Final Exams From Home
With finals week around the corner, Mark Keppel High School students have been anticipating what final exams are going to look like this year. Taking into consideration that this is not what the traditional school year would normally look like, there are questions about possible changes to final exams. What was typically finals week where students spend three days in two-hour block schedules has become two days designated for finals.
The finals schedule will look the same as the regular schedule but without extended learning. Students will have final exams for zero, first, third, and fifth periods on Monday, Dec. 14, and seventh, second, fourth, and sixth periods on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Instead of the allotted 118 minutes designated for each period, students now have 80 minutes to complete their final exams. According to the Assistant Principal of Instruction Jocelyn Castro, not having the two-hour block schedule this year is because of, “the way of how the minutes work so by law we are supposed to have a certain number of instructional minutes and I think it’s just how the calendar fell in and what was required of it.”
Ms. Castro adds that as teachers are getting their final exams ready they have to take into account the distance learning, possibility of students cheating, and also accessibility for students to do what they have to do for their final exams. According to Ms. Castro, it may be best if teachers do not give cumulative finals considering all of these factors.
To make sure students stay honest during testing, teachers will have to be creative when it comes to different types of assessments. Woodshop teacher Paul Lam created new finals for all of his classes this year because of distance learning. For his class final, he assigned a project-based exam where students must create a custom wood totem to prevent them from cheating.
Distance learning has had an impact on what and how teachers assess their students. Since students only meet with each of their classes twice a week, it can change the intended content on the exams because of the pacing this school year. And since students are not physically in classes, there are new factors teachers have to take into consideration when preparing for finals. Although the district and administrators do not require teachers to give finals and have advised teachers to consider everything, it is ultimately up to teachers if they want to assess their students and how they want to do it.
Reported by: Alice Yang, Ethan Wong, Sabrina Vong, Katie Phan, and Jade Li.
Edited by: Tiffany Nguyen-Tran.
Dealing With the Loss of Sports During Covid
At the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, everyone was aware that to continue school, we would have to rely on online resources such as Google Classroom and Zoom to continue our school experience. However, many aspects of school were unable to transition with distance learning, including sports.
Sports have always been and will continue to be one of the primary reasons that students are motivated to go to school but now Covid has changed many sports programs.
“Therefore, the current guidance remains in effect, and CIF competitions are not allowed until new guidance has been provided”, says an official statement from the official CIF Instagram page.
Not only are student athletes disappointed, but many coaches are as well. “Covid has not only affected our team, it has affected the way people live in the world. No one would have thought that we would be in the situation so we never prepared for anything like this,” said Mr. Herrera, one of Mark Keppel’s basketball coaches. Despite their anger, the coaches are trying their hardest to do as much as they can to aid their students.
“Covid made me think of solutions on what to do to keep in shape. For example, I run twice a week and lift weights to get in shape to prepare for a season.” said Thomas Do, a senior on the track team.
Since March, everything has been optional and not mandatory since we cannot force anyone to workout currently from home. This factor alone is big because now our athletes are forced to make a decision of whether they want to take it easy or if they want to improve. “Self-discipline kicks in and this will separate those players that want to play at a high level from those players that just want to be a part of a team.” Mr. Herrera added.
The loss of sports isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as we see how coaches and students have come together and put in that extra bit of effort for when they do return to compete.
Reported by: Joneshan Ng, Priscilla Nhan, Elisa Cho, Clinton Ma
Edited by: Tony Zhou
State of California issues new lockdown measures
With the rise in COVID cases as Christmas approaches, a vast majority of Southern California has been put under a new lockdown, effective Dec. 6th. Similar to the previous stay-at-home orders, residents are expected to remain indoors between 10 P.M. and 5 A.M.
Out of the 50 states, California currently has the most reported COVID cases, totaling more than 1.4 million cases from the start of the pandemic to Dec. 11th. According to The California Department of Public Health, this updated stay-at-home order is the state’s latest attempt to preserve its health care system, when hospital ICU beds in the region dropped below the 15% threshold. “We cannot wait until after we have driven off the cliff to pull the emergency brake,” said the Santa Clara county health officer, Dr. Sara Cody to The Guardian.
The new restrictions require citizens to limit in-person contact with those outside of their own households as well as strict closures for many businesses. Although retail stores are allowed to remain open with a 20% capacity, restaurants, bars, hair and nail salons, and tattoo shops are mandated to close.
Junior Aileen Ta shows her support in the state’s efforts, "If they do lockdowns, less people would be going out and there would be more social distancing involved.”
Junior Brandon Fones adds, “I think it is necessary for this new curfew in efforts to limit the number of patients.”
Despite the lockdown's intentions to lower the number of cases, this lockdown may be the death of many small businesses. In a survey conducted by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America with 5,800 small businesses between March 28 and April 4, it was revealed that many of these businesses had already gone through mass layoffs and closures only a few weeks into our health crisis and they are financially fragile. Those who survived this initial tribulation will continue to face the fear of going out of business completely as lockdowns continue to occur.
“I believe that during this pandemic, these non-essential businesses have suffered a lot because of these forced closures. However, I still believe the pandemic takes priority,” concludes junior Kyle Chen.
Reported by: Danny Zhu, Jolie Lau, Kevin Zhang, and Soraya Shafer
Edited by: Ellis Yang
F.A.R.M.S Food Drive Benefits AUSD Students
As the holidays arrive, many families are in need of help. The Alhambra Unified School District (AUSD) has set up a new organization to help reach out to families that are financially struggling by providing food to those in need during the holiday seasons. FARMS (Free And Reduced Meals for Students) is student-run with the help of the Mark Keppel Alliance. The organization was formed in August to help people in need by collecting donations of non-perishable foods from families and students in the school district and distributing these foods to AUSD families.
As 70% of students had relied on free and reduced meals, their crew was set into action. When asked about how the whole organization started, Tiffany Thong, a student administrator for this club, stated,“ F.A.R.M.S was started as an idea for a pitch contest. The topic was, ‘How can we help our community during this unprecedented time?’ ”
Their team came across posts on AUSD’s Instagram page and took into recognition how SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) cuts affected how meals were being passed out to families in need. SNAP was originally a Food Stamp Program created in 1939 that was intended to align ground food surpluses aligning with concerns for the needs of the poor in the country emerging from the Great Depression. Moreover, the organization members came together with a mission of making sure students and families are well-nourished during this pandemic.
A donation drive was set from November 9th and lasted until November 18th, 2020 about a week before Thanksgiving. In order to accommodate COVID-19 guidelines, there were several special precautions taken for the food donations arriving from families that wanted to help. Tiffany Thong states, “We opened our homes near Mark Keppel for people to drop off donations. We leave boxes out in front of our homes so students can drop off their donations. This prevents any contact with others.”
In order for families to pick up the donations, people were required to wear face masks, drive-by locations, and open their car trunks so that volunteers could put food boxes inside. At the end of this food drive, 134 families were helped in San Gabriel Valley.
Although donations are not being accepted anymore and they have stated that they won’t be doing donation drives all year long, they have confirmed that they will be holding donation drives from time to time throughout the year and will let people know when these events are taking place on their Instagram. If you’re interested in joining their club or future events, you can follow their Instagram @ausd_f.a.r.m.s.
Reported by: Whitney Vu, Kai Chang, Andrew Aguiniga, and Jacky Chu
Edited by: Kylie Chung
Apple’s new iPhone debuts with no charging brick or EarPods
With 20202 coming to a close, Apple begins a new chapter within their legacy, releasing the first iPhone to carry 5G service on Oct. 16th. However, tech fanatics will be disappointed to learn that the hefty price boasts meager technological advances.
Alongside the switch from 4G to 5G, which will increase processing speeds up to 100 times faster, Apple introduces new packaging for its latest iPhone model. Those who purchased an iPhone 11 or below would receive the default care package of a pair of EarPods, a charging brick and a charging cord. The iPhone 12 will be the first iPhone to debut without a charging brick or EarPods. Instead, it will only come with Apple’s signature USB-C cable, whereas previous models have been using the more universal 5-watt USB-A charging brick. This change will not be limited only to iPhone 12, but to all selling models as well.
Those who find their current charging wire fraying, or those who plan on switching from Android to iPhone for the first time will need to purchase a compatible charging brick separately. Senior Calvin Bui states, “...most non-Apple earbuds and headsets require an aux cord, which makes it harder to find compatible accessories. And removing the adapter makes it seem like previous Apple chargers are useless.”
According to Apple Vice President Lisa Jackson, “We know consumers have been accumulating USB power adapters, and that producing millions of unneeded adapters consumes resources and adds to our carbon footprint.” According to Apple’s research, Jackson believes there are already 7 million pairs of wired EarPods and around 2 billion power adapters in global circulation. This change in packaging is Apple’s latest efforts in cutting down E-Waste.
Reactions to this repackaging have been mixed. While some consumers are congratulating Apple for cutting down on raw material consumptions and being more environmentally friendly, others are skeptical about their true intentions.
“I really love the new packaging. I am all for efforts to benefit the environment, reducing e-waste. Apple is the right that most people should already own those two accessories,” says senior Jasmine Lim.
For sophomore Eric Lara, the only difference between the iPhone 12 and its previous model “is the shape and camera quality.” The lack of the charging brick and EarPods comes off as Apple trying to squeeze more money out of their consumers by making them pay for accessories most would expect to be included. As another iPhone user has commented online, “It’s like buying a house but windows and roof sold separately.”
“It’s more expensive than last year’s iPhone 11, and it doesn’t come with a charger in the box; yes, there are environmental benefits to this, but you may need to factor buying a new charger into the cost of your new iPhone on top of the higher price,” concludes TechRadar’s Tech Reviewer, Gareth Beavis.
Reported by: Jayda Toscano, Frankie Wang, Kai Chang, Danny Zhu and Jacky Chu
Edited by: Ellis Yang
From “Mafia” to “Among Us”
As the pandemic treads on, a resurgence of the 2018 indie game, “Among Us”, has attracted a tidal wave of users thirsting for human-contact to their servers. Most players of the game are those who were born between 1995-2012, also known as Generation Z.
“Among Us” is an online adaptation of the classic party game, “Mafia.” Though “Mafia” is usually played in social gatherings with friends, both games have similar objectives: To find the killer(s). “Among Us” is space-themed, consisting of a total of ten astronauts per space shuttle; everyone is a crewmate, save for the max of three Imposters. The goal of the crewmates in “Among Us” is to catch the Imposter(s) and finish all the tasks on the map. Whereas the Imposter's aim is to annihilate all the crewmates as fast as possible, before they are discovered. If a dead body is reported, the players enter a discussion round where they voice their suspicions to rule out the Iimposter. The Imposters have to successfully lie to the other crewmates to gain their trust. If a crewmate is voted out, they return to the map as a ghost to finish their tasks before the Imposter can win the game. If an Imposter is voted out, they can aid their accomplice by sabotaging the ship.
Due to the suspense and the thrill from the video game, it quickly became trendy amongst the gaming community on Twitch, YouTube and TikTok. Videos from content creators such as Pewdiepie, Disguised Toast, and Corpse Husband show cunning tactics and ultimate betrayals helped revive the game's popularity. Since the new flood of players in October, the game has received “overwhelmingly positive” reviews on Steam. Senior Austin Lee states, "If streamers and influencers did not play this game, then I wouldn’t have heard of Among Us .” Additionally, the video game is available on the App Store and Google Play for free and can be purchased on Steam for $4.99. Since the game is affordable and inexpensive, it allows cross-platform gameplay, where PC and mobile users can play simultaneously.
“I think what makes “Among Us” enjoyable is how we can play with friends and work together to find the imposter. However, if you get assigned as the imposter, it’s exciting and you have to find ways to lie and work your way around,.” concludes junior Chelsea Chen.
Reported by: Kayli Choi, Soraya Shafer, Joneshan Ng, Michelle Ung, Zhuchang Ren and Alice Yang
Edited by: Amy To
Poor Connections Can Ruin a Student’s Year
When COVID-19 first came to the United States, distance learning was immediately considered as a solution for the remaining school year and possibly for the upcoming fall. As it continues to be utilized throughout the first semester, students have come to realize that stable internet connections are necessary in order to properly attend virtual classes and lectures. Inability to maintain secure connections can create learning gaps for students, many of whom may already be struggling with issues outside of the classroom. For many Keppel students, unstable internet connections have created a multitude of complications regarding their education.
“Almost everyone I've talked to from school has had some connection issues with Zoom calls,” says senior Catherine Peng. “A few times, a teacher's connection was bad enough that we had to skip zoom calling for a whole period, or we started very late.” Fellow senior Nicole Wu echoes her sentiment. “Fifty percent of my teachers have had internet connection issues. At times I can’t tell what is happening in class due to the teacher’s poor internet. We lose time in class due to this issue.” Like most students who have had similar difficulties with their internet, they worry about their quality of education and what the lack of secure connections can result in.
Regarding internet outages, teachers and students have varying opinions on how schools should deal with the issue. Mandarin teacher Mr. Brown believes that teachers should at least "have backups in these circumstances." Although these outages can last just minutes, or even seconds, important information delivered during lectures or activities can be lost, with limited solutions to make up for what was missed.
It is the responsibility of teachers and staff at Mark Keppel to ensure that students can have access to education no matter the strength of their connection. “I give them instructions via email and ask them to complete the work. I also give them an opportunity to visit during office hours if they need additional help,” says Brown. “I believe that teachers' office hours are a good solution to these issues,” he says.
On the other hand, students like Wu believe that the best solution would be to just skip out on assigning homework at all. “There’s no way I can do it if I can’t even see it,” she says. Junior Michelle Swe suggests that teachers "post their materials on Google Classroom,” such as recordings of lectures, instructions for homework, and anything else of importance that was missed. Finally, Peng says, “I think schools should find a way to temporarily provide wifi or have teachers provide lessons that students don't need to go onto a call to learn from. Opening computer labs to a few students is another possibility, but I'm not sure that would be the safest idea.”
Peng, who has borrowed a Chromebook from the school for the year, also mentions that they can cause her to “lag [her] way through an entire class,” yet when she joins Zoom calls through a personal computer, she experiences little to no connection issues. Furthermore, she says, “the way chromebooks are regulated really do not help students. I understand why certain websites would be blocked on school computers, but they recently blocked students from accessing personal google accounts on the chromebooks. As a senior in the college application process, I use my personal accounts a lot for these purposes. It is super inconvenient that more regulations are being put onto the chromebooks.”
Unstable connections, which might have once been considered minor inconveniences, have now become the deciding factor for the quality of students’ class times. “Distance learning is very frustrating with connection issues. Oftentimes I want to participate but opt out because my connection is really bad that day and I know the class won't be able to hear me clearly,” says Peng. “I can't imagine how difficult this is for students with worse connectivity issues or any health conditions and learning styles that don't mesh well with distance learning, especially if they are very young.”
As the school year progresses with distance learning remaining on the horizon, a definite solution for these internet issues must be found so that students may consider online learning a proper substitute for traditional schooling.
Reported by: Jade Li, Ethan Wong, Elisa Cho, Tony Zhou and Kevin Zhang
Edited by: Mala Hu
Pandemic Brings Increase in Mental Health Advocacy Clubs
As Mark Keppel’s school year begins, there has been an increase in the number of mental health and advocacy clubs on campus. Advocacy clubs are clubs formed to fight for certain rights for students and provide support o specific communities. Before 2020, there were only three advocacy clubs on the Keppel campus, including the MKHS GSA club which is run by President Meily Tran and Vice President Catherine Peng. During the last eight years, there has been a slight increase in advocacy groups, but the pandemic has resulted in a sharp upturn of students and teachers forming nine new advocacy clubs.
Mental Health Awareness, led by junior Lindsey Tran, is one of the new clubs on the rise with the purpose of spreading awareness of mental health illnesses and stressing the importance of a healthy mindset. “I started this club because as a high school student affected by quarantine, I knew that other students were probably going through the same thing as me,” says Tran. “Also, because mental health is a stigma in the Asian community, I wanted to create a safe space where we can educate ourselves and support others, especially during these despairing times.” The club spreads awareness about mental health and illness, as well as its effects. MHA also emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy mindset and provides a safe and non-judgmental environment for self-expression.
Junior Madison Jou formed the Active Minds recently at MKHS during the beginning months of quarantine. Jou has a driving passion for mental health and she understands that it is a broad and important topic. Throughout her years at high school, Jou felt disheartened after hearing many of the heartbreaking things people would say about themselves. Jou found out that not a lot of people knew much about what mental health is, so she wanted to get people together to talk about their mental health and share what they have been going through. Jou hopes to bring up more conversations about mental health and help students feel safe in their environment.
With the ongoing quarantine, it is safe to say that these clubs will positively impact students’ lives and their mental health. These advocacy clubs are a safe haven for those who need someone to talk to and even learn about new things. Even when the pandemic comes to a close, these clubs will continue to help students in their following years at Mark Keppel.
Reported by: Kaylie Chung, Selina Zhang, Cesar Rendon, Clinton Ma, Kaemon Lee and Priscilla Nhan
Edited by: Sabrina Vong.
Staying entertained during quarantine
While some forms of entertainment such as binge-watching, baking, and gardening have been revived since the Covid lockdown in March, other group activities such as graduations have been modified to follow health and social distancing guidelines.
One form of entertainment that has been revived is streaming movies or television shows at home. Movie theatres have been closed for the safety of the community, therefore, many individuals have been enjoying movies through streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu.
In addition to binge-watching movies and television, people have also started to turn to their hobbies as another way to keep entertained. Quarantine has allowed people to spend more time on their current hobbies as well as discovering new ones. Junior Brandon Woo says, “My sister and I have been baking cookies, pies, and other pastry. I have been doing it for a while, but I am doing it more because of quarantine. I am trying new baking recipes with my sister, cooking something other than cakes and desserts.’’ Woo adds that he has been calling, texting, and playing online games such as “Among Us” more often with his friends. Junior Emily Dodge says, “I cook but in quarantine, I’ve been cooking a lot more.” Dodge adds that in her free time, she has been working as an intern for a business company in which she has stated that she will continue engaging in after quarantine.
During this time, it has become difficult to have in-person events such as weddings and birthday parties. There have been drive-in events for things such as graduations, concerts, and movies. People do not need to get out of their vehicles, therefore, do not have to worry about exposing themselves to COVID-19. Many events such as weddings and birthday parties have been canceled as it includes gatherings of people. To work around health guidelines, some people have been using Zoom calls to communicate and stream these events to their families and friends. Activities such as visiting zoos and aquariums, mini-golfing, and kart racing have been allowed to re-open outdoors with modifications.
Even through the pandemic, people have found ways to work around quarantine and started to hold events online or in-person while implementing health measures such as social distancing and sanitizing frequently used surfaces. While holding events virtually and participating in activities with social distancing modifications is not how people would expect to do things, it is the best we can do with the given circumstances of COVID-19.
Reported by: Whitney Vu, Jolie Lau, Tyler Maenaga, Katie Phan and Andrew Aguiniga.
Edited by: Tiffany Nguyen-Tran