a meeting Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) inority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) suggests able permanent solution to the DACA be reached. But in exchange for assurance enship, the Democratic leadership must ly enforced border control. rs and their families anxiously anticipate mp’s final decision, students of DACA still stand in solidarity against the removal of continue pursuing higher education. her education and if you don’t, always es of this movement to pass on to the next cause only that way will we overcome s,” said the college student.



Keep the Dream Alive

In June, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced the passing of a kind of relief program from deportation called DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Its aim was to protect the rights of the illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children. These immigrants would be given safety from deportation and a work permit for two years. Since the early days of his election, President Trump has demonstrated a disdain for undocumented immigrants— continuously mentioning to deport them and to build a border security wall between the United States and Mexico. However, in the past weeks he has given the public conflicting views about his plans for dealing with Dreamers, which have gone against his party’s and the Democrats advice. Are his actions clever or faulty and bound for doom? For the four years it’s been in effect, DACA not only improved the lives of more than 800,000 Dreamers but has also driven economic growth, job creation, and broader access to education. A study conducted by Tom K. Wong of the University of California, San Diego, the National Immigration Law Center and the Center for American Progress shows a 42 percent increase in hourly wages and an 87 percent increase in employment for the dreamers, translating into higher tax revenue, which leads to economic growth. DACA recipients also contribute substantially to the U.S. economy by buying cars and houses, providing more revenue to the states in the form of sales and property taxes. Some Dreamers have even joined the entrepreneurial world, opening up businesses ranging from tech startups to tax preparations services, contributing to job growth. In fact, according to the Center for American Progress, “6% of survey respondents started their own business after receiving DACA. This rate of business starts is higher than that of both the American public as a whole—at 3.1 percent—and the entire immigrant population—at 3.6 percent.” Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed that DACA puts Americans out of jobs. However, Dreamers are not just workers and students. They are also consumers. Economists John McLaren and Gihoon Hong, found that “every immigrant to the U.S. creates 1.2 new jobs—almost all going to U.S. citizens.” From a young age, these immigrants have been receiving a public education. By deporting them, the U.S. wastes billions of dollars which have been invested in them. Certainly DACA promotes economic growth, but a repeal of it will impact the economy even more. According to the Center of American Progress, “ending DACA would wipe away at least $433.4 billion from the U.S. gross domestic product” over the next decade. “It will cost employers $3.4 billion in unnecessary turnover costs, and would cut contributions to Medicare and Social Security by $24.6 billion over a decade.” These Dreamers call the U.S. their home; they have grown up, learned, and worked here. Removing them has no long-term, positive consequences for the U.S. except making more enemies.



Keep Dreamin’

800,000 people. That is about how many DACA recipients there are living in the U.S. As of Sept. 12, their lifeline in this great nation has been placed on the chopping block by the Trump administration. Their stay’s been in the hands of Congress, whose members have six months to decide what to do. After that, Dreamers are no longer safe from being deported. Trump’s decision on this is understandable, but probably not very smart. He tried to appeal to his base with a crackdown on illegal immigration while also trying to appeal to Democrats by allowing them six months to pass a bill in Congress, reauthorizing DACA. This has made both sides angry, as Trump came off relaxed on illegal immigration to his base and militant towards illegal immigrants to the other side. So what should be done about DACA, and illegal immigrants who’ve lived here for a long part of their life? Well, the simplest, and maybe harshest, answer is to uphold the law of the land and deport all those illegally residing in the country. The argument for this stems from an argument made against all illegal immigration. Illegal immigration devalues and nullifies a nation’s citizenry, and citizenship itself. If anyone can enter a nation and reap the benefits of a citizen while avoiding the penalties, what good is being a citizen? A citizen is at more of a disadvantage than that of a noncitizen. Not only that, if a nation is not willing to enforce its borders, or has completely open borders, its citizenship becomes not that of the nation, but that of the world. These individuals are not citizens, and are not obligated to live in the U.S. To uphold our nation’s sovereignty and borders is to uphold its immigration policies. To pose a common analogy, if your parents sneak you into a theme park, you and your parents are kicked out. While analogy works in showing the enforcement of rules on individuals, it fails to show the scope of the individual’s situation. Most DACA recipients have been living in the U.S. for a fairly long amount of time, many of them since early childhood. However, the majority of them now aren’t minors, as many people make them out to be. Most of them are in their 20s and 30s by now. These individuals are eligible to obtain a social security number, but not obligated to obtain one. This means they may or may not choose to be taxed. However, they’ve still enjoyed the benefits that taxpayers have paid for. In short, while DACA recipients may stimulate the economy, as most immigrants do, they aren’t entitled to paying taxes that legal immigrants pay. The net gain received from Dreamers in the economy isn’t as clear as many make it out to be. Some DACA recipients and illegal immigrants, such as director of MTV documentary “White People,” Jose Antonio Vargas, boast about paying taxes through faked social security cards. The majority of illegal immigrants commit crimes such as perjury, forgery, and social security fraud in order to work and live, all crimes warranting of a felony. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, “Experts suggest that approximately 75 percent of working-age illegal aliens use fraudulent Social Security cards to obtain employment.” This means that on top of breaking the law as they enter our nation, they break the law frequently within our nation, to reap the benefits without paying the toll. If individuals don’t respect the laws and customs entering this nation, why will they once they’ve entered? Now, of course many DACA recipients were children when they were brought into the U.S. by their parents, but children suffer the consequences of their parent’s actions all the time. It is the unfortunate way life is: When parents make mistakes, their kids may often suffer the brunt of it. If you break the law, you don’t get a pass because “mommy and daddy made bad parenting decisions.” Good decisions are rewarded with good things. Justice isn’t letting immigrants who break the law take the spot of immigrants who’ve worked harder, fought longer, and done their all to get in the right way. The country is penalizing immigrants who are working the right way to get a spot for their children, and rewarding law breakers taking advantage of our system. The U.S. is setting a bad precedent by allowing illegals amnesty just because “they got in.” This will encourage more and more to try and get in illegally. This will put kids at risk to predatory “coyotes,” the human traffickers along our southern border. To uphold the nation’s sovereignty and stability, the government must crack down on illegal immigration—DACA recipients included. Immigrants willing to immigrate legally, willing to follow our customs, willing to assimilate, those with clean slates—these people deserve the spots of DACA recipients. However, it would be cruel to deport almost a million people who’ve lived here for a large portion of their life. Our immigration laws are still to be enforced, but the Dreamers should get a break. A rigorous, open pathway to citizenship should be presented to them. We must take strides to prevent another generation of dreamers to occur. Our borders must be secured, our laws must be enforced, and our corruption must be purged,for the life of our nation depends on it.

10 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

Features&Profiles | September 29, 2017

Fresh Faces Join the Wolfpack Faculty Compiled by ELISSA CHOI, TOMMY CHAN, ALIZA PATEL, SHIMLA RAHMAN and LUCAS SHIM


Ms. Michelle Keller

Ms. Milagro Medrano

Assistant Principal

Math Teacher


was inspired [to be an assistant principal] years ago when I was a science teacher. I just saw the need to have more support for teachers and students in that particular time. There was only so much I could do as a teacher than a department chair. I thought I could have more influence and a greater impact on students if I became an administrator. My first impression of VNHS was that you guys were serious about learning. You have so many avenues to which to express that.... There are a lot opportunities for students to shine and succeed in whatever career path they chose. The special thing that I see—not only from students, but from faculty—is that they are very passionate about VNHS and its reputation and success.There are some great things going on here and they want people to know that this is the jewel of the Valley. Ms. Keller is in the Main office.


student-taught when I was about to become a teacher; I did it with Ms. Molina and Mr. Kang (now retired) and they always talk about how they love Van Nuys. When Ms. Molina said that there was an opening, I said, “I’m there!” It sounds like the kids are awesome, the teachers are together, and the principal is awesome. It sounded like everything was perfect and ready to go. I’m very happy to be here. When I first came in, I was just amazed at how everyone was very friendly. The teachers and students were awesome. The students want to learn and ask questions. I enjoy being able to teach ninth and eleventh graders because I can see that growth. Once I get them back, I’m able to see how much they’ve grown. I know exactly what my geometry kids need to do to go into Algebra II. Ms. Medrano is in Room 113.

Ms. Riffat Khan

Mr. Anthony Catalan


Math Teacher


’ve been a nurse for 25 years. Initially I started because it was a good career and has job security, but now, I continue to like it. As a nurse, I like helping others with their problems. As for Van Nuys, I like the grounds, it’s very well-maintained. The administration is very good. I like the grass, the buildings. It’s an old fashioned traditional school and I like it. The administration is very good. The students are fine too, just like any other students. I’m learning where to find things. The paperwork and clerical part is just taking time but everyone is being very helpful. Ms. Khan can be found in the Health office.


uring my first nine years of teaching, I taught in the Philippines at the “University” level. For the next eleven years, I worked at a high school and taught all of the subjects from Algebra 1 to AP Statistics. Most of the students are well-disciplined and very respectful towards their teachers, and that’s why I came over here. I also came to grow professionally, and right here, I could use my potential better. The most important thing for students to take away from my class is that math can be learned by everybody. There is nobody that is “dumb” in math, but if you show effort, you can learn in my class. Mr. Catalan is in Room 515.

Mr. Erick Ramirez

Mr. Jacob Ferrin

English Teacher

History Teacher


hat I like the most about teaching English is the fact that I get to know the students so well because I want to communicate with them through their writing and speaking. I feel like I get to know a side of them that maybe some of the other teachers don’t. Ms. Gardea was actually a music teacher when I was a student at Walter Reed Middle School. So when I saw her name and when I was looking for schools to apply to, I definitely felt a little bit more comfortable knowing that there was somebody that I would be familiar with at this school. I came to help out with the Summer Bridge program before school started so I got to meet some of the freshmen and teachers. Immediately, I knew it was a place where I would feel comfortable. Mr. Ramirez is in Room 540.


think I just always knew I was a teacher. I fought it for a really long time because I didn’t know if it was what I wanted to do. Slowly, I realized that it was what I wanted to do. I started off as an ethno musicology major. I studied music and culture in history. I went between being a music teacher or a history teacher. Currently, I teach U.S. History and World History. I enjoy teaching all the politics and all the stories of history. The story itself is just remarkable. [What drew me to Van Nuys] was the several magnet programs and the art programs and the art things that were very exciting to me and it was close by. It seemed like a wonderful school. Right now, I’m getting used to remembering things at the same time. The more or less, I’m figuring it all out. Mr. Ferrin is in Room 308.

Ms. Myrna Sibrian

Ms. Maria Renard

ELT Teacher

Cheerleading Coach


started working as a TA—that was before I decided to become a teacher -—and I found out that I really, really loved teaching. I found it natural for me, the students liked when I would explain it to them, and again, I just wanted to help this specific population of ELT students. The students don’t speak English and they’re struggling. I was part of that population in middle school. I am a native from El Salvador, so I see myself in them. As an ELT teacher, I get to work with a lot of students from central America, but now this year, I’m teaching students from Russia, from Armenia. I like just getting to know their culture and how they’re different and sharing that with the whole class. Ms. Sibrian is in Room 317.


am an Alumni here. I cheered in high school, and I loved it. In my senior year, I approached the cheerleading squad, and that’s how I realized that I wanted to be the cheerleading coach at Van Nuys High School. So, I have been coaching here since 2001, my senior year. I love the school, and I love the students. We have an amazing facility. We have all of the proper equipment that we need. The students here are so driven, motivated, and very talented. I enjoy teaching kids new skills. I enjoy introducing new activities. Some of the kids have never done different types of sports or physical activities. When I teach them, some of them find something that they love to do and they take it to the next level. Ms. Renard is in the P.E. office.

September 29, 2017 |



n the grounds of “advancing harmful gender stereotypes,” a Google employee was unjustly fired for simply stating facts about the gender disparities in the tech field. James Damore, the ex-Google engineer in question, came under fire for his memo which partly attributed biological differences and personal choices for the observed differences between the genders. Google is a private company who can hire and fire whoever it sees fit. However, was Damore fired for a just cause? Was he really advancing harmful gender stereotypes in Google’s work environment? Damore opens his memo—“Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber”—by specifically stating “I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists, and don’t endorse using stereotypes.” He goes on to blame Google for their leftist bias which discriminates against men in hopes of increasing the number of female employees. As Minnie Ingersoll, who previously led efforts to create Google Fiber, states “Companies know they need women because [otherwise] they will be shamed by the press and outspoken advocates.” In fact, a study done by two psychologists at Cornell University shows a 2:1 preference for women in STEM fields. According to an article in Forbes Magazine, “Tens of millions are being invested in programs for young girls to learn tech.” Showing compassion toward tech’s female minority has resulted in a leftist bias. But in a business environment, a company like Google should be more focused on hiring qualified employees, rather than ensuring that female applicant’s feelings aren’t hurt. No company will be able to thrive if it is more focused on protecting feelings instead of creating the best skilled employee groups it can. As Damore stated, “Google’s left bias has created a monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters.” Google firing him only proved the validity of his statement. What truly made Damore’s memo so controversial was how he pointed to biological differences between the genders as a reason for the lack of women in the tech field. His critics argue that these differences are a result of social construction and have instead discouraged women from joining the tech field. Damore compiled a list to show how differences between the sexes aren’t socially constructed. • They’re universal across human cultures • They often have clear biological causes and links to prenatal testosterone • Biological males that were castrated at birth and


Truth Behind

Google’s Ideological


Chamber “Google’s leftist bias has created a monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters.” By MARGARITA HOVSEPYAN The Mirror Opinion Editor

The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 11

raised as females often still identify and act like males • The underlying traits are highly heritable Women also have a tendency to gravitate toward work that deals with people rather than things. According to, newborn baby girls show more interest in faces while boys prefer mechanical stimuli. “When it comes to toys, a consistent finding is that boys (and juvenile male monkeys) strongly prefer to play with mechanical toys over plush toys or dolls, while girls (and female juvenile monkeys) show equivalent interest in the two,” states author and research psychologist Denise Cummin., Different gender preferences cannot be socially constructed when they exist before any real, significant social interactions take place. A recent report shows that men do outnumber women in tech 7:3. So yes, men do dominate in the STEM field, but that doesn’t make women any less significant to society. Women dominate in the teaching, nursing, and psychology professions—all of which are important in shaping society’s future. Arguing that this huge disparity is just a social construct that discourages women from joining the tech field is insulting. To say that the majority of females didn’t pursue STEM careers because they are manipulated and afraid of what other people think about them undermines the ambitions, determination and strength of females. Differences in job preferences do exist between the sexes. This doesn’t make a woman’s role any less important. Women have an equal opportunity to pursue careers in the STEM field. It’s a matter of personal choice that they don’t. Damore also criticized the diversity programs which Google promoted. These included “Programs, mentoring and classes only for people with a certain gender or race.” In hopes of increasing diversity in the workplace, Google instead further divides the genders and races through favoritism and discrimination. No group deserves to get more mentoring and experience because of certain innate characteristics. A healthier environment for Google would be to demonstrate to its employees that hard work is the prime path to achievement. Incentivizing individuals to rely on their own ethic is vastly preferable than trying to create a shortcut for them. As James Damore pointed out to Google: “Treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group.”

12 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

What the By GINA KIM The Mirror Staff




hildren are taught at an early age to scorn and avoid profanity. But as people age, one becomes more accustomed to using foul language. So is profanity truly a misdeed or a social construct? “The reason that a child thinks the F-word is a bad word is that, growing up, he or she was told that it was a bad word, so profanity is a cultural construct that perpetuates itself through time. It’s an affliction of its own creation,” writes Dr. Benjamin K. Bergen, a professor of cognitive science at the University of California in his book What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains and Ourselves. Bergen’s statement can be supported with the blank slate theory which states that the human mind is a blank slate at birth and information is added progressively throughout time. With this, a person is able to form their own morals and judgements. If people believe vulgar language is inappropriate, it is because people are told this information at a blank-mind state. As a result,

“Though swearing is mostly harmless,” Bergen writes, “slurs are the exception. There are clear benefits to using profanity, but when profanity targets demographic groups, it can foster prejudices.” The use of vulgar words to create hostility or to target a certain race, religion, or gender is simply intolerable. Words small children find inappropriate to use can include “stupid” or “dumb.” Certainly, there are times where these words can be inappropriate for adults as well, for example, during an interview. Similarly, derogatory terms have certain limits to where they can be used. So when is it appropriate to use profanity? Obscene words can be appropriate as long as their use does not inflict abuse on others, such as when someone stubs their pinky toe, forgets to do their homework, or doesn’t know anything in class. In these situations, profanity acts as a stress reliever instead of an abuse inflicter. Just as we convey our thoughts and emotions through regular words, cursing is merely another way of expressing our emotions. Studies also show that using profanity in suitable occasions is beneficial. A study coauthored by Richard Stephens, a lecturer at Keelee University, along with David Spierer and Emmanuel Katehis from Long Island University, Brooklyn, reveals that tolerating higher levels of pain and cursing have a positive correlation. In an experiment, Stephens asked his subjects to create two lists of words: one with profane words and another with neutral words. Then, he asked his subjects to place a hand in ice water as long as possible repeating a word from one of the lists. Individuals who swore were able to submerge their hand longer than those who used neutral words. In another study at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, researchers revealed that there is a positive correlation between profanity and honesty. The more vulgar a person’s words are, the more likely they were to be honest. Although adults teach their children that vulgar language is inappropriate, eventually, everyone comes to realize that they have the freedom to select their own vocabulary. However, if a person chooses to use obscene language—and it is a choice—they must keep in mind that language is a powerful tool. Using profanity must be avoided when it is related to aggression. But in stressful situations, feel free to swear away.

“Using profane words in an offensive or aggressive way is the norm in our society. Using such language is a powerful mode of expression.” society continues to impart in children the same concept, continuing the cycle. As students transition into higher grade levels, the meaning and value of words change. In fact, as we advance into higher grade levels, we transition into using more “colorful” words. But what’s the true intention behind cursing? To answer this, it’s important to understand the concept behind the use of vulgar words. Using profane words in an offensive or aggressive way is the norm in our society. Using such language is a powerful mode of expression. Thoughts and language are two of the most prominent characteristics that distinguishes humans from most organisms. The sentences we speak and the words we say undeniably shape our human characteristics. There are times when profanity is appropriate and times when it is truly unacceptable, most prominently regarding prejudice. | September 29, 2017

TheMirror Executive Editor Woo Han Editor-in-Chief Amanda Godfrey Online Editor-in-Chief Tyler Jung Print Layout Editor Shimla Rahman Online Layout Editor Chandler Beon Managing Editor Khrista Sayo News Editor Tommy Chan Features Editor Elissa Choi

Opinion Editor

Margarita Hovsepyan Entertainment Editor Lucas Shim Sports Editor Devin Tse Photo Editor Theresa Nguyen Chief Copy Editor Stefanie Tyo Chief Financial Officer Yerin Oh Assistant Financial Officer Gina Kim Staff Writers/Photographers Jackson Beckman-Smith Marc Cortes Jessica Eusebio Milly Garcia Kaitlyn Jung Sara Kuchimpos Gwendolyn Langi Holden Mandell Aaron Mejia Christian Naves Allen Park Aliza Patel Michael Phung Ariana Rodriguez Christian Walsh Tyree Winborn Lauren Woolsey Raymond Yang Journalism Advisor Mr. Ron Goins The Mirror is the student newspaper of Van Nuys High School in Van Nuys, California. It is published six times per year. Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Editorial Board. Letters to the Editor may be delivered to Room 112 or mailed to 6535 Cedros Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91411. Letters must be signed and may be edited for space and to conform to The Mirror style and format. Advertising questions may be directed to Yerin Oh at, 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. 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.


September 29, 2017 |


The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 13

Terror, nostalgia, tenderness and an iconic red balloon

It is More than Just Another Horror Story By SHIMLA RAHMAN The Mirror Staff


ince his debut 27 years ago, Pennywise the Dancing Clown has returned. “It” has managed to become the highlight of horror films in 2017 by breaking numerous box office records and earning $179.2 million during the first week of release. Based on the 1986 novel written by Stephen King, the big screen adaptation is directed by Andy Muschietti, known for directing the 2013 horror film “Mama.” “It” features children who find the courage to confront their own personal fears manifested in a shapeshifting monster— “It,” also known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, played by Bill Skårsgard.

The kids form a group called the “Losers’ Club,” which includes Jaeden Lieberher as Bill Denbrough, Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben Hanscom, Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh, Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier, Chosen Jacobs as Mike Hanlon, Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak, and Wyatt Oleff as Stanley Uris. The story takes place in the town of Derry, Maine where a shapeshifting monster appears every 27 years to feast on the fears of children—and the children themselves. Unlike the book, which is set in the late 1950s, the film takes place in 1988. After killing Georgie Denbrough, played by Jackson Robert Scott, Pennywise reappears eight months later to prey on Georgie’s brother, Bill, and his friends. Skårsgard, with excessive clown makeup and a devilish smile, elicits the audience’s fear by depicting a haunting child-feasting entity.

Pennywise is much more than just a scary clown; the monster represents a child’s sense of innocence and brings ghastly manifestations of terror. “It” shows how haunting and disturbing a child’s fear can be—from something as simple as a creepy painting or a sexually abusive father—and the effect it can have. As the protagonist, Bill Denbrough, struggles to accept his little brother’s mysterious death, he faces an emotional battle every time he comes home and realizes his brother is not there. Not only does Pennywise create feelings of intense fear, but the story also brings comic relief through the brilliant acting of the “Losers Club” cast. This group of adolescent outcasts—who are going through puberty—show how intimidated they are about approaching a girl, which adds much needed humor to

the story. The comical characteristics of the kids, such as Richie’s jocular profanity and Eddie’s hypochondria, also add lighthearted moments. The boyish friendships and the story’s retro setting gives the audience a nostalgic mood reminiscent of other ‘80s films like “The Goonies” and “Stand By Me.” The vivid special effects and dark tone create the perfect ominous atmosphere of the best horror movies. Despite “It” being a horror film, the story also manages to inspire audiences, because it shows that individuals can be strong enough to overcome their personal fears to stick with the people that they care about. Rumors of a sequel are looming as the movie still does brisk business at the box office. Fortunately, audiences won’t be needing to wait for another 27 years.

Book Review: Experiencing the Drug War through Teenage Eyes By JESSICA EUSEBIO The Mirror Staff


ontrary to its title, Wolf Boys is not a story about actual wolves. Author and former journalist Dan Slater tells the frightening story about American teens trained to become deadly hit-men for a dangerous Mexican drug cartel in his book, Wolf Boys: Two American Teenagers and Mexico’s Most Dangerous Drug Cartel. After reading a New York Times article about the American teens involved in Mexican cartels, Slater was curious about the motives behind their actions and gained an interest on the history of drugs and its organizations. In 2013, the author contacted the teens to write a book based on their experiences after their drug lord was

imprisoned. The story is documented through an exchange of letters and interviews between him and the protagonists of the story. The story revolves around Gabriel Cardona, a promising student athlete born and raised in the ghetto of Laredo, Texas. After encountering minor offenses, he soon found himself training to be an assassin for Mexico’s most dangerous drug cartel, Los Zetas. After the cartel wars erupted, Cardona would soon cross paths with Robert Garcia, a Mexican-born homicide detective committed to bring an end to illegal drug activity. Throughout the book, Slater alternates between the perspectives of Gabriel Cardona and Robert Garcia, allowing readers to experience the dangerous lifestyles of two veterans in the drug war. Ambition is the main theme of the story. Being driven by money and power, Gabriel is seen progressing and moving up the ranks of the organization. Robert is depicted as determined to end drug trafficking in the border town of Texas. Poverty serves as a common issue among the characters, who seek an escape from the poor lifestyle. Furthermore, the author addresses the effect of the ongoing violence and the pursuit of the cartels. Families are put at risk, required to cope with the murders of their loved ones and the consequences of their actions. Innocent bystanders are caught between attacks and raids that result in gunfire. Drug trafficking clearly impacts everyone

involved through violence, drugs, and money. Wolf Boys is well-written. The topic has been thoroughly researched by the author, providing a realistic insight into the dangers and risks of being involved with dangerous drug cartels. However, Slater provides too much information and too much history that detracts from the purity of the narratives. The story also becomes overcrowded with a constellation of characters, which often makes the story difficult to follow. The title of the book can also be misleading. Despite the title referring to two American teenagers, the story really only focuses on one teenage assassin and a Laredo cop; the second teen does not appear often throughout the story. The name Wolf Boys refers to the cartel’s members, specifically Gabriel and his childhood friend, who follow orders and are willing to die in pursuit of money and power. The crime-drama novel that Slater constructed is being adapted into a movie and is currently in the works. One of the confirmed writers for the film is Sheldon Turner, a screenwriter known for his work on “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning,” “Up in the Air,” and “X-Men: First Class.” The movie will be directed by Antoine Fuqua, who is best known for previously directing the 2016 adaptation of “Magnificent Seven” as well as other popular Hollywood films, such as “Equalizer” and “Olympus Has Fallen.” The Wolf Boys film has no confirmed release date yet.

14 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

Arts&Entertainment | September 29, 2017

The Determination and Will of a By MICHAEL PHUNG The Mirror Staff



he world of anime continues to engage audiences with innovative worlds and distinctive concepts from Japan. “My Hero Academia,” an original breakout series airing every Saturday, leaves a considerable impression on anime fans with its unique take on the shounen genre, a type of anime based on action sequences and targeted toward young males. When the show was originally announced back in 2016, fans were unsure of what to expect considering it was competing against other well-known and popular shounen titles, such as “Dragon Ball Super” and “One Piece.” However, the epic series managed to defy expectations, earning an excellent rating of 8.41/10 on MyAnimeList. com during its first season, and continuing in its second season this year with an exceptional rating of 8.83/10. “My Hero Academia” stars Japanese voice actor Daiki Yamashita as the main character, Izuku Midoriya. He is known in other popular works such as Jun from “Sword Art Online II,” Touya and Pororoca from “Log Horizon,” Mizushino Souta from “Re:Creators,” and Soutsuda Mitsuru from “Food Wars.” The series is based on the manga by Kohei Horikoshi, a Japanese artist known for creating shounen series such as “Barrage.” The story centers around Izuku Midoriya, a compassionate individual whose dream is to be a hero, but soon faces great challenges that come to test his fate. The world consists of superheroes and “quirks,” a term for powerful abilities like comic book superpowers. Originally coming into existence as mysterious anomalies, quirks slowly became commonplace in the generations that followed. Those born without quirks are usually looked down upon. This is first displayed when Izuku Midoriya, who has no powers, tries to defend another child from a coldhearted bully, Katsuki Bakugou. After losing to Bakugou’s power to create explosions, Midoriya realizes that everyone is not created equal. When Midoriya chooses to save the bully Bakugou from a supervillain, his willingness and bravery catches the attention of his favorite superhero, All Might. All Might later passes down his quirk One for All to Midoriya. The quirk gives the person who possesses it superhuman strength which is magnified by each predecessor, getting stronger as it is passed down through generations. Midoriya adapts and learns how to use One for All, at U.A. Academy with All Might as his mentor.

To reach his goals, Midoriya must push his limits and compete with his peers—but he must also face his



The message to audiences is that hard work pays off. The second season delves deeper into Midoriya’s training, introducing the concept of a tournament to determine the best students at U.A. Academy. To reach this goal, Midoriya must push his limits and compete with his peers—but he must also face his weaknesses. During the season’s second arc, the students get the opportunity to learn firsthand the responsibilities of a hero. Midoriya undergoes serious training in close combat and in using his quirk more efficiently. After the

second season was announced, a trailer teased that the series would include a tournament, which is what makes shounen animes such as “Dragonball,” “Naruto,” and “Hunter x Hunter” so popular. Horikoshi manages to suspensefully pace each episode by leaving the audience with a cliffhanger, making some fans wish that Studio Bones, the show’s animation studio, would release the next episode sooner. The well-developed storyline smoothly advances the plot. After the tournament arc, it is hard to believe that the story could get any better, but the second half of the season manages to surpass the highest of expectations at a very steady pace without feeling slow. The story gets even more interesting with the addition of a new villain. Audiences have also been impressed by the show’s outstanding soundtrack. The songs properly set the mood and complement the action sequences. As the intensity level in a fight scene increases, the music becomes more dramatic. The timing of both the soundtrack and combat are perfectly synchronized. Character development is another strong aspect of the show. Throughout the series, several characters undergo changes in their thought processes during the battle sequences. Many of the characters face problems that seem insurmountable at first, but manage to pull through, showing that any problem can be overcome through perseverance and tenacity. Despite its positive aspects, there are some downsides to the show, such as the plot holes. Although they are merely minor issues, they are still confusing. A glowing baby who has already developed a quirk starts off the show, contradicting the fact that humans usually don’t develop their quirks after a few years. Through the tenacious Izuku Midoriya, “My Hero Academia” sends the message that even though no one is created equal, anyone can still accomplish anything as long as they have the will and drive to do so.

September 29, 2017 |

The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 15


Meet the Team Captains COURTESY OF LUIZ RUIZ






Leader of the Pack That’s Our Setter

Making a Racquet







The Mirror Staff

loodlights shine down on the field. The timer slowly ticks down on the board. The Wolves line up on the line of scrimmage as they prepare to make an offensive play against their opponents. The atmosphere is tense as the crowd cheers for the Wolves. To Jessie Padilla #12, however, it feels as if the weight of the game is on his shoulders. Padilla, captain of the Van Nuys Varsity Football team, enters the 2017 season as the quarterback of the offensive line. Padilla has to constantly communicate with his offensive line and receivers in order to be ready for any situation on the field. With various coverages and blitzes from the opponent, he must remain composed and resilient when throwing an accurate pass to his receivers. As the Wolves head deeper into the season, Padilla is determined to lead the team to playoffs this year. Expectations are high for Van Nuys, and he believes that the team is up to the task. “I see a lot of potential on our roster.” Padilla said. “With a lot of hard work and dedication to their craft, success will come. Without a doubt, the Van Nuys football program is in good hands for years to come.” Through hard work and dedication, he strives for selfimprovement on and off the field. “There is no such thing as an easy way out,” Padilla stated. “You have to grind through the drills, scrimmages and practices in order to improve yourself.” He strives to become a better athlete everyday and is determined to train rigorously in order to improve. “Being discouraged or hesitant is not a solution.” said Padilla. “Only you can determine if you are capable of fulfilling your goals.” For his future, Padilla plans to continue playing football. Whether playing for a college team or the local park, Padilla’s passion for football will always remain unchanged, no matter what the future has in store for him.

“Being discouraged or hesitant is not a solution. Only you can determine if you are capable of fulfilling your goals.”

The Mirror Staff

rom participating in middle school athletics to being captain of the varsity team, Alex Dalumpines has immersed herself in volleyball. When Dalumpines first joined the volleyball program in her freshman year, she never expected it to have such a profound effect on her life. Being setter for Van Nuys High School was a position she did not think she would get. A setter’s duty is to command the offense, which helped Dalumpines develop her leadership and communication skills. She spent countless days in the gym working on her sets and serves, polishing her volleyball skills ,and developing long-term friendships. When she puts on her uniform, it means much more than just playing a sport. She has developed a sisterhood with her fellow teammates since freshman year. After growing as a team member through facing both adversity and success, Dalumpines believes that Van Nuys will make a deep run in the playoffs this year. “With the pieces that we currently have and our winning mentality, the sky is limitless for us,” said Dalumpines. Now a senior, Dalumpines believes that the future of Van Nuys Girls Volleyball is in capable hands as her two protégé setters—Lauren Woolsey and Luciana Soria—prepare to lead the team after she is gone. Looking towards her future, Dalumpines hopes she can play at the collegiate level. Although she is short at 5’7—compared to the average 6’1 college player—Dalumpines is determined to improve her skills in hopes of playing for her future college team. “Only the present matters to me right now, my future can be decided in time.” said Dalumpines. “My goal right now is to win a championship for Van Nuys and a championship ring on my finger.”

“With the pieces that we currently have and our winning mentality, the sky is limitless for us.”

The Mirror Staff

eading into the 2017-2018 Girls Tennis season, standout captains Min Kim and Nithya Ravichandran are poised for success as they enter their senior year at Van Nuys High School. Since Kim was a child, she had a natural affinity for tennis. She began playing with her brother and grandfather when she was in second grade. Tennis allows her to interact with new people and deepen her friendships with her current teammates, a group she considers to be her second family. Tennis also helps her to relieve stress—especially from school—as she constantly practices her serve, forehand and backhand. Since joining the team in her freshmen year, Kim had made everlasting memories with her team. “The most important thing I want for all the girls is to remember the memorable moments they had in this program and cherish their days as a Van Nuys tennis player,” she said. She looks forward to seeing the tennis team improve even more when she moves on. Similarly, Nithya Ravichandran also gravitated towards tennis, influenced by her older sister, Sandhiya, and her cousin Ramya. She quickly realized that tennis was her ideal sport. She remembers watching in pure amazement as her sister and cousin practiced, wanting to follow in their footsteps. Both were co-captains of the VNHS Girls Tennis team seven years ago. Ravichandran has been playing tennis on and off for about nine years. She believes that tennis is an underrated sport that requires plenty of stamina and willpower to play. Now that she is a co-captain, she sees that the team continues to improve with every practice, and getting stronger as they recognize their mistakes. “The thing I enjoy most about tennis is that every person I play has different strengths and weaknesses.” said Ravichandran. “It’s exciting to get to figure them out as we play.”

“The most important thing I want for all the girls is to remember the memorable moments they had and cherish their days as a Van Nuys tennis player.”

16 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror | September 29, 2017


Life of a

Student Athlete


inding the perfect balance between school and sports remains a difficult challenge for many students. But from a student-athlete’s perspective, it’s all worth it. Academics is the main point of focus for a typical student, who is already burdened with pressures to excel in their classes. But for the ones that participate in athletics, the same lofty expectations are also expected from their coaches. However, being a part of a sports team cannot be recreated in the classroom. The friendships and bonds created along the way are everlasting, and the athletes’ hard work is displayed in their respective programs. Playing their favorite sports and representing their school motivates them through their academic hardships. At times, their hard work on and off the court may be overlooked, especially if the team has a so-so record. But while some athletics teams might be unappreciated and criticized throughout the season, what truly matters is their work as a team and their ultimate goal— to win a championship for Van Nuys High School. The athletes of Van Nuys High School look forward to putting on their uniforms and hope for a proficient performance throughout the school year. —COMPILED BY DEVIN TSE and ARIANA RODRIGUEZ; PHOTOS BY THERESA NGUYEN

Meshario De Guzma Track and Field

“Being a student-athlete is not as easy as it seems. With many distractions throughout the season, it can affect your performance in school. Perseverance and responsibility are crucial for success on both sides. No matter how difficult it gets, it will be all worth it in the end.”

Boys Volleyball Player “Being a student-athlete is a huge responsibility. You have to maintain a good GPA and be accountable of your homework and your duties as an athlete. Obviously academics come first hence the title ‘student-athlete.’ Aside from academics, you gain a sense of pride when you are able to represent your school through your athletic ability.”

Girls Basketball Player “Honestly it is a tiring process, but when the time comes to put on your uniform and represent your school, it makes all the burpees, suicides, and diving lines worth it.”

Leonel Kim Coach Michael Andy Sosa Football Player Boys Basketball Player Del Homme Head Coach of Girls and Boys Varsity Volleyball

“The life of a student-athlete can be grueling at times. Good time management is essential for success on and off the court.”

Roselyn Poommai Jacob Lee

Jackie Buenaventura

Girls Basketball Player “No matter what sport you choose to play, it takes heart and commitment. Above all else your responsibility as a student comes first no matter what. Me and my fellow teammates no what’s at stake everyday, with loads of homework and pressures from our coaches, but it is all worth it. Having formed many bonds with teammates, it truly is a privilege and something that is irreplaceable.”

“Life is pretty stressful; you are pressured everyday to perform well in the classroom and on the court. I take on the challenge everyday, not for myself, but for my team. I love playing basketball with them, in order to do so I have to be responsible of my school work.”

“It’s fun being a studentathlete; it allows you to meet new people and create new bonds with them. It can get in the way of my studies, but I wouldn’t let it faze me.”

Margarette Liong

Girls Tennis Player “It can be hard balancing sports and school, but overall it’s a good experience. It feels good playing the sport you love and representing your school.”

Coach Elizabeth Lezama Alan Vo

Boys Volleyball Player “Being a student-athlete requires a lot of work, motivation, and commitment. However, focusing on your education is more important, finding the balance between school and sports is essential for success.”

Head Coach of Girls Varsity Basketball “Students need to perform well in their academics, it is their main purpose in school. They need to make sure they have a well balanced schedule between school and sports. Making sure they are accountable for their academics and eagerness in practice is key.”

Dalila Gomez Girls Soccer

“Maintaining your grades is the first priority for every student, everything else comes after. To play the sport you love and represent your school is truly a honor.”

Profile for The Mirror Van Nuys High School

The Mirror: Van Nuys High School 092917  

Shattered Dreams: DACA on the rocks. The student-produced, award-winning student newspaper of Van Nuys High School, Van Nuys, California. Vi...

The Mirror: Van Nuys High School 092917  

Shattered Dreams: DACA on the rocks. The student-produced, award-winning student newspaper of Van Nuys High School, Van Nuys, California. Vi...