Entertainment Issue 6 Magazine

Monster Movie Madness

By Mateo Requejo-Tejada, Josh Silva, and Cam Lippincott

Last year, people thought the biggest battle of the century would be the 2020 Presidential Election. Little did they know that four months later, two even more famous figures, King Kong and Godzilla, would claim that title 59 years after their previous duel. In anticipation of their next clash, the country’s foremost kaiju experts at The Las Lomas Page have decided to create a list determining what the best monster movie of all time is. Interspersed with a collection of Godzilla films is some more contemporary monster fare, totaling twenty movies. If – for some reason – you haven’t seen these, we’ve recapped each one. 

Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1965): 

Godzilla in Space. If those three words don’t already convince you that this film is a cinematic masterpiece, we don’t know what will. This movie has it all: aliens, mind control, and most importantly, monsters. If you want to see Godzilla bodyslam a three-headed dragon on a meteorite flying through space, this movie is for you. After aliens “borrow” Godzilla and Rodan to fight King Ghidorah (also known as Monster Zero), they proceed to mind-control the monsters to attempt to take over the earth. This film is obviously in the top tier of monster movies. Also, Godzilla dances in this one. 

5 stars

Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994):

While SpaceGodzilla’s name is not winning any awards for creativity, he is an entertaining monster nonetheless. This movie suffers from lackluster fight scenes that mostly feature laser beams and very little physical combat. SpaceGodzilla has a cool design, but unfortunately, the directors barely put him in the movie. This one is okay.

2½ stars

Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001):

This movie has the best title of any piece of art in history; however, its contents do not back it up. This movie also has very little physical combat and forgets what makes monster movies entertaining. Too much dialogue and little action are why this movie is hard to get through. This one is below average at best and doesn’t live up to its potential.

1½ stars

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993):

This is the third Godzilla film to feature his robot counterpart. Although Mechagodzilla is not the star of the movie, Baby Godzilla is. After Godzilla tears down Japan in search of the baby, humans create a robot form to counter it. The most entertaining scenes are when Baby Godzilla interacts with the humans, rather than the monster fights, which are disappointing at times. This is a decent film but could use more monster fights.

2½ stars

King Kong Escapes (1967):

Though King Kong does not exactly escape from anything, this is still a good movie. King Kong takes on his robot counterpart, Mecha-Kong. This movie has some pretty funny scenes with King Kong. Though the movie could use more King Kong, the plot is okay, which makes waiting for Kong to show up worth it. It has good monster fights, which include King Kong taking on a random dinosaur as well as his robot counterpart (robot King Kong). This one is above average.

3 stars

Gamera, The Giant Monster (1965):

Gamera is a giant turtle that can breathe fire and fly by spinning fast. Even though this movie is in black and white in a time where color film was widely available, it still holds up. Gamera does not fight a monster and instead just kind of walks around randomly. Overall this movie is pretty good and ends with Gamera being sent to Mars.

4 stars

Godzilla (2014):

This was the second Godzilla film to be made by an American studio, and it should have been the last. This movie is nothing but a poorly-made attempt to capitalize on Godzilla’s name. It’s disgusting what they did to poor Godzilla in this film. We don’t even understand how the creators of this movie can sleep at night knowing what they have done. No one should watch this movie.

0 stars

Shin Godzilla (2016):

This movie is so good it deserves its own article. This movie adheres to the original Godzilla movie from 1954 and makes Godzilla a scary monster rather than a goofy one. Shin Godzilla is less of a monster movie and more of a movie about a country that is completely unprepared for a crisis that stands before them (sounds familiar). Godzilla is a terrifying monster that constantly keeps you on the edge of your seat. This is easily one of the best monster movies ever made and is an extremely good movie on its own.

5 stars

Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973):

Another day, another monster. A kaiju named Megalon awakens and now ravages the cityscape of Tokyo and threatens all of Japan. This giant cockroach menace is out of control and led by a hijacked robot named Jet Jaguar. There is only one monster that can keep this foe in check – Godzilla. As Godzilla appears (an hour into the movie), a goofy yet awesome battle ensues. This film features the best team-up in cinema history, with Jet Jaguar holding down the foe while Godzilla does a perfectly horizontal flying kick into its chest. This film is a must-watch.

3 stars

Godzilla: King of Monsters (2019):

A sequel to 2014’s American version of Godzilla, Godzilla: King of Monsters was one of those films you watch during summer, not because it seems like a well crafted Oscar-worthy film, but because it has a big lizard with nuclear breath and you saw that one girl from Stranger Things in the trailer (also, it was hot and the movie theater had AC). While this sequel did take itself a bit too seriously and may have lacked a good plot, dialogue, pace, and sensible logic, it makes up for it with larger-than-life cinematography and intense action, as well as more nods to the original Godzilla films. We recommend seeing this movie just to see everyone’s favorite nuclear breathing lizard in today’s CGI. 

3½ stars

Kong: Skull Island (2017):

An extra large, chest-beating gorilla with a heart of gold that protects the environment and kills giant murderous skull crawlers…what more do you need? This movie was equally hilarious as it was action packed; it’s a great summer film that you should immediately check out. Although we may be biased, there’s something about a big monkey that will always hold a special place in our hearts. No other film can make death scenes as funny; besides, no movie is complete without an angry swearing Samuel L. Jackson starring in it. This movie is a cinematic masterpiece. 

5 stars 

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974):

Two Godzillas? how is this possible? Which is the real one? Follow along with a confusing, and at times, anticlimactic plot to find out the truth to this mystery. Filled with goofy and hilarious puppet-like action, this movie isn’t afraid to not take itself too seriously, unlike modern Godzilla films. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla has the same bodysuit monster action and confusing plot points, except this time the stakes are higher. Godzilla seems to be aimlessly causing destruction around Japan. But all isn’t as it seems when another mysteriously shiny, metallic, havoc-wreaking Godzilla confronts this Godzilla. All is eventually revealed as the movie showcases an epic battle between monster foe and monster hero. This 1974 Toho Godzilla film is a must-watch.

4 stars

Pacific Rim (2013):

Let’s not talk about…It had cool action and CGI, but beyond that it lacked creativity, felt lowkey like a Power Rangers/Voltron ripoff, and was the same action film script we’ve seen in every summer blockbuster movie to date. A good watch if you’re bored, other than that there’s nothing special about it. 

 2½ stars

Godzilla (1954):

The film which spawned dozens of often campy sequels is actually a somber cautionary tale directed towards a species racing towards perfecting new cycles of destruction. The plot is simple: an ancient sea creature, whose habitat was disrupted by the atomic bomb, emerges in Japan and wreaks havoc. Director Ishiro Honda is careful to balance his destructive spectacle with footage of its consequences on Japan’s civilians. This gives the miniature sets, unrealistic as they may look, more depth and texture than the pixels of any modern blockbuster. The film that started it all easily earns its place in the monster movie pantheon. 

5 stars

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962):

Between Godzilla Raids Again and its seven-years-belated sequel, Japan had fully recovered from the destruction of World War II and had altogether embraced consumerism. The tonal change of King Kong vs. Godzilla reflects this; a lighter, tongue-in-cheek adventure replaces the original film’s grim tone. Instead of bystanders wailing at the deaths Godzilla has wrought, we see a pharmaceutical executive who watches King Kong and Godzilla fight as if it were a WWE match. The film culminates with a very funny fight sequence that sadly ends in a disappointing anti-climax. This really says a lot about our society.

3 stars

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964):

The Godzilla franchise escalated fairly quickly from a monster destroying a city, to a monster fighting another monster, to a princess getting possessed by Venusians who predict the arrival of monsters. That’s not even this film’s weirdest aspect. Half of it hardly involves kaiju, focusing instead on an entertaining sci-fi plot that detours into Seijun Suzuki-esque gangster territory. When monsters do appear, they spar in another charmingly funny set piece, which at one point involves Godzilla and Rodan playing volleyball with a rock. This also has some of the franchise’s best cinematography, with the rich Eastmancolor Tohoscope illuminating Japan’s beautiful landscapes. 

4 stars

Destroy All Monsters (1968):

Destroy All Monsters might be the Godzilla franchise’s most chaotic entry. It wastes no time setting its elaborate and bewildering plot in motion – which is half standard Godzilla film, half Star Trek episode, and hops across Moscow, Paris, London, and space. The plot’s incoherent mechanics are not important; however, they merely exist to get the monsters from one miniaturized set piece to another, and these set pieces are some of the franchise’s best. A highlight is when all the monsters – too many to count – team up to pummel Ghidora while Godzilla’s dullard son nonchalantly watches.

4½ stars

Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda (2014):

In addition to producing such boundary-pushing serialized masterworks as Ghost Wars (2017-18) and Wynonna Earp (2016-), the Syfy Channel also has a bountiful industry of disaster movies, the most famous of which is Sharknado (2013). While these films try to ingratiate themselves into the So-Bad-It’s-Good Canon, they forget one essential rule: the greatest masterpieces of bad taste (The Room, Birdemic, Gotti) were sincere efforts that failed spectacularly. These, on the other hand, are cynical, abysmally lazy time-slot fillers, which have no more importance than the commercials which pad them. The fights are so mind-numbing and inexpressively cheap that they’re not even worth recounting.

0 stars

Rampage (2018):


0 stars.

Entertainment Issue 6 Magazine

Promises Dashed

By Josh Silva

An all-too-familiar scene: the slimiest, club-dwelling “nice guy” tries to take advantage of a drunk woman, bringing her to his place while she can barely walk. But just as the skin-crawling dread over the anticipated event reaches its climax, the tables turn; the woman catches the rapist off-guard, revealing that she was faking intoxication. This woman is Cassie (Carrie Mulligan), the protagonist of Emerald Farrell’s directorial debut Promising Young Woman, and such a scenario is her nightly hobby.

This hobby precedes the main plot, Cassie’s elaborate revenge scheme concocted upon finding out that the man who raped her best friend in medical school (an event which implicitly drove the friend to suicide) is now getting married. Through elaborate manipulation, she turns the tables on all parties involved in the death, and in the process gives them a taste of how she and her friend may have felt.

In this revenge tale, the main goal is for the protagonist, presumably the director, and ideally the audience, to achieve catharsis. As Quentin Tarantino has often demonstrated, film can reach a catharsis that history has robbed people of. But while a fictional character exacting retribution on a slave owner, Nazi, rapist, or any historically unpunished tormentor has its momentary thrills, it being the sum of a film’s emotions leaves a hollow feeling once the credits roll. Tarantino, after exhausting historical revisionism’s possibilities, realized these limitations in his most recent film, counteracting violent catharsis with a dose of melancholic reality for a change. Unfortunately, though Promising Young Woman flirts with breaking through its textureless pop facade, it sticks mostly to one-dimensional revanchist fantasy. The film is a series of these fantasies, almost all of which go effortlessly according to plan. Not only that, Cassie takes these opportunities to smugly quip and monologue with as much rehearsed ease as a Marvel villain — or hero. It’s as if she knew every line before the other characters spoke them. In one scene, a man on Cassie’s hitlist pleads to her: “it’s every man’s worst nightmare, getting accused of [sexual assault],” to which Cassie slyly retorts, “Did you ever wonder what a woman’s worst nightmare is?” Lines like these ring true on their own, but their blunt didacticism dissolves all tension until it’s not one character saying the line to another, but the director saying it to an audience that, like Cassie, already knows these lines. What could be empowering ends up preaching to the choir with the type of dialogue that lends itself to social media screenshots.

This episodic and repetitive routine is balanced by a differently but equally inauthentic romantic subplot concerning Cassie and her old college classmate, Ryan Cooper (Bo Burnham). Their unfunny banter is as ironically distant as Cassie’s one-liners, again like an R-rated Marvel movie about millennials. The subplot drifts by so casually that when it inevitably ends, it leaves Cassie virtually unchanged. The facade refuses to be cracked. 

It’s possible that her shatterproof persona is indicative of her difficulty processing trauma. The film hints at this, especially towards the end, only to withdraw into further simplicity as we learn that it was merely another facet of her plan.

None of this is bolstered by the shot compositions. They have the stagnant quality of many recent anamorphic-lensed indies like Under the Silver Lake, which could be considered this movie’s deviant male counterpart. But even that had far more dynamic framing and kinetic energy than the disposable compositions of this film. Most scenes never deviate from the indifferent shot-reverse-shot model, and when an interesting composition weasels its way in, it has just as little purpose as the others. Equally inert is the staging and physical presences of the actors. Mulligan disappears into her role quite naturally, centering herself in a rotating parade of underwhelming and unconvincing supporting roles. Previously compelling talents like Alison Brie and Alfred Molina give stiff performances, constrained by the shoddiness of the directing and the single dimension of their characters.

As hard as it sounds to strip such a subject matter of its authenticity, this film certainly tries. While I admire its goal to deliver a catharsis that most women are denied in real life, it undermines that ambition at every turn by reducing itself into a slick trifle.

Entertainment Issue 6 Magazine

Pieces of a Narrative

By Brodie Ziegler

Graphic By Susan Rahimi

Image result for pieces of a woman

Shown at both the Venice International Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival late last year, director-writer duo Kornél Mundruczó and Kata Wéber took their story of a woman plagued by tragedy from the stage to the screen, as Pieces of a Woman received a widespread release on Netflix this January. Receiving fairly positive reviews, Pieces of a Woman delivered its illustration of couple Martha Weiss and Sean Carson, played by Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf, after familial devastation over the course of around half a year. Initially portrayed as a hopeful and young duo, Martha and Sean not only come into conflict with relatives, including Martha’s mother-in-law Elizabeth (Ellen Burstyn), sister Anita (Iliza Shlesinger), and cousin Suzanne (Sarah Snook), but also each other. 

Despite the promises of its title, Pieces of a Woman presents more of a fractured narrative than a shattered female. Character dynamics aren’t fully-fledged out, and subplots are thrown into an uninspired cocktail only to fall through the strainer when the final drink is presented to the viewer. Pieces of a Woman feels like it’s building up to one final emotional payoff, a looming hope that acts as an incentive to keep the audience motivated as characters wander throughout a sleek but mundane environment and search for some form of compensation for their pain. These reparations may lie in the arms of another, or in the ink of a checkbook, but the film never rounds these characters or relationships out enough for the audience to genuinely care about their possible indemnity. 

Mundruczó leaves his mark with Pieces of a Woman in the very first scene. Lasting thirty minutes, and preceding the seemingly missing title card, the opening scene is mostly told in one shot, highlighting the brutal tragedy that befalls the Weiss family on the evening of September 17. What follows is an episodic examination of grief, its different manifestations throughout a singular family, and mainly, how it shatters Martha. Perhaps the odd focus on the other members of the family despite the connotations of the film’s title helps to further engulf Martha in an isolated light. This broad scope is paired with the conflictingly intimate and yet isolating cinematography of Benjamin Loeb, and an overbearing score by Howard Shore. These intense factors, combined with raw and admiral performances overall, create a very specific tone for Pieces of a Woman, but one that when paired with a disappointing narrative fails to meet the expectations set by the phenomenal opening scene.

During my viewing, I had the inescapable thought that this film doesn’t truly bring anything new to the table, perhaps other than another long shot for the history books and a powerful Vanessa Kirby performance. The fable of a distancing, grieving couple made up of an aggressive husband who conflicts with his rich mother-in-law, and a reclusive wife whose self-isolation creates tension with those closest to her has been seen before. In one particularly tense scene, Martha’s brother-in-law, Chris (Benny Safdie), restates a moral he heard: “time heals all wounds.” The moment is presented in an intriguingly meta way, as the desperate attempts of a simple family member trying to offer cheap reconciliation to a grieving woman. However, by the time the credits roll, after an incredibly contrived ending, the final simple theme seems to be that time does heal all wounds, only adding to the feeling that we’ve seen this film before.

It’s no mistake that the most developed and captivating character Martha was also the best performance in Vanessa Kirby. While Ellen Burstyn and admittedly, Shia LaBeouf, also gave noteworthy portrayals, their characters had little going for them, other than fundamental stereotypes and unresolved arches. And, while Vanessa Kirby takes her character of a mourning woman, broken down by the expectations and weight of the relationships suffocating her, Martha’s arch lands exactly where the audience expects it to as well. Despite the brutal subject matter, there are times where the film feels like a Hallmark movie in its formulaic third act, only Pieces of a Woman depicts despair instead of love in wintertime. 

Perhaps if Pieces of a Woman held back from throwing this multitude of broken shards, it would have been able to put itself back together by the end. Instead, the viewer is forced to remain, with broken glass lying at their feet, and a feeling of disappointment lingering in the air.

Entertainment Issue 6 Magazine

History of Saint Patrick

By Roxy Schneider

Graphic By Jennifer Notman

St. Patrick’s Day falls on Wednesday, March 17 this year. As most people know, St. Patrick’s Day is a day to wear green so that you won’t get pinched, and that night, a mysterious leprechaun will rummage through your house. But why is St. Patrick’s Day celebrated?

I sent a survey out to the Las Lomas student body asking what they knew about St. Patrick’s Day. The response was that 69.2% had no idea why it is celebrated. About 50% of the people who said that they would celebrate said they will be celebrating by wearing green. 

St. Patrick’s Day has become a very commercialized holiday similar to Valentine’s Day. Many people don’t understand the holiday besides knowing that leprechauns get free reign to destroy our houses. Even the annual parade in San Francisco doesn’t give the story; the parade is just for people to dress up in green and drink alcohol. 

The holiday is a Christian holiday that celebrates a saint named Patrick. St. Patrick is known as the primary patron saint of Ireland, but St. Patrick was, surprisingly, not even born in Ireland. He was kidnapped at the age of 16 and brought to Ireland to be a slave. While enslaved, he devoted himself to Christianity. After six years, he escaped back to Britain. After reuniting with his family, Patrick claimed he had a vision in which he had to convert Ireland into Christianity. Patrick, at first, was not very welcomed and had few followers. Eventually, he began to gain popularity, baptized over 100,000 people and formed 300 churches. The clover that is associated with St. Patrick’s Day is what is said to be how Patrick taught about the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity is a common way for Catholics to end a prayer, saying: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” These three make up the Holy Trinity, and Patrick showed this through a shamrock. 

There are many myths about St. Patrick, and one is about the snakes. It is said that St. Patrick got rid of all the snakes in the land where he was in Ireland when that is false. There were actually no snakes where he was or even nearby; they weren’t native to that area. Another myth is that you’re supposed to eat corn beef on St. Patrick’s Day. In reality, not many people in Ireland eat corned beef anymore; it was just a cheap form of meat that Irish immigrants to America were able to afford to celebrate. Finally, the original color associated with St. Patrick was blue, not green. Early pictures depict him wearing a shade of blue known as St. Patrick’s Blue. Overall, the misconception of the holiday may contribute to its commercialization.

Issue 6 Magazine Magazine Opinions

A Feminist Critique

By Katelyn To

Graphic By Jennifer Notman

I am 100% a feminist. I very much support the women’s movement and what it stands for, and I think that fighting for women’s rights is extremely important. However, as a feminist, I think it’s also important to be able to look at the movement through an objective eye and say, “I support it, but it could be a lot better”—hence, this article. 

Mainstream feminism has many problems. Also sometimes known as “white feminism,” it means what it sounds like—it is the relatively watered-down advocacy of women’s rights in an attempt to appeal to the general public. This mostly represents white women and women who are already privileged in certain ways. 

Mainstream feminism fights for the advancement of women who already have their basic needs met, with the majority of its focus on problems such as the gender pay gap, underrepresentation in politics, and the tax on menstrual products. This does not go to say that these issues are not important, because they most definitely are. On the other hand, these issues should not overshadow other problems experienced by women who are often underrepresented and women who may struggle to survive, such as women in poverty, homeless women, transgender women, disabled women, Black women, Indigenous American women, women of color, and more.

When talking about women’s rights, it is difficult to simply say that one category of women suffers more than others, or that we should focus on a specific group more than the other groups. Choosing who to advocate for and put your attention towards isn’t always easy, because many of these underrepresented women fit in many categories and encounter obstacles in different ways. Determining who “suffers” the most is subjective. That is why intersectionality is crucial, specifically in feminism, and it should be acknowledged and talked about much more than it currently is. 

More women than men live in poverty in the US. Women’s poverty is a feminist issue, yet it is rarely spoken as such. Of women in poverty, Indigenous American and Alaska Native, Black, and Hispanic women are disproportionately represented. Indigenous American and Alaska Native women experience the highest rates of poverty among women or men of any racial or ethnic group, with about one in four living in poverty, as stated by American Progress. In every single racial or ethnic group except Asian or Pacific Islander, women experienced higher rates of poverty than men in 2019. Of women living in the US, 12.8% are Black, but they make up 22.3% of women in poverty. Of women living in the US, 18.1% are Hispanic, but they make up 27.1% of women in poverty. In every racial or ethnic group except Asian or Pacific Islander, women experienced higher rates of poverty than men in 2019.

Poverty also disproportionately affects women who are unmarried and have children. About one in four unmarried women with children live in poverty, which is a higher rate than unmarried women without children and married women with or without children. Additionally, women with disabilities are more likely to be in poverty than men with disabilities. Women in the LGBTQ+ community are also more likely to be in poverty than cisgender straight women and men. 

So why exactly does poverty disproportionately affect women? Domestic violence is one reason. Many people know that more women are victims of domestic violence than men are, but what they may not know is that it is the largest contributing factor of women’s homelessness, according to Career and Recovery. The impacts of domestic violence “are part of a cycle of violence that both disproportionately affects low-income women and perpetuates women’s economic insecurity,” according to American Progress. 

Women also are found to disproportionately work lower-paying jobs. National Women’s Law Center stated that “Women represent about two-thirds of workers earning the federal minimum wage,” which is “due to pervasive gender roles, expectations that women’s work is low skilled, and the systemic undervaluing of women’s labor.”

Furthermore, women who do face poverty and homelessness must deal with different problems than men who are homeless or in poverty. For example, homeless women often become victims of rape and sexual assault on the streets. That can lead to pregnancies that they do not have the means to deal with. Additionally, they must deal with their period every month, which is difficult when homeless shelters may not provide menstrual products. 

Mainstream feminism does not fight for these women’s rights. People think that poverty and homelessness are not problems they should worry about, but these problems are feminist issues and the issues that feminism revolves around need to expand.

Features Issue 6 Magazine

Las Lomas Students Speak About Toxic Masculinity

By Riley Martin

Graphic By Makenna Carey

This month we embark on Women’s History Month, where typically dismissed accomplishments of women and principles of feminism are celebrated. A topic of discussion related to the ideas of feminism includes the idea of toxic masculinity. The Journal of School of Psychology uses the following definition for toxic masculinity: “the constellation of socially regressive [masculine] traits that serve to foster domination, the devaluation of women, homophobia and wanton violence.” (Medical News Today). According to Medical News Today, the societal concept of “manliness” is based on the following: strength, self-sufficiency, dominance, sexual virility and lack of emotion. 

A prominent side effect of toxic masculinity is the idea that boys do not believe they are allowed to express how they feel due to fear of the well-known phrase, ‘just man up’. This inevitably has led to a stigma regarding mental health among boys. A 2015 study by the Psychology of Men and Masculinity found that “men who bought into traditional notions of masculinity held more of a negative attitude about seeking mental health services compared to those with more flexible gender attitudes.” (VeryWellMind). Las Lomas is no exception to this unfortunate circumstance as sophomore Meenakshi Srinivasan has noticed first hand, “Most men I have been around don’t know a healthy way to express their feelings. This is probably because they were taught that showing emotions makes you weak and feminine.” 

By unlearning this idea of traditional masculinity it will give male students the space to grow from “boys into men who don’t have the ability to express emotions or have empathy for others,” said senior Tyler Gaitan. Junior Arav Mistry agrees that misconceptualized masculinity leads to an environment that enables men to have “more acceptance and compassion for others.” However, Mistry acknowledges the idea of masculinity would need to change before this “acceptance and compassion” can be reached. Regardless of how traditionally “masculine” a male is, senior Tyler Winland believes, “If a guy is a good guy, he treats people with respect, he works hard, treats his family well, does things for his community, takes care of himself and others, that person should be given the same opportunities” as the more traditional “masculine” men. 

The American Psychological Association (APA) reports, “More than 40 years of research showing that traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful and that socializing boys to suppress their emotions can cause damage that echoes inwardly and outwardly.” The extreme consequences of stereotyped, conditioned views of men are in full effect. Those effects, in extreme cases, are portrayed by the staggeringly high men’s suicide rate in the United States. In 2017, a statistic from Statista regarding suicide rates by gender discovered that while female suicide rates were 6.1 per 100,000 resident population in the United States, male suicide rates were a startling 22.4.

In August of 2020, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention sent out a survey regarding mental health and suicide prevention. The results indicated that 93% of those who responded believed that suicide can be prevented. Society holds the power to make its contribution to preventative care for men and eliminate the psychologically harmful idea of traditional “masculinity”. Society could attempt to do so by adopting a view similar to junior Eliza Loventhal’s: “Men who don’t have the stereotypically look or interests of other men shouldn’t be viewed, by themselves or society as any less of a man.”

Features Issue 6 Magazine

Kamala Harris, A Woman of Many Firsts

By Katelyn To

Graphic By Zeyada Negasi

On January 20, 2021, Kamala Harris was sworn in as Vice President of the United States. She simultaneously became the first woman, person of color, Black person, and Asian-American to ever become Vice President in US history. Just 101 years after the 19th amendment was ratified, granting women the right to vote, we now can see a woman take her spot in office as the second-highest executive branch officer. 

“I was thrilled that he [Joe Biden] chose a woman as his running mate,” said Mrs. Harvey, Las Lomas US History teacher. “I think it’s really important for girls and women to see somebody like them in a position of power. When you only see men in positions of power, it’s hard as a female to even picture what that might look like for you.” Senior Chihiro Mesta also found significance in this moment and said, “It shows how far America has come as far as women running for high positions in office.” 

Despite being “pro-Trump and pro-Pence,” Senior Dani Luna said, “I think it brings a lot of people like me comfort and people of my own community comfort. It shows that South Asians and women are capable of doing great things. I think she symbolizes that great potential that we as South Asians, and that we as women have.” 

In reference to political power, Harvey also said, “I do think that when you have a woman and a person of color in power like that, that will impact the type of policies that they support, and that they want passed. I would imagine that she would help support policies that would benefit women and people of color, where I don’t think that’s always been the case [with other vice presidents].”

Features Issue 6 Magazine

Speech and Debate During Covid

By Jack Abells

Graphic by Susan Rahimi

Since the closure of campus a year ago, every class has been forced into situations that they all have to adapt to in their own ways. The Speech and Debate Team is in a unique position since it has only become an official course this year. It began last year as an after-school club, and as its popularity grew, so did its status. 

“This is the first year our team is actually a class during the school day, where students get credit for their hard work,” said Ms. Reeves-Hampton, the Head Coach of the Speech and Debate Team. “I am figuring out how to help the rookies learn the art of speech performance and debating while also challenging the veteran speakers all on a screen and in so few minutes. We’re a ‘beginners-are-welcome team’, and since there’s no experience needed, we all help each other as we go. To be honest, the students can guide each other the best since they are the ones who’ve experienced competition first hand.”

For students, debates are done on Zoom now. Rebecca Joseph, Speech and Debate Team member since 2019, commented, “[The class] is pretty much operating the same way, just on Zoom. For instance, last year we had speech groups where we would practice, perform, and edit each other’s speeches. This year we have just moved those groups onto breakout rooms on Zoom. Similarly, mock debates are just done through breakout rooms.”

As with any class, Speech and Debate is faced with unique challenges during COVID, “Ironically, communication is a challenge. The team officers are incredible, and it couldn’t be done without them,” said Reeves-Hampton. There is an inherent obstacle to the class and planning out its lessons since much of it was based around being in person. Joseph added, “I am glad we are online as it is safer this way, but I truly miss going to physical locations to compete. There’s a nice kind of intimacy when you are able to see the people you are speaking to. Another aspect that has been taken from the team due to circumstances is the family bond that we were able to cultivate last year.”

However, Reeves-Hampton argued that the connection between the team is not gone. “Speech and Debate and Public Speaking are such supportive groups, and this is a time when we need support, the connection seems to really still be there,” Reeves-Hampton said, explaining the ways the class is not without benefits during COVID. “I’ve always suggested to students that they videotape themselves to see how they really come across.” Even if the class may have issues with communication over Zoom, the education of the subject is not lost. “As the year progressed, we have become more accustomed to online school and have been able to be just as effective in the learning aspect as in the previous, more ‘normal’ year,” said Joseph. 

When looking to the future, Reeves-Hampton still sees the team in its youth. “The team feels like a four-month-old infant. It’s at that sweet spot where it’s sitting up by itself and starting to get moving on its own but will need lots of monitoring for the coming stretch ahead. I see these students as leaders in all of our class’ discussions. I hope they’ll see class discussions as a chance to not only be brave enough to speak up, but also get really good at listening and asking questions; our world needs those skills more than ever.” Due to the team’s active nature, Reeves-Hampton is hopeful to get back in person to any degree. For Joseph, she has similar hopes for the class’s future, “Although, this year wasn’t entirely what I expected, I’m incredibly proud of the team and what we’ve accomplished. Regardless of what next year brings, I am whole-heartedly excited for the class!”

Features Issue 6 Magazine

Thirsty Thursday

By Ally Hoogs

A group of Bay Area women entrepreneurs are getting together every month in a conclave they call Thirsty Thursday. The organization, run by Jenny Schneider, meets together to talk about their journeys into starting businesses, their work-life balance, and helpful information to create an uplifting environment for female business owners. Rachel Fawkes, owner of The Catalyst Style, said, “I think women are so often asked to be in competition with each other and led to believe that there are only so many opportunities and not to share them, but I think Thirsty Thursday is the total opposite.” 

Nicole Carberry, member of the club and owner of Itty Bitty Bake Shop in Lafayette, describes the group as, “a community of women who pursue both their personal and professional goals with passion, drive and humility.” She mentioned that during meetings, they talk about their successes, failures and what they have learned. This line of communication brings to light the struggles they have endured as female business owners in the Bay Area. Carberry added that through the club’s efforts, she has learned valuable social media tactics and has come to realize that asking for help from others is never a bad thing.

Fawkes commented that they “don’t just focus on business, but our whole lives as business owners, [including] taking care of ourselves, and our companies. ” This is one of many things Fawkes loves about the club. She further explained, “Working for yourself can be isolating and being able to talk about work ideas with other women who experience similar things is inspiring and empowering, [and] led to some of my closest friendships.” 

Sharing their stories and supporting each other is one of the focal points of the all-women group. However, they also bring in guest speakers with backgrounds in marketing, finance, nutrition and wellness; lighting up different perspectives and introducing new experiences to their meetings. 

Together, these inspiring women are taking their businesses to the next level, sharing strategies and experiences to lift each other up and create a positive environment for growth. Carberry finished by saying, “I am proud to be part of a group of women who live their dreams fearlessly.”

Features Issue 6 Magazine

Melanie Quan

By Kate Rider

On January 7, 2021, Society for Science named senior Melanie Quan a top 300 scholar in the 80th Regeneron Science Talent Search. The talent search is considered to be the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and mathematics competition for high school seniors. Quan was selected based on her commitment to academics, exceptional research skills, innovative thinking, promise as a scientist, and more specifically, her work to reduce plastic pollution. 

Quan first became concerned about microplastic pollution after reading a 2017 study, “The study conducted tap water samples from over 160 countries around the world, and found that 83% of tap water worldwide contained some form of microplastics,” Quan said. “Microplastics really concerned me because they have the potential to concentrate and transport toxins and chemicals up the food chain, and eventually onto our dinner plates.” 

In order to combat the growing problem of plastic pollution, Quan sought to create an alternative plastic material, “The plastic I created is made from the waste products of algae-based biofuel production. It is compostable, water-soluble, serves as a natural fertilizer, and exhibits similar physical properties to conventional petroleum-based plastics.” Quan has been able to change the bioplastics’ physical properties to become more flexible or more rigid and has been able to increase the water resistancy of the bioplastics so its uses could range from utensils to plastic linings to single-use packaging. “I’ve also identified different algae species that could be used to create plastic films to replace PFAs [a chemical found in many plastic products], which have been in the news recently,” Quan continued.

“My research focuses on algae’s potential as a novel source of biopolymers for plastics, as well as evaluating its sustainability in the production and disposal of the plastics,” she explained. Her research was divided into three phases: identifying an optimal algae species, comparing the tensile strength of all the plastics, and evaluating the plastics in their various routes of disposal.

Quan’s success brings positive change to the Las Lomas community. Due to her tireless work, Las Lomas will receive $2,000 to use towards STEM-related activities. When thinking of the ideal grant distribution, Quan adds, “Hopefully they can use it to get more lab supplies that they can distribute to the students to make distance learning more accommodating for labs.”