Opinion Article: Orange Balloons

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By: Lachlan Shon

On March 14, 2018, Valencia High School (VHS) hosted a memorial service in the quad area to memorialize the 17 victims that died in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting at Parkland, Florida on February 13, 2018. Since the tragic massacre, the issue of gun control and school safety has been reinvigorating the entire nation to think about why such an act occurs. It also nudges legislators in the United States government to revisit laws surrounding this controversial issue and what steps can be used to prevent such heinous activities. Throughout the nation, students have held demonstrations and memorial activities to raise awareness to local communities and legislation with a concise, powerful message: that “enough is enough” with school shootings.

Organized and led by students Amy Yoon, Jiyoo Jeong, and Meghan Wang, balloons were cut with each representing victims slain in Florida and a moment of silence was observed. The student organizers took the initiative to plan and encouraged other peers to wear orange for this occasion and orange ribbons were distributed by students to the gathered crowd. Compared to most of the demonstrations across the country, the student orchestrated event held a more commemorative and peaceful gathering to emphasize more about why tragedies like this happen and gain support for more drastic change in political policies. Vivian Yee and Alan Blinder’s New York Times article: National School Walkout: Thousands Protest Against Gun Violence Across the U.S. mentioned that in some schools, very few students took a stand to even talk about such incidents, while others decided to hold protest posters and demanded immediate change in gun control policy. Some even went to the extreme as to berate the current presidential legislation as being completely ignorant in such a situation. However, Yoon, Jeong, and Wang were able to unite a wide variety of students and staff members for seventeen minutes to simply gather together and offer their condolences for such a tragedy as well as accumulating signatures for letters sent to Congress for enacting change. Instead of a loud rally that some schools in the nation chose, the demonstration at VHS was able to successfully raise awareness and calmly encourage students and staff, especially those with the power to vote, to pressure their local legislators and Congressman to enact change within gun control policy and to take further measures in minimizing school massacres throughout the nation.

On the policy of gun control, while there is reasonable concern from students and teachers about safety measures necessary to prevent another school shooting, the fact of the matter is that requesting Congressional and nationwide change on gun control laws and procedures comes down to one simple phrase: It is easier said than done. The demonstration at Valencia did encourage soon-to-be voters and current voters to take a legal stand on stricter gun laws. It also called for stricter enforcement on background checks and demilitarizing certain areas. While this may seem well-intentioned, there are drawbacks to it. Though background checks and limits are placed for any gun purchases and ownership, it does not mean people follow procedure both on the consumer and seller side. Laws do not mean anything if there are people willing to break them and no one is enforcing them. It is our job as a society to determine whether or not our current laws are being enforced thoroughly and honestly. Until that enforcement is present, society cannot demand new laws without even trying to use the ones that are already in place. And even if the nation has moved past that point, there is still a whole legislative process in implementing such changes. The New York Times Article, How to Reduce Mass Shooting Deaths? Experts Rank Gun Laws, by Margot Sanger-Katz and Quoctrung Bui states it would remain unknown how long this entire process would take and then there is the question that arises concerning whether or not the nation would be satisfied with the changes both short term and long term.

Nevertheless, the demonstration at VHS was impactful in unifying a great portion of the school together towards a single mindset and goal. Social media contributed a significant role in spreading the word. Sites like Instagram created a meaningful yet relatable post, #ENOUGH, that made VHS part of the nationwide call to enact change within the mindsets of students, administrators, and, most of all, the American people. The ribbons and orange t-shirts captures a more spiritual and symbolic connection between the students regardless on how they stand on such a controversial topic like gun control. A peaceful demonstration like the one carried at VHS has created a thoughtful and sincere eulogy to the victims killed in Parkland, Florida. The event united all those that believe that school safety is a priority and reminded our community that we share the same connection with students that we have never met before.

*Please note that the VHS Walkout was created, organized, and led by students, for all parties on campus to voluntarily attend.

“You Can’t Take it with You”

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By: Allison Lu

On March 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, 2018 Valencia’s Drama Program hosted their annual Spring Play. They performed the comedy “You Can’t Take it with You,” which originally came out in 1938, during the Great Depression. This period piece “displays a great message of valuing people and relationships, following your passion, and that when you die you can’t take money with you,” stated Mrs. Grace Stanton, the performing arts teacher.

In order to really bring this play to life, the drama department strived to ensure that everything was authentic. They had to rent costumes from both the Fullerton Civic Light Opera and California State University, Fullerton, where the fittings lasted two hours. As for props, the authentic and odd objects came from the drama department storage space, Goodwill, or they were borrowed from teachers on campus. As a result, this entire production costed around $3,000 dollars including the aforementioned as well as tickets, programs, food and drinks.

Castings were held in December to the entire student body. Auditions lasted for three days and on the third day Stanton revealed the final casting. Her decision was based on whose spirit was most like the chosen character and through seniority. Rehearsals started in January where students practiced everyday for two hours. However, performance day, rehearsals lasted at least four hours each day. As expressed by Stanton, this years group was one of the best she’s ever had, “not only as performers but also as people.”

Matt Quintero, the actor who played Anthony P. Kirby, explained he really enjoyed the epiphany that the antagonist experiences. Jessica Spruiell, the actress who played Alice Sycamore, described how it was challenging to get into the “cheesiness” of the play. She wanted to represent Alice because the character was a little different from all the previous ones she’s played and thought it would be fun to try something new. Even though both Spruiell and Quintero have acted for years, the two still get nervous before stepping on stage. However, they deal with the nerves by taking deep breaths.

State Qualifiers

By: Allison Lu

On March 3rd, Valencia High School’s Speech and Debate Club participated in the Orange County Speech State Qualifiers. Jacqueline Duong (9) participated in impromptu speech, where she advanced to semifinals placing twelfth. Jay Kim (11), advanced to the final round, and placed second overall. In the same event, Ethan Thio (12) finished in first place while earning the title of 2018 Orange County League Champion for his third consecutive year.

As explained by principal, Mrs.Olivia Yaung, Thio’s undefeated career “makes him one of the longest tenured champions is league history.” Thio is now a double champion having received two league titles, both of which are from speech and debate events. In impromptu speech, students receive three potential topics to choose from, with two minutes to prepare and five minutes to speak. Thio described the experience as an “adrenaline rush.” In order to prepare for State Qualifiers, Thio often composes and orates preparatory speeches. As for Kim, the constant practice taken took “quite the effort and commitment.” Kim stated, “For state I will have to prepare in different style and accelerate my practice.” Accompanying Thio to the State competition will be his partner Duong and fellow qualifier Kim.

Working together as a team, Duong and Thio participated in the parliamentary debate. During this event, they get one topic and side. They are to spend twenty minutes before each round preparing for their speech and how they will advocate for their assigned side of the argument. All competing students go into a prep room where they do not have any contact with outside sources. According to Duong, these topics can range from immigration to arming teachers. To prepare for the event, Duong expressed, “I was more open to listening to people because everyone always has new ideas that I can listen to and incorporate in my speech.”

Thio and Kim will represent Valencia at the Orange County State Championships on April 20-22.

#ENOUGH Walk Out

By: Trinity Dunvan

10AM, March 14, 2018- Valencia High School Quad, hundreds of students gathered for 17 minutes in solidarity.

Three students: Amy Yoon, Jiyoo Jeong, Megan Wang, organized the #ENOUGH Walkout. All three students had a hand in creating flyers and letters for legislation. Prior to the walkout, administration and staff members were notified by email with the intent of gaining staff and faculty support.

At 10AM, Yoon, Jeong, and Wang delivered a speech centering on the tragedy that occured in Florida. Students witnessed and internalized not only the speech, but their fellow student body’s reception of the words delivered.     

At the walkout, names of all 17 victims from Parkland, Florida were read. As each name was read a balloon was released in their memory. In addition, students distributed orange ribbons to those who wanted to show their support for the movement.  

At the event, students were encouraged to sign letters to their local senator and assembly members concerning gun legislation. Articulated in the letters were the words, “Together we demand Congress enact an immediate resolution declaring gun violence a public health crisis and dedicating federal funding to research solutions and to implement violence intervention programs. We demand Congress recognize and address all forms of gun violence, including violence committed by law enforcement.” Students then lined up to sign both the letters as well as a poster that was left on display for the student body.

The somber event was over when students were reminded at 10:17 by an announcement that echoed over the loudspeaker. Without a hitch, school resumed as usual for the rest of the day.

 

AVID College Tours

By: Brendan Munoz

On February 28, Juniors in the Advanced Via Individual Determination (AVID) program toured the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona). Being the second college tour AVID Juniors have taken this year, Cal Poly Pomona was chosen not only for its proximity to a majority of Valencia students, but also for its academic prestige. While all students in AVID were encouraged to attend, this field trip was primarily geared towards those who have had little to no exposure to the atmosphere of a college campus.

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Throughout the tour, students were able to explore various facets of campus life. Many of the attendees took this opportunity to surround themselves with active student hot-spots in order to become better informed and engaged with Cal Poly Pomona’s unique atmosphere. Others, however, chose to peruse the school’s library and observe the type of working environments that they could expect. Experiencing campus cultures, as well as witnessing the range of different diversities harbored, gave students deeper insights into everyday college life. As a result, these visits often impact both student expectations and aspirations. Priscilla something explained (11) “The trips are encouraging me to want to go to college more, they give me a better view of campus life”.

Further aiding the Juniors in their search for ideal colleges, are the speeches given by current undergraduates. The seminar entailed practical information regarding majors and programs offered by the university, appealing to the specific interests of students. This address, in combination with the previous hours spent touring the campus, meaningfully guided college-bound students in their decisions to consider applying to this school. Furthermore, Cal Poly Pomona is by no means an ordinary school, and students were able to take away a general impression of campus life regardless of their decisions to apply.