Features Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 7

How will online learning affect grades?

Graphic by Susan Rahimi

Like it or not, all signs are showing that online learning is most likely going to stay for the rest of the school year, however, it has only been confirmed through May 1. This means all quizzes and tests are going to be taken at home on the computer. 

This is making many students wonder about their grades, especially since many students rely on academy time and general class time to get help from their teachers. Fortunately, Zoom meetings and other forms of communication between students and teachers can help this problem. Sophomore David Farell said he was not worried about his grades dropping during distance learning “ because apparently, it’s going to be pass or fail 4th quarter grades, so it won’t matter.”

 Acalanes Union High School District is going to be lenient with grades during the second semester, proven in an official document emailed to students and parents, the district said the following: 

“AUHSD is modifying grading practices for the 4th Quarter of the 2019-2020 school year:

  • Overall 4th Quarter Grades — Students will not earn an overall letter grade for the 4th Quarter; instead, they will receive “Credit” (CR) or “No Credit” (NC). 
  • Second semester grades will be recorded as  Credit/No Credit grades. These guidelines may be revised – please see “Future Considerations” below.”

In a follow-up email sent a day later, Associate Principal Aida Glimme said the district is looking towards flexible options such as, “Allowing students to select a letter grade or credit. This letter grade may be the grade from their 3rd quarter.” Glimme also said,  “Should we return to school with significant time left, we could go back to letter grade policy. We do not know the length of school closure; therefore, we have to stay flexible regarding our plans and guidelines.”

Magazine News Sport Volume 69, Issue 6

Boys’ Volleyball

Photography by Jackie Veliz

The Las Lomas boys volleyball team has begun their new season. Last season the team was extremely successful and was ranked by MaxPreps as the 91st best team in California. Last year’s squad was 17-12 and ended up with the 4th seed in the second division in the NCS (North Coast Section) playoffs. They ended the season with a loss to Northgate in the NCS semi-finals, Northgate is one of the best boys volleyball programs in the entire country. The Las Lomas vs Northgate battle of the creek games are always something to look forward too, “This year I am really looking forward to the Northgate vs Las Lomas because our teams seem to be matched up very well with each other.  Both the Northgate and Las Lomas teams have excellent hitters that will play a very big factor in whether either of us win or not, but anyway it will be a spectacular game to be a part of,” said Las Lomas freshman Michael Wood. The team played an extremely tough schedule last season and they will again this season, as the league they play in includes some incredibly good teams such as Acalanes, Campolindo, and Northgate.

This season started with a matchup against Miramonte High School in the Deer Valley tournament, in which they easily handed them the loss by winning every set. They would win every set for the next 5 games as they went on a six-game winning streak to start the season and take home the tournament trophy. “Well the volleyball team has been a lot of fun and everyone on the team is very nice and fun to be around.  The team definitely has a lot of potential to be the best around…” said Wood. In high school volleyball, the teams play in “sets”, not quarters and the first to reach 25 points and lead by 2 wins the set.

 Last season the team did not find much success in league play only going winning 2 games out of 8. The team will start their league matches on March 26 when they play at College Park, which is a team who had lots of struggles last year, but the Knights can”t take them lightly if they want to win” Nevertheless, the team will still have tough battles with their opponents.  “My goal for the team is to really fulfill our potential and become the best we can.  I think we can beat some of the really good teams in our league, we just have to focus in and play our type of volleyball,” said Wood.

Magazine Sport Volume 69, Issue 6

Girls’ Softball

Photography by Yiying Zhang

The Las Lomas softball team has started their season off. Last year the team started off struggling with having a 2-7 record to start the season. But then the team bounced back going 7-2 in the second half of this season with their final game being a loss in the NCS (North Coast Section) playoffs against Benicia losing 6-0. Overall, the team had an even 9-9 record but had an excellent league record with 8-2; Coming second to Acalanes which went 10-0 in the league. Currently, the team has an 0-4 record.

I had the chance to interview Junior captain Mia Hanson and she is remaining optimistic about the season, “We’ve only had a few games but we’ve already been able to improve on many things both skill-wise and in terms of team cohesion.” Hanson also wanted to emphasize the importance of team chemistry, “I think that just being able to practice and team bond is very important in helping us prepare to work together on the field”, her teammate Junior Sydney Fippin agreed, “ I think throughout the season we will improve on many things and overall become a stronger team.”

When I interviewed these two, I learned that this year’s team consists mostly of sophomores. The roster includes three Juniors, six Sophomores, and three freshmen. It is important to note that there is not one senior on the team. However, Fippin was not at all discouraged, saying, “Obviously since the season has just started there are things we can work on but considering that we are a young team I believe we are performing well.”  Hanson added by saying, “So far the team has been doing well considering we’re a young team.” Being a young team they may not have much success this season, but they may have extremely good seasons in the next one to three seasons.

The team has already had one league match with Battle of the creek against Northgate, which they lost 5-0. The league games will start back up on April 14 when they play at Ygnacio Valley. The team will most likely be competing with Acalanes for the league title again this year. “ …I’m looking forward to the Acalanes game this year because last year we had some good competition with them,” said Hanson. The team looks to win the league title, not for bragging rights, but to clinch a spot in the NCS playoffs. Last season the team was 15th seed in the NCS Division 2 playoffs. Unfortunately, the team lost in the first round to the 2nd seed Benicia. 

Magazine Sport Volume 69, Issue 5

Boys Golf Looks to Continue Success

The boys golf season is right around the corner. Last year the team won the DAL championship, backed by Senior Mason Stenberg who was crowned the DAL MVP. For those who don’t know what the DAL is, it is the Diablo Valley Athletic League. Last season, Jake Cox was awarded Second Team All-league by the DAL.“I think last season went great for the team. We finished the season 12-0 and won the League Championship,” said Senior Jake Cox. The knights also brought 6 players to NCS last season , Mason Stenberg, Jake Cox, Robbie Uesugi, Nick Fregulia, and Derek Zhao. Even though the Knights did not win the NCS championship match, they still put up an outstanding effort. The Knights were also able to send Stenberg to the CIF(California Interscholastic Federation), Norcal championships, where he had +7 over par and placed in 53rd place out of 90 contenders.

This season will be special because the Knights have a new head coach. After Coach Kevin Crouch stepped down, Assistant Coach Don Holm was given the promotion to head coach.  “I’ve been the assistant under Coach Kevin Crouch for five years and this is my first year as head coach.” said Coach Holm. Since Coach Crouch led the team in an extremely good season last year and produced two NCAA division-one golfers in the past four years, Coach Holm will have very big shoes to fill. “We’ve been fortunate enough to have solid lineups top down for many years and part of that is to develop young players with good fundamentals and short games so that we are always backfilling talent as the kids get older. For this year we need to be consistent. We need our top players to perform consistently well and anchor middle players to also be consistent and not blow up to high numbers.” When questioned on which players he thinks will lead the team this season, Holm responded, “Mason Stenberg and Jake Cox are both four-year starters and first-team all-league players. Josh Morgan has emerged as a solid and powerful player with great leadership and mentorship for the up and comers. Scott Chrisman is also going to be a solid contributor this year. He hits it well and his putting is super special.” 

Las Lomas looks like it will have another fantastic season, Jake Cox agreed: “I am expecting us to be a contender for the League title and make a solid run at NCS.” The league title will be up for grabs again and the Knights will look to retain it. The competitors for the Knights this season include: Acalanes, Miramonte, Campolindo, and Battle of the Creek against Northgate.

Magazine Sport Volume 69, Issue 5

Boys Soccer is on the Move

The Las Lomas Boys Soccer team is having a fantastic season. They finished the season with an outstanding (18-1-1) record and a (9-1-1) league record, and to top it all off, the team has won the DAL league title, with their only loss coming with a close game with Ygnacio Valley that had a final score of 2-1. In comparison with last season, the team went (18-2-5) with an (8-1-1) league record, the team finished with a loss in the NCS semi-finals to Richmond High School. The teams’ dominance of their opponents has earned them a high ranking in comparison with other teams, Maxpreps has the squad ranked 6th in the entire NCS and 1st in the NCS’s second division. With the Knights seemingly guaranteed to get the first seed in the NCS playoffs, they will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs which will give them an upper-hand. 

     The team has been dominant in all aspects of the game scoring a nice 70 goals and only allowing in 10, making the average game score 3.5-0.5. However, Senior Saul Bronstone said the team was far from done, “I only had 1 goal for this season and it was to win the NCS Championship, and if we keep playing the way we’re playing, I think we are on track to get there.” 

     When asked about the team’s strengths and weaknesses Bronstone had a lot to say “Our greatest strength is how balanced we are. Offensively, we can score on through balls, set pieces, crosses, playing direct, etc., and defensively we win every header and make very few mistakes in the backline. Our only weakness might be our ability to stay healthy because there are usually 2-4 guys that are either injured or sick, but as we near the end of the season, we should be getting a full, healthy roster back.” Having a full team is really important for any sport and since the Knights are bound for the first seed in the playoffs, it is likely they will destroy their first few playoff opponents and will not have to play too aggressive later in those games, which will allow the teams stars to rest up.

      This year the Knights will be sending off seven seniors. Bronstone believes the thing he will miss most about the team is, “The adrenaline rush I’d get when someone would score a big goal and the entire team would sprint over to whoever scored where we would all celebrate together. That is probably the best feeling in the world and something I’ll miss for sure.”

Magazine Sport Volume 69, Issue 5

Girls Soccer: A Fun Season

The Girl’s Varsity Soccer Team has just finished their season. They finished with a record of (3-6-4) as well as a (3-4-4) league record. This is a drop from last year in which they had a (10-6-1) season record and (7-4-1) league record and finished the season in NCS in a loss to Redwood High School. 

Even though the team didn’t have their best season, they still had many strengths. Senior Emma Casey said, “So I think our greatest strength as a team is that we work really well together. We’re all good friends both like on and off the field and I think it helps contribute to really strong chemistry. We also have a really young team. So I think that’s both like the strength and a weakness because especially that the sophomores are super athletic and fast, but because we’re from so many different teams, it’s sometimes hard to make our styles work together, and so I think it has been a little bit of a transition year.” One thing Casey emphasized was the youngness of the team; this year’s team includes one Freshman and eight Sophomores, which makes the team bound for a bright future. 

Despite losing the first five games of the season, the team refused to give up. After a tie to Miramonte High School, the team went on a six game winning streak which included an absolutely incredible game against Mt. Diablo High School in which they won 11-0. Casey said, “I think I actually right now is one of our high points even though we tied Senior Night and they scored at the very last minute. So we were definitely hoping to win that. But we had a little bit of a rocky start to the season… We’ve come a long way [from being unsuccessful] to where we could have let that get to our head and just given up and we’ve been working really hard and I think that we have a good shot like calling qualifying for NCS.”

Fortunately, the team won their game againt Benicia High School which qualified them for NCS. Yet, their season came to an end when they lost their game (2-1) against Redwood High School.

This year’s team is retiring eight seniors: Camille Powell, Emily Gillet, Uki Fujiwara, Emma Casey, Carol Halpin, Charlotte Till, Gina Trent, and Kylie Trent. When asked what she will miss the most about the team Casey said, “You need to be able to spend so much time with people from like all different grades and really become close with them over the season and we have such a great coach Jeremy Hull in at Warren Bradley. And so I’m going to miss the people the most I think.”

Magazine Sport Volume 69, Issue 4

Boys Basketball Off to a Strong Start

This year’s boys basketball season has already seen a massive improvement since last year. The team has an 13-5 win record and a 2-3 league record, last year at this point in the season  they had a 9-7 record and finished the season 13-17, getting knocked out in the 1st round of the state playoffs. Senior team captain Cooper Wise has no doubts about the team’s success, “ I would say that so far this year the team is playing just as we expected. We expected to be a good team this year and we have been performing very well and winning lots of games.” Wise also added, “I think this year our team has improved because we have much better chemistry as teammates and we all get along well and play well together.” However, the season doesn’t stop now. The knights are now entering their league games and are hungry for the league title. The knights won back to back league titles in 2017 and 2018 and finished in sixth last season. 

I had the chance to interview senior captain’s David Tibbets and Cooper Wise and one thing they both agreed on was the importance of the Battle of the Creek games versus Northgate, “I am most looking forward to the battle of the creek games. Those games are always so fun because of the rivalry we have so the energy and intensity is always really high,” said Wise. Tibbets added, “After coming off a loss the Northgate, I’m definitely looking forward to play them again”. Las Lomas lost the first battle of the creek in a close game 52-46 and looks to bounce back in their next matchup on January 31st at Las Lomas.

With the rest of the season on the way Cooper was optimistic, “I think the rest of the season will go very well. We’re off to a great start and I think we will continue to play well. I think we’ll do very well in the league and then make a long run in the playoffs.” Last year the knights made it into the Semi-finals of the NCS playoffs where they lost to Moreau Catholic and lost to Foothill in the first round of the state playoffs. Las Lomas is in the second division of the NCS which includes some good teams such as Cardinal Newman and Campolindo. “We’ve got a talented group of guys, I think we can go pretty far” said Tibbets.

Magazine Sport Volume 69, Issue 2

The Boys Are Back In Town

Las Lomas basketball is coming back and we are ready for it.Last season, the Knights had an overall record of 13-17, 3-9 in league. This gave them the 14th seed in the Division 2 NCS playoffs. The knights were expected to lose to 3rd seed Cardinal Newman, but they pulled off the upset with a score of 64-57. They then went off to face 11th seed Tamalpais and beat them in a close game with a score of 49-45. With wins against these two teams, this qualified the knights for the CIF state playoffs as all teams who make their regional playoff semi-finals are qualified, not just the winners of the bracket like other sports. After the NCS round was over Las Lomas ended up the 2nd seed in the northern section of the CIF Division 3 championship. Unfortunately, the Cinderella run was cut short by Foothill High School in the first round when the knights lost 57-62. 

However, this year is sure to be better than the last. The knights have 7 returning seniors, and three returning juniors, two of which got pulled up for playoffs, as well as Elijah Lash a De La Salle transfer. This core group of seniors brings much-needed experience to the team and will have to help train 1st-time varsity players who were on Junior Varsity last season. This year’s players bring size to the team, something they struggled with in earlier years. Junior, Marco Balestrieri stands at 6-4 220 and Senior, Elijah Lash is 6-3 230. These two are sure to be a dominant force in the paint for the team. This year’s team is sure to be a force to be reckoned with.

This season will be head coach Jason Rockwell’s 2nd year as the coach for Las Lomas. Rockwell is a former assistant coach for De La Salle basketball. As an assistant coach, he helped lead the De La Salle to a NorCal championship. 

Magazine Sport Volume 69, Issue 1

Putting into Girls Golf

This August the girl’s golf team swung into action. Las Lomas enters the year with high hopes as they had 2 players make the NCS playoffs last season: Junior Elizabeth Contreras and senior McKenna Dixon. Contreras and Dixon also made the second team in the DAL (Diablo Athletic League Foothill Division. With both new and returning players, the Knights are bound to have a very successful season.

The head coach Michael (Mick) McEwen has high hopes for this year’s season: “Last year was good. [It] went as expected I would say, but we did pretty well. We had two girls [who] made NCS.This year we have a chance to make NCS as a team.” The Knights look to improve from last season. One of their biggest goals is to win the league title and qualify for NCS as a team. “Ultimately the goal is to make the girls have fun and fall in love with the sport of golf. This year looking at the league, the goal is that we’ll beat Acalanes and Campolindo and qualify for NCS as a team.”

Las Lomas played Acalanes on Friday, September 20th, and Campolindo on Tuesday, October 1st.  Qualifying for NCS as a team would be a big deal for the knights. Girls golf NCS works differently than other sports because there is a championship in which the entire team competes and another one where only chosen individual players compete.

Coach McEwen’s coaching experience and the many seniors on the team look to lead the team to success. Coach McEwen praised this year’s seniors for their leadership, “We have seven seniors this year. They all are pitching in different ways …  As seniors, they’re really good at keeping morale up and making the new players feel welcome.” Good leadership from any high school sports teams seniors is one of the biggest factors to the team’s success. Coach McEwen also had praise for freshmen player Samantha Pierce. “[Samantha] is a freshman and is one of our top four players I would say. We are very excited for her future and season this year.”

Issue 8 Magazine Sport

Bittersweet End to Volleyball Season

The Knights’ boys’ volleyball team faced Northgate in the third Battle of the Creek on Tuesday, May 7. This game was the part of the NCS Division 2 Boys’ Volleyball Tournament. Las Lomas entered this game ranked as the fourth seed and Northgate ranked first. The Knights record prior to this game was 17-11,  off two strong playoff wins against Tennyson and Redwood. The Knights beat Tennyson 3-0 and also beat Redwood 3-0. The Northgate team entered the game with a 28-1 record, its one loss being to Acalanes.

The game started with high intensity–this was the third time of the season the two crosstown rivals faced each other. Because Northgate lead the season series 2-0, Las Lomas looked to get revenge. The game started without any team getting a clear lead. After the score was tied at 11, Northgate began to pull away. Las Lomas attempted to regroup by calling a timeout, but this proved unsuccessful when Northgate won the first game with a score of 25-16. The Knights entered the second game hopeful, but Northgate was soon able to get an 11-7 lead. Las Lomas rallied back to tie the score at 12. The score rallied back and forth but Northgate eventually won the second game with a score of 25-20. The 3rd game started with things looking gloom for the Knights, as they were down 2-0 and Northgate only needed one more to win. Northgate started strong with a 7-2 lead and grew on that lead to get a score of 16-8 and later 21-10. Northgate went on to win 25-12 and faced Campolindo in the NCS final.

Despite not advancing to the final the team was still very successful. “If you take a look in the division we played in, 5 out of 6 were top 100 in the state and Northgate was in the top 20. We had a great season; there was nothing to be ashamed of,” said coach Jim Changaris. Las Lomas ended the season with a 17-12 record and a 2-6 league record. The Knights season started with a nine-game win streak before losing too Bellarmine College Prep. The Knights will have seven players returning and four seniors, Ali Eshraghi, Geba Fernandez, Grant Holland and Nathan McCutchen, graduating. “I’m always excited to have new boys come to the team,” said Coach Changaris. The Knights have six juniors and one sophomore on their varsity roster this year and will look to them to lead the team next season.