Magazine Opinions Volume 70, Issue 3

Mr. President, You’re Fired

On November 7th, 2020, it was confirmed that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were elected the next President and Vice President of the United States, meaning that President Trump’s terrible presidency and war on journalism will come to an end on January 20th, 2021.

Although Biden’s win is a tremendous victory for Democrats, they had rather disappointing results elsewhere. They have lost seats in the House of Representatives so far and did not gain meaningful numbers in the Senate. The fate of the Senate now rests on Georgia’s 2 runoff races, where Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are challenging incumbent Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, respectively. It is crucial for the Democrats that Warnock and Ossoff win, as they would then obtain the Senate majority. A loss for both will mean that the Republicans will retain the majority, and Mitch McConnell will continue his job as Majority Leader, a death sentence to nearly all of the Democrats’ legislative goals.

Biden’s initial plans for his presidency include dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, combating climate change, rebuilding the economy and dismantling systemic racism. Biden also plans to sign several executive orders that will immediately reverse many of the actions of the Trump administration. 

Biden’s legislative agenda includes a public health insurance option, raising the minimum wage to $15, investing trillions of dollars in clean energy and raising taxes on the richest Americans. Biden would, of course, need the approval of Congress to pass any of these; if the Senate becomes a 50-50 split where Vice President-Elect Harris would break the tie, even one “no” vote from the Democrats’ side would kill a proposed bill if all Republican senators voted “no.”

In order for Biden and the Democrats to secure successful results in the 2022 midterms, they need to pass bold progressive policies. They need to learn from their mistakes during the Obama administration and know that Mitch McConnell’s GOP will not compromise with them. It is extremely important that they win the 2 senate seats in Georgia and then use all the powers the Senate majority offers; This will involve eliminating the Senate filibuster, which will help them pass legislation tremendously. The Republicans learned that politics is war 12 years ago; It’s time for the Democrats to do the same.

Features Magazine News Volume 70, Issue 2

Online School’s Sleep and Stress

By Ally Hoogs

Graphic by Jane Wilson

As the new quarter starts, students are settling into assignments and new expectations in their online classes, some more than others. While sleep and the workload piling onto students stuck at home behind screens is unnoticeable for a few, many agree that they are more stressed. Students report that stress forces them to get less sleep than in previous school years.

In a recent poll, Las Lomas students were asked about the amount of stress and sleep during online school, compared to previous years of in-person learning. Out of 130 respondents, 68% felt that they are receiving more work than the past year. 21% felt little to no change in the load of stress, and 12% felt they were given less than what they were accustomed to.

Senior Nathan Seaway commented, “I get an equal amount of work as in the past, whereas I do less activities like hanging out with my friends and sports that reduce my stress,” which makes online school more taxing.

Freshman Yasmeen Anwar noticed, “I’ve gotten more sleep than I did over summer, but some days it’s a lot less than others. Online learning makes [the workload] a bit hard to deal with, but I’ve felt less stress with time.”

For others, it is not so much the workload that affects them, but the way it is administered via the online learning platform, Canvas. Sophomore Rachel Chan explained that “it’s very overwhelming to deal with all the work when everything is due at some random time. I have assignments due at 9A.M., 3:30P.M., 5P.M. and 11:59P.M..” She also mentions her teachers assigning a lot of work on Monday takes the whole day to finish, upping her stress.

The amount of work and time that it takes to complete certain assignments by their due date seems to be the common detail that takes sleep away from students. Sophomore Bogdan Yaremenko said, “I’m feeling more stressed overall because I have to sit at home and look at a screen all day, and then sit at a screen all day on the weekend too because of homework.” He mentions that this makes him stay up later to finish assignments. 

48% of students reported that they are getting less sleep than before, while 25% say that they are gaining valuable rest. The remaining respondents conceded that they are not seeing a difference in sleep, or haven’t noticed much of a change.

Senior Shreya Sinha mentioned, “School doesn’t start as early, and I am less tired during the day.” She further explains that she has lower stress levels “because I have more time to do work in between classes and after classes.”

Maya Chatterjee, a freshman, said that the only reason she is stressed more is because it’s a little more difficult to do everything online, “sometimes it’s difficult to understand things as well,” further saying that she likes “being able to physically point things out.”

The learning styles and speeds that students complete assignments can also be a factor. While some do their work faster, others take more time to process and retain information. That can differ the amount of time and stress someone experiences, which can affect how they respond to new homework and their ability to get significantly more rest.

Magazine News Sport Volume 70, Issue 2

What is the NBA G-League Team Coming to Walnut Creek?

by Brian Gewecke

Graphic by Yiying Zhang

Lately, numerous people have expressed excitement about the new NBA G-League team coming to Walnut Creek, but many people are likely unfamiliar with this league, and may not know about the new team.

The NBA Gatorade League, or G-League, previously known as the Developmental League, serves as a league of borderline-professional teams, many of which are affiliated with NBA teams. Although not all 30 NBA teams have a G-League affiliate, teams like the Golden State Warriors do, with their affiliate Santa Cruz Warriors. NBA teams can send their young, rarely played players down to their G-League affiliate to receive playing time and an opportunity to develop more than they would sitting at the end of the bench on a team. The G-League also serves as a possible path for previously undrafted players, or players who failed to stake out their place in the league. For these players, the G-League provides a shot to be noticed by an NBA team, and can change players’ careers for the better.

Traditionally, upcoming recruits have had a low amount of options for paths towards going pro. Because of the “One-and-Done” rule, which may end up being removed from basketball in upcoming years, players cannot go directly to the NBA from high school. They must attend at least a year in college, playing overseas, or training privately after graduating high school. However, this summer, the NBA announced the opening of a new pathway: one in which top recruits could play a year in the G-League while getting paid, play in an environment that more closely resembles professional basketball, and still have the opportunity to receive a college education.

The G-League Select Team, or Ignite, is the team that all of the top recruits in the G-League are playing for. Potential 2021 top-five recruits Jalen Green and Jonathon Kuminga will be preparing for their NBA careers right here in Walnut Creek. “I am most excited to see Jalen Green on the team. I followed his basketball career all of high school, and he’s a fantastic player,” said senior Braedon Lynch. As shown by Braedon, this team isn’t a random G-League team. It consists of players that fans have been watching since middle school or high school. The fact that some of the country’s top recruits will play locally, as long as the team stays in Walnut Creek, is almost unimaginable for basketball fans. With this team, local residents will watch future NBA players, and potentially even future All-Stars, play games live.

Before deciding on Walnut Creek, the NBA considered placing the team in a much larger and more prominent basketball city like Los Angeles, but luckily it didn’t go that way. Senior Josh Stemmerich appears to feel the same sentiment, as he said, “I think it’s huge that they chose Walnut Creek out of all places to bring a new G-League team to, and I’m really excited to see how it all turns out.” As Josh said, the NBA’s decision to bring the team to Walnut Creek is a true testament to the city’s progress and development over recent years. Mark Lewis seems to share Josh’s opinion, saying, “I was surprised to hear that Walnut Creek would be a location for a G-League team.  It speaks to how much Walnut Creek has grown and has become sort of a ‘hub’ of the East Bay.”

Of course, although bringing such a team to Walnut Creek is an amazing thing, it may have some negative consequences on the local community. “With the excitement of such a large new entertainment source in Walnut Creek, I think it’s possible that it can cause prices to go up at local businesses, and I think that it may bring a lot more people to the city that will contribute to the clutter,” Josh said. His sentiment makes perfect sense, as local companies will undoubtedly attempt to reap the benefits of an increased consumer population. This will serve as a great way for the local community to make its way back up from the recent economic recession, but in the future it may cause some problems for local consumers. Another issue noted by Stemmerich is the continued increase in clutter. Over recent years, Walnut Creek has undergone a large level of development, with remodeling and apartment-building increasing. With a new large, local entertainment source, Walnut Creek will receive an even more significant increase in population and visitors. Although it is arguable as to whether this is a bad thing, the draw of the G-League team will bring numerous more people to Walnut Creek.

Local residents, whether basketball fans or not, will surely be excited to watch some of the nation’s top athletes compete right in their backyard.  “If we can, I definitely want to go to some games with my friends. I think that would be super fun,” stated senior Grant Askins. These games can provide experiences to the current youth that previous generations never had. Despite possible minor negative effects, for local basketball fans, the addition of the G-League Select Team to Walnut Creek is one of the most exciting things to witness for years to come. 

Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 4

County Library Ransom Attack

Ransomware attacks devastated the Contra Costa libraries on the 3rd of January, completely shattering the online network throughout all of the 26 libraries. Although no Wi-Fi and printing services are available in most libraries, the Library is making progress on them. When one goes to some of the library websites, the first thing that pops up is a message: “Our network is currently down and patrons are unable to login at this time. We are investigating the issue and will establish service as soon as possible.” Even some of the affected library servers have been taken offline. Officials working on getting the library system to work have been looking over the data that was comprised by the hack. To assure the public that they are taking the proper steps, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia made a public statement, and said, “obviously we want to protect all of our residents, and having an illegal break-in to the county’s library system is a serious and criminal matter.” 

Also, the library’s statement said that the Contra Costa Libraries are working with law enforcement and IT experts to get information and prevent any future attacks. While some of the online reserves are not working, people are still able to check out and return material and use the public computers. The Contra Costa Library system has restored most of the services, but printing services are not available. There has been no evidence that any personal data was compromised. The Contra Costa Library made a statement which said that they only collect names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and birth dates, not social security numbers or information of credit card payment. The county wants to protect all of its residents, and they understand that the illegal break-in to the county’s library system is a serious criminal matter. 

Brooke Converse, spokeswoman for the library system, said the internal emailing system is still down. She is optimistic of IT experts restoring all of the services and also is relieved that there has not been another attack since January 3rd. Services that have been so far restored include California Driver Education, New York Times digital, public desktop computers with internet access, and Rosetta Stone. However, the library card users cannot get into the Library’s website to search or check out books. An update has also been posted by the library’s website, which says, “The Library is fine free. No library materials will accrue overdue fines. Materials more than 30 days past due will be charged a replacement fee.”

Features Magazine Volume 69, Issue 3

Music Students Lookin’ Sharp

Las Lomas students, Drishti Patel and Andrew Kim have gotten accepted into high level band performances. Junior Drishti Patel has played the flute for eight years and recently qualified for the Carnegie Hall Orchestra. She has played for Las Lomas since freshman year and was recently nominated by her private flute instructors to audition for the Carnegie Hall Orchestra. She appreciates the flute because it’s “very expressive and emotional.” During her early years of playing music, she said, “I had heard of Carnegie Hall but I didn’t really know exactly what it was. All I knew was that it was this prestigious thing that only a select few got into,” and until her flute instructor suggested she audition, she never considered it as a realistic possibility for her. Patel has always been passionate about music and she hopes it will always be in her life. She loves how music can help her escape from daily life. She said she is excited for the experience the the orchestra has to offer, and to work “under the instruction of some amazing musicians.” She said, “I think I’ll definitely grow and improve as a musician from it.” The program’s goal is to “nurtures performance skills and inspires artistic excellence in future generations of musical talent.” Patel, among other students in the country, will perform at Carnegie Hall in New York in February. After one to two days of rehersal, the Patel will partake in an amazing performance. 

Before Patel performs at Carnegie Hall, Senior Andrew Kim will be performing with the Coda, or California Orchestra Directors Association, Honor Band in December at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He grew to love the violin and was suggested by Mrs. Revina, his band instructor and the Director of Instrumental Music, to audition for the Coda Honor Band last year. He got accepted about a month ago to join the band once more to perform. Similar to Patel, Kim sent in excerpts of himself playing his violin. He has played the violin for eleven years after his mother initiated his music lessons. He currently plays the violin for the Las Lomas Orchestra and hopes to carry on his passion for music into college by minoring in music. From all over California, students will come to together and perform their music. Kim said, “[The] Coda Honor Orchestra is a group of passionate musicians who play at a very high level which makes you appreciate people’s talent.” Kim hopes his passion for playing his violin will never die. The Coda Honor Band “promote[s] school orchestras in California by providing quality honor orchestra experiences for school orchestra students.” Hopefully, Patel’s and Kim’s experience with music will only grow.

Features Magazine Volume 69, Issue 2

New Clubs @ Las Lomas

Las Lomas’ new clubs on campus make it easy for students to join and feel accepted. The Fashion Club led by Seniors Josh James and Kaitlyn Sutherland meets every Tuesday in room 305 during lunch. The club was made to educate students about sustainable fashion. Because there is not a lot of local information about sustainable fashion, they teach members how to create sustainably unique pieces and guide them to the best local thrift shops. The club will host two fashion shows during this year, one at the end of each semester. James said that members will not need to follow any fashion trends: “Each person is unique and I believe the best way to express your creativity is through something a person could wear.”

The Red Cross Club was started by Juniors Laura Huntley and Yeji Kim who both have an interest in pursuing a career in medicine. They started the club to join  Red Cross’ mission which is “to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being.” Huntley said that the club’s main goal in fundraising “is to raise enough money to allow them to vaccinate an entire village in a developing country.” The club will raise money with the help from local businesses and hopes to host a blood drive at Las Lomas. Every other Friday in room 715, members discuss and prepare for the upcoming fundraisers. 

The Poetry Club was created with a set goal for the year to develop and expand student member’s “knowledge of poetry, both contemporary and classical” said Senior Taylor Glass. Glass and two other leaders intend to bring forward a poetry theme every month for the club. The club, which meets Thursdays at lunch in room 712, allows students a safe place to practice self-expression through poetry, where they will be able to share published or original poems to “unpack and learn from… life lessons.” Glass believes, “that anybody can create poetry, and be a poet in their own way.”

Juniors, Melanie Quan and Steffie Wong wanted to start the Crafts for Cause Club to give back to the community. The two leaders manage an Etsy account for selling crafts to raise money for local children’s hospitals and senior living centers. They set goals for the next meeting and distribute the necessary supplies. During the meetings held on the first and third Mondays of each month at lunch in room 302, Quan and Wong collect then sell crafts, including homemade bracelets that students have worked on since the last meeting. In their search for an idea for their club, Quan says they, “noticed the untapped talent of many artists on the LL campus, who do not have an outlet for their creativity” and wanted to create a club “where community-minded creators can brighten the day of others!”  

Each club prioritizes getting students together in a welcoming environment to collaborate and achieve their goals. All students are welcome to join the new clubs on campus!

Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 2

Dangers of Vape

During the last several years at Acalanes Union High School District, more and more students vape on campus. It has caught the attention of many that e-cigarette usage may play a role in recent deaths. Currently, about 19 people died from vape related lung conditions and a thousand illnesses possibly associated with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) which is an element in marijuana, and flavored materials in vape cartridges. These mounting deaths concern 16-year-old Junior, Skyler Blackwell, who said, “ I think that [vaping’s] really harmful, and kids don’t understand the extent of its negative effects.” 

With these negative outcomes catching public media attention, people use these health consequences to bring attention to American teenagers vaping. One of Las Lomas’s Associate Principals, Bruce Giron, is not surprised by vaping’s newfound consequences. He is only disappointed. He hopes to discover why students start to vape in the first place.

Prior to working at Las Lomas, he worked in Oakland and Pittsburgh and noticed more students vaping in Las Lomas than in his previous schools, saying, “vaping devices are expensive… so the poorer communities do not have the resources to buy them.” Giron also blames the availability of access and a societal shift in teenager behavior caused by social media in exacerbating vaping. 

The administration has confiscated a number of e-cigarettes and disables them by taking off the cartridges. Acalanes Union High School District Associate Superintendent, Amy McNamara said, “The rise of vaping on our campuses has been directly correlated with the sales of flavored nicotine and the legalization of marijuana.” According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, seven in ten teens are exposed to e-cigarette advertising. Also, high school usage of vape doubled in the last two years. Giron, who has worked at Las Lomas for three years, also noticed a significant increase in usage within the last two years.

Giron finds students who vape on campus concentrate in the bathrooms. McNamara also understands that vaping frequently occurs in parking areas and locker rooms. An anonymous student expressed their concern in the suspicious smell of bubblegum and artificial scents in the bathroom. To combat students’ continued e-cigarette usage, the district holds parent information nights on vaping and is currently “developing a curriculum for a vaping academy for first-time offenders,” said McNamara. The district dedicated funds to continually enforcing its no-vape policy to maintain the health of Las Lomas’s culture and school campus. While the school monitors the students and puts continued efforts to help students, Giron said: “parents must get involved, along with the students, [and both] are responsible for the health of the student body.”

Entertainment Magazine Volume 69, Issue 1

Spider-Man Sticks To Sony

The beloved Spider-Man is leaving Marvel studios, and will now be completely in the hands of Sony. After three different renditions of the character, it looks like there will be another. Back in the 80’s, Marvel sold their film rights for Spider-Man when superhero films were not the box-office-breaking movies that they are today, and they resorted to licensing many popular characters to other film studios in order to stay afloat. In 1999, Sony snatched the rights of Spider-Man and started the classic Spider-Man trilogy that was first released in 2002, starring Toby Maguire. Back in 2012, the series rebooted with Andrew Garfeild as the new Spider-Man. While the re-boot received generally mixed reviews, an agreement in 2015 allowed Marvel to share the character with Sony. Sony would function as the financier of the films, and Marvel would serve as the creative producer. Along with the deal, Marvel got the merchandising rights, collecting 5% of box office revenue on the first day of release, while Sony cashed in on the rest of the film’s profit. Notably, Marvel also had the rights to integrate the character into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which led Tom Holland to debut in Captain America: Civil War in 2016. He then appeared in four more Marvel movies, including two Avengers movies and two stand alone films.

     The split reportedly stems from a deal that Marvel’s parent company, Disney, sparked with Sony. Supposedly, Disney wanted to co-finance the Spider-Man films in order to get a larger share of the profits. They offered to strike up a 50-50 deal with Sony, meaning both companies would split the financing and profits for the movies equally. It’s said that Sony refused the deal, which means a different future for Spider-Man, and he won’t be taking Iron Man’s role like Marvel intended. Sony confirmed the rumors of the split when they went to Twitter to release the news that Marvel’s Kevin Fiege will not be producing the future Spider-Man movies, stating, “We [at Sony] are disappointed, but respect Disney’s decision not to have him [Kevin Fiege] continue as a lead producer of our next live action Spider-Man film.” Fiege is a Marvel film producer and has been the president of Marvel Studios since 2007. His major role in producing the two recent Spider-Man films causes fans to question what Sony plans to do with Tom Holland’s character, without Feige. 

       It looks like both studios are holding on to their decisions, which in turn welcomes a new reality, where Peter Parker is not going to carry the legacy of Tony Stark. Though the future of Spider-Man looks bleak, actor Tom Holland is hopeful in saying, “The future for Spider-Man will be different…but it will be equally as awesome and amazing, and we’ll find new ways to make it even cooler.”

Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 1

Time Again for First Gen

The focus for the First Gen Program at Las Lomas, officially started in February of 2018 by Anne Fuller, Amy McNamara, and Carol Thompson, was to help both students who have parents that did not graduate from a four-year college and students who come from low-income households. Thompson, a college advisor who works closely with Anne Fuller in the College and Career Center, alongside Elaine Chan, said, “It became evident that some students had more questions and just needed more help.” While all the schools in the Acalanes District have the program, Las Lomas has the largest percentage of First Gen and low-income students. Thompson says the first generation or marginalized students are helped when planning, “Out a four-year path to college, looking at possible majors, finances, extracurricular activities, scholarships, etc.” 

The program helps students to identify an affordable career and college path. Because the district is diverse, “The goal was established to meet the needs of all students.” Currently, the program is busy with Seniors and their college applications for the fall, though any First Gen student can drop into the College and Career Center to make an appointment or make one through the Las Lomas website. 

One veteran of the program, which has had 200 students, was Tim Lee, who graduated in the summer of 2019 and is now a freshman at UC Riverside. Lee said he “was helped with filling out [his] UC and CSU applications step by step and…received advice from [Chan, Thompson, and Fuller] on how to navigate in my high school journey to prepare for getting into colleges.” He was recommended scholarships, and the advisors helped revise the essays he wrote for the applications. Graduating alongside Lee, Dorsa Heydar-Bakhtiari currently attends UC Santa Cruz. Ms. Fuller told her about the program at the beginning of her junior year and Heydar-Baktiari received a lot of assistance with her college applications and essays. She said the advisors and Fuller are “dedicated to helping the students,” and motivated her during her senior year, and that the program helped her receive scholarships. Heydar-Bakhtiari learned how to search for job and volunteering opportunities to appeal to colleges, and as an immigrant, she said she “needed guidance to navigate the complex college process and reach [her] goal.” 

Thompson said, “Who wouldn’t want all students, regardless of background, to have equal opportunity to be fully prepared to succeed in life beyond high school?”

Issue 6 Magazine Women's History Spread

Women Making a Difference

Lauren Babb

Lauren Babb, 26 years old, attended college in D.C. and has lived in Contra Costa for about three years now. She has worked to better women’s rights, human rights, and racial equality. She has worked for a labor union, where she fought to better teachers’ wages and healthcare. She has been in politics for almost nine years and has worked on many election campaigns, including Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer Kahan’s campaign, President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign (registering college aged voters), and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016. She was disappointed with the results of the 2016 election, yet revived and empowered by the Women’s Marches that took place. This year, she spoke at Contra Costa’s Women’s March about the “importance of having equity and justice for all people.” She has managed electoral and legislative efforts for over 20 counties in California, and has attended a conference in D.C. to discuss health care for females. Babb hopes to see “as many women as possible run for office.”

Sabina Zafarof

Council member Sabina Zafarof of the City of San Ramon and Senior Director of Technology at General Electric, serves on the Board of Directors for San Ramon American Association of University Women and encourages young females to pursue careers in STEM. She spoke at the Contra Costa County’s Women’s March for her first time this year, a “way of getting together in a peaceful way to make sure the message was clearly heard that women are an integral part of the fabric of this country.” The 2016 election disappointment her and she was “shattered that someone who had very clearly disrespected women” would be her President. She believes this is the time for women to speak up and own their stories. She hopes for women “to be able to make decisions about their rights, bodies, [and] circumstances” in the future.

Loella Haskew

Loella Haskew has lived in Walnut Creek since 1999 and practiced public accounting for 30 years. As a member of the city council, she is currently the Mayor Pro Tem of Walnut Creek. Haskew graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. She went into public accounting when firms started aggressively looking for women to hire after losing cases for discriminating against women.  She found that male candidates got promoted faster than women. In her lifetime, “it was big news when a woman was elected even locally.”  Loella says, “Sadly, it still is news when women are successful at the national level. I expect that is changing as women are finally breaking through to higher level management at the corporate world and gaining other seats of power.”  

Teri Frangie

Terri Frangie, mother of Sophomore Basia Young, lives in Walnut Creek and was an advocate for NOW (National Organization of Women) in her twenties and “worked in corporate America.” Knowing that her wage was never the same as her male colleagues, she decided to become an entrepreneur. Frangie was in charge of coordinating sign making parties when working on the Women’s March in Walnut Creek. She promoted events by doing interviews with the media, passing out flyers, asking for donations, and being an ambassador of the local political organization. She bought a plane ticket the day after she heard about the march in Washington D.C., where she noticed the great mix of emotions and raw energy. It was comforting to Frangie to see the solidarity of the many who had felt “disenfranchised.” She hopes for “equal access to female hygiene products in all public bathrooms. We shouldn’t be taxed on these products either as they are essential to women’s health.”

Adina Zinn

Adina Zinn is a local advocate for women’s rights, a founder of the Women’s March held in Walnut Creek, and has lived here for 18 years. She is on the Board of Directors for the Contra Costa County’s Women’s March where she works on public relations and media outreach to look after the Women’s March weekly newsletter. She also works on policy issues and communicates with local progressive groups. After the election results of 2016, she, along with other women, decided to hold the Women’s March on a local level “to provide a venue for people who were pro human rights, science and environmental protections and who believed that facts matter.” She thought this was important because it would be the first time some people would be able to do anything political in Contra Costa County. The march became the place for like minded individuals to form groups, including Swing Left, which contributed in swinging the House of Representatives from Republican to Democrat.