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Van Nuys High School | Van Nuys, California | Volume 103 | Issue 5 | April 2018 Find out more about the record breaking number of applicants for UCs and CSUs this year. Page 3

Meet the dynamic duo that makes the VNHS volleyball team so formidable. Page 9

Fortnite all night? Learn about the newest gaming craze that even pop culture stars play. Page 11


The Mirror

Addicted to Social Media PAGE 6

NATIONAL JUDO CHAMPION Did you know that a national judo champion is a student at Van Nuys High School? Learn more about Sariuna Tsyzhipova, judo master. PAGE 9

2 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror


Magnet Programs Take Top U.S. Honors


touring the campus: The MSA judges and ms. brown spectate the classroom as the students explain their duties.



t’s no secret that the Van Nuys magnet programs are some of the best. The triple threat has been pulling kids in from the far reaches of northern San Bernardino and the sweltering heats of downtown LA. But now, VNHS magnet programs are certifiably spectacular. Bestowed upon the school by the Magnet Schools of America, VNHS magnet programs have won a slew of awards this year. Of only five schools in Los Angeles County, Van Nuys was named a National Magnet School of Excellence. Being placed in the top five magnets of the nation, VNHS is on its way to potentially earning the place as the nation’s top magnet school. However, competition is stiff as the school is competing against the nation’s best elementary, middle and high schools.

Two films directed by VNHS students in the Film Department were nominated for the Los Angeles Student Film Festival, an annual competition where students around the world submit their self-directed films with the chance of being screened at the El Portal Theater in North Hollywood. The fifth annual event on Feb. 23 was hosted by the North Hollywood Cinefest, a program that celebrates independent film making of all genres. VNHS scored two spots in the film festival with films “Find my Love” directed by Cristian Silvia and “Boxception” directed by Alex Merino. Although the nominated films did not win any awards, VNHS Film Teacher Ms. Christina Brawner stated that she “was proud of her students for scoring a spot in an international film showcase.” —Christian Walsh

Van Nuys’ Medical and Stem magnets were each awarded an “Excelling Magnet” certificate due to its high standing on the Magnet Performance Index. Running on a five-pillar platform, the Index takes into account the school’s diversity, innovative curriculum and professional development, academic excellence, quality of instructional systems and family and community partnerships. The coordinated magnet trio consisting of Principal Yolanda Gardea, Performing Arts Coordinator Fanny Arana and Math/ Science Magnet Coordinator Dawn Brown also received “MAGIE” awards for their ability and innovativeness at promoting their magnet themes. These three administrators took many measures to get the school qualified for the award. One of the main scales in which the school is judged is in a questionnaire that was answered by Ms. Arana and Ms. Brown. The two worked in their specified fields, or as Ms. Arana puts it, “She’s


The Mirror Staff


ehind every great team is a great coach. Through sleepless nights of studying the economic systems of Africa, heated sessions of planning impromptu speeches and winning third place in state, the Academic Decathlon team has yet again pulled through another year full of achievements. But the driving force behind this victorious team is their advisor, Mr. Jonathan Mitchell, who has coached the team for two years.

Why did you decide to coach the team? I used to help Mr. Abreu. I would do the art for him and I really liked it. I just started helping, and then when he left, they needed someone to do it, and I became the coach. What are some of your favorite moments or accomplishments? The state [competition] we just came back from was really big. Third place in state was the biggest moment because it was a team victory; the whole team got recognized.

BRIEFLY SPEAKING LA Student Film Festival Welcomes VNHS Directors

(Ms. Brown) numbers, I’m words.” After the responses, MSA sent representatives to review the school. Keith Abrams, the Director of Integrated Magnets, came out from his office in downtown to accompany the MSA’s tour around the school. Sandra Gephart Fontana, the Local District Northeast director, also attended the tour. Many magnet parents also came to attend the tour to demonstrate the school’s community ties. Ms. Gardea, Ms. Arana and Ms. Brown escorted the large tour from class to class, allowing the MSA representatives to ask students questions such as: “What do you like about this school? Why’d you choose Van Nuys? How far do you have to travel to get to Van Nuys?” From tours in Van Nuys to tours in Chicago, the trio will be traveling to the MSA Conference in Chicago, Illinois to accept awards. The school may be able to win up to $5,000 for its performance.

AcaDec Coach: Not Your Typical Teacher By ALIZA PATEL | April 2018

Mr. Mitchell: Guiding the team to success

Did you take part in AcaDec as a student? No, not when I was a student. Do you wish you had? I’m trying to think if I would have been good at it. I don’t know if I would have had time. They have to have time to study. Can you tell me a bit more about the recent competition? The recent competition was in state. We worked hard all year. We got the highest score Van Nuys has ever gotten. We got a team in 3rd place which we’ve never

gotten. We got a lot of medals. The thing that’s nice about medals is that kids get recognized: they get to go on stage, get their picture taken, and everyone claps for them. What steps did you all take in preparation for competitions? We started a long time ago. We started in May of last year, and then lots of steady studying over time. Some things they worked on that I thought were really fun were the speeches and the interviews, especially the impromptu speeches where you just make up a speech on the spot. The kids’ speeches take a lot of time because they have to write their own speech and it’s a really personal thing and it takes a long time but they’re fun to work on. Do you have anything you would like to say to students who want to join? If you’re interested, come by my room [325]. We’ll try to pick a team probably in the next month. In a few weeks we’ll start looking at next year’s team. So if you’re interested, come by and we’ll have tryouts. We need all kinds of students, not just A students. We need all kinds of grades, so if you don’t have an A average, don’t think you’re not part of it.

AcaDec Seizes Bronze in State Competition The Academic Decathlon Team made Van Nuys history by winning third place in Division Two at their state competition in Sacramento, California over spring break.The nine members representing the VNHS community battled it out head on with 69 other California schools, scoring over 44,000 out of 60,000 points. The 2018 subject was Africa, with the areas of study consisting of Science, Literature, Art, Music, Social Science, Economics, Mathematics, Essays, Interviews and Speeches. The competition took place over the span of three days with each day hosting the testing portion, the interviews and speeches portion and the awards ceremony. The team won a total of 19 medals, the most any VNHS team has achieved in AcaDec history. —Stefanie Tyo

Battle of the Choirs: Going Against the Top in California Ms. Brianne Arevalo and the VNHS choirs will be competing in the annual Anaheim Heritage Festival at Disneyland on Apr. 14, 15 and 16. The competition is an opportunity to represent the school among choirs across California and will be judged by a panel of nationally acclaimed adjudicators. “So it’s a huge deal, not just for us and Ms. Arevalo but also for the rest of the Vocal Department,” said Nicole Ayala, who will be performing in the Spring Concert and the Heritage Festival. —Kaitlyn Jung

Science Olympiad Off to Caltech for State The VNHS Science Olympiad team ranked 20th of the top 30 schools in Southern California at the State Competition at Caltech on Saturday, April 7th. Fifteen students, selected to represent Van Nuys in Science Olympiad, tested their knowledge on the variety of sciences through testing, inquiry labs and building events. The team placed in the top six in three of the events: Diana Chernyak and Rita Thomas placed 4th in Anatomy and Physiology, Micaela Soria and Lacthu Vu placed 4th in Forensics and Gavin Groode and Lacthu Vu placed 2nd in Fermi Questions. Acting as coach of the team, Ms. Diana Fuhrman guided the students to States. Mr. Joseph Agruso and students Hunter Davis, Matthew Lee and Jerry Hamada aided the team in the building and engineering events. —Tommy Chan

April 2018 |

The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 3


UC and CSU Deal with Record Numbers of Applicants MICHAEL GORDON

By MARC CORTES The Mirror Staff


ere you accepted to UCLA, UC Riverside or Cal State Northridge? Consider yourself lucky. Thousands of other high school seniors have been squeezed out of the UC and CSU systems due to an increased demand for a limited number of slots. Many students applying to the public universities this year were let down by rejection letter after rejection letter. “I was optimistic about submitting my application to the UC system. Getting my results back was extremely disheartening. It was especially frustrating when I saw even more deserving people suffer the same disappointing responses,” said senior Jocelyn Sosa. In 2017, the Cal State system turned down over 30,000 eligible students and the University of California system turned away over 10,000 students from their schools of choice. California Governor Jerry Brown and the State Legislature continue to pressure UC campuses to increase enrollment of California residents and transfers. Until UC meets certain demands, including an enrollment ratio of one transfer student for every two freshmen, Brown will withhold $50 million in state funding. For the Fall 2018 enrollment, the University of California experienced an overall increase of 5.7 percent since 2017, with a record-shattering number of over 221,000 applications. Individual campuses experienced a fair range of increases, from Berkeley’s 4.6 percent increase to Riverside’s 12.4 percent increase. In addition, applications from California residents grew 7.1 percent over last year. UCLA received the most freshman applications of 71,386 from California residents, followed by Irvine’s 71,130 and Santa Barbara’s 66,436. With a systemwide increase of 5.7 percent for freshman applicants and 5.5 percent for transfer applicants, UC schools

may soon be forced to find an answer to the problem of limited campus space. In March 2018, UC President Janet Napolitano proposed a solution to guarantee admission to qualified community college transfers and called upon chancellors to graduate more students within the four year period from the current 64 percent to 70 percent. Many officials call for a list of eligibility guidelines so that prospective transfer students can be aware of the required classes and GPA that they need to achieve to be considered. “Knowing how transformative a UC education can be—for the individual, for the society at large—it’s incumbent upon us to help more Californians become part of the opportunity story,” said Napolitano in a speech commemorating the 150th anniversary of the UC system. While UC campuses have enrolled 90,000 more students since 2000, state funding has remained flat, attributing to a decline in UC per-student spending. Proposed changes are estimated to make enough room to enroll an additional 32,000 undergraduates by 2030. As for Cal States, the new approach aims to redirect qualified applicants who are

Record Number of UC Applications 221,788 206,339








34,177 34,372 153,239


rejected from their school of choice to an available campus, instead of rejecting them all together. Officials also aim to double the system’s four-year graduation rate to 40 percent by 2025. The California State University system received a one-time funding boost of $20 million under Gov. Brown’s 2017-2018 budget plan, yet this was still not enough to prevent controversial tuition increases. The school system explains that they are

the ucla campus showcases its famous bruins bear statue.

left with few options. Gov. Brown’s budget draft this year only proposed a $92 million increase for the system instead of the requested $263 million. CSU trustees are expected to vote on tuition proposals in May, possibly raising the annual cost to $5,970 for in-state students and $12,780 for full-time nonresidents. Although under constant scrutiny and criticism, the tuition increases last year were able to raise $75 million. This supplied enough room to add 3,200 new course sections, translating to 90,000 more seats for students. While California’s universities struggle to find space for thousands of students, some are turning to the alternative of attending an out-of-state university. In the last decade, the enrollment of Californians in out-of-state colleges such as Arizona State University and Oregon State University has more than doubled. According to US Department of Education data from 2014, more than 36,000 California freshmen enrolled in out-ofstate universities. Lande Ajose, executive director of California Competes, an organization that advocates for increased accessibility in higher-ed policies, along with many other analysts, is troubled by statistical evidence of the state estimating a shortfall in collegeeducated residents within the next couple decades. “Without a focus on how we’re able to move kids through, we’re leaving industries at risk of not needing to find the talent that they need to have” said Ajose. Public Policy Institute California, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution, estimates that by 2030, 40 percent of jobs in California will require at least a bachelor’s degree, but projections show that state universities are not producing enough graduates to meet the job demand. School officials, educators, and students alike express deep concerns with the current situation but only time will tell if the proposed changes will change anything.

4 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

Features&Profiles | April 2018



t exists on social media, at home and in the school hallways. It can hide behind the most unsuspecting faces of friends and family. Bullying exists virtually everywhere, but it is identified to be the most rampant issue in school environments. In places where young students share eight hours a day with peers they may dislike, harassment of classmates can occur physically, verbally and socially. With the overwhelming social media presence of teens today, being the bully or being bullied is easier than ever. According to StopBullying. gov, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services antibullying website, 22 percent of students have reported being bullied. This means that nearly every one out of four students is a victim. An even larger number of 160,000 students in the nation consistently choose to not leave their homes due to their fear of getting bullied. Students who identify with different ethnicities or sexual orientations are more likely to be victims of bullying., a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing digital abuse, reported that 9 out of 10 LGBTQ students experience harassment at school and online. Cyberbullying is the use of electronic communication to bully someone and almost half the population of students reported such related incidents at least once. also states that out of the 43 percent of students who have been cyberbullied, 35 percent have been threatened and 21 percent have received hurtful messages. One major problem is that bullying often goes unreported. According to StopBullying. gov, 85 percent of the parents are unaware of their child’s experiences and 58 percent of students have reported that they did not alert their parents about their encounters. Students are hesitant to report their experiences because they fear the greater consequences they may face from their bullies. The victim is often threatened if they file a report.


Teen Bullying

Silent Suffering

There are numerous reasons why students choose to bully others and they are often linked to insecurities, stress and trauma or that the bullies have been bullied themselves. Damaged mental health can deteriorate the victim’s physical health and confidence levels. “Bullying another isn’t morally right,” said VNHS student Cailey De Leon. “Those that do bully should consider their actions and how it would affect the other person. Bullying another can greatly affect one’s life and perspective.” However, the issue doesn’t only lie between the bully and the bullied. Being complicit in the face of bullying labels bystanders as bullies as well. Student bystanders often do not report the bullying that they see because they also fear what might happen to them. Bullies hold power over the victim and the witnesses. If bystanders were

to speak out, they could become potential targets. Childhood bullying can also lead to lasting effects on mental health. According to Live Science, a science news website, childhood bullying is linked to psychiatric disorders that must be treated by professionals and can also lead to depressive tendencies. Children who have been affected with trauma in their early years are often linked with harassment from their peers. This can stunt social development and result in poor school-performance. Although the culture surrounding school bullying has slightly shifted, students are still wary about involving themselves in situations where they can be in danger of being bullied themselves, which is understandable. To combat this culture of staying complicit, advocacy websites such as and have

launched public education campaigns in schools and provide hotlines where people can tune in to talk with a peer listener. Schools have also taken it upon themselves to find solutions to bullying. Van Nuys High School hosts assemblies each year to teach students about the serious consequences of harassing someone. Students are also made aware that they can use the bully box, where one can anonymously turn in a slip of paper citing a bullying incident that they have seen or experienced. Even with all the measures that have been taken, there is no guarantee that the bullying can be stopped. School administrators have no power to stop bullying unless they have physical evidence of it. Ms. Peggy Shim, an AP Biology teacher at VNHS, believes that campus administrators take bullying seriously.

“We take it seriously [at VNHS],” said Ms. Shim. “If someone reports bullying we’ll make sure that the bully would never do it again. The only problem is that people are afraid to rat out each other. If they see something happen they should report it. But they don’t do that because they fear that they will get some sort of retribution. I think the school tries to prevent the bullying too. School counselors would be the best to go report bullying to.” Students can help prevent bullying. Reporting the situation, providing emotional support and confronting the bully are all proactive ways to combat harassment. Confiding in a trusted person can open doors for students to protect themselves from future bullying. Parents and teachers can involve themselves by speaking with the school’s administration and work to create an environment where no student is afraid to attend class. When children speak to their parents or teachers about the rough situations that they face, they are able to give themselves access to emotional support and potential mental health services. By providing emotional support, anyone can become a peer listener. The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommend for parents to take the child’s situation in a serious matter when they talk about their relationships with classmates in school. Communication with the student fosters trust that students need. Unfortunately, bullying will always exist in some physical, verbal or social form, but there will always be ways to prevent it from happening. The culture of “staying quiet” in the face of harassment is slowly changing as students learn to stand up and be open to conversation.

“Bullying another isn’t morally right. Those that bully should consider their actions and how it would affect the other person.”

6 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror


Social media is causing teens to have unrealistic self-ex



The Mirror Staff


illions of pictures on Instagram emulate an image of “perfection.” Size zero models pose next to a broadly sculpted man as their sun kissed skin glows at the sunny Bahamas. Unfortunately, lots of users often try to compare themselves to these heavily edited figures on their phones. As more and more people join social media networks, new issues of self-esteem emerge. Self-esteem is defined as an individual’s perception of their own worth, which is influenced by interactions in the outside world and, with today’s easy access to technology, the internet. Starting as early as age eight in girls and ten in boys, a lack of self-esteem is prevalent amidst the barrage of hormones, emotions and confusion as adolescents, who want to be accepted and fit in with social norms, begin comparing themselves to others. New social media trends for weight loss, beauty tips and social status contribute to this lack of self-esteem as teens compare themselves to an idealized image. Pacsun, Hollister, Forever21 and many other companies often photoshop their models to make them appear flawless—free of stretch marks, discoloration and cellulite. “Over time, I felt Individuals are tempted to view themselves as “lacking,” self-conscious losing confidence while striving to achieve this “perfect” aesthetic and worsening their self-esteem. because I didn’t Despite these misrepresentations in advertisements, look like them some teenagers are coming to realize the distinction beand I didn’t feel tween celebrities and their ordinary selves, acknowledging so beautiful, even that their lifestyles differ. Teens are beginning to use celebrities’ actions as a moral compass to help keep their own though now I actions in check. know it was just much of social media inadvertently promotes for that moment.” teenButcomparison to other teens through online apps. In a 2017 study conducted by Pew Research Center, the top three apps used by teens were Snapchat (79 percent), Facebook (76 percent) and Instagram (73 percent). Platforms like these promote sharing photos and videos of individuals in everyday life which emphasizes the fun and excitment. “I use technology every day from when I get home and go to sleep.” said Darion Calderon, a junior at Van Nuys. “When you are on for so long and exposed to other people that have higher self-esteem than yourself, it can be harmful because you envy that quality about them.” Something harmless as viewing photos and videos online has turned awry through what psychologists call misguided pursuits. Teens seeking friends, fame or the “ideal life” will actively search for individuals who display their vision of perfection. These individuals differ from the typical celebrity in that their lifestyles are more relat-

Raised by the Internet Moments of our childhood have forever been immortalized in the form of codes and pixels each time they are posted online. From our first steps as a toddler to the final day of our graduation, all the important moments of our lives are being digitally recorded. The tech-savvy youth of today’s era are undeterred by the fast pace of this ever-evolving period of modernization and are instead contributing to its rapid development. Technology and the internet have completely consumed the lives of those known as Generation Z. While there is controversy over who identifies as “Generation Z,” this group has been mainly attributed to those born between the mid-1990s and late-2000s. This time period aligns with the invention and proliferation of the internet, putting Generation Z at the forefront of an era of modern technological innovation. A world of high-speed digital communication and information has been particularly advantageous to these 21st-century bloomers because it has entailed a world of vast knowledge that was not nearly as available to the preceding generations. Kids today have the privilege of curbing their curiosities in a matter of seconds. Extensive information about anything from Buddhist culture

to the history of chocolate chip cookies are readily available at their fingertips. Current high school students especially benefit from the advantages of a limitless online encyclopedia. “With the internet, we can look in one second how many moons are on Jupiter, a question that was impossible to answer that quickly decades ago,” said Noah Albert, a Van Nuys senior. Having such easy access to a limitless amount of material has contributed to the innovation and advancement of society in many ways. Growing up during the precipice of modern technology, Generation Z kids are particularly skillful in navigating the web and understanding the mechanics of programming. In turn, they are more likely to pursue careers in computer science and engineering. Considering that some of the most lucrative majors now are Computer Science and Engineering, their popularity demonstrates the direction that the projected workforce will head into. This generation of scientists and engineers will continue to evolve the technology-oriented culture that is defining the future. Since Generation Z children were born and fostered alongside iPads, smartphones, and laptops, they are tailored to constantly use technology to communicate their everyday lives. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter all rose within the past decade beside these individuals. Social media is defined as “websites and applications that enable

users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.” There are many disagreements with what is considered “social media,” but this 21st century innovation has significantly changed the way people interact and form relationships. Instead of waiting for a call on the landline or mailing a letter across the sea, picking up a handheld device to send a message in seconds has abridged the communication length. Some people may even say that our ability to stay connected with relatives, friends, colleagues or loved ones dwindled our massive world into a smaller, intricate web of virtual proximity. Global advancements in technology have allowed countries to attain and report news to publishing networks from their own hometowns, contributing more to the amount of information available to the general public. Information is also rapidly disseminated within online communities, creating a way to get news in mere moments. When tragedy strikes in areas of the world, media companies are able to transmit it in an instant. Despite the internet’s convenience, there is heightened concern regarding the overuse and abuse of social media and the internet. Attachment to such platforms has been titled “social media addiction,” a condition especially prevalent in Generation Z. While it is not a formal clinical diagnosis, those diagnosed with social media addiction are obsessed with social networking sites and apps, checking updates, reporting statuses and sharing pictures or videos, | April 2018

r Story



able and attainable to the “average person,” yet is still far away— enough to elicit envy and adoration. Some types of social media influencers make a living by showing off their bodies and lifestyles and branding it towards their audiences, such as Instagram model Alex Lange, Youtuber Desi Perkins and fitness promoter Kayla Itsines. YouTubers can also influence the way their followers think. Individual branding such as Jake Paul, David Dobrik and Nash Grier promote extravagantly expensive tastes and risk taking lifestyles that their teen audiences can’t compete with. “I used to follow a lot of beauty accounts,” said an anonymous junior. “Over time, I felt self-conscious because I didn’t look like them and I didn’t feel so beautiful, even though now I know it was just for that moment.” A majority of teens fail to realize that the “perfect” lives they see on social media posts are an inaccurate representation of an individual’s life. “The quote for this generation is ‘Compare and Despair,’ essentiality that people are only posting their best and sometimes their most fabricated moments to boost their self-esteem and lower others,” said Van Nuys English Teacher Mr. Aaron Stell. “It’s not only the intensity and the amount of images being put out there, but also the lack of knowledge students have of how much they’re comparing their life to others and feeling a decrease in self-esteem because of it.” This “Compare and Despair” phenomena can lead to depression and other mental health issues. Senior Michelle Omisore describes the effect of social media on low self-esteem and mental health in her Medical Magnet Research Paper. “Because of the altered reality social sites offer, they cause changes in a person’s mental health and well being, which goes hand-in-hand with a lowered self-esteem. Low selfesteem is a severe mental health disorder that can lead to depression and diminish the amount of confidence one has in themselves, which is a problem not to be taken lightly.” Low self-esteem becomes the arbiter of many other underlying issues. A study from the University of Pittsburgh found a correlation between time spent on social media sites and a negative body image. Those who had spent more time on social media has the risk of reporting eating and body image concerns, an increase by a factor of 2.2 compared to those spending less time online. Results from another study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine also linked social media to depression, finding that the more time young adults spend on social media, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression. The amount of time spent on social media is ever-growing. In a 2015 research case study by the Pew Research Center, data analysts found that 67 percent of average Americans use social media, a 60 percent increase from 2005. Along with this increase, 90 percent of young adults in the U.S alone are active users in social media— an 85 percent increase since 2005. “I went on a social media cleanse because it stressed me out so much by seeing how everyone else was doing in their lives and reflecting it onto mine,” said junior Zoe Rodriguez. “It really affected my mental health to the point where I decided not to use it anymore and I think more people should be aware.”


immersing themselves into the online world instead of the real world. The time spent online results in physical inactivity, lack of direct communication that causes social ineptitude and harm towards others in the form of cyberbullying and stalking. This type of addiction has also been compared to the likes of cigarettes and alcohol. Social media addiction has become a detrimental concern for many youths who allocate most of their leisure time to the devices and applications they grew up using. About 93 percent of teens age 12-17 and 93 percent of young adults age 18-29 use the internet, with about 88 percent of young adults from that age group using social media. Children even younger are being introduced to phones and social media at an earlier age than their predecessors, evoking further concern over this obsession of the online reality. Aside from this addiction, many youths in this generation are becoming increasingly indifferent to technology in what is called “phone boredom.” “Phone boredom” was a term specifically devised to describe the problems that Generation Z kids are facing. Someone who is “phone bored” would continually scroll through apps and feeds in search of something to satisfy their boredom but ultimately waste their time searching instead of finding something to do. Students at VNHS like Porus Karwa notice the amount of time they waste from mindlessly scrolling through social media websites.

“I realized I could’ve done some homework or studied instead of scrolling through apps,” said Karwa. “I believe people can be more efficient if we have less screen time and pay more attention to the important things in life instead of going through memes or watching random videos.” Both of these “modern” conditions pose a problem to parents. As kids and teens become more and more occupied with social media and the internet, they neglect other obligations towards education and family. “It’s a give and take because information and resources are more accessible with the product of internet but at the same time there’s a big potential to be distracted from your responsibilities,” Karwa further explains. Approximately 81 percent of the U.S. population had social media profiles in 2017 and about 89 percent have access to internet. Overall, 54.4 percent of world’s population are internet users and the amount is rapidly increasing each year. Whether the new technological age will bring about benefits or consequences, there is no denying that technology has already pervaded this generation. Generation Z is at the vanguard of the 21st century with their unorthodox perception of the world. They see memories in the form of digital images and information in the form of a Google search bar. Pretty soon, codes and pixels may be the only thing we see. ––––Khrista Sayo & Amanda Godfrey

8 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror | April 2018


A War on Boys in the American Classroom American schools are waging war on boys. Subordination, restriction and control is what young men are increasingly facing in the American classroom. Shamed and punished for their masculinity, they are silenced with a zero-tolerance policy MARGARITA that does nothing to accommodate for their HOVSEPYAN biological needs as to make the classroom more Opinion Editor friendly. This then starts a cycle of underachievement, with boys falling behind their female peers which increases the suspension rate and decreases their graduation count. This attack on schoolboys began in the 1990s when Harvard University’s first professor of gender studies, Carol Gilligan, declared a state of emergency over the demoralized state of the American girl. “As the river of a girl’s life flows into the sea of Western culture, she is in danger of drowning or disappearing,” Gilligan said, painting adolescent girls as helpless, vulnerable and troubled victims. If anything, in actuality it’s the exact opposite. Data from the U.S. Department of Education showed that girls earn higher grades, have higher academic aspirations, graduate more from college and follow more rigorous courses like advanced placement. In all aspects of academic life, girls outperform boys. They’re selected and favored over them as well. Works riddled with personal narratives and emotions, which women tend to write, are applauded and prized, while works encompassing action and adventure, in the interest of the average male, are deemed too violent. This disparity of interest in the sexes is largely a biological one. Men are energetic and active creatures, relative to women. Being cooped up into a classroom all day is no help in increasing their focus. The lack of interest and the excessive energy that boys have has also led to an epidemic of false ADHD diagnoses. By the time they reach high school, nearly 20 percent of boys will be prescribed pow-

erful stimulants, which have potentially deadly effects. And once again, the American classroom is doing nothing to minimize these problems that boys have to face. Instead, they implement a “Zero-Tolerance” policy that largely targets and restricts them. In addition, since the rise of contemporary feminism, males have been labeled a privileged and entitled bunch, thus resulting in teachers focusing more of their attention on girls, since males already have this supposed advantage. Christopher Marshall, 7 is suspended for picking up a pencil and using it to “shoot” a “bad guy”-his friends, who was also suspended. Josh Welch, 7 is sent home for nibbling off the corners of a strawberry Pop-Tart to shape it into a gun. Alex Evans, 7 is suspended for throwing an imaginary hand greFRESNEL

UNDER ATTACK: BOYS ARE BEING DISCRIMINATED AGAINST IN THE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT. Executive Editor Woo Han Editor-in-Chief Amanda Godfrey Online Editor-in-Chief Tyler Jung 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 nade at “bad guys” in order to “save the world.” What behavior are we to expect from boys? Boys have been rambunctious and playful since the beginning of time, evolution has selected this. Suspending boys for merely playing isn’t going to solve anything, it only creates more problems. However, schools aren’t afraid to quickly and harshly condemn boys. These are only a few of the countless examples surrounding the school administration punishing the boys for minor acts of insubordination. In the words of Michael Thompson, “Girl behavior is the gold standard in schools and boys are treated as defective girls.”

Is Rugged Individualism or Collective Effort More Important? “Greetings to the final contestants of the 74th Hunger Games. The earlier revision has been revoked. Closer examination of the rule GINA book has disclosed that KIM only one winner may be Staff Writer allowed,” he says. “Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor.” The contestants in the Hunger Games from District 12 pull out a handful of lethal dark nightlock berries. At that very moment, when they chose collectivism over individualism, the two contestants bade farewell to a luxurious, pampered life of victors. Throughout the next two books of the Hunger Games series by author Suzanne Collins, the protagonists go through strenuous, bothersome consequences for bending the rules—things that could have been totally avoided if they had just chosen to finish the other off. Had Katniss killed Peeta or Peeta killed Katniss, there would have been no need for a second book let alone a third one. Someone dies while another enjoys a prestigious life


getting fat over cookies. Happily ever after. As insensitive as it may sound, that’s just how nature works. Right? Kill or be killed, eat or be eaten. In a nutshell, this may be how the world works. But it’s obviously missing a major component: emotions and morals. These two are vital to nurture a more humane and compassionate society. A society that only encourages individuality is doomed to fail as everyone would clamber in havoc to be the best. In the midst of this chaos, distrust and betrayal are expected. Thus, working together and having a strong sense of teamwork is important. Collectivism focuses on the priorities of the group instead of the individual. Schools nurture a sense of collectivism through allowing students to work in groups. In an environment that encourages teamwork, students work together to accomplish the same goal. They struggle and help each other, building a sense of companionship. Not only does group work establish a sense of companionship, but it is also a time saver. Work can be evenly distributed to complete one task, making the workload

for each student smaller and more efficient. However, inside a group, there are separate, distinct individuals who each lead different lives and follow different values. This is where individualism, defined as the habit or principle of being independent and self-reliant, comes into play. At times, it’s appropriate to put greater emphasis on the needs of yourself over the needs of the whole society or group, especially during times of hardship. As students of America, individualism is not an unfamiliar principle. Along with the emphasis of group work, students are taught to speak up, stand up for their beliefs, and nurture their own individual thoughts--even when others oppose it. Debates are encouraged and every opinion is taken into account. This is reality in America and should also be a reality for the rest of the world. No voice should be ignored. Thus, along with collectivism, it is also undeniably important to have a sense of individuality. Society must work to a goal where each person recognizes the importance of “individuality” simultaneously having the compassion to work “collectively.”

Chief Copy Editor Stefanie Tyo Chief Financial Officer Yerin Oh Social Media Editor Aaron Mejia Staff Writers/Photographers Jackson Beckman-Smith Marc Cortes Jessica Eusebio Laurence Geronilla Kaitlyn Jung Bo Kyung Kim Gina Kim Seung Youn Kim Sara Kuchimpos Gwendolyn Langi Holden Mandell Allen Park Aliza Patel Michael Phung Ariana Rodriguez Christian Walsh Tyree Winborn Lauren Woolsey Raymond Yang Journalism Adviser Mr. Ron Goins The Mirror is the student newspaper of Van Nuys Senior 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 The Mirror, 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.

April 2018 |


tsyzhipova brings the fire in the ring as she sets her sights on qualifying for the olympics. COURTESY OF TUIANA TSYZHIPOVA

The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 9



With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in her sight, Sariuna Tsyzhipova plans to train this summer in Colorado for the upcoming U.S. team tryouts By DEVIN TSE The Mirror Staff



rom her local gym in her native Russia to the national judo stage, Sariuna Tsyzhipova is now living out her American dream. Tsyzhipova’s judo journey began when she was eight years old in Moscow. She started off developing basic judo techniques and underwent grueling lessons and training regiments to master them. It was then that Tsyzhipova would become wholeheartedly devoted to the art of judo. “It has made me more self-disciplined and motivated in chasing my dreams,” said Tsyzhipova. Her life took a sudden turn when she moved to the United States three years ago. A change in lifestyle comes with both struggles and opportunities. She had to overcome the language barrier all while furthering her judo career in a new country. “Adjusting to a new society was difficult at first, but the opportunities in this country was worth the struggle,” said Tsyzhipova. Her talent for judo began to shine as she entered multiple prestigious competitions. From 20152017, Tsyzhipova captured gold in the Winter Nationals, National Scholastics Championship, Junior

Olympic National Championships and Junior Olympic International Championships. Her experiences in the tournaments allowed her to learn from her fellow competitors. “Witnessing all of these judo masters and their techniques has been an eye opener for me. It gives me an opportunity to learn from them and improve myself,” said Tsyzhipova. As her trophy case grows, so does her drive for success. Her work ethic and strive for greatness have compelled her to train even harder. As one of the country’s top judo talents, Tsyzhipova plans to train at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center during her summer break. There she will work with the top coaches and trainers in the nation who will help her prepare for the mental and physical challenges ahead. Tsyzhipova’s ultimate goal is to qualify for the United States Judo National Team and compete in the 2020 Olympics being held in Tokyo. If all goes according to plan over the next two years, chances are she’ll be bringing home even more gold.

“[Judo] has made me more self-disciplined and motivated in chasing my dreams.”


10 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror | April 2018



The Mask behind the Plate


FEARSOME Twosome JOSHUA SON catches everything from fastballs to sliders.



aseball has always been part of Joshua Son’s life. Whether it was playing catch or watching the local team play, he was captivated by the sport at an early age. When Son embarked on his baseball career, he quickly realized that being catcher was his ideal role. His quick reflexes and exceptional handeye coordination allow him to react to a fastball at a moments notice. “I’ve been playing catch all my life; catching baseballs is second nature to me,” said Son. Now Son is a standout freshman on the Varsity Team. Although he shines brighter than his fellow underclassmen, Son remains humble— inspired by past VNHS baseball players. He is particularly inspired by three-time World Series Champion and Hall Of Famer, Don Drysdale. “Drysdale is the epitome of a

student-athlete and his legacy is a huge inspiration for me,” said Son. Son has made a name for himself this season, catching everything from fastballs to sliders. He also uses his quick reaction time to protect home plate, tagging any incoming baserunner unlucky to have been caught in his crosshairs. As his freshman year comes to an end, Son is eager to aid the team in any way he can, whether it’s improving his throwing accuracy or enhancing his physical abilities. Above all, Son is striving to become the best version of himself for his next three years at Van Nuys High. “The future is bright and I look forward to helping the program in anyway I can,” he said. —Arianna Rodriguez &Tyree Winborn

Essential on the Field


Giselle de rosas works hard to enhance her skills.


er skills out on the infield are impeccable. Her swings up on the plate are unstoppable. Encouraged by her parents, shortstop Giselle De Rosas began playing when she was 10. Currently in her third season for Van Nuys as a Junior, she has made multiple contributions to the team’s winning efforts. Whether it is diving or sprinting for the ball, De Rosas makes the extra effort to get the out for the Wolves. Throughout the grueling seasons, De Rosas has tasted both success and defeat. With every passing day, she strives to improve her personal skills to aid her team anyway she can. “Throughout the ups and downs, this team is eager to for the challenge and our camaraderie makes us

he setter is approaching the ball. He shoots to his 6’3” outside hitter. The ball glides through the court as the opponents stumble on their own feet. The outside hitter rises up and crushes the ball down the line. Point Van Nuys! With a new era in Boys Volleyball underway, captains Daron Excel and Jacob Lee are hoping to lead their teammates to championships. The two captains have experienced both glory and defeat throughout their respective careers and are now emerging as the new faces of the program. Currently a senior and playing in his third year, Excel was once the middle hitter for the Wolves. After constantly working on his passing, he has expanded his repertoire and now plays as the outside hitter, a position that requires both front row and back row ability. Excel’s height allows him to hit the ball over or between the block which has prevented most of his opponents from blocking him. As the season progresses, Excel has noted that the team has its fair share of weaknesses and strengths. “At times, we start of sluggishly and are unable to sustain our energy on the court. However, we work as a cohesive unit and our skill sets aid us in any given situation,” said Excel. As Van Nuys enters the second half of the season, Excel believes that this team has the capabilities to make a deep run in the playoffs and capture a championship ring. Alongside Excel, is star setter Lee. Lee has been in the varsity team since his freshman

year and has earned his captain position as a junior. Lee has contributed to the Wolves’ winning efforts with his precise setting throughout the past three years. Utilizing his court vision and deception, Lee often tricks his opponents with his setting skills. Whether it’s setting Excel or the other hitters in the front and back row, Lee leaves the opponent’s on edge whenever he touches the ball. With only seven league games remaining, Lee remains confident in his team’s abilities due to their strong work ethic and passion for the game. “Their passion for the game pushes them to work harder for one another,” said Lee. The early success of the season has also been due to their strong relationship with new Head Coach Omri Azarly who has played alongside some of the members years before. Although this is Azarly’s first year ever as a head coach, both Lee and Excel remain confident in their former teammate’s abilities. “He has brought a new culture and environment for our team,” said Lee. “The introduction of new drills has helped us improve on our fundamentals. He is open-minded to his players’ opinions and stresses teamwork over anything.” As the playoffs loom, the tandem team leaders are eager to push Van Nuys to greater heights. With a deep bench and a knowledgeable coach, Lee and Excel are optimistic about the team’s future.

Co-captains LEE (LEFT) AND EXCEL (RIGHT) HOPE TO take home championship rings.

unique,” said De Rosas. As the team reaches its midseason, De Rosas has been essential on both offense and defense. Her coverage in the infield has shut down incoming hits and the throws to her baseman have been precise. Her batting has sparked multiple singles and doubles which allows the Wolves to maintain their scoring position. Although her plays have been successful, there is always room to improve. De Rosas wants to focus on enhancing her throwing accuracy and her swing. She strives to be a dual threat on offense and defense with more RBIs and home runs. Ever hungry for a challenge, De Rosas is optimistic the team will make it to the league playoffs in May. —Tyree Winborn


April 2018 |


The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 11


Fortnite All-Nite

By MICHAEL PHUNG The Mirror Staff


ne map, one goal, one survivor. From “World of Warcraft” to “Overwatch,” players have managed to transform hit video games into pop cultural phenomenon. Developed by Epic Games, the company known for its works on the “Infinity Blade” iOS gaming trilogy, “Fortnite” is an online co-op sandbox survival video game that students of VNHS are crazing about. Available on Windows PC, Mac, Xbox One and Playstation 4, the standard edition of the video game was released on July 25, 2017. Players explore a large, destructible world while also building huge forts, crafting exotic weapons and finding loot to defeat computer-generated enemies. Their objective is to fend off hordes of monsters in the midst of an apocalypse. However, students are drawn to “Fort-

nite: Battle Royale,” mainly because it’s free to play. Released in September 2017, the game has a100-player PvP mode that introduces building skills and destructible environments while allowing players to experience intense online multiplayer combat. Although there are no monsters, players battle each other until the last one standing wins the match. Players are dropped via a flying Battle Bus on a giant map, starting with a pickaxe to break the destructible environments and scouring the landscape for weapons and tools. The game includes the ability for players to rig traps to kill opponents for loot or to hole up in fortified bases. The “Battle Royale” concept is being heavily praised in the gaming community as a last man standing game, previously seen in “ARMA 3” and “Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds.” “Fortnite: Battle Royale” also stands out because of matches that reach up to 100

players and the use of eccentric strategies to eliminate opponents. The cross-play system is what also sustains the game’s popularity. Players across different platforms, including Windows PC, Mac, Mobile, Xbox One and PS4 can use their Epic Games accounts to interact with one another. However, Xbox One and PS4 users cannot play with each other due to console incompatibility. Epic Games has taken it a step further by introducing a mobile version of the game. When it was announced early March, the company conducted an invite process that required players to sign up on the Epic Games website to be invited into a beta version of the game. Invite codes were sent to selected players on March 12. Anyone else interested in playing needs an invite from someone who has the code. In the midst of all the attention the video game has received, “Fortnite: Battle Royale” managed to attract multiple celeb-

rities, including Drake, Chance the Rapper and Travis Scott. Just like “Overwatch,” a 2016 multiplayer first-person shooter game developed by Blizzard Entertainment, “Fortnite: Battle Royale” has become a significant social trend on school campus, specifically because it’s free and easily accessible. “It’s really fun because it’s easier to connect since you don’t have to go on your console or PC every time you want to play,” said Jason Morales. As the students of VNHS continue to battle each other from their homes and campus, the hit video game manages to fortify social interactions and relationships. This trend is not without a downside. Because of its rising popularity, students are devoting more of their time to the game rather than to academics. “It impacts grades for the most part, but it’s also a good way for people to get to know each other,” said Joshua Kim.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Step Into The Oasis A

re you ready, player one? Based on the science fiction novel by Ernest Cline, “Ready Player One” is directed by Steven Spielberg, who is known for his iconic works on “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park.” The adaptation stars Tye Sheridan as Parzival/Wade, Olivia Cooke as Art3mis, Lena Waithe as Aech, Win Morisaki as Daito, Philip Zhao as Shoto, Ben Mendelsohn as Sorrento and Mark Rylance as Anorak/Halliday. Taking place in the futuristic dystopian year of 2045, humanity suffers from an ongoing energy crisis, catastrophic climate change, widespread famine, poverty and disease. To escape from their collapsing world,

people immerse themselves in the Oasis, the Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation, which is a globally networked virtual reality containing thousands of simulated worlds. The deceased creator of the Oasis, James Halliday, leaves a message for all the players: that there is an Easter Egg hidden inside the Oasis and the first person to find it will inherit his fortune and gain total control over the game. Wade Watts, who goes by his avatar name, Parzival, and his allies hunt for the egg and go through a series of clues and puzzles that revolve around Halliday’s 80s and 90s pop culture obsession. Audiences—especially those who grew up in the 80s and 90s—may be overcome with nostalgia. Aside from Halliday’s Easter Egg, audiences may spot over 120 pop cultural references from the 80s and 90s, including the DeLorean time machine from “Back to the Future,” Ryu and Chun-Li

from “Street Fighter,” the RX-78-2 model from “Gundam” and the Tyrannosaurus Rex from Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park.” Highly praised for its outstanding visual effects, the movie relies heavily on CGI to capture the beautiful virtual scenery and backgrounds of the Oasis. However, the film is not without flaw. The movie lacks enough character-relationship development, making the chemistry between Parzival and Art3mis feel rushed and unnatural. Despite the significant differences between the book and movie, the adaptation offers a fun, visually stunning film of a possible future not too far from our reality. ­ —Jessica Eusebio “Ready Player One” captures

­­ a not-too-distant future with stunning visual effects.


12 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

Arts&Entertainment | April 2018


Olyvia Baek, Paula Campos and MYA JULIAN sing “Quien fuera como el jasmin” with the vocal ensemble.

Singing Because It’s Spring THERESA NGUYEN | THE MIRROR

Darion Calderon performs vocal percussion in ““Never Fall In Love Again.”

Adrianne inda sings “Angel Eyes” on stage.

The Van Nuys High School Vocal Department performed in the annual Spring Concert on April 6 in the Donna Hubbard Auditorium. The show featured the Vannaires, Vocal Ensemble, Men’s Ensemble and the Bella Voce. Each of the groups presented audiences with classical and jazz songs. The Vannaires will perform some of the songs that were featured in the concert at the upcoming Heritage Festival.

Genevieve Rochblatt displays her vocal talent in “Shut Up and dance.” LAURENCE GERONILLA | THE MIRROR


Ms. Brianne Arrevalo conducts the “Bella Voce” ensemble as they perform on stage.

The Mirror: Van Nuys High School 041218  

The award-winning student publication at Van Nuys High School in Van Nuys (Los Angeles) California. Visit

The Mirror: Van Nuys High School 041218  

The award-winning student publication at Van Nuys High School in Van Nuys (Los Angeles) California. Visit