Covid-19 may change how seniors choose a college
By Selena Martinez
The Aztec co-editor and
Amy To and Meily Tran
The Aztec staff writers
Although the current COVID-19 pandemic has canceled senior activities like Grad Nite and
graduation, if there’s one rite of passage that seniors are still experiencing, it’s having to choose
their post-secondary education plans. Nevertheless, like most aspects of life, the pandemic has
changed how choosing a college has to be done. Without being able to visit campuses and talk to
current students in person, there is an increased dependency on virtual tours, zoom webinars, and
social media to help seniors make their decision about which college to attend next fall.
Senior Andrew Zhu, who will be attending UCLA in the fall, has been attending UCLA’s
virtual housing tours. Other than tours of dorms, colleges are offering zoom webinars and virtual
interviews with alumni and current students. However, Senior Belinda Lau says, “[Virtual tours
and presentations] do help answer a lot of my questions and [tell me] where things are, but I
believe that they aren’t sufficient for [replacing] actual tours. Even if I think I understand
everything, once I am actually there, the perspective is different and I might get lost.” On top of
that, some students may be starting out their college years from home. Cal State University
Fullerton, for instance, will be holding its fall classes virtually.
Virtual tours are helpful to the many seniors who already had their college plans set in stone
prior to the emergence of COVID-19 in the United States. However, Mark Keppel’s Career
Technical Education Advisor Ms. An notes that some students may choose to take a gap year or
go to community college because of the pandemic. Ms. An has already met with seniors
regarding such changes, saying, “I meet with an average of six to ten students a day since online
learning started and [a] majority are seniors.” Although Lau notes that her parents didn’t raise
any safety and health concerns when choosing a school, there are other students that may have
parents rethinking their child’s decision on whether or not to go out of state. There may also be
cases in which parents can no longer afford to pay the college tuition for the schools their
children initially chose with the COVID-19 pandemic putting their employment status and
income at risk.
If any seniors are feeling troubled about college plans because of COVID-19, as well as any
other Mark Keppel students and parents, they can consult Ms. An on Instagram at
@mkhscollegecareercenter, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at tinyurl.com/MsAnAppts.
Quaran-cleaning Up the Environment
The Aztec News Editor and
Danny Estrada and Maddy Leong
The Aztec staff writers
Recent stay-at-home orders initiated due to the coronavirus pandemic have shown there are
actually benefits than keeping the virus from spreading. According to a UCLA researcher
referenced in an article by Calmatters.org, the Los Angeles Basin is experiencing its longest
period of good air quality days since 1995.
This improvement in air quality is due to the decreased amount of people on the roads, which in
turn, reduces carbon emissions in the air. Improvements in the environment are also being
experienced in other parts of the world. In Italy, its canals are now crystal clear since there is no
canal traffic to stir up sediment. This has allowed dolphins to return to some of Italy’s coasts. In
Dubai, Oman cownose rays have returned to the Dubai Marina now that there are fewer boats
and people in the area.
However, this poses the question of whether or not this environmental recovery will continue
after stay-at-home orders are lifted. Stanley Lin, student of USC and president of Planet Save
hopes “more people will become cognizant of the positive impacts that stay-at-home orders have
had on the environment around the world.” But there are some people who may not even be
aware of the changes going on outside their homes. Keppel Junior and board member of Planet
Save, Catherine Peng, suggests this may be because “...the media has (not) emphasized the
environmental improvements happening enough for most people to consider it once they get
back to their normal lives.”
Despite these challenges, Lin remains optimistic that “the people who do see these unexpected
improvements to the environment will take it upon themselves to lead a greener life after this
pandemic is over.” Peng adds that she hopes “people will be more conscious of the impacts of
their daily activities and consider what is truly ‘essential’ to their lives.”
In order to keep the planet’s waters and air clear permanently, everyone needs to do their part,
as Lin states, “...every little bit counts.” Ms. Eggerman, Keppel environmental science teacher,
believes that it took an international pandemic for Earth to get the recovery it needed because
“humans tend to think short term, day to day existence, when the short term changes, then we
will see changes like these. For the changes to last, we need to educate ourselves and think
longer term. The environment will need a lot longer than these few months of 'safer at home' to
Covid-19 halts sports season
By Queenie Zeng
Aztec Staff Writer
Ever since social distancing laws were put into effect in California on March 16th many social events have been cancelled, such as school sports. These measures are an attempt to enforce distance between people and to prevent social gatherings, a proven way to slow pandemics, where the deadly Covid-19 could potentially spread further.
Mark Keppel Athletic Director Ms. Duong explains, “Covid-19 is a virus that has spread quickly and knowing very little of its spread; the cancellation [of Mark Keppel’s sports activities] was made to protect student athletes, coaches and everyone involved with high school athletics.” Many major sporting, arts and other extracurricular school activities have been cancelled indefinitely, including major competitions, like CIF.
The Mark Keppel Boys Tennis Team has had to put their team progress on hold because of Covid-19. Junior Jacki Luc from Boys Tennis says, “The lockdown has completely halted our progress in practice and games.” Countless sports teams have had to stagnate their improvement and will most likely have to restart their skill development next school year. Sophomore John Hoang says, “Practicing isn’t our main focus right now. Everyone has to worry about their family, finance, health and other things that are more important to them.”
Mark Keppel’s Boys Volleyball team also had to cancel all their sport activities due to recent changes from Covid-19. After winning nine games out of ten, the team was the predicted possible champions of the league, however lost their chance due to Covid-19. Varsity Boys Volleyball captain, Senior Steven Li expresses how though, “It’s a bummer that we can’t play with other teams, I wouldn’t say we were not able to show our potential. This was a lost opportunity, but because of it, new opportunities emerge.”
Many student athletes, whose seasons were cut short, cannot have the satisfaction of ending their seasons, especially upperclassmen. Senior Elean Tran from track says, “As a newcomer to track and field, I feel very upset that I wasn’t able to spend my final year in Mark Keppel with this team.” Despite such unfortunate events, senior track member, Tarynn Brant still manages to stay positive and says, “I strongly believe closure is possible for this season. If you are always working hard to be the best you can be at practice, then you know that you left with a good note.” Li also manages to stay positive, finding new things to appreciate from this situation. “I learned to really appreciate what you have before it’s all stripped away from you. Our coach always talked about giving it your all in games and matches because you never know if that was your last. I never understood what he meant by that but when Covid-19 took away my season, I realized what he was trying to convey,” says Li.
Cancellations of sports events were decided to prevent Covid-19 from spreading as quickly and though it affected many athletes, it was decided for the greater good. As time passes, the situation can only get better and students would all learn new lessons from this experience. However, until then, Ms. Duong reminds everyone to, “keep your thoughts positive and keep up with your studies. Enjoy the time now building relationships with siblings, parents, grandparents and friends,” and wants to remind seniors that, “being an athlete doesn’t and shouldn’t stop at high school sports. Competitive sports or sports for fun, at all levels, whether professional, college, city college, park league, etc. will be just as fulfilling and rewarding.”
Learning from afar or far from learning?
Annie Lam and Ellis Yang
The Aztec staff writers
Due to the recent safety precautions in response to the covid-19 pandemic, students had to move their education to the web through Distance Learning. Though some students were able to adapt to this sudden change quicker than others, many found themselves having a hard time regulating their new routines of social distancing.
Junior Michaela Soong has noticed some effects that Distance Learning has caused on her previous academic lifestyle. “It is harder to learn virtually since your teachers aren’t there explaining and answering questions. It also gets hard sometimes because there is no set schedule,” says Soong. Junior Vivien Yeh agrees that the lack of schedule affects her learning. “When I’m at school I’m aware of how I need to get things done soon because of my extracurricular activities and tight schedules. Without having something to pressure me to work, I get too relaxed and distracted. I feel that it’s hard to concentrate and keep myself motivated to work,” says Yeh.
In addition to the lack of schedule, some students find that Distance Learning itself hinders their education. Junior Nicole Wu feels that there are no benefits to distance learning and it comes with mostly cons. “Home isn't a learning environment for me. Distance learning feels inconvenient and ineffective in terms of [being in a physical classroom where everything is surrounded by] education. I would prefer being in a classroom because I feel like I can absorb much more information that way,” Wu states. Yeh also shares this sentiment and prefers on-campus learning. “I feel like I can focus more [at school]. I believe it's better for me to be kept busy at school, so that I know I need to have some self-control when it comes to completing school work on time,” says Yeh.
However, despite the many disadvantages, distance learning does offer some benefits. Soong states, “Some pros about distance learning are that I get a lot more sleep and have more time to spend with my family and do other activities which I didn't have time to do before.” Without the aforementioned schedule, students are given the opportunity to choose the way they want to spend their time. Some students have created their own schedules to ensure they complete their assignments in an orderly manner. “I make a schedule of things due for the week and I start with ones that are due soon. I also make a small list of which day to work on which assignment,” says Wu. An alternative method would be to “get all assignments done ASAP. This way, they can spend other days doing what they need to do other than school work,” says Yeh.