Page 1

Van Nuys High School | Van Nuys, California | Volume 103 | Issue 2 | November 3, 2017

The Mirror

Don’t want to get locked out of class? Learn more about the new tardy policy and check out what other students think. PAGE 5

Is it right that spreading HIV without letting others know is no longer a felony? Join the heated debate. PAGE 10

Running 70 miles a week is no easy task, but cross country track star Moses Moreno manages to do it through rain or shine. PAGE 14




Gun violence in America|A SPECIAL REPORT • America has six times as many firearm homicides as Canada, and nearly 16 times as many as Germany. • America has 4.4 percent of the world’s population, but almost half of the civilian-owned guns around the world. • On an average day, 93 Americans are killed with guns. • The average gun owner in American owns eight guns. • For every one person killed with guns, two more are injured. • There are nearly 12,000 gun homicides a year in the U.S. • Nearly two-thirds of firearm deaths in the U.S. are suicides.

The right to bear arms is the people’s right to possess weapons in their own defense, but who exactly is being protected? PAGE 7

STRANGER THINGS GETTING STRANGER The gripping Netflix Original Series “Stranger Things” makes a highly-anticipated comeback with a second season, glueing fans to the small screen PAGE 15

2 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

News&Analysis L.A. Takes Feds to Court Over Immigration Ultimatum Millions of dollars in federal funding is at stake as the Trump Administration tries to thwart sanctuary cities GAGE SKIDMORE




isagreeing with a cornerstone of the Trump Administration’s approach to immigration, the City of Los Angeles filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) in late September for attempting to force cities to enforce federal immigration policies or face losing funding. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court on behalf of the city of Los Angeles. “We’re suing to block the Trump Administration from unconstitutionally imposing its will on our city,” said Feuer. Los Angeles is a sanctuary city— limiting its cooperation with the federal government’s efforts to enforce the immigration law—and is currently the target of budget cuts that affect two programs which provide millions of dollars to fund criminal justice and law enforcement efforts. The programs are the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (EBMJAG) and the Community Oriented Policing Services Program (COPS Program). These programs provide states with federal funds regardless of the extra requirements. The city of Los Angeles has routinely applied for funds from these programs and has received $3.12 million from them last year. The lawsuit alleges that the Department of Justice has set forth terms agreeing to “focus” the money usage towards illegal immigration. The city attorney contends that DOJ’s new policy violates the separation of powers, established in the US constitution, which gives Congress, not the executive branch, control of the government’s available funds. Feuer’s lawsuit comes after repeated efforts by the Department to punish sanctuary cities over their immigration enforcement policies. Now, Los Angeles is faced with the issue of either participating in federal immigration investigations and enforcement efforts or sacrificing government money used for public safety and law enforcement.

DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley cited L.A.’s rising crime rate and commented that it was “baffling” that a city would challenge policies ensuring the city’s public safety. “Reversing sanctuary city policies is about more than enforcing federal immigration law by detaining criminals here illegally,” said O’Malley. “It’s about re-establishing a culture of law and order, where crimes are punished and people are deterred from committing them.” In January, President Trump issued an executive order barring sanctuary cities from receiving funding from the U.S. Attorney General and Homeland Security. A federal judge blocked the order in April, siding with Santa Clara County and the City and County of San Francisco, who had filed the lawsuit against Trump’s order. Then in July, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions attempted to target sanctuNEON TOMMY


ary cities by announcing new requirements and eligibility rules for participating in the EBMJAG program. Sessions’ new sanctions directly affect Los Angeles, which heavily relies on the funding from the program. Sessions announced new policies that require local law enforcement to notify the federal government before releasing anyone suspected of being in the country illegally and to allow access to local jail records. The constitutionality of these policies remains at issue as opponents contend that the policies would result in potentially confining nonviolent inmates for a longer period of time than necessary.

November 3, 2017 |

The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 3




Expected to Teach Without Benefits? By TOMMY CHAN The Mirror Staff


eachers are uniting from all ends of the nation’s second largest school district to protest proposed cuts to healthcare benefits that the The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has placed on the negotiation table. The new LAUSD School Board with a pro-charter school majority met on Sept. 26 to discuss the actions they could take to make the operations more effective and efficient. The central topic of the meeting was the rising cost of current healthcare benefits and what could be done to lower them. The current level of benefits that LAUSD provides for faculty and staff is known to be one of the most generous in the country, consisting of a package which covers medical care, dental and vision plans, life insurance and much more. All these benefits come at a cost, however. With over 188,000 employees, retirees and dependents reliant on the current health plan, LAUSD designates approximately $1.1 billion out of their $7 billion annual budget towards healthcare benefits. Decreasing student enrollment in schools is depleting LAUSD’s limited budget, as is the rising cost of healthcare coverage. Being a public school district, LAUSD relies on funding from the government to pay for salaries, materials and programs. The amount the district receives depends on the number of students enrolled in the schools. “We’ve been losing our [student] enrollment as the years progress,” states LAUSD Chief Financial Officer Scott Price. “But even

though we’re losing enrollment, what we pay for healthcare benefits continues to rise.” With decreasing enrollment rates leading to a decrease in government funding, LAUSD must find ways to make up for the shortfall. This is where the healthcare cuts come in. The district has proposed four different types of cuts that could be made to the current healthcare plan. They can either take away dependent healthcare coverage, the full family healthcare coverage, current premium-free care or the insurance plan choices. Janice Sawyer, the district’s chief risk officer, contends the district options are not just random cuts here and there—they have been carefully explained in detailed scenarios. If the option which excludes dependents from the plan were to be selected, the district would be able to save $434 million a year. Likewise, covering only the employee or retiree plus a single dependent would save up to $138 million per year, according to district calculations. These changes, according to the district, would not be be implemented without the consent of those being affected. Negotiations with the unions representing the teachers and district staff must take place. The eight unions representing the administration, faculty, and staff of the LAUSD schools met with the board to discuss their concerns and collective dismay over the district’s proposed cuts. They contend that the district management is top-heavy and wasteful. One of those unions, the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), which represents all teachers in the district and negotiates

on their behalf, is calling on the district to maintain the plans at current levels. “We reject any concessions” states a UTLA flyer protesting the proposed cuts to its chapters at over a thousand schools in the LA Unified District.

Teachers and staff participated in a district-wide, early morning picket on Oct. 11 at their respective schools throughout the district. “There were a lot of people out there and it showed a lot of camaraderie, a lot of concern, and that should LAUSD continue,” said UTLA Chapter Co-Chair Robert Crosby, who, along with his fellow Chapter Co-Chair Karin Byrne, coordinated the Van Nuys High School picket. “This will make it harder for the district to make these cuts. People should continue to be more active and more proactive in trying to convince the district that this isn’t a smart idea.” WHERE IS THE KING? LAUSD chief’s The reason for such immemedical mystery disappearance diate and unified reactions and Where is the M.I.A. superintendent of L.A. schools? negotiations are because health As of Sept. 15, the Superintendent Michelle King has care plans must be negotiated been on medical leave under unknown circuma year in advance. Currently, stances. According to an insider, she was injured these plans are negotiated for a during a family vacation, undergoing surgery on three- to four-year period with her leg. She has stated that she will not return to the current plan expiring in her post until January of next year, going missing January of 2019. at a critical time for the district as a pro-charter While there are benefits majority school board seeks to make its mark on and drawbacks to each side of L.A. schools and the district negotiates with unions the argument, there is no clear over health care. King, 56, has spent her entire career at LAUSD, indication on which direction climbing her way to the top spot after starting out negotiations will take. as a classroom teacher in 1978. She is known for Both the district and unions her campaigns to improve graduation rates and to have agreed upon March 22, implement Restorative Justice programs. Hired by 2018 as the final deadline to the school board in January 2016, she is the first resolve the issue. African American woman in her position. SubstitutIf the parties fail to come to ing for King is acting Superintendent Vivian Ekchian, up with a mutually-acceptable who may not last long if the pro-charter majority plan, the unions could take furdecides to install a superintendent of their own. ther action, like work stoppages, —TOMMY CHAN walkouts or even a strike.

LAUSD examines slashing health care coverage for faculty, staff and retirees What’s at stake:

Continue coverage at current levels until 2020, then cap costs

Eliminate dependent coverage altogether

Limit policy to a single dependent

Cover only part of the plan cost

Eliminate choice of plans

4 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

News&Analysis | November 3, 2017

District Smarter Balanced Scores Show Anemic Uptick “Overall, I have to say we all know we have a lot of work to do. “We all know the system is building itself, but our goals for student learning are challenging all of us”

By ALLEN PARK The Mirror Staff


lthough standardized test scores rose overall in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in the 2016-17 school year, increases were minimal and the district BOARD PRESIDENT is lagging behind in both state and MONICA GARCIA national achievement. Approximately 3.2 million students in the state took the California Assessment of Student Performance and OPINION Progress (CAASPP), Up Your Game, LAUSD better known as the When the Smarter Balanced was Smarter Balanced or first introduced in 2015, the state Common Core test, told schools that it was merely a this past year. practice test and would not count, resulting in the students easing The results of the up and receiving poor results. test are classified However, the state unexpectedly into four categories: announced that these first scores standard exceeded, would be regarded as the baseline standard met, stanfor all schools. There should have been a drastic increase in scores for dard nearly met and the following year when students standard not met. knew that the scores were being On the English weighed, but LAUSD only saw marportion of the exam, ginal increases of 6 percent in ELA 39.55 percent of (39 percent) and 4 percent in Math (29 percent). How is it that LAUSD’s LAUSD students scores in 2017 are still below the met or exceeded the statewide average in 2015 by 4 perELA standard, comcent in both ELA and Math? LAUSD pared to 39 percent is seriously falling behind, and it’s last year. time to step up their game. On the mathemat-

ics portion, 29.86 percent met or exceeded the standard, compared to the 29 percent last year. In comparison, the percentage of students statewide who met or exceeded the ELA standard was 48.56 percent, which is a decrease from the 49 percent of the previous year. Along with this, 37.56 percent of students across the state met or exceeded the math standard, which is an increase from 37 percent of the previous year. LAUSD chose to round up the increases when they published the results, while the state showed the values in decimals. “The state is releasing scores to the decimal point, as opposed to rounded, to ensure the utmost accuracy in reporting results,” a California Department of Education spokesman said. The results are displayed in decimals to show the small increases in score. In 2015, the first year of this new testing, students were told that the test would only be for practice, so it would be reasonable to say that many students did not take the test seriously. But the following year, even though students were to take the exam officially, scores barely increased by a few points. Many officials are discouraged by



these results. The newly elected school board president, Mónica García, says she plans on finding the schools that improved the most and applying their techniques throughout the district. “Overall, I have to say we all know we have a lot of work to do,” said García. “We all know the system is building itself, but our goals for student learning are challenging all of us.” Many critics of the scores men-

tion the lack of urgency that state school officials show. “We should absolutely celebrate progress, but it shouldn’t take 100 years to close achievement gaps. At our current rate in L.A. and across the state, that could be the reality,” said Ryan Smith, executive director of The Education Trust-West, an organization that aims to study opportunity gaps between students across the country.

New State Law Allows Schools to Donate Leftover Food to Charity By MARC CORTES The Mirror Staff


p until now, the district hasn’t had much of a plan to deal with all of the green bananas, lentil burritos and pint-sized cartons of milk that are thrown away by tens of thousands of students each school day. A new state law went into effect September that allows school campuses to collect unopened food items and untouched fruit and donate them to food banks or any other non-profit organizations.

Los Angeles School District (LAUSD) serves about 650,000 meals per day, but about $100,000 worth of food is thrown out every day. This amounts to approximately 600 tons of organic waste generated every week by the district. Schools can now open “share-table” stations where students can leave unopened food or beverage items that they choose not to eat. Food on share-tables will be available to any students throughout lunch time, providing additional helpings at no extra cost. The share-table leftovers and any other unopened food items that are not served will then be donated to food banks.

Van Nuys High School has been using the share table concept for some time now, according to Cafeteria Manager Ms. Maria Rodriguez. “Yes, we’ve been doing that for a long time,” she said. This law, pushed for and sponsored in the state legislature by LAUSD, is aimed at reducing the amount of food waste generated by schools while at the same time helping out the millions of Californians who don’t have enough to eat. Approximately 5.4 million Californians—2.3 million of which are children— do not have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

The homeless population of LA County, one the largest in the country, also relies on donated food. The law aims to stop tons of perfectly edible food from going to landfills, instead redirecting it to food banks and those who need it most. “I think this law is fantastic,” said LAUSD Food Service Director Joseph Vaughn. “It removes several barriers that have made it difficult to donate food”. Ultimately the new law will not completely resolve the wasted food problem, but it is a concrete effort to better address the issue.

The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 5

News&Analysis Get to School on Time or Risk aTicket

New policy will go into effect soon requiring teachers to shut doors to late first period students By MARC CORTES The Mirror Staff


ardy students will find themselves locked out of class . A new tardy policy requires first period teachers to prohibit students from entering the classroom late without a tardy slip, which will be given to tardy students when they arrive after 7:50 a.m. “We want to limit the number of tardies during first period,” said Principal Ms. Yolanda Gardea. “We want to enforce consequences to people who disobey these rules, but also


reward students who are following the rules.” There are approximately 100 - 150 students who show up to school between 8:00 and 8:25, so this new policy aims to significantly lower that number. Under this new system, students who are tardy to first period must go to a designated station: one next to the JROTC building, one next to the flagpole in the quad, one next to the music building, and another in the main building. At these stations, students show their IDs to be scanned into a new computer program and then they receive their tardy ticket, which is the only way that they will be admitted into their first period.

The new software will centrally track offenders and allow administrators to monitor the number of tardies that an individual student accumulates. Students will receive consequences based on that number, such as campus beautification, detention or even exclusion from school dances and other activities. Teachers will no longer have to track tardy students or monitor whether detention or campus beautification has been completed. The new system also allows administrators and teachers to reward students with positive behavior points for being on time and engaging in other restorative activities worthy of commendment.

What do you think about the new tardy sytem? PHOTOS BY MIRROR STAFF

Kristina Casillas

Luana Fattoruso

Jenny Nguyen

Natasha Puntmek

Andrew Blandon

Audrey Park

Erik Jose

Jason Oh

This new policy will help the school out a lot because there is a lot of tardiness within the student population. I don’t think that this should affect the student’s grades since their tardiness could be due to personal issues.

It is unfair and unnecessary because the students have their reasons for being late to school, such as traffic.

This policy is a bit extra since many students are late due to distance or personal problems outside of school. It’s unfair to the students who have a valid reason for arriving late.

It’s inconvenient because I live 30 minutes away and there’s always traffic, so I have to wake up really early. Even when I wake up early, some days I’m late. I also carpool with a friend, so we’re both late and it’s just unfair.

I would be at a disadvantage since I am regularly late to school, but I would be fine with the policy if it helps more students arrive to school on time.

It puts more pressure on the students to get to school early, not be late, and be better prepared for class. So in that way, I think it’s better.

It is a waste of time because instead of going straight to class, they would have to get a tardiness slip from one of the stations.

It’s very inconvenient. The first period teacher should be the one to monitor the kids who are always tardy and tell them to stop. If they want to make it easier to monitor these people, this isn’t the right way.

6 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

Features&Profiles | November 3, 2017

Benefits of


Kicking the chicken, beef and pork habit is a “veganing.” Animal products are known to hurt the environment and you. Is leading a vegan lifestyle the solution?

By SARA KUCHIMPOS The Mirror Staff


ehind every steak and chicken leg is a lifetime of windowless sheds and wire cages. Animals raised for food are kept from their natural environments, and the by-products of their processed bodies leave huge carbon footprints that have been proven to be harmful to the environment. Nearly one million people in the United States follow a vegan lifestyle—eating only plant-based products. Such a diet not only provides health benefits, but also benefits the environment. The driving factor for people that switch to a plantbased diet seems to primarily be animal exploitation. Vegan advocates believe that all sentient animals have the right to live free from pain, fear and distress. An animal product-free lifestyle allows them to stand in solidarity against animal cruelty. “I don’t believe that the few minutes I spend enjoying a non-vegan meal is worth the pain, suffering, and life of an animal,” said Maya Peterson, a vegan student at Van Nuys High School. “I don’t want to feel guilty knowing that my pleasure was at the cost of another living being. We were put on this planet with other organisms, and I believe we should stay humble and thrive together.” But the meat and dairy industry is driven by other motives, mainly an aim to maximize outputs and minimize costs, often at the expense of animal lives. Factory farms often cram animals into pens beyond reasonable capacity, resulting in unsanitary conditions that lead to disease and infection. Diseases linked to factory farming include E. Coli, Salmonella and Mad Cow disease. Campylobacter, a bacteria linked to a host of foodborne diseases, contaminates as much as 80 percent of broiler chickens—that then become chicken nuggets, hot wings and chicken breasts. Genetic modifications speed up farm animal growth rates and enhance overall product quality. Some animals grow so abnormally large that their legs can no longer support their oversized bodies. Nearly 90 percent of broiler chickens have difficulty walking because of these genetic manipulations. Unable to move to get food or water, these “superanimals” often die of starvation and thirst. After watching documentaries like “Cowspiracy” and “Earthlings” that expose the negative effects of the animal agricultural business, Peterson switched to a vegan lifestyle.

“All the information was put in front of me: the ethics, the cruelty, the environment, my health. It was hard to ignore,” Peterson said. She started out as a vegetarian, eating some animal products like eggs and dairy, and then gradually progressed to eliminating all animal products from her diet. Besides taking a heavy toll on the welfare of animals, animal agriculture has placed a heavy strain on the environment as well. The amount of grain for feed that goes into intensive animal farming contributes to the irreversible environmental consequences of deforestation, habitat loss, and the extinction of species—all to make more room for growing space. According to the World Bank, animal agriculture is accountable for 91 percent of Amazon rainforest destruction. Water and land resources are stretched to the breaking point to grow crops to feed farm animals. These resources that go into feeding livestock for our consumption could be redirected to feed up to 3.5 billion people in the world that don’t get enough to eat. Animal agriculture is not only depleting the planet’s

limited resources, but is also increasing the amount of methane released into the atmosphere. Livestock production contributes to nearly 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gases. Going vegan benefits the environment in many ways. If everyone were to just reduce their consumption of animal products, the human carbon footprint would become significantly smaller. “It’s better for the environment,” said Emely Ordenez, who also has adopted the vegan lifestyle. “The meat and dairy industry especially contribute a great deal to the deterioration of the ozone layer from methane production that comes from cow excretion.” Vegan meals are better for you. Vegetables, fruits, lentils, beans and nuts are packed with essential nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Although a plant-based diet doesn’t necessarily equate to weight loss, vegan diets tend to have a lower calorie count and limit certain food options that could cause weight gain. Restricting foods high in cholesterol also lowers the risk of heart disease, the number one cause of death for Americans. But poorly designed vegan diets can be harmful, intensifying nutrient deficiency and contributing to other health problems. Vegans are at a higher risk of suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency. Monitoring nutrient intake can prevent these deficiencies. “There are so many ways to get sufficient plant-based protein,” said Peterson. “As long as you are eating a wellbalanced diet, you will get all the nutrients your body needs. I highly recommend nutritional yeast for B12.” A well-planned vegan diet has also been linked to a boost in energy levels since plant-based proteins don’t require as much energy to digest as animal proteins. “Since I have been vegan, I have rarely gotten sick,” said Peterson. “Natural, whole foods give me energy and don’t make me sluggish like I often felt after eating animal products.” Many people are wary of a vegan lifestyle because they’re unwilling to trade their steaks, ribs and burgers for vegan alternatives. Others think a change in diet won’t be enough to reverse the damage that’s already been done. “Anyone can make a difference, vegans and non vegans alike. If everyone reduces their consumption of meat, our planet, the animals, and our bodies would still benefit. By decreasing the demand for animal products, the manufacturers will be forced to produce less. Gradually, we can lead our society into a more sustainable way of life,” said Peterson.

November 3, 2017 |

Cover Story

The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 7


Carnage Gun violence in America | A SPECIAL REPORT

A mother loses her young child, who was only 7 months old. A father lies face down on the pavement, instead of coming home to his family. Two friends lay motionless as the movie continues to play in the background. Every day, gun violence rips apart families and relationships with the pull of a trigger, and continues to do so. Many Americans have become desensitized to mass shootings and other deadly terror attacks, until it affects them directly or those around them. It’s time for this American Carnage to stop.

A Threat Shatters the Calm at Van Nuys High By WOO HAN The Mirror Staff


ma just kill everyone at vnhs.” With just those six words, students, parents and staff erupted into pandemonium on what was a typical Sunday night. A screenshot of a conversation—containing a school shooting threat—between an unnamed student and “Ashely Smith” spread like a wildfire on social media amongst Van Nuys High School students, and concerned parents frantically contacted the school administrators to find out what exactly was going on the night of Oct. 15. “I was up answering parent emails until 1:30 in the morning; I felt obligated when worried people were reaching out to me and I needed to respond to them,” said Ms. Yolanda Gardea, the principal of VNHS. Despite the panic, school was not shut down as the threat was deemed to be non-credible by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Administrators sent out several messages in the morning to inform parents that it was safe to send their students to school The messages also guaranteed that there would be additional preventive measures to ensure the safety of the students. There were a total of six police officers at VNHS

throughout the day, including means to carry out the threat. the two officers that are always Even if it was intended to be a on campus, Officer Carrizo and joke, any threat of that level is conOfficer Flores. Their offices are sidered to be a felony and students located upstairs in the main should think twice before making building and are often seen such comment. patrolling around the school. Ms. Gardea guaranteed that the The Cyber Crime Unit from school is well prepared for any threat LAPD also kept in touch with and that the safest place for a student Ms. Gardea, monitoring for any to be is at school. suspicious activity and actively “The most important thing is tracking down the source from safety number one bar none… You which the threat originated. can’t learn if you’re not safe,” said Ms. However, the damage was Gardea. already done: more than 700 However, Officer Flores has some students did not show up to key steps for VNHS students to take school the following day. if such a situation were to arise again. “My mom didn’t let me “The most important thing to come to school that day because do is to let your parents know or she was scared for me,” said an adult know, and that’s what THE TEXT THAT SENT ADMINISTRATORS Daron Excel, a senior who did was good about what happened AND POLICE INTO ACTION. not attend on Monday. this time. Students let parents and Not only did the absence of so many students authorities know immediately and we take these cause disruption to many classes, but also resulted in things very seriously,” said Officer Flores. a huge revenue loss for VNHS. In the event that the active school shooter is Student attendance is extremely important for standing at the door, Officer Flores advises students a public high school such as VNHS, as the school to drop to the ground, try take cover and make themreceives federal funding that is determined by the selves as small as possible. daily attendance of each student. There are many procedures in place, making It was later revealed that an arrest was made and VNHS truly safe and prepared for any such scenario. someone is being held accountable. “It’s all there and it’s perfectly planned and orgaThe threat was deemed to be not credible because nized. Everyone knows exactly what to do and we it was an empty threat— “Ashely Smith” had no would be in good hands,” Ms. Gardea said.

8 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror



Carnage Gun violence in America | A SPECIAL REPORT

Hands Up, Don’t Shoot! Firearm ownership has proliferated, but how many more mass shootings do we have to endure before saying enough is enough? BY KHRISTA SAYO


ulse nightclub in Orlando. Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino County. Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. The list goes on and on. Then in Las Vegas, Nevada, at a country music performance, a gunman shot down concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history left 525 wounded and 58 dead. Nobody anticipates the last day of their lives. Nobody could have predicted the tragedies that ensued. People doing ordinary things happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This raises the ever-deliberated question: Should stricter gun regulations be enforced? Some believe that the shooter’s actions could have been prevented if the federal government had dealt with this issue. How many more slaughterings of innocent lives must we watch for change to take place? Does the Second Amendment mean mass shootings in America really cannot be prevented? As long as Americans have the right to possess firearms, gun violence and resulting deaths will be widespread. The U.S. Constitution was amended with The Bill of Rights in 1789 to further protect the individual rights of the American people. The Second Amendment proclaims, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The convolutedness of the statement has led to a never-ending controversy. In fact, statements in the clause contradict each other. A right that “shall not be infringed” by the government cannot also be “well regulated” by the same institution. During the time that the amendment was written, Americans feared an authoritarian government that could impose its will upon them. But it’s a different world we live in today. Today’s guns are not the same muskets and rifles of the 18th century. Weapons have become more deadly and destructive than ever before. Easily obtainable firearms are capable of killing dozens in just a matter of seconds. During the era of the American Revolution, colonists faced a realistic threat from the tyrannical British government that was jeopardizing their liberties. When the Second Amendment was written, the founders were trying to ensure the security of the people against a potentially oppressive government. Some may interpret “a well regulated Militia,” as the military and national guard which already serve to protect our freedoms. Others consider the “militia” to be the people of America. Even today, some citizens feel compelled to defend

themselves against what they view as a potentially abusive government. But giving civilians the power to defend themselves from the government by bearing firearms endangers our society. Fighting violence with more violence only leads to more death and more destruction. According to Mr. Robert Crosby, History Department Chairman, the fear that the government will use violence to infringe upon its people is irrational. The founders adopted a constitution and vouched to further protect people’s rights by amending it with the Bill of Rights. Creating a world where guns are not necessary is the only way to ensure everyone’s safety and protect against potential danger. Those in favor of gun rights use the claim, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” While this may be true, giving people access to lethal weapons makes them dangerous. The guns themselves may not kill, but when they are placed in the hands of a madman, a killer is born. It is highly unlikely that the Second Amendment will ever be nullified. Too many are in favor of possessing firearms and will not agree to give up that right. With that said, further regulating guns—but not necessarily taking guns away—can be a step towards a solution. Tougher laws can still be enacted to regulate firearms before and after they are purchased. “There should be stricter control on guns,” said Mr. Crosby. “Buyers should get background checks and be required to register, and we should have more limitations on ammunition and magazine size.” At Van Nuys High School, we had our own gun scare in October. A student threatened to “kill everyone at VNHS” on SnapChat. A screenshot of the threat spread like wildfire, stimulating buzz across social media as concerned students tried to warn their peers about the potential threat. Considering the event occurred at approximately 8 p.m., students were unsure whether it would be safe to go to school the next day. Imminent fear of a school shooter suddenly cast as shadow over the school. A mass shooting was no longer just a story told on the news but a real possibility. And while the screenshot was thankfully deemed a hoax, such a threat is no laughing matter. The reality is that life in our gun-crazy country means that anyone can be shot anywhere, at any time. Such a reality might be terrifying, but such emotions can lead to action. A safer future for everyone means getting a handle on the problem before the next mass shooting occurs. Gun control is everyone’s issue because it directly affects everyone’s lives and shapes the world we live in today. Stricter gun regulations must start now. How many more families have to say goodbye to their loved ones because of guns?

In the horror of the tragedy 59 people slaughtered, the control heats up again BY H


tephen Paddock ascends to his 32nd floor room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel on Oct. 1, 2017. He has 47 guns inside. Below, 22,000 people crowd the Route 91 Harvest Festival. From his room in the highrise, Paddock indiscriminately fires, murdering 59 people and wounding 527 more. It is the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. History. As the facts and fiction about Paddock and this tragedy continue to flow, the emotional debate over gun control has resurfaced. Some on the left have called to repeal the “ancient and obsolete” Second Amendment. Others on the right have called for increased arming of citizens. In a CBS interview, California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) said that she can think of no law that Congress could pass which would have prevented last week’s mass shooting. After all, Paddock purchased all of his guns legally. Mass shootings have occurred in the U.S. too often, from Sandy Hook and Aurora to Orlando and San Bernardino. However, in the course of all these massacres, the only major gun legislation passed by the previous administration consisted of two laws which actually loosened gun restrictions. One law allows gun owners to carry weapons in national parks. It took effect in February 2012 and replaced President Ronald Reagan’s policy that required guns to be locked in glove compartments of cars that enter national parks. The other law allows Amtrak passengers to carry guns in checked baggage, a move that reversed a measure put in place after 9/11. So why, after all these mass shootings, has no major gun legislation been passed? Because mass shootings can’t be eradicated. Gun ownership is a right, a liberty and freedom. The downside of living in a free society is that the very liberties given to us can also be used for harm. The Second Amendment was created to protect the people against tyrannical governments such as Britain in the 1700s, against which the revolutionaries used their personal muskets to fight. To completely end gun violence, all firearms would have to be confiscated, which is a completely unrealistic idea. Strong gun regulations are also ineffective because people with the intent of committing a mass shooting will get their hands on guns, regardless of the law. In France, before the 2015 November series of mass shootings that left 137 civilians dead, Class A


McDonald’s San Ysidro

21 dead



Post Office Edmond, Oklahoma

14 dead





•• •

Cleveland Elementary School San Diego

5 dead

Standard Gravure Louisville, Kentucky,

8 dead


GMAC Jacksonville, Florida

10 dead



Luby’s Cafeteria Killeen, Texas

23 dead








Columbine High School Littleton, Colorado

13 dead


Atlanta Day Trading Firms Atlanta

12 dead | November 3, 2017

r Story

y in Las Vegas that left discussion about gun


guns, firearms restricted to law enforcement that cannot be owned by civilians, were and still are illegal. Yet still, the law wasn’t able to stop these mass shootings. On top of that, Class B guns—handguns with a capacity of 20 rounds or less, manual operation long guns with a capacity between 11 and 31 rounds, semi-automatic long guns with a capacity between 3 and 31 rounds—are only obtainable under the following requirements: the owner must be older than 18, be affiliated with a shooting range, have attended at least three shooting sessions with an instructor and have a medical certificate. The gun owner will then receive a five-year authorization to purchase and own Category B firearms. If more civilians in Paris were armed with Category B’s, which are ridiculously hard to obtain, then perhaps many lives could have been saved. Instead, people were hopelessly stripped of their freedoms, unable to defend themselves. If a government takes away its citizens’ right to own firearms, it can also take away all other rights. And thus, Americans protect their gun ownership rights fervently. Gun regulations do not work. “I researched the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia and concluded that they didn’t prove much about what America’s policy should be,” explained Leah Libresco, a statistician for the Washington Post. “Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their buybacks and bans. Mass shootings were too rare in Australia for their absence after the buyback program to be clear evidence of progress. And in both Australia and Britain, the gun restrictions had an ambiguous effect on other gun-related crimes or deaths.” In addition, people with the intent to kill do not care about gun control, they do not care about the value of a human life and they are not afraid of death as most of them kill themselves before they can be captured. Prohibition, whether it be alcohol, guns, or the recent opiate epidemic, almost always backfires. The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun. Such was the case in Antioch, Tennessee, when a man in a mask opened fire in a church and was stopped by a local hero who used his own gun to stop the killer, saving many lives. While guns are scary and dangerous, they should still be available to citizens for protection of themselves, their liberties, family and property. Nobody wants mass shootings, nobody wants gun deaths. But as harsh as this may sound, liberty comes with a price.






Red Lake Indian Reservation Red Lake, Minnesota

9 dead




Virginia Polytechnic Institute Blacksburg, Virginia

32 victims




Binghamton Army Base Immigration Fort Hood, Center Texas Birmingham, 13 dead New York

13 dead




Aurora Theater Aurora, Colorado

12 dead


Sandy Hook Elementary School Newtown, Connecticut

27 dead




•• •

Twin Peaks Inland Restaurant Regional Waco, Texas Center San 9 dead Bernardino

14 dead

Pulse Nightclub Orlando, Florida

49 dead


Harvest Music Festival Las Vegas, Nevada

58 dead

10 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror


California Has Blood on Its Hands with New HIV Law By HOLDEN MANDELL The Mirror Staff


overnor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Oct. 6, 2017 that lowers the crime of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV from a felony to a misdemeanor. The measure also applies to those donating blood without telling the blood bank that they are HIV-positive. “Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” said California Senator Scott Wiener. This is, indeed, an incredibly dangerous decision. California Senator Joel Anderson responded to the law by saying, “I’m of the mind that if you purposefully inflict another with a disease that alters their lifestyle the rest of their life, puts them on a regimen of medications to maintain any kind of normalcy, it should be a felony. It’s absolutely crazy to me that we should go light on this.” It is ridiculous to lighten the punishment for transmitting a deadly and chronic disease to other people without their consent. In the case of HIV, the disease can be easily prevented by avoiding the transmission of bodily fluids. Withholding such information could provide an uninfected sexual partner with a false sense of security. The intentional spread of HIV without the knowledge of the person on the receivThe new law protects nobody ing end should not except the people who are afraid, only be a felony, but embarrassed or just too evil not should be considered murder or to disclose the disease they carry attempted even rape. to their sexual partner. A HIV diagnosis is not nearly the death sentence it was before today’s amazing medicine. Before 1996, when new drugs were widely available, life expectancy was 18 months after diagnosis. Now, AIDS patients regularly live decades with the disease. Yet, HIV can still become the dreaded AIDS. Such a diagnosis is life changing and destructive. The long-term effects of the medicines are still unknown. Take the case of Johnson Aziga, a 52-year-old Ugandan immigrant from Ontario, Canada. He faces two counts of first-degree murder and 11 counts of aggravated sexual assault for having unprotected

sexual relations with 11 different women. Seven became infected with HIV and two have since died of AIDS-related causes. In a state that criminalizes the refusal to take tuberculosis medicine, why on Earth should the transmission of HIV be decriminalized? The law has lowered HIV, an infamous disease, to the level of other STDs such as syphilis or gonorrhea. Syphilis and gonorrhea can kill just like HIV and lead to other terrible maladies, but that is no reason to put HIV on the same legal level. If anything, other STDs should be raised to the felony level of HIV. HIV is fatal disease that can be used as a weapon. Legislation should not consider it a matter of tolerance. LGBTQ advocates have called the legislation “landmark.” Melissa Goodman, the LGBTQ Gender and Reproductive Justice Project Director with the ACLU of Southern California, praised the fairness of the new legislation and emphasized that HIV-specific criminal law has “disproportionately harmed people of color and transgender women.” Just because the primary victims of HIV have been gay men does not mean that the old law specifically targeted them. The old law actually protected gay men by making the non-consensual transmission of HIV a felony. However, the law should never be used as protection from STDs. Practicing safe sex and taking the appropriate measures to find out about sexual partners is a more responsible course of action. But the law should punish those who commit wrongs. The new law protects nobody except the people who are afraid, embarrassed or just too evil not to disclose the disease they carry to their sexual partner. Such legislation is completely outrageous and is a huge mistake. It is, frankly, a pathetic step towards tolerance and needs to be repealed immediately.

Armed Officers and Stricter Regulation: The Last Resort for Safety By GINA KIM The Mirror Staff


lmost five years ago on a typical school day, 20 young school children waved farewell to their parents, never knowing that it would be the last they would see each other. Dec. 14, 2017 marks the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. Just a few weeks ago, another massacre left 59 dead and 527 injured in Las Vegas— the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. There has been more than 1,500 mass shootings in the U.S. since Sandy Hook. This year alone has seen 273. News of shootings from across America no longer seem particularly shocking unless it is accompanied by a larger and larger number of casualties. As massacres become more frequent in America, many are calling for the government to create stricter gun regulations. But our leaders are deaf to these pleas, which forces citizens to take matters into their own hands. Some buy guns in hopes of protecting against others with guns. Still, other saner people argue for tighter restrictions. Many mass shootings have occurred on school campuses, just like Van Nuys High

School. It only takes one crazed person to cause untold campus carnage. Armed officers patrolling schools is one way of helping to assure a safer environment. In fact, Van Nuys High School already has two armed police officers patrolling the campus everyday. THERESA NGUYEN | MIRROR STAFF


“The school policemen are out at lunch sometimes near the flagpoles. There’s a police car parked right out in front. It’s not meant to be intrusive, they’re just here if we need them,” says Principal Ms. Yolanda Gardea. Undoubtedly, armed police give the image of a safer environment, but how do students feel? “I think it makes our school safer, considering our area isn’t the safest and we have multiple lockdowns throughout the year,” said Trisha Khaownimon, a student at Van Nuys High School.

Other students object to the policy. “It’s not a necessary precaution that we need to take,” said says Renée Garcia. “We shouldn’t have armed guards or police because it may not only increase the probability of more people getting hurt, but it will also affect the school’s environment. It might be more difficult for students to trust staff members and be open with them concerning their problems. The presence of more armed guards at our school will only add to the present problem.” But it’s nice to know that the armed police are here, and everyone has your back. Though other schools have displayed a lack of preparation for potential shooters, Van Nuys certainly is not one. “We have a system in place where all the gates get locked at 7:50 to 8:00, and mostly to keep people out and not the students,” said Ms. Gardea. “There is only one open entrance to the school and there’s someone sitting there all day greeting people that come in and making sure peopwwle get a visitor’s pass etc.,” Not only that, the school has also purchased extra security personnel and on any given day ten or twelve staff members, including the policemen, walk around the premises of Van Nuys High School to ensure the safety of the students. “This school is probably one of the safest places you can be,” the Principal added. | November 3, 2017

TheMirror 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 Chief Copy Editor Stefanie Tyo Chief Financial Officer Yerin Oh Business Manager Gina Kim Social Media Editor Aaron Mejia Staff Writers/Photographers Jackson Beckman-Smith Marc Cortes Jessica Eusebio Milly Garcia Kaitlyn Jung Sara Kuchimpos Gwendolyn Langi Holden Mandell Christian Naves 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 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 yoh001@, 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.

November 3, 2017 |



rance, home to one of the most well-known fashion capitals in the world, is taking a stand to promote healthy body image with a new law that went into effect on Oct. 1. Photographs appearing in Refusing to abide by this rule will cost violators up to €37,500 (approximately $44,000) or 30 percent of the ad’s cost. Social media has had a huge influence in promoting an unrealistic body image, especially for women. Fashion events, advertising and society as a whole tend to emphasize the ideal female body type as impossibly slender and fit for the average person, pressuring women to go to extraordinary lengths in pursuit of achieving ‘perfection’. Teenaged girls are especially vulnerable to this influence. With their unstable hormones, emotional fragility and susceptibility to trends, young women can’t help but be influenced by these unrealistic ideals. Unhealthy eating habits are often the result. Just look at the statistics. As many as 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from eating disorders. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), one person dies from an eating disorder every 62 minutes. “Exposing young people to normative and unrealistic images of bodies leads to a sense of self-depreciation and poor selfesteem that can impact healthrelated behavior,” said former French Health Minister Marisol Touraine. Touraine introduced this bill to remedy the out-of-control promotion of extreme body images, hoping to reduce eating disorders in the general public and protect models’ health. This is not the first pragmatic move France has made to address eating disorders. The French Ministry of Social Affairs and Health ordered in May 2017 that fashion models

The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 11

advertisements that have been digitally altered must state “photographie retouchée” (retouched photo). Corrections such as removing acne and scars, changing hair color, whitening teeth or changing the shape of a nose are exceptions.

Starved for Beauty. BY GINA KIM

must obtain a certificate from their doctors to prove that they are at a healthy weight. Failure to meet this requirement results in modeling agencies being fined up to €75,000 (approximately $88,000). Girlguiding, the United Kingdom’s largest girl-only youth organization, reports that 38 percent of girls from ages 11 to 21 have skipped meals to lose weight and 87 percent believe that they are judged on looks more than ability. But body image is not just a problem that girls face. According to a study by Harvard Medical School, almost 18 percent of adolescent boys are overly concerned with their body image. The most tragic consequences of the quest for an ideal body include starvation and even suicide. However, some advertisers are trying to generate confidence in those who feel insecure. Dove, a personal care brand, started the ‘Real Beauty’ campaign, aimed at proving that women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful. Celebrities, often criticized for following extreme beauty ideals and setting a poor example for their fans, are also trying to spread awareness, showing that they have insecurities too. Anna Victoria, a well-known trainer with 1.3 million followers on Instagram, has several posts showing that even though she is healthy and fit, she shares the same flaws that other people struggle with. Still, the journey to achieve selfacceptance is not an easy one. It might sound cliché, but the truth is that nobody is perfect. France is on the right track to transform beauty standards that are unachieveable to the common man. Gina Kim is a staff writer for The Mirror.

The most tragic consequences of the quest for an ideal body include starvation and even suicide.

12 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

Sports | November 3, 2017



Born to



Cross Country’s Moses Merino

His eyes are By DEVIN TSE and NAVES set on the CHRISTIAN The Mirror Staff


He is determined to shatter


He definitely wants to be the

top runner

in the Valley


vast group of runners swarm the hill. As they climb upwards, the wind blows against their faces. The sun scorches their skin and fatigue kicks in. A cloud of dirt appears. In the distance, one man stands alone, Moses Merino. In middle school, Merino’s peers doubted his physical capabilities. Taking the doubt to heart, he dedicated himself to proving his naysayers wrong as he persevered through rigorous training. Today, his high expectations drive him to beat his own personal records time and time again. Joining the Van Nuys Cross Country team


his sophomore year, Merino felt at home, quickly displaying his immeasurable stamina and endurance while gaining the admiration of his fellow runners. Even though his performance has been stellar, Merino knows he has not reached his peak. Everyday, he pushes himself to improve even more and challenges himself in his training. Running a staggering 70 miles a week, Merino’s peers and teammates consider him a “Freak of Nature,” as he leaves them in the dust. During cross country meets, Merino is thrilled at the sight of the competition, which brings out his competitiveness and drive. “The atmosphere is electric amongst my teammates,” Merino said. His eyes are set on the gold. He is determined to shatter records. He definitely wants to be the top runner in the Valley—maybe in the whole district—but

he is also a team player, hoping to see his teammates grow as the season progresses. Ultimately, Merino wants to qualify for the Los Angeles City Finals on Saturday, Nov.18 where L.A.’s cream of the crop high school runners will compete. But first, he’ll have to beat strong teams like Reseda and Kennedy High School alongside other strong runners, such as Jonathan Aguilar and Anthony Euceda. As the season progresses and the competition becomes fiercer, even more rigorous training is in Merino’s future, so he has to avoid any kind of injury. “Maintaining your health is crucial for longevity” Merino said. “At times of doubt, you must persevere through no matter what. Overcoming the pain will make you a better runner and allows you to cherish every minute of it.”

After a Shaky Start, Varsity Wolves Try to Regroup for Playoffs Van Nuys takes the field in the scorching summer-like sun. With them, they carry high expectations from the previous year’s successful season. The players discovered their own roles and weaknesses as they hope to aid the team in any way possible. But the Wolves started off the season shaky. Van Nuys would drop the first six games. Throughout this stretch, they showed glimpses of an explosive offensive capability. Unfortunately, it often faltered with misplays. The defense would intimidate the opposing offense in the first half as a trend, but would suddenly diminish as the game progressed to the second. Concerned about consistency, the Wolves were desperate for answers. Taking charge of the offense and finding solutions was quarterback Jessie Padilla who led the team with 88 rushing yards. His quick footwork allowed him to maneuver past the defensive rush.

Freshman James Ballin-Skelton joined of the year against Angelou High. Padilla rushing for 78 yards. Ballin-Skelton Van Nuys would be in a back-and-forth used his brute strength as he shed off affair as they continuously engaged Angethe tackles and stiff armed the incoming lou. The Wolves trailed 28-18 by the end of linebackers to gain additional the first half. However, yardage. Van Nuys charged down SEASON SCOREBOARD The combined Padilla and the field with a mixture 8/25 @Chatsworth 27-14 (L) Ballin-Skelton’s teamwork of passing and rushing 8/31 vs. Franklin 36-14 (L) took time to click, but brought plays. The drive culmi9/15 vs. Monroe 43-12 (L) much needed consistency to nated with a 15-yard 9/22 vs. Canoga Park 42-0 (L) the team. touchdown pass from 9/28 @ Sylmar 41-22 (L) Brenton Okereke estabPadilla. After making a 10/6 vs. Kennedy 42-20 (L) lished the defensive tone for 2 point conversion, the 10/13 @ Angelou 34-28 (W) Van Nuys. With three solo Wolves were ahead two 10/ 20 @ Panorama 30-14 (W) sacks and 13 tackles, he points 28-26. The Wolves 10/27 @ San Fernando 51-0 (L) created havoc for both the then scored with a late 11/3 vs. Reseda opposing running backs and rushing touchdown, prequarterbacks. Muscling his way through the venting a possible comeback for Angelou. offensive line, he overpowered and crushed Currently with a record of 1-4 in league anyone that stood in his way. play and a 2-7 overall record, Van Nuys will The Wolves finally put all the pieces start the first round of playoffs on Nov. 9. together as they celebrated their first victory — DEVIN TSE AND TYREE WINBORN

November 3, 2017 |


The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 13


A Splash of


Co-Captains Tyler Jung and Marko Mitrovic create a winning water polo team a game at time. By SHIMLA RAHMAN The Mirror Staff


laying water polo isn’t easy. To the spectator, it might seem a rather disorganized sport of swimming around with a ball. However, most of the action happens underwater, where players wrestle each other with occasional kicks and shoves to gain every little advantage they can exploit to score the goal. For co-captains Marko Mitrovic and Tyler Jung, the strenuous sport has become a platform to showcase their utmost dedication and passion as leaders of the team. By persevering through the early practices that begin at 6 a.m. and excruciating drills, the boys are driven to become better. During his sophomore year, Jung became captain, while Mitrovic joined him this year. Together, they aid one another, in and out of the pool. The captainship has helped them develop a brotherhood and a mutual admiration. Their synergy is evident as they execute complex plays and assist each other in commanding the team. Jung and Mitrovic have an incredible familiarity with each other’s strengths and weaknesses in the game, making them a fearsome duo. Despite their incredible skill in the game, both believe that true success and victory comes from communication with the rest of their team. Previously as an experienced swimmer, Jung was first introduced to the sport through its promises of rigor and a recommendation from his swim coach. Ever since middle school, Jung has been one with the water. Having gained experience from numerous coaches from playing for various teams, he sees the sport as a channel to demonstrate his physical aptitude. His desire to remain in top physical shape draws him to the arduous physical application that the sport requires. Water polo has also improved his communication and leadership skills as he develops close friendships with his teammates. Using his stamina and strength to tackle his opponents, Jung’s lean body moves swiftly through the water. Standing at 6’0” and averaging 3 points per game, Jung credits his success to his inside shots, where he uses his quickness to hurl the ball into the goal. When the physical burden of the game takes over and opposing players play dirty, Jung fights back by remembering that his teammates are depending on his positioning and composure to set an example for them. When he dips into the cool water, the



game becomes much more than a sport. It becomes an onerous challenge that builds endurance levels and strengthens team camaraderie. “It’s been a journey not only in the pool but in the locker rooms, on the bus, and during school,” said Jung. On the other hand, team Co-Captain Mitrovic contends that water polo is a sport that wholly demands dedication and effort. Think you can play water polo in a heedless manner? According to him, there is no way you can. Known for his strict conduct, Mitrovic always pushes his team to give their all in every practice, in order to be primed for games. Mitrovic outplays his opponents by interacting with his teammates throughout the game, making sure that they play in a coordinated fashion. Whenever he feels that his performance is deteriorating, he pushes himself ing the season as they struggled with to the limit, for the sake of the team. skilled opponents penetrating their His passion for the sport ignited durdefense due to miscommunication and ing freshman year when his peers influmispositioning within the team. enced him to join. He found inspiration However, they focused on one game from experienced teammates who urged at a time. Their greatest performance him to win at all costs. of the season was against Verdugo Standing at 6’1” with long arms and Hills in a triple overtime win. legs, Mitrovic attributes his notable The score at the first overtime buzzer was tied at 6-6. Jung responded performance to his height and strong with a clutch inside shot to Verdugo’s build, as he easily scores from outside attacks and forced the game to a secpoint range. He continuously works out ond overtime. his core and conditions his legs so he can Verdugo Hills produced a late goal play at his very best. in the second overtime, but in the closAlthough his gameplay is wholehearting seconds, Jung drew a penalty shot ed, his motivation to play is recreational and saved Van Nuys from defeat. and the water serves as a channel for his At the closing minute of the third physical skills. overtime, both teams remained inca“Water polo disciplined me and pable of altering the scoreboard. The helped me bond and form new friendWolves were able to draw another key penalty shot. Mitrovic, in a precariships with my teammates” said Mitrovic. ous position to determine the game As the duo prepare to complete their outcome, made the shot to secure the high school career in the sport, they hope game for the team at 8-7. to leave behind high expectations as their The season finished with a 11-4 win legacy. They hope to be remembered for against Kennedy, and Van Nuys would remaking the team from bottom-of-thefinish with a 3-1 record in league play league also-rans into division winners for and 3-6 overall record. two consecutive years. “Despite losing one of our key play-

The RIPPLE Effect

ntering the freezing pool in the early mornings is only the beginning of the tiring regimen the Water polo boys follow to win their games. Swimming and wrestling for the ball, each player is determined to succeed at all costs. Co-captains Tyler Jung and Marko Mitrovic have emphasized the importance of unselfishness with ball movement from the start. Taking the message to heart, the team’s attitude changed and the players were able to build great chemistry as teammates. “It’s an important aspect of playmaking...” said captain Tyler Jung, “...knowing how to utilize player weakness and strengths on both sides of the court.” Sophomore Nathan Oh and junior Meehan Chowdhury continually dished out extra passes to solidify the team’s strength in ball movement. Sophomore Jason Morales combined his speed and agility in the water to set up fast breaks and find open players down the stretch. Combined with the deadly accurate outside shooting of Mitrovic and the powerful inside shots of Jung, the Wolves had a strong offensive line, capable of scoring from anywhere in the pool and guaranteeing points on the board. The Wolves did not compromise defensive prowess for offensive strength. Senior player Emilio Go, known for his aggressive tactics, produced consistent offensive turnovers and steals. Senior goalie Hunter Davis monstrously defended the goal post, averaging five saves per game. The Wolves had a few setbacks dur-

ers this season, the team stepped up to the task,” said Jung. “Our defense became more solid as each week passed. The underclassmen have improved drastically and are ready to takeover.” With a successful league run, the Wolves challenged the number one Southern California water polo team, the Palisades Dolphins, in the City playoffs on Oct. 30. —DEVIN TSE and MILLY GARICA


SEASON SCOREBOARD 9/13 vs Granada Hills 13-3 (L) 9/20 @ Taft 16-6 (L) 9/25 @ Birmingham 16-6 (L) 9/27 @ El Camino Real 16-6 (L) 9/29 @ Verdugo Hills Forfeit (W) 10/6 vs Verdugo Hills 8-7 (3OT) (W) 10/11 @ Eagle Rock 19-4 (L) 10/13 @ Cleveland 23-5 (L) 10/16 vs Kennedy 11-4 (W) 10/30 @ Palisades 13-2 (L)

14 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror



The Mirror Sports Editor

O A Dig Into Playoffs


he Volleyball Girls took the season by a storm as they won game after game, eventually making it to the playoffs. Led by captains Alex Dalumpines, Lolit Aninias, Maureen Bompat, and Soana Manu, Van Nuys started off the season with a 5-0 record in league play. Manu was the focal point of offense as she totaled 70 kills and 24 aces throughout the season by attacking her opponents with cross court and line shots from the outside position. Alongside was sophomore Catalina Rodriguez and junior Kiara Gebert. The team sparked the offense from the front row, producing a combined total of 75 kills and 4 aces. The defensive duo libero Emily Tsaturian and defensive specialist Maureen Bompat had a total of 135 digs. Often diving for the tips and sprinting for the ball, both girls kept the ball in play for the setter and hitters. Consistent passing on receive and defense allowed setters Dalumpines and Lauren Woolsey to dish out many sets and combos to their hitters. The girls had a total of 201 assists with their attackers. The season got shaky when Van Nuys first faced Sylmar in a four set thriller. After dropping the first set 13-25, Van Nuys recovered and obtained a 25-23 victory in the second set. As things got intense in the third set, Dalumpines started dishing out setter dumps and standout freshman Aileen Flores accompanied her with 2 solo blocks. However, Van Nuys would fall short, dropping the third and fourth set. With a final league record of 9-3 and overall record of 15-14, Captain Alex Dalumpines is hopeful for a successful playoff run. “I believe that we have the capabilities and talent on this roster to compete with the other Division 1 schools. We look forward to the challenge and we are hungry for a championship,” Dalumpines said. Van Nuys faced Diego Rivera in the City Playoffs on Monday, Oct. 30 and won 3-0.


REGULAR SEASON GIRLS VOLLEYBALL 8/24 8/29 8/31 9/6 9/11 9/13 9/14 9/18 9/20 9/25 9/27 9/29 10/2 10/4 10/9 10/11 10/16 10/18

Granada Hills 3-0 (L) Alemany 3-0 (L) North Hollywood 3-0 (W) Canoga Park 3-0 (W)* San Fernando 3-1 (W) Panorama 3-0 (W)* Fulton 3-0 (W) Kennedy 3-0 (W) Reseda 3-0 (W) Sylmar 3-1(L)* Eagle Rock 3-0 (L)* VAAS 3-0 (W)* Canoga Park 3-0 (W) San Fernando 3-2 (L)* Panorama 3-0 (W) Kennedy 3-0 (W)* Reseda 3-0 (W)* Sylmar 3-2 (L) * INDICATES HOME GAME | November 3, 2017

nly one defender... Only one stands in her way to the basket. The player hesitates for a split second and follows with a quick dribble from right to left. She then floats the ball in the basket as the defender plummets to the floor. The gymnasium is silenced—the spectators are momentarily breathless because of what they just saw. Faint murmurs spread across the gym as they witness another ankle broken by Roselyn Poommai, known as the “Ankle Bully.” Entering sixth grade, Poommai did not even expect to play any sports. Lacking the desire to play with her peers, she often became inactive in P.E class. But with encouragement from her parents, Poommai chose to play basketball during sixth grade. At first, it seemed like any ordinary sport because she had no prior experience or any connection to it. But as time passed, Poommai discovered she

Her slick handles make all the defenders fall.


Bully had a natural talent and developed her passion for the sport. Basketball is a “safe haven” that provides comfort and satisfaction to her. She constantly works on improving her skills and her peers consider her to be a “gym rat” whom they admire. Always searching for ways to improve her game, she tirelessly improves her handles, jump shots and defense. Whether it is waking up at dawn or going through grueling afternoon practices, she seizes every opportunity to get better. In her freshmen year at Van Nuys High, Poommai became the starting point guard for the Varsity team. With mounting pressure and expectations from her teammates and coach, she quickly rose to the challenge, performing her role effectively. Poommai used her experiences in league games and playoffs to become a well-adapted leader of the team. As the team captain this year, she is accountable for leading her squad to victories. Being the leader on both ends of the court requires her to communicate well with her teammates. From finding the open girl and dishing out the extra pass, Poommai possesses the necessities to make her team better. “We should not be underestimated. We have a deep roster this year, and we will exceed people’s expectations of us,” said Poommai. Only one goal is in her mind for the season: to win a championship.

“We should not be underestimated.”



November 3, 2017 |


The Mirror | Van Nuys High School | 15

Going Beyond



rick-or-treating just got stranger in Hawkins. As people were preparing for the big night filled with costumes and candy, others profoundly awaited to binge-watch the sequel of the popular Netflix Original series, “Stranger Things.” Netflix recently released the second season of “Stranger Things” and audiences were, once again, impressed with a darker, yet comical, sequel. The supernatural series was created by brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, known for their works on “Hidden” and “Wayward Pines.” Set in 1983 in Hawkins, Indiana, the first season of “Stranger Things” focuses on the mysterious vanishing of William Byers, played by Noah Schnapp. Desperately searching for her missing son, Joyce Byers, played by Winona Ryder, receives help from the town’s police chief Jim Hopper, played by David Harbour. In their own efforts to find their friend, Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson, and Lucas Sinclair, portrayed by Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, and Caleb McLaughlin, encounter a young laboratory escapee with psychokinetic abilities named Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown. The adults and kids band together to face secret government experiments and supernatural forces to uncover the truth. Earning a fresh critic rating of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, the first season of “Stranger Things” received multiple Emmy nominations: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, and Outstanding Drama Series. However, things only get stranger in the second season. The second season explores the aftermath of events resulting from Will’s disappearance and focuses on the visions he continues to see of the Upside Down, the terrifying and life-threatening parallel universe that he was trapped in. “Stranger Things 2” introduces an array of new characters: Sean Astin as Bob Newby, Sadie Sink as Max, Dacre Montgomery as Billy, Paul Reiser as Dr. Owens, Brett Gelman as Murray Bauman, and Linnea Berthelsen as Kali. Unlike the previous season, which put heavy emphasis on Eleven and her mysterious origin,

the second season focuses more on the Byers family. Joyce is depicted as a more cautious and overprotective mother over Will, who not only suffers from his horrifying visions but is also bullied at school. Similarly to the first season, this season offers a variety of themes. Supernatural forces, the horror elements of the show, terrorize the protagonists. The setting of the Upside Down, a parallel universe seen throughout the series, gives an eerie vibe, distinguishing itself from the real world with its dark and foggy environment, overgrown tendrils and the absence of humans. The show’s ominous ambience overall is also conveyed with the constant thriller scenes and heart racing sequences that kept viewers at the edge of their seats. The serious tone of the show is balanced with comic aspects—humorous catchphrases and the occasional

one-liner. This comedic vibe mainly revolves around the relationships between Mike, Dustin, Will, Lucas, and the new member of the party, Maxine, as they venture into the mysteries of Hawkins. The complicated love triangle between Nancy Wheeler, Steve Harrington, and Jonathan Byers, played by Natalie Dyer, Joe Keery, and Charlie Heaton, still offers a refreshing spin on the show, aside from the mysterious plot. Astounding acting from the whole cast made the scenes truly heart wrenching and impactful, specifically coming from actor Noah Schnapp and actress Winona Ryder. Both characters develop an emotional mother-son relationship throughout the season, emphasizing their chemistry as one of the major aspects of the season. Each episode consistently ends with mind-boggling cliffhangers, giving audiences no choice but to play the next episode and continue the captivating adventure. The second season also takes CGI skills to the next level. Viewers will notice a heavy use of special effects, involving colossal creatures, more telekinetic abilities and—of course—The Upside Down. However, the aspect that makes the storylines of “Stranger Things” so charismatic is its time period—the 1980’s. In each episode, the background music was a playlist of nostalgic songs, including “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper, “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, and “Runaway” by Bon Jovi. As characters drive vintage cars and dress up in retro 80s getups, the show pays homage to older Hollywood movies, including “The Goonies,” “Stand By Me” and “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.” The second season of “Stranger Things” manages to top its previous season by including fascinating storylines, exceptional acting performances, intense horror elements, outstanding character interactions, vigorous CGI effects and nostalgic 80’s content. Although there has been no announcement regarding a possible third season of the show, fans hope that something still lurks in the mysterious town of Hawkins. The hittelevision series currently has a fresh rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.9/10 on IMDB.


16 | Van Nuys High School | The Mirror

Arts&Entertainment | November 3, 2017





here are a lot of laughs and it’s a great escape from what’s going on in the world today,” stated Director Randy Olea. The Van Nuys High School Performing Arts Magnet and Actors in Action presented the Fall Play, “A Flea In Her Ear” on October 19, 20, 21, 26, and 27 in the Donna Hubbard Auditorium. Based on the original French comedy written by Georges Feydeau in 1907, the Van Nuys High School adaptation of “A Flea In Her Ear” revolves around a Frenchwoman named Raymond Chandebise, played by Clara Pierone, who suspects that her husband, Victor Emmanuel Chandebise, played by Ian Foster, is secretly having an affair due to his sexual infidelity. With the help of her loyal friend, Lucienne Homenides de Histangua, played by Madeline Miller, Raymond ultimately attempts to capture and expose her husband’s “unfaithfulness.” However, all hell breaks loose as they face the fact that they sparked even more complications in the process. Divided into two acts, the play had a combination of humorous acting and a comedic storyline, and entertained audiences with an exceptional and amusing theatrical experience. —LUCAS SHIM



The Mirror: Van Nuys High School 110317  
The Mirror: Van Nuys High School 110317  

American Carnage: Will the bloodshed ever come to an end? The student-produced, award-winning newspaper at Van Nuys High School in Van Nuys...