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Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 8

LL Class of 2020 and How They’ve Been Honored

by Nolan Runkle

Due to COVID-19, the school threw the previously planned graduation ceremony for the Las Lomas class of 2020 out the window. The new graduation ceremony will take place on June 3, and Las Lomas gave information on how seniors should attend, and how to get their cap and gown. In an email sent out on May 20 Principal Tiffany Benson, details the process for the new graduation ceremony.

For senior events, there was the cap and gown pick up party on May 19, and a highlight of some Seniors’ reflections on May 24. The Senior Awards ceremony is on May 26, and then the events come to a close with the Graduation ceremony on June 3.

Las Lomas sent out gift bags to seniors, filled with Las Lomas goodies and signs recognizing seniors. In these bags, seniors should have received more info on their graduation time and line up number. However, to ensure social distancing, graduation will be very different in terms of a crowd: “The county has been loosening this number of family participants, but still capping the total number of people on campus. We will update families on the total number of allowed guests on June 1st, but for planning purposes you may bring any number of guests in your car and can bring AT LEAST 2 family members to the stage area to view.”

Some Las Lomas seniors offered their thoughts on graduation. Daphne Burton says, “I really appreciate how Las Lomas is still trying really hard to make this school year special for us seniors. They have put up tons of signs to celebrate our achievements and have given me a lot of cool goodies including a balloon which I loved. My family is celebrating my graduation with a small party at my house with just my family and my grandma. They have also mentioned getting me a gift but I don’t know what it is yet.” Haven Piper stated that “Las Lomas has acknowledged me by sending me helpful emails which provide substantial information regarding cap and gown pickups and future dates. Personally I am celebrating graduation by spending time with family. I’ll probably go out to eat or do something special. Either way I am proud of what I’ve accomplished in high school.” Tristan Thomas replied, “Me and my family might be celebrating my graduation by going down to San Diego with [another] family since there’s nowhere else we could go. We were planning on going to Hawaii for my graduation, but COVID-19 is preventing us from going now.”

Seniors may have had terrible luck this year with the pandemic, but one hopes that they will still feel special after the many years they’ve endured at -school.

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Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 8

California Has Slowly Been Easing on Restrictions

by Mateo Requejo-Tejada

As we approach our third month under a stay-at-home order, many counties, including ours, have started easing up on restrictions as we approach phase 2 of Governor Newsom’s four-phase plan. This plan’s purpose is to safely transition California to a position where it can eventually reopen the economy. According to ABC 7 News, the plan is as follows: In Phase 1, everyone is either following stay at home orders or they’re part of the essential workforce. Phase 2 opens up lower risk workspaces “like childcare facilities, some office spaces with a minimum number of people, retail stores offering curbside pick-up, and schools.” Phase 3 involves “reopening higher risk workspaces like gyms, hair salons, nail salons, movie theaters, sporting events without a live audience, and in-person religious services (churches and weddings).” Lastly, Phase 4 would end the stay at home order “which would allow for the reopening of concert venues, convention centers, and sporting events with live audiences.”  Although we are in Phase 2 of the Governor’s plan, we are only in its early stages,  only allowing the opening of florists, car washes, outdoor museums, curbside retail, manufacturing, logistics, childcare for nonessential workers, open galleries, and other open spaces, with restrictions. These restrictions on open spaces like parks and beaches can include no access to parking, limited time at a location, face masks, being 6 feet apart from others, and locations closing on weekends. Once the State further ensures a comeback in overall public health and met some of Gavin Newsom’s requirements, Contra Costa and the rest of California can proceed with the rest of Phase 2. According to Mercury Newsm in order to qualify for the rest of phase 2, “Any county that wants to accelerate its reopening must submit a 12-page application, called a ‘local variance attestation,’ plus supporting documents.” The criteria of these applications goes as follows:

  • 1 or fewer cases per 10,000 residents the past 14 days
  • No deaths for the past 14 days
  • Minimum daily testing of 1.5 per 1,000 residents, with recommendation of 2 per 1,000
  • Testing sites within 30 minutes of 75% of urban residents and 60 minutes of 75% of rural residents
  • 15 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents
  • Temporary housing available for 15% of population experiencing homelessness
  • Hospital capacity for 35% surge in COVID-19 patients
  • A “robust” plan to protect hospital workers and provide personal protective equipment
  • A 14-day supply and a documented supply chain of PPE for skilled nursing facilities

Once a county meets these requirements it will be able to slowly reopen schools with safety precautions, allow dining in restaurants, shopping in retail stores, and the opening of shopping malls. 

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Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 8

Progress Report Distribution

Progress reports are among the many changes that online learning has brought about for Las Lomas staff and students. Generally, student progress reports seek to inform parents and students of the latter’s performance compared to curriculum standards, providing information as to those courses that need improvement. . Typically, Las Lomas calculates grades at a specific point in time during the semester, generally, eight weeks after the quarter starts.But, this semester progress reports were issued last week due to the change in teaching and grading practices brought about by the pandemic.According to Principal Tiffany Benson in a announcement to parents and students on May 13, “The fourth quarter progress report period ended last week.” 

In terms of a students’ permanent record, progress report grades do not appear on students’ high school transcripts and will not be used to calculate their GPA or factor into their college applications. Instead, these reports provide an opportunity for individuals to identify areas that need improvement and can be addressed before grades are final. For instance, there may be missing assignments that can be turned in, or students can work with their teachers to develop a plan to raise their grades before the semester ends. Additionally, students may use this information on their progress reports to determine whether they may need to sign up for summer school to repeat a class. Since Las Lomas converted to online school at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Acalanes High School District decided that students’ work would be assessed as Credit (CR) or No Credit (NC) instead of the typical letter grades for second semester. Credit is assigned for work that is deemed 60% or above, while No Credit is assessed on assignments that are evaluated below a 60%. Thus, any course that earns a No Credit will appear on a students’ progress report and if it does improve to Credit, the class will need to be repeated. Grades from third quarter will be combined with fourth quarter performance to calculate the second semester grades. This grading standard differs in another way from the usual letter grades as progress reports were calculated based on performance less than 70%. In her recent announcement, Principal Benson, indicates that “if a student received no credit for any of their classes, a paper report card will be mailed home and should be arriving soon.” Also, she advises that “ students and families can access their progress report marks online on the Aeries Pass Portal.” 

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Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 8

Las Lomas Finals Cancelled

by Brian Gewecke

Students usually fear Finals Week more than any other in the semester. However, this year, due to the quarantine, Las Lomas has cancelled its finals, relieving many students’ stress that one test may destroy their grades. Although finals’ cancellation helps many students, it especially benefits one group: Juniors. It allows them the opportunity to focus solely on their AP Tests, especially benefitting those with multiple tests. It clears up time for those still with SAT’s left to study, and gives all Juniors an opportunity to begin preparation for college applications.

“Although I don’t really have a strong opinion on the subject, I’m kind of glad that we don’t have finals. It’s nice that we only have work that week, and that we don’t have tests after the AP Tests,” said Junior Ethan Clymer. “Having finals wouldn’t help my grade in any way, and not having to take them prevents adding to stress brought on by AP Tests”. For Ethan, an AP student, avoiding finals is huge. If finals weren’t cancelled, AP students would be studying tirelessly for AP Tests, only to go right into studying for finals.

Another Junior, Ashley Cowell, isn’t surprised that the school decided to cancel finals, and is glad she has one less thing to worry about. However, “even though it gives me less things to stress about, I still have to worry about AP Tests, which will be hard. Just the fact that they’re going to be different from what we’ve been preparing for is a little stressful”. Many students like Ashley have been well prepared for their AP Tests, but still feel a little stressed due to the unfamiliar format of the tests, with several tests being different from what students have been preparing for all year.

For many students, finals’ cancellation prevents a few weeks of complete exhaustion, especially for Juniors. 

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Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 8

Graduation Ceremonies Amid a Pandemic

by Katelyn To

As May comes close to an end and June approaches, the thought of the pandemic taking a traditional graduation ceremony away from high school and college seniors makes many sullen. However, high schools, universities, and celebrities do the best they can to make up for a regular graduation ceremony for the class of 2020. 

For example, on May 8, Ms. Benson sent out an email to Las Lomas students about a graduation ceremony with social distancing guidelines in place, which the school will hold on June 3. “Students and their immediate family members will be invited to campus during a specific timeframe to participate in a diploma presentation,” the email states. “Professional videographers will film every component of the ceremony and present it via a live webcast. This webcast will be recorded and available, in a condensed format, after graduation.” The ceremony will also include student and staff speeches, certification, presentation of diplomas, and ceremonial changing of tassels. The email tells students to await additional information. 

“I think it’s the best the school could have done honestly,” said Senior Yoonju Kim. “Although the traditional one would have been preferred because I definitely wanted the experience and atmosphere of graduating with people I spent four years with…I’m just glad we have at least some type of in-person graduation…I think it’s super clever the school is doing specific/different time frames for people.” 

Senior Mari Johns said, “I’m disappointed that I don’t get my traditional graduation, but I understand why they are doing this. But in my opinion, I was hoping that they would have waited till this pandemic was over. And I’m sad that I don’t get to graduate alongside all my friends and whole family.” 

Many celebrities have also taken to online platforms like YouTube to host their own virtual graduation ceremonies for anyone who wants to join. On June 6, Barack and Michelle Obama will host “Dear Class of 2020” on the YouTube Originals channel at 12 PM PST. The Obamas will make speeches, along with speakers and appearances by Beyoncé, BTS, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Doja Cat, Emma Chamberlain, The Try Guys, Malala Yousafzai, and more. 

On May 15, HerCampus celebrated college seniors also with a YouTube livestream and appearances by Liam Payne, Austin Mahone, Margaret Cho, Andrew Yang, and more. On the same day, Oprah Winfrey, Lil Nas X, Awkwafina, Simone Biles, and Jennifer Garner spoke on livestream “#Graduation2020” hosted on Instagram and Facebook. 

The University of Southern California held their own virtual ceremony on May 16. Speakers like Will Ferrell, John Williams, Mandy Moore and Lisa Ling came to celebrate the graduating class at USC on the Youtube livestream. ‘Graduate Together’ also featured Lebron James, Barack Obama, Lana Condor, the Jonas Brothers, Malala Yousafzai, H.E.R., Bad Bunny, Pharell Williams, and more. It aired on television in addition to TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter. 

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Features Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 8

Anxiety and Procrastination Manifesting in Teens

by Riley Martin

Students are often faced with the everyday struggle of completing work that has been assigned to them during a regular school year. If students need help there are plenty of available resources for all subjects that are given by the school. Not only is there a variety of ways to receive the help needed, but there are more ways to stay accountable for doing work when being in a school setting. 

Although many teachers are doing their best to make themselves available and willing to help, for some who deal with anxiety, it is hard for them to relent in these circumstances. Sophomore Sandra Safein said, “My anxiety has fluctuated, but there is more anxiety with the load of work that one must do while trying to grasp the information and actually learning the concepts.” Another sophomore Eliza Loventhal agreed with Safein and said, “Anxiety levels in school related stuff has for sure gone up a little.” However, this sense of anxiety is not just restricted to one particular grade level. Junior Lauren Johnson said, “My anxiety levels in school are way higher because I don’t have access to the normal things I use to cope with like friends or dance.” The majority of kids ranging from all grades are getting work done by whatever means necessary, but that doesn’t seem to alter the high amount of anxiety-ridden teens. 

Procrastination has also overcome many of these students. Johnson said, “It has gotten immensely worse because I have nobody to push me to do the work and it just keeps piling up and I don’t know where to start now.” Having another common response to the subject was Loventhal, “My procrastination has definitely gotten worse. I have little-to-no motivation and I find myself only doing things to get them done and because I have to. I am not doing it because I enjoy them or want to learn.”

There are other ends of the spectrum and Safein is on it, “My procrastination has definitely improved because before I was unmotivated to do any homework or any form of studying. All my energy was drained at school and it was leaving me completely unmotivated by the time I got home. Now with online school I can plan my week better and manage my time to prevent myself from getting too stressed out. This way I have both the time and energy to learn new things on top of keeping up with school.”

Though many have become anxiety ridden while others have not, it is evident that online school has made for a balance of positives and negatives in students’ day-by-day life. 

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Features Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 8

When in Quarantine, Dye Your Hair

by Katelyn To

Graphic by Jane Wilson

With shelter-in-place orders that will be enforced for over two months, people have resorted to many things to keep themselves busy. Notably, this includes some impulsive decisions involving appearance, such as people cutting their hair, bangs, dying it, or piercing their ears. 

Senior Charlotte Till is one of those people. She cut six inches of her hair off, and explained, “I was bored and I wanted something different. I don’t think I would have decided to do this if not for the quarantine and I definitely wouldn’t have cut it myself [if not in quarantine].” When asked why so many people were doing things such as cutting their own hair, she said, “I think people are making these decisions because…quarantine is prompting people to do things they normally wouldn’t do.” 

Junior Liza Kagan also decided it was time for a change. She said, “I dyed my hair two times already. The first time it was, kind of, closer to [a] purple color, and the second time yesterday I dyed my hair red.” She dyed her hair because “it was kind of boring and I wanted to change something to make something funny and exciting.”

“It’s really hard mentally to stay sane, I would say, during the quarantine,” Kagan said. “You can’t hang out with your friends, you can’t go to school, you can’t do stuff that you like to do, and it was a drastic change. So to make themselves feel better and kind of motivated I think that’s why people are choosing to change something in themselves…out of boredom and as mental support.” 

Although impulsive decisions sometimes lead to unfortunate results, oftentimes they produce a pleasing result. Both Till and Kagan were happy with the way their hair turned out. Till expressed a feeling of joy that she had done so, but Kagan had some mixed feelings, with happiness outweighing the other emotions. She said, “I’m pretty much happy. The first time I dyed my hair, all of my bathroom was pink and I wasn’t really happy about it. I thought I would be really neat but it didn’t work out and [the] second time yesterday it went pretty well. It’s just some parts of my skin are dyed red right now, but it will go away. So I am really satisfied with my hair color right now.”

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Features Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 8

Meditation Wherever, Whenever

by Nolan Runkle

Graphic by Madison Laxamana

In a day and age where stress dominates each and every aspect of our lives, it gets harder and harder to calm ourselves down and get a clear head. Since we all have our phones to keep us occupied, you can easily use the resources available to you to help manage that stress and help you stay focused. We all see the ads for these services, but here are the most positively reviewed apps I recommend that you use.

Headspace is one of  ESTu major ze apps used by people right now, with over one million users. Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk, founded the service. Full of over hundreds of guided meditations in a paid subscription plan; they also have a 10 day guided meditation package. 

7 Cups is another meditation service where you can ask trained listeners or therapists questions anonymously and on your own schedule. This app offers personalized trainers for you to talk to.  It is based on life experiences and emotions, and all for free. 

The meditation app chosen by a few celebrities, PZIZZ, connects with people through the visually appealing app. The layered voice narrations they use are designed to boost somatic awareness, relax muscles, and ease a sporadic heart rate.

An app that is a tad bit different than the others, Mindbody, doesn’t help you meditate through mental workouts, but physical. Exercise classes are sorted by category, and it enables easy access to  nutritionists in your area to track and improve your eating habits.

Similarly to Headspace, Insight Timer is for anyone interested in trying different techniques of practicing wellness and meditation. This relaxation app offers an eclectic mix of methods, whether based on mindfulness or faith-based approaches ranging from Buddhist mindfulness and transcendental meditation and Christian-based approaches. 

The app also has music, meditations of varying times, and a rich selection of teachers, presenters, coaches and scientists, as well as a highly configurable meditation timer. While some of the app’s main features are behind a $9.99 paywall, there are still many options for free.

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Features Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 8

Online Learning during COVID-19

Graphic by Yiying Zhang

Overall, students are required to complete less work during online learning than they had with classroom instruction.

 Beginning March 16, 2020, the Acalanes School District switched to online learning and in order to engage with the curriculum, students are expected to log-in to School Loop and review assignments  and due dates. Generally, teachers post work and deadlines each Monday for that week. 

The reduced workload is related to the philosophy the district has adopted in developing the online curriculum. The district is refocusing its efforts to “teach what is essential for students to know to complete their courses and be ready for their subsequent courses.” The district explains that “essential” relates to those “standards for the courses that have been identified in the prior years as part of our district curricular work.” 

One of the challenges teachers are facing is that the district does not possess an online platform to execute a full teaching experience that includes instruction, assessment, and communication. As a result, there are significant limitations with this learning process. Generally, students and teachers are working together with the familiar School Loop, and the district is providing guidance to teachers to use  Zoom, Google Hangout, or Google Classroom to supplement and enhance the learning experience. Most, but not all teachers are offering office hours virtually to support students who need help with assignments. 

Within the learning curriculum, the district has established specific guidelines for the amount of time to spend on work that should be completed each week. According to Lissa Wentner, an AP Human Geography teacher at Las Lomas, there is no clear “distinction from schoolwork as it usually is, so if all work is “homework,” most classes are supposed to be in the 2-3 hrs /week range.” 

In essence, that is a significant reduction in time spent on a typical course in classroom learning as students spend at least three hours in school and then additional time on homework. But, as Ms. Wentner explains, “AP classes are exempt from that” requirement. For her class, she assigns 2-4 hours of work each week which is again still less than the amount of work that was expected in the typical learning environment. Even with these reduced expectations, Ms. Wentner notes that “there is definitely more late work than when we are in school.” However, sophomore Keilah Wright disagrees with Ms. Wentner saying that she has “about the same amount of schoolwork now as I had homework when school was still in session.”

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Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 8

Trump Suspends Immigration Amid Coronavirus Concerns

by Josh Morgan

Graphic by Yiying Zhang

The coronavirus pandemic has been uncharted territory for all. Business leaders and everyday citizens alike must adapt to the rapidly evolving situation in order to make the best of it. One group facing the most responsibility during this pandemic is the government, which, like everyone else, must improvise. The United States government, in particular, was extremely slow to respond to threats of the virus entering and spreading throughout the United States.

Ever since that initial slow response, the White House has been trying to turn things around with some policy changes and public declarations. The success of the policy and the validity of the declarations is a subject of heated debate, and one of the more controversial, and bigger, policy changes that the government recently made by recently was a decision to temporarily suspend immigration.

Initially Trump wanted a complete ban on immigration, but as with his previous circumstances, he had to settle for a more moderate compromise. Ultimately, courts allowed for a “60-day freeze on most green cards while still allowing visa-processing for hundreds of thousands of temporary employees like farm workers and crop pickers, who make up the majority of immigrants,” according to Politico.

This order caused strong reactions on both sides. Some people believe that it is unfair to completely shut own immigration, as it is our responsibility to support all people in need. “This is a time that we need to all come together and get through this together, rather than trying to compete against each other for resources,” said an unnamed Las Lomas junior.

However, many others believe that it is important to put American citizens first during a time of crisis. “I believe that this was a good move,” said an unnamed Las Lomas senior. “Sure it is extreme, but during these times we need to take extreme measures to ensure the security of our people.”

However, this may not be the last controversial decision that the White House makes in efforts to combat the coronavirus.