Magazine Magazine Sport Volume 71, Issue 3

Las Lomas Winter Sports

Written By: Christina Chen

Graphic By: Jane Wilson

On November the 1, posters went up around Las Lomas promoting different winter sport tryout dates and times. Among these winter sports is the wrestling team coached by Charlie Hong, the boys soccer team coached by Kurt Adkins and the girls basketball team coached by Mavin Delos Santos. With COVID-19 restrictions more relaxed in comparison to last year, these sports are able to practice and improve more with the promise of winning a North Coast Section (NCS) championship. 

For wrestling, more relaxed social distancing protocols meant that the team was able to practice indoors. “Last year we were on the field and we couldn’t have contact . . . we were essentially doing conditioning workouts now we are wrestling,” said Coach Charlie Hong. Sophomore Devan Blackwell-Guevara said, “[It was] a lot harder because last year, there wasn’t much contact involved because of COVID-19 and other restrictions we had to do. We were outdoors, we weren’t allowed in the gym at all.”  The wrestling team had good turnout this year and Coach Hong said he was “ . . . looking forward to actually competing in tournaments and . . . having matches against other schools that aren’t just local like our season was last year.” Other wrestling team members shared similar things. Sophomore Gabriel Garcia said, “I’m just gonna go back and try to do my best.” Blackwell-Guevara said he was looking forward to “having a good season [and] the whole team doing good this year.”

Outdoor sports like boys’ soccer weren’t as affected by COVID-19 restrictions as indoor sports. Boys’ soccer coach Kurt Adkins said: “ . . . [this season] wasn’t a lot different. We were a lot more cautious with being masked in closed areas. We tried not to be in closed areas . . . we’ve got a really good quality of people . . . we’ve got some really, really fine soccer players.” Co-captains Zachary Miller and William Person both voiced their thoughts as well. Person said, “ . . . we have a lot more coming together that we need to do in terms of a team off the field. Because last year, we had a bunch of guys from the same club team, and this year we’re from all over the place. So it will just take a lot more time like getting to know one another and each other’s styles.” Miller spoke of a new tempo to the team this year, “ . . . the style of play has been a little different. A little less of, you know, big, strong, fast players and more technical players. So that’s been a little bit different.” Coach Adkins said, “ . . . the skill set of the players this year is different so we find a way to take the skill set, put it together. A lot of these players play on different club teams so they haven’t played together a lot. So I think finding the right way to play our lineup using their skill sets, their collective skill sets. That’s gonna be the challenge, but it’s a fun thing [that] I love. I love that challenge.”

Since basketball is also an indoor sport, it was largely affected as well. Varsity and JV basketball coach Marvin Delos Santos said, “this year I got two teams just like I did pre-COVID. [Last year] I only had one team [which] dwindled all the way down to 10 [players]. So we were barely hanging in there. I mean, we were able to do a five on five practice, but for the most part, very different.” Senior Kaya Toor added, “last year they were really strict about COVID-19 restrictions and you have to keep your mask on this year. They’re a little less strict and we can all be closer together. We’re more like a team, not as separated.” Senior Isabela de la Cruz stated, “this year, I think because we get to have the full court to ourselves and the whole gym, we’re able to focus a little more and just divide all our attention to just our practice and not get distracted.” When asked what he was looking forward to this season, Coach Delos Santos said, “I’m looking forward just to have things normal again. Just to be able to coach the girls the way I was coaching pre-COVID. I mean, having the mask on and them having to play with the mask, it’s pretty difficult. They’re gonna get tired and I just hope at some point things get normal again. And you know, we’re able to teach them and play without the masks.” Senior Kailani Reis-Weiland said, “I’m looking forward to just playing and having a full season because our season got cut short last year. Yeah. Just playing with all my teammates.” Senior Kyleigh Tibbets stated, “ . . . just playing with other people and being around athletic people other than just like my friends at school, so it’s nice being on a sports team again.” Although the girls basketball team was held back last year, they were able to adapt. This year, they are back in the gym and ready to improve even more.

As winter sports get back into full swing, teams will be participating in more scrimmages and games than last year. Although there may be more preparation necessary as compared to previous years, there’s no doubt that these teams will perform well despite the hardships of last year. Teams this winter will also be competing for an NCS championship, something that the previous season did not permit due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Boys basketball team responded after the magazine was sent to print.

Any missing sports didn’t respond to email request for interviews.

Opinions Volume 71, Issue 3

Hear From The Students: Mask Wearing at LL

Written By: Ally Hoogs

Graphic By: Sav West

The semester is almost over and COVID-19 cases are still surging worldwide. The main form of protection against the spread is wearing masks, which is dependent on each individual’s discretion and discipline for correctly wearing face coverings. 

At schools, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is high. The spread of it is greatly dependent on student diligence for wearing masks correctly while in classrooms. Las Lomas policy is that students are prohibited from taking their masks off in class or enclosed spaces, but when outside, wearing masks becomes optional. Junior Isiah Cruz commented that, “Policies regarding masks are typically respected indoors, whether that be classrooms or in facilities such as the gym . . . but the policy on outdoor areas is completely ignored by everyone since there is the widespread belief that since it is no longer a closed space, there is no danger.”

There is a big grey area regarding when and where to wear a mask. A lot of times, those who don’t wear masks aren’t disciplined or noticed at all. An anonymous sophomore mentioned that in the lunch line, “A quarter of people were wearing a mask, and when there’s lots of people crowded in one area, it doesn’t sound very safe to me.” They further explained that wearing masks in the halls and in the lunch lines are not required, but that “it isn’t very safe in my opinion, when there’s that many kids shoved into the line without masks on.” The halls and lunch lines can get very crowded and although some wear their masks in line, others do not, which raises concern in the majority of Las Lomas students for an increased spread of COVID-19. 

However, this apathy happens inside the classroom as well. According to a survey of Las Lomas students, conducted by The Page, an overwhelming majority mentioned that a lot of mask enforcement landed on teachers—a role that some don’t enforce. The students surveyed commented that some teachers don’t catch many students wearing their masks incorrectly, typically those who wear their masks under their noses. 47% of students surveyed disagreed with the statement that their classmates do a good job at wearing their masks. 49% of students agreed with the statement and 3% strongly agreed. In contrast, 98% of students surveyed reported that they think they do a good job wearing their masks. “Good” mask wearing would be defined as a face mask without holes covering both the mouth and nose of the wearer, but a lot of students think only covering their mouth is acceptable, especially when some teachers do not enforce good mask habits. Many students interviewed had experiences where their classmates weren’t correctly wearing a face covering, along with the teachers while they were teaching. A majority of responses mentioned that most of their teachers do a good job at wearing their masks, but some fall short of asking the students to keep theirs on at all times inside the classroom. Despite this issue, a lot of the mask mandates the school has put in place are enforced by the teachers, which is an overwhelming task when having to lecture and keep track of 25 or more students in a single classroom. This is still a huge issue at Las Lomas, as many more safety tasks are laid upon teachers- especially now during the pandemic- leaving an enforcement gap in one crucial area: mask wearing. 

Freshman Sabrina Le mentioned that she feels unsafe when “kids are coughing without pulling up their masks first,” especially when in close proximity to other students. Senses of anger and irritation were expressed in the survey from student responses, as a huge amount of Las Lomas classes are concerned about greater spread of COVID-19 due to improper mask wearing. Many students are apathetic about health and safety, which is understandable as the pandemic has been ongoing for almost two years. However, right now is not the time to fight wearing a mask. Students need to hold themselves accountable in order to keep them and their classmates safe. 

Magazine Opinions Volume 71, Issue 3

The Foods Dilemma

Written By: Brooke Killgore

It’s no surprise that the pandemic has brought several changes to the way we live and the simple tasks we perform on a daily basis. For Las Lomas, our routines followed the previous year’s block schedule with brunch and lunch sprinkled in between, giving students a period of time to meet with friends and enjoy their food. The school offered lunches through a payment system (incorporating those who might have struggled to afford it every day). If that wasn’t satisfying enough, the vending machines were placed around campus to offer students a more subtle snack to keep them satisfied. Yet as we were thrusted into online school, these food services began to change. Thanks to the recent “Free School Meals For All Act of 2021”, all Las Lomas students were given free school meals regardless of income. The vending machines, as well, seemed to upgrade their snack selections and appeal more to the student body with treats and chips we would hopefully enjoy. Though it was set to bring forward a focus of equity to the student body, many students believe that the lunch lines and the vending machines have become more of a luxury rather than a gift. Long wait times to even receive food made racing to lunch a norm and the vending machines only accept card or Apple Pay options, holding those without those forms of payment upset and questioning the need for them. To gather opinions and research, I sent out a survey to the Las Lomas community, inviting them to put down their own experiences and even possible solutions to their view of these problems.

Undoubtedly, students have been noticing changes that affect their capability to get school lunches because of the cafeteria line. Junior Ana Vázquez commented, “I think the Las Lomas cafeteria line is absolutely ridiculous. It should not be something that should happen in a school. I think the fact they made school lunch free is amazing. It does help people who have a harder time with food at home. But with the situation as of right now, the people who need food are oftentimes not able to get it because of the insane lines. I think in our work to try to make food accessible, we have made it inaccessible and possibly made our school more inequitable.” As a student who gets lunch every day from the cafeteria, I can share my own experiences of students pushing others up against walls and excessive cutting to get to the front.  It’s hard to feel at ease in the line because I’m constantly trying to hold my position to get food that should be accessible to everyone. Sophomore Sarah Hansen said that, “I understand that there is only so much that can be done to help with the situation, but more staffing would fix a lot of problems since it moves so slowly and I sometimes have to choose between eating and getting to class on time…the other challenge [for the school] is keeping the students’ lines organized.”” Hansen further explained that she is hopeful that the cafeteria staff is working hard to fix this problem.

The cafeteria lines aren’t the only change that students are noticing. The vending machines, which only take debit cards, credit cards or mobile payment, affect those who only carry cash. In the same  school-wide survey, 61.4% of student responses think that the card-only method negatively affects them, while 38.6% believe it does not. Senior Ayden Stevens, who mentioned that the card payment does not affect him, said, “They serve their purpose. [The vending machines are] quick, fairly cheap and [are] readily available snacks. I don’t really use them but more variety can never hurt.” However, other students see this issue  differently, including senior Sydney Ruzicka, who explained that, “I haven’t used them because I don’t have access to anything other than cash . . . If the vending machines took cash like they did several years ago, I would be able to get snacks at brunch or during passing, but now I go to my next class hungry which affects how well I can pay attention.” I am also a frequent customer of the vending machines, especially if I am left with limited options for brunch and lunch. While I do have Apple Pay, I have encountered several kids who only carry a limited amount of cash and struggle to buy something. It’s hard to understand why the district cannot provide another method for students in this position, especially since pricing is already so high in the machines. Sophomore Lucy Dell expressed her concern with this, stating, “I think [the vending machines]  are a rip-off. It’s a great idea to have vending machines at the school for the kids who forgot snacks, but everything is so overpriced and the fact that you can only use a credit card is silly” But the school cannot make changes immediately as the vending machines are currently district-owned.

But there is hope for change. In a Knights News Weekly newsletter, sent out by principal Sara Harris on October 20, it called for more parent volunteers to help with the accelerated growth of the lunch line. Harris also gave The Page a statement towards the running of the lunch program, “We appreciate the patience of all of our Knights and cannot thank the staff [enough] in the Cafeteria for how much work goes into this process.”

**If you’re interested in learning more about the “Free School Meals For All Act of 2021,” refer to “Free School Lunches in California” from Issue 1, written by Eric Wickboldt. 

Entertainment Magazine Magazine Volume 71, Issue 3

Winter Fits

Written By: Riley Martin

Graphics By: Abby Halverstadt

Las Lomas junior Sabrina Mintz uses 70s and 80s inspiration as a foundation (with hints of modern fashion) to fulfill her style. She’s delighted to delve back into her comfort area of baggier clothing. She said, “Dressing warm with baggy clothes is easier than dressing for hotter weather,” and that winter allows her to use “more bland clothes to layer with and customize,” automatically personalizing her outfit. She spices it up by adding accessories: “I also like to accessorize with necklaces and some rings.” Mintz prioritizes properly expressing herself through style and said, “I have also thought that by dressing how you actually want to dress rather than how you are expected to, you have more fun and feel more free.”

To Las Lomas junior Faisal Dickey, fashion isn’t just clothes. He said, “It’s a way to express yourself without having to use words . . . to really think about what you want for that day and work hard to create your vision so you can wear it proudly.” He believes that fashion, amongst only a few things, is something universal that can both unite communities and inspire the people within them. The confidence in self-expression can be contagious. As he said, “I feel more inspired to try something different when I see other people wearing what they like and being confident in themselves.” Dickey advises that an easy way to establish one’s confidence in expression is to have a staple item that they know they love and can feel confident in, and said, “Mine is a fluffy pullover.”

Las Lomas senior Grace Lindsay said “coziness” is the priority of her fashion for winter. She walks the line of comfortable and stylish, maintaining a balance between the two. When asked what aesthetic she most closely resonates with, she said, “If I had to choose one, I would say the Granola aesthetic . . . ” Her love of the outdoors and nature guides her style as earth tones and brands like Patagonia are ever present in her wardrobe. She said, “It’s more rewarding to be in an outfit that’s comfortable [and] cute, and I can do a lot of things like hike or anything outdoorsy.” Lindsay said, “Jeans are an absolute must,” as they fulfill her need for variability in her numerous activities.

Las Lomas senior Cami Tran thrives during the cold winter months because they allow him more creative license with his fashion. He said, “Compared to the unbearable heat waves of summer when I am limited to T-shirts and shorts, the cold temperature of winter practically forces me to dress for the weather—but hey, I’m not complaining.” Winter is his time to exercise this seasonal creative freedom. As he said, “I always love to experiment and try on different colors, clothes, and styles in my pursuit of being the coolest kid on the block.” Even with these experiments there are two items he maintains: jackets and necklaces. He said, “I always look to incorporate jackets into my everyday style because not only are they comfy and easy to wear, but they are stylish!” Throughout his journey of finding his style, Tran has maintained that above all else, and said, “When you feel that you look good, you gonna feel good.” 

Entertainment Magazine Magazine Volume 71, Issue 3

Winter Horoscopes

Written By: Josh Silva & Cam Lippincott

Graphics By: Sara Valbuena

Aries: March 21 – April 19

In a most merry turn of events, you’ll find yourself beneath the mistletoe receiving a strong whiff of the romance in the air, making this season a cause for celebration. But beware the spirit of Krampus, Santa’s sinister Central European sidekick. He’ll no doubt seek to punish you for innumerable past offenses, making your romantic fortune the only present you’ll receive this December.

Taurus: April 20 – May 20

This winter is a time to focus on your swag. You’ll be dripping more than the candles on a menorah with your festive fits. Your scarves and sweaters will be fire, and not the kind you’d gather around from a fireplace. This is your season to “sleigh.”

Gemini: May 21 – June 20

What better way to celebrate your zodiac sign than with the coziest holiday film of them all, 2019’s Gemini Man. This underseen action vehicle, starring not one but two Will Smiths, is an innovative 3D experience that must be seen to be believed. Ang Lee’s immersive visual techniques are the perfect present for winter relaxation. 

Cancer: June 21 – July 22

Unfortunately for you, Cancer, there’s gonna be smoke coming out of your chimney, and you’ll be as prickly as a pine tree this holiday season. Some chilly circumstances will bring your naturally warm disposition to freezing temperature, but try to thaw your icy heart and you’ll be able to enjoy the fiery festivities. 

Leo: July 23 – August 22

This season usually entails gift-receiving, but you have no time for free handouts. Presents from friends and family only distract from your 24/7 grindset. You should care less about stockings and more about the stock market. Stay hustling this December, and, like Santa, you’ll secure the bag. 

Virgo: August 23 – September 22

Look Virgo, we’re all about the holiday spirit, but that doesn’t mean you should go around dressed up in a realistic Grinch costume fighting mall Santas. It kind of ruins it for everyone. Also, maybe ease it up on all the whole breaking-into-people’s-houses-and-stealing-their-Christmas-trees thing you got going on. 

Libra: September 23 – October 22

Listen here Libra, you’re going to need to practice your fake smile this winter, because you will be getting a lot of . . . interesting presents, to say the least. You could say it’s the thought that counts, but with these upcoming presents, that’s honestly debatable.

Scorpio: October 23 – November 21:

As you wait in line in the crowded store to buy your last-minute gifts, you’ll reach into your wallet to pay, only to find out all of your money is gone. Weird how that happens. We don’t know why and how. But your money will be gone. Maybe you’ll get it back. Probably not though.

Sagittarius: November 22 – December 21

This holiday season, you’ll get no respect. Your dog’s favorite bone will be your arm! All you’ll get is rejection; your yo-yo won’t come back! Your psychiatrist will tell you that you’re going crazy. If you say you want a second opinion, he’ll say, “All right, you’re ugly too!” That’s just the story of your life: no respect.

Capricorn: December 22 – January 19

Get ready for your completely average winter break. Nothing remarkable will happen at all. Honestly quite boring. We were hoping we could give you a good or bad fortune, but all the moon had to say was, “Eh”. It’s kind of outstanding how unexciting this will be. But yeah, have fun being on your phone for two weeks . . .

Aquarius: January 20 – February 18

This winter, Aquarius, the heat isn’t coming from the fire in your chimney, it’s coming from the straight bars you’ve been spitting on SoundCloud. Your raps will be so hot that Santa will be mailing you letters asking for a copy of your mixtape.

Pisces: February 19 – March 20

Winter, what a fun time for everyone . . . well, except you. Why? Because you procrastinated on all of your work for the past four months and the semester is about to be over. Crazy how that happens, right? Better yet, you’ll probably spill eggnog all over your homework right before you finish. Try again next year!

Features Magazine Volume 71, Issue 3

A Cold COVID-19 Winter & The Homeless Community

Written By: Riley Martin

Graphic By: Makena Lee-Carey

Some have been able to partake in returning to “normal” lives amidst the pandemic. However, certain communities — like the homeless community — are not so fortunate: for them COVID-19 is one of the main factors in their daily struggle. This challenge only heightens during the winter. 

Before COVID-19, the illness and deaths of homeless peoples were consistent throughout the seasons. With the tight restrictions on emergency shelters regarding capacity and notable distance between them and homeless camps, the unhoused community was left facing the dangers of the cold during the pandemic. As stated by the Climate Data Organization, Walnut Creek’s average daily temperatures during the winter months of December, January, and February are as follows: 47.9°F, 47.4°F and 49.2°F. With even lower minimal daily temperatures hovering around 41°F during these months, proponents of the unhoused community say that the importance of seasonally appropriate donations are more important now than ever.

Homeless shelters are doing what they can with recently loosened capacity restrictions in order to provide more unhoused people a shelter for these cold temperatures. Residents of the community can still help by donating. When I spoke to Leslie Gleason, executive director of the Trinity Center in Walnut Creek which serves as a nonresidential facility to serve both the homeless and people with lower incomes in Contra Costa County, she outlined some in-demand items during this time. She said, “Donations of seasonable, clean clothing like sweaters, jackets, and coats to organizations like Trinity Center help people living unsheltered navigate through the winter months when weather can be so unpredictable. They know that they can come here while we are open and select what they need to stay warm and dry.” 

Fortunately, the community stepped up in a big way in Gleason’s view, “Trinity Center has always counted on the generosity of the community to meet the urgent needs of those we serve, and never has this support [been] more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic. From hand-sanitizer to home-made masks in the early months, through timely donations of shoes, socks, underwear and warm clothes, the community has stepped up, and this means so much to us to know that our neighbors are thinking about our members with care and compassion, and taking action to keep them safe and warm!” 

One of the contributors of this support is Las Lomas senior Sandra Safein. Both her and her family have a philosophy regarding possessions, especially clothes as she noted, “…we never throw out anything we can use and if we don’t use it then we give it to our friends or donate it to either a shelter or a thrift store.” She goes on to say, “…it isn’t a matter of donating more during the winter months, but where the donations go is what varies. We try to give more to shelters during the winter months while during seasons like spring and summer we donate more to thrift stores.  Whenever any of us find something we do not use or wear any more, we place it in the designated bags in our garage until they are full enough to take to a shelter or thrift store.” Her family keeps to a consistent cycle of donating; typically making a trip  every month and a half-to-two months. 

Although Safein does not equate her experience to those without homes, she urged a personal note, “…my family has truly benefited from thrift stores and second-hand stores in the past and so I think we know what it means to people to get clothes that others won’t use for a reasonable price. We know that someone else can truly enjoy or feel good with clothes or items that we just throw in the back of our closets.” This mentality is the support and compassion of which Gleason spoke. 

It is important to note that Gleason also spoke about infrastructural donations. She said, “…donated items get right into the hands that need them, and limited storage means that we do not have ‘reserves’ on hand for emerging needs, so financial donations of any size are also important to keep our ‘infrastructure’ solid so we can effectively and immediately connect the generosity of the community with those facing challenges and help build pathways forward.” 

Winter months amidst a pandemic necessitate help from residents of the community in the form of  donations to supply shelters like our own Trinity Center, so they can get to and help those in need. 

Features Magazine Volume 71, Issue 3

Campus Makeover

Written By: Katharine Chi

Graphic By: Yiying Zhang

A student spends a majority of their days at school. Every day, students, staff, parents, alumni and visitors view the colors, lights, hallways, windows, signs and plants of the campus. Las Lomas senior Jasmine Ornelas said, “A school environment has the ability to encourage a conversation among students, to inspire creativity, [and] to become a safe space and to motivate.” The moment a student enters the school campus, the exterior is the first to be seen. During the summer, new landscaping was installed on campus, along with new roofing and plumbing. The main focus was incorporating more nature and improving the gardens at school. In November, Principal Sara Harris organized a Community Planning Meeting to discuss possible changes to the school campus. The meeting was for students to voice their thoughts and hopes on what they sought to see in the school’s exterior appearance.

The Community Planning Meeting occurred on Monday, November 8. Harris encouraged students to participate and collaborate in the blue-printing process. After school on this day, anyone concerned about the exterior campus environment was given the opportunity to meet with Harris to walk around the campus and take notes on possible updates. Harris said, “I need volunteers, why not include them in the process? I opened it up, put it in Knights News, and talked to organizations. I had a piece of paper and I was just jotting down notes. I envision painting some of the gates, adding murals, and making it feel more like a community. Overall, we had a great turnout.” Harris added that she wanted the community to have a say in the process of revamping the campus and improving its infrastructure.

 The open meeting included a walk around the school and brainstorming visions for the possible future. After the meeting, Harris said, “[participants] really opened my mind to areas around campus where they find a need, which I would not have ever noticed.” With the community being able to participate in the brainstorming meeting, students were able to initiate a change to the school and voice their opinions. According to Harris, she hoped students, staff, and parents would work together and improve the campus based on their personal experience.

The physical environment can influence the way students feel and learn. Las Lomas senior Laila Siegel said, “I’m excited to see more flowers on campus and see more vibrant greenery as I walk to my classes. I enjoy the nature aspect and the ability to spend time with my friends outdoors. I look forward to the beautification of the campus.” Along with adding new flowers and bushes, Harris said, “ I think that it goes a long way into people’s emotions. Instead of just saying, that’s broken or that hasn’t worked in years, why doesn’t it work? Let’s fix it. Let’s collectively work together.” The meeting plans for improvements to damaged parts of the campus and fixing issues previously left untouched. Harris hopes improving the campus will encourage a sense of community and union among Knights. 

On next steps, Harris said, “I filled out the contract, and sent it to the district office. Once they get back to me, the parents who came and the students that are in my committee will be emailed back. Then, I’ll start posting on Knights News. If you want to volunteer, we’ll be here on this day and start working as a community.” If the proposal is approved by the district, there will be dates on which to volunteer and start implementing these new ideas. Students who volunteer will also qualify for community service hours.

As evidenced by the campus beautification meeting, there is a vision to improve the school’s aesthetic and overall appearance. With the changing appearance of the school campus and the meeting initiating more changes, Las Lomas Knights can plan to see the campus’s new, fresh look. The campus beautification does not mean a loss in memories, but an improved environment where Knights can look back at and reflect on the past. If anyone has any feedback they would like to voice regarding the school campus, feel free to send an email to Principal Harris. 

Magazine News Volume 71, Issue 3

Standardized Testing

Written By: Eric Wickboldt

Graphic By: Luke Theodossy

Most United States colleges examine a variety of factors in order to choose which undergraduate students to admit. These factors often include grade point average, extracurricular activities and recognitions as well as one or more prompt-based essays. Additionally, for over half a century, nearly all United States schools have factored in or required standardized testing scores for undergraduate admissions. These tests are most commonly the SAT or ACT.

However, many have questioned the use of these tests. During the last two year’s undergraduate admissions, numerous colleges made the submission of standardized test scores optional, noting that testing dates have been disrupted and students’ abilities to attend the tests has been hindered by the pandemic. Now, the limited accessibility of standardized tests has resurfaced ongoing arguments regarding the tests’ ability to accurately measure mental aptitude as well as the equity or fairness of factoring them into college admissions. 

In a poll sent to the Las Lomas student body regarding how the SAT and ACT tests should factor into four-year college admissions, 52.6% of respondents answered that the tests should be a factor in the admissions process but that they should be optional, and 44.7% of the respondents answered that the tests should not be required or a factor in the admissions process at all. The final 2.6% answered that the tests should be a requirement and a factor in four-year college admissions. Despite these numbers, students were still inclined to take the SAT or ACT, with 81.1% of respondents answering that they had taken or planned to take one of the tests with the remaining 18.9% answering that they did not plan on taking either of the tests but were still applying to a four-year college.

Las Lomas counselor Michael Constantin offered some of his thoughts on the value of the SAT and ACT tests: “I believe SAT and ACT do hold some value in indicating one’s preparedness for college. It can also act as a marker on a person’s ability to perform on standardized tests. However, there has been a lot of rightful talk on how equitable these types of tests truly are.” When asked about how these tests should factor into admissions and how four-year colleges should make admissions decisions, Constantin stated that, “I do like the fact that beyond grades and tests, colleges are looking for other attributes like extra-curricular activities (sports, clubs, volunteer work, etc.) and also using personal essays to understand more about the human side of potential students . . . I think giving students ways to share who they are and what they can bring to their potential school is very important.”

Additionally, Las Lomas students responded to similar questions regarding the value of the SAT and ACT and how they factor into college admissions. Sophomore Ellery Brownlee stated, “The SATs and ACTs test for academic smarts, whereas there are a lot of different ways that you can be smart, such as emotionally, socially, etc. It also does not factor in the stresses and even panic that comes along with taking a huge test . . . This can result in scoring lower test scores. It also doesn’t really take into account developmental and academic differences, such as ADHD, anxiety, or really being neurodivergent in any way.”

When asked whether the SAT or ACT are effective indicators of mental aptitude, senior Eric Du stated, “They are not necessarily an effective indicator of intelligence, they can be an indicator of how persistent one is.” He went on to state, “They should not play the primary role in admissions decisions, but should still play a role. Any objective standard can be a useful benchmark for comparing different students . . . [colleges] should admit applicants from a holistic standpoint: just like most colleges are doing now, factoring many different aspects of the student.”

Senior Ayden Stevens wrote that there should be an alternative to the tests: “I much prefer large research papers and believe they are a better way to not only show someone’s understanding or skill in a topic but to get actual insight on the writer. A test does not show any individuality which is ridiculous considering individuality should be a principal factor in college admissions.”

While debate over the impartiality of standardized testing continues, it is up to individual colleges and college systems to determine how to factor standardized tests into college admissions. The University of California system are some of the most sought-after schools to abandon the SAT and ACT, voting not to factor the tests into admissions decisions this year after pressure from a 2019 lawsuit, the settlement of which reaffirmed the school system’s decision last May by preventing it from using the scores when deciding who to admit. 

Mr. Constantin email interview

Hi Eric,

Here are some of my thoughts:

1. I believe SAT and ACT do hold some value in indicating one’s preparedness for college. It can also act as a marker on a person’s ability to perform on standardized tests. However, there has been a lot of rightful talk on how equitable these types of tests truly are. I think there needs to be continued conversation around this.

2. As you may know CSU and UC applications are currently not using these tests in determining acceptance. I believe over 2/3 of colleges are making reporting scores optional. I do like the fact that beyond grades and tests, colleges are looking for other attributes like extra-curricular activities (sports, clubs, volunteer work, etc) and also using personal essays to understand more about the human side of potential student. I also feel this needs to be examined as well for equity. 

3. I think grades are always going to be used in determining potential students. I think giving students ways to share who they are and what they can bring to their potential school is very important. 

Maybe we also need to think more outside the box to determining who or who may not be accepted into a college. I am open to ideas as long as we look at it through a lens of equity and fairness.

Thank you,

Mr. Constantin