Valencia High School Students Prepare for Online and In-Person AP Examinations

By: Vivian Wang

PLACENTIA, CA – As the end of the school year rapidly approaches, many students have started their test preparation for the Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Students who elect to take AP classes choose to do so for a variety of reasons, ranging from college credit to academic rigor for college applications. Traditionally, AP exams in the years prior to 2020 were offered in an in-person setting to ensure test security and mitigate possibilities for cheating; however, the testing procedure changed at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.

Since the pandemic caused schools in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) to transition to remote learning in early 2020, the AP exams were also modified so that students could complete their AP exams from the safety of their homes. During the 2020 AP testing season, students were allowed to navigate throughout the questions so that they could revisit a question, if necessary. Additionally, official AP Live Review Sessions were hosted on YouTube so that students could receive additional support and revisit on-demand lectures.

This year’s AP testing shares many similarities when compared to the 2020 AP testing season. For instance, students are still testing during the May and June timeframe. The 2021 AP testing season consists of three different testing windows. Administration 1 is from May 3 to May 17, Administration 2 is from May 18 to May 28, and Administration 3 is from June 1 to 11. Unlike last year’s AP testing setup, this year’s AP testing consists of a mix of in-person and online examinations. Administration 1 consists solely of in-school examinations, while Administration 2 and 3 include both at-home and in-school examinations.

Students still have the option to test from the safety of their homes, with the exception of a few exams. According to the College Board’s AP Exam Guidelines for 2021, exams that must be proctored in an in-person setting include French Language, German Language, Italian Language, Spanish Language, Latin, Chinese Language, Japanese Language, and Music Theory. The College Board further elaborates that since students can have access to online translation tools in an at-home setting, the AP exams would not be an accurate representation of the students’ performance and knowledge.

For this year’s 2021 AP exams, students have also been notified that they may cancel their exams without a financial penalty. The College Board has offered this option to students who feel that they will not be able to perform as well as they hope to in an online or in-person setting. They are also offering this option so that students who have to take an in-person exam — such as a language AP exam or music theory exam — can cancel their test at no cost. In a notice sent out from Mr. Will Truong on April 26, Valencia AP students can cancel their AP exams for a full refund.

This year’s AP testing procedures vary from last year’s testing procedures because students who are taking the online exam will not be able to navigate through the exam. This rule means that once a student completes a question in the exam, they cannot revisit the specific question after they move on to the next question. In their 2021 AP exams guidebook, the College Board explains that this rule will reduce the chances of cheating.

First Day Back: Four Days a Week

By Snehal Shinh

Monday morning of April 19, 2021 saw the beginning of a return to in-person instruction. The ASB’s efforts were not unnoticed as their hard work played a huge role in the transition back into campus, along with the larger on-campus student body. Students, old and new, were met with decorations as they entered through the tiger tunnel and  posters were placed throughout campus. The lighthearted rivalry between the classes through the Clash of the Classes and a spirit week with lunchtime activities added to the school spirit

For many students, this was their first experience on campus, but thankfully, ASB and Link Crew worked together to give aid and directions to anyone that needed it. Link Crew members met early Monday morning at 6:30 AM, handing out locator cards, and giving tours of the campus before and throughout the rest of the day. Robecca Bonet-Correa, a Link Crew Advisor and AP Environmental Science and Biology teacher, comments, “I had a freshman in one of my classes who needed help finding her art class. I was able to track down a link leader and they helped direct her to her class. I know that the student was very grateful for Link Leader’s help.” 

How a Comeback was Possible

Valencia’s first day back went successfully through the meticulous organization and planning done by the Placentia Yorba-Linda School District. This comeback for in-person learning would have not been possible without the updated guidelines. Students and staff on campus continued to wear masks and plexiglass barriers remained on desks. With the new guidelines for social distancing in classrooms being three feet, teachers accommodated space by reconfiguring their classrooms and removing unnecessary furniture. An update by the district listed many of the new measures such as an enhanced disinfecting protocol and upgraded MERV-13 filters for all air conditioning units.

Overall, students on campus were doing their part to remain safe on campus; however, in the instances these guidelines were not followed, students would be given a warning with the potential to face remote learning for the remainder of the year if offenses continue. Additionally, students were no longer allowed to switch between in-person and online instruction, resulting in in-person students marked as absent if not on campus, with the exception of Covid-19 diagnoses for mandatory quarantine. 

The Big Why

“The push for combining cohorts happened because we had the space available,” stated Paige Stills, Valencia’s assistant principal. Assistant principal Stills believed that students need the social interaction that comes with learning in person as much as the academic aspect. Of course, there are plenty of students that have enjoyed-even excelled in online learning, so the opportunity to continue learning online remained. 

According to the district, the plan for next year is to be fully in person. Stills stated, “[distance learning] is in response to a pandemic that we’ve never had before. This is not going to be the norm for teacher instruction.” Remaining hopeful, Stills believed that by fall Valencia will be making a full comeback, as long as cases lessen and the number of vaccinations increase. 

Clash of Classes

By: Amy Morrison

Placentia, C.A. (April 23, 2021) – The week of April 19 to the 23, the four grade levels of Valencia High School participated in the “Clash of Classes” competition. The contest, put on annually by the ASB, is used as a way to brew friendly competition between the classes while bringing the student body closer together.

Clash of Classes is a week-long competition among the freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors of Valencia where each class strives to have the most points by Friday. There are many opportunities throughout the week for members of each class to add points to their class total. This year, each day of the week was a different dress up day where students wore clothes that adhered to a specific theme. The students that did dress up checked in with ASB representatives during lunch or break so that their points can be added to their class’s. Another way for classes to get points was to participate in games at lunch. Every day at lunch a representative from each class was chosen to participate in a mini game where the winner’s class gets points.

Roman Tijerina, a senior in ASB, gave some insight about what Clash of Classes was like for those that helped set up and run the contest. In regards to ASB’s goal for Clash of Classes this year, Tijerina said “The ASB was really just trying to bring a little bit of normalcy to the school after such a crazy year. Having no assemblies and less activities overall sucks so whatever we can do to connect with students we try to do.” He also stated that there was a lot more participation by the students in Clash of Classes than ASB anticipated.

As for his own opinions about how Clash of Classes went as a whole, Tijerina said “It went great for a pandemic and honestly pretty great regardless. I know the students will be hyped for next year.”

Valencia High School vs Kennedy High School Football Game

By: Chloe Bruno

On March 25, 2021, the Valencia Tigers competed against the Fighting Irish of Kennedy High School in a football game. The game was played at Bradford Stadium, where Frosh/Soph played at 2PM and Varsity played at 7PM. This is the third game of the season and second game of league. The Tigers are playing in the classic blue and gold with the tiger paw on their helmet. 

The Frosh/Soph game against the Fighting Irish started 0-0 in the first quarter. As half time approached, Valencia Tigers made a field goal to get the Tigers 3 points; however, the Fighting Irish got the touchdown leaving the second quarter score at 3-7. By the third quarter no points were scored for the Tigers but the Fighting Irish scored another touchdown and an extra point was rewarded for a successful kick, leaving the third quarter score to be 3-15. In the fourth quarter no points were scored by either of the teams leaving the final score 3-15, and resulting in the Fighting Irish winning the frosh/soph game. 

The varsity game was a long awaited event for the Tigers where in the first quarter both the Tigers and the Fighting Irish scored a touchdown and a field goal, tyng the first quarter score at 7-7. In the second quarter, the Tigers scored two touchdowns and were each followed by a point from a successful field goal. 

During halftime, Valencia’s cheer team cheered on the sideline of the football field transitioning to the third quarter. Into the third quarter, the Tigers scored another touchdown and another field goal, awarding them 7 more points. The Fighting Irish were left short; they scored no points this quarter. By the end of the third quarter, the score was 28-7. The Fighting Irish were able to get a touchdown and a successful field goal gaining them 7 points; however, the Tigers made two touchdowns and made both field goals successfully for a total of 14 points. The Valencia Tigers won the game leaving the final score of the game to be 42-14.

As of March 25 the Empire League record was 1-1 for the Tigers. The Tigers next game will be against the Pacifca Mariners for an away game on April 2nd at 7PM. The JV football team will also be playing against the Pacifca Mariners on April 1st at 3PM in the Bradford Stadium. 

The Start of Tennis Season

By: Inso Park

The start of this tennis season is one that has been long awaited and anticipated by many players. Ever since the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) announced that the tennis season would be commencing in the spring, schools and their respective leagues have been scrambling to organize matches. Girls tennis resumed practice after Winter break in preparation for prepreseason. Preseason began in the beginning of March and the team is now officially gearing up to compete in league matches.

 Coach Lai has been the head coach of both girls and boys tennis teams for 2 years at Valencia, with the 2020-2021 year will mark his third year here. His strategy for preparing the team for the season has always been to “have a more difficult preseason to prepare for the real thing”. Seeing as, under his instruction, the girls varsity team qualified for CIF both years, his strategy, has evidently been effective. He believes that this level discrepancy will allow the players to realize what their weak points are and fuel them to crave winning during the league season.

This year, the junior varsity team had a total of 5 preseason matches. They ended their preseason with a record of 3 wins and 2 losses. The girls junior varsity team played their first league match against Crean Lutheran at home and they have started the league season on a positive note. League matches for the varsity team are especially important due to their results determining CIF championship eligibility. That being said, the girls varsity team had a bit of a rough season and ended with a record of 4 losses and 2 wins. Despite the rocky beginning, they won their first league match on March 25, 2021. This match was away against Crean Lutheran and the overall score was 12 to 6. 

Seeing as how the last league match is in May, the tennis team will continue to play league matches throughout the entirety of the school year. After league ends, varsity starters will be sent to play at the league’s final competition with the top two players in singles and doubles qualifying for the CIF individual tournament. Despite the delay at the beginning, tennis season has begun and tournaments are resuming.

Start of Softball Season

By: Amy Morrison

According to the New York Times Coronavirus Tracker for Orange County, the number of COVID-19 cases have started to decline; many sports teams have been left waiting for the announcement of a regular season to return. For the softball team, that day came on March 23 when the Valencia Varsity softball team had their first game of the season. 

On Tuesday, March 23 the team played Anaheim High School. The team started off taking the lead in the second and third innings, scoring two runs. Despite the efforts of the Valencia players, Anaheim tied the game at the end of the third inning and took the lead in the fifth inning with two more runs. Valencia was not able to come back and the final score was 2-4. Although the team lost, it was still a respectable start to the softball season. 

The team’s synergy had an unbalanced start to the year with the addition of two new coaches and implementation of COVID-19 restrictions. Contrary to what the results of the first two games may imply, the new varsity coach, Jessica Lampton, has been met with enthusiasm from the parents and the players. 

When asked about the first week of softball season, Coach Lampton quoted, “The beginning of this season has been full of insight and trials. I feel like we have made great strides as a team and am looking forward to seeing where this team goes during league play. The girls are bonding and working well with each other. The chemistry is key to creating and building a strong program in the years to come. I’m excited to see where the girls go this season.”

Senior Olivia Lee, the starting first baseman for the team, is in agreement with Coach Lampton about the results of the first week and what it symbolizes for the future to come. When responding to questions about what the first game meant for her and her teammates, Lee stated, “While the first two games didn’t go as well as we could have hoped, they were definitely beneficial. We learned a lot about how we work as a team and what we need to work on to play better.”

The Valencia Tigers softball team will continue to play for the next two months, until May 27 when they have their final game.

IB Exam Cancelation Allows Students to Earn IB Diploma without Paper Examinations

By: Vivian Wang

As the pandemic has entered its second year, International Baccalaureate (IB) students at Valencia High School have wondered how they will earn their IB Diploma. IB is an internationally recognized curriculum that emphasizes the perfect blend of STEM and the liberal arts. International Baccalaureate students must take a total of six IB classes; most students at Valencia elect to take three Standard Level (SL) and three Higher Level (HL) classes. The IB curriculum provides both breadth and depth across a variety of subjects, including studies in language and literature, language acquisition, individuals and societies, sciences, mathematics, and the arts.

Many IB students at Valencia High School have dreaded the notoriously rigorous IB exams, which are commonly referred to as “papers”. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Valencia High School was permitted by IB to pursue a non-examination route. According to IB, by pursuing this route, IB students will not have to sit in for any paper exams in order to prioritize the students’ health and safety.

IB students share a wide range of opinions. Fred Jenkins, an economics teacher at Valencia High School, explains in his letter to Valencia High School IB students that in-person IB exams at Valencia will not be held this year. With approximately 90% of Valencia’s IB students learning remotely since March 2020, the administration’s decision is a safer alternative to the traditional route of taking the exams, since the IB exams would have to be administered in-person.

One IB senior (name omitted for privacy) in the graduating class of 2021 was interviewed about her thoughts on not having to take any IB exams this year. She commented, “With the cancellation of IB exams, the IB class of 2021 definitely got lucky in that we have more control over our IB scores. However, IBO has added a stipulation that teachers’ predicted scores will be given significant weight in determining our scores. Our internal assessments will only be 20-25% of our IB scores, depending on the class”. She added, “I feel that the stipulation adds greater subjectivity to the scores which are meant to be objective. But at the end of the day, I’m still happy we don’t have to take a full length test!”.

Since students will not be taking paper exams for this 2021 testing season, students’ IB scores will be primarily determined by other factors such as external assessments, internal assessments, and the teacher’s predicted grades. For example, students who are enrolled in Valencia’s HL English class would receive their IB score based on factors including their HL Essay, Individual Oral, and their instructor’s predicted grade. The predicted grade will be determined primarily based on the IB candidate’s work and the teacher’s understanding of the IB caliber and expectations. Other classes, such as IB HL Computer Science and IB SL Computer Science, will have their predicted scores based primarily on their Internal Assessment.

Similarly, IB senior Tejal Patel commented, “I was very worried about taking in-person exams because I felt that online school had not prepared us enough for these exams. In addition, I was rather excited to hear that IB exams are cancelled. I do not believe they would have been an accurate representation of what we had done over the past year.”

As the IB graduating class of 2021 has now been notified of these changes, the IB class is celebrating their four years of hard work, all while continuing to push through their remaining highschool classes. 

Valencia’s New Community Garden

By: Young Kim

On March 24 at 3PM, students of Valencia High School participated in the grand opening of the school’s new community garden run in collaboration by two school clubs, CITE and RAISE. Upon the opening day of the students’ hard work, influential community leaders such as Mayor Craig Green of Placentia and Mayor Peggy Huang of Yorba Linda came to visit in order to present community leadership awards to the club presidents Arushi Somani and David Chan. 

Located near the science buildings on campus, the community garden transformed the once run-down landscape into a flourishing source of nutrition and symbol of sustainability. Members of CITE and RAISE worked throughout the year having to deal with the restrictions of the pandemic. Yet, the two clubs were able to transform the overgrown weed-filled land into a clear opening perfect for the raised bed gardens that were presented during the ceremony. Arushi Somani, President of CITE quoted, “Creating this community garden has been such a rewarding experience in seeing all of our collective efforts and hard work pay off in benefitting the campus community. I hope that this new addition to Valencia becomes a key part of our campus, student involvement in nature, and awareness of the importance of environmental education for years to come.” 

The established guests gathered to cut a red ribbon to symbolize the official establishment of Valencia’s garden. Guests were then guided through the garden with different assortments of vegetables and flowers and were also given the opportunity to put the compost from bins directly into the garden, as well as plant a few plants themselves. 

When asking Mayor Craig Green on his sentiments on the garden’s impact he stated, “I believe if you take care of Mother Earth, she’s going to take care of you.” He believed that the impact of Valencia’s Community Garden could influence other schools around the district to go through with a similar path focusing on teaching sustainability to students. “With more students working together, it will make the earth a better place.” 
According to Leah Shafer of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, studies have shown that having a garden can only be a positive externality towards the school community. The produce grown from the community garden will be used by the culinary arts class as well as students who want to learn more about creating a sustainable food source. Shafer quotes, “Schools can — and many argue should — play a critical role in shifting children’s perceptions of food and enhancing access to healthful foods (…) But the way schools traditionally teach nutrition isn’t working.”

Vaccine Distribution for Teachers

By Snehal Shinh

“Getting the vaccine not only makes me feel more protected, in that I know if I get COVID it won’t be as severe as if I didn’t have the vaccine, but also makes me feel like I’m doing my part to keep others protected – here at school and out in the community.” 

Heidi Krause, one of many Math teachers at Valencia High School, expresses her thoughts on receiving the Coronavirus vaccine as a way to do her part in protecting those around her as the fight against COVID-19 rages on. The increased availability and accessibility of vaccines, as stated by Dr. Anthony Fauci, is expected to become more and more readily available. These vaccines made the possibility of returning to life before the pandemic achievable. Vaccines, previously prioritized for long-term care facilities, frontline essential workers, the elderly, and those with underlying health issues, have now been made available for teachers and staff.

While California counties are still required to organize 70 percent of their supplies for those who are 65 years old and older, the leftover 30 percent is divided among new sectors with 10 percent of those doses reserved for instructors, reported by Orange County Department of Education Newsroom “All OC school employees will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations starting March 1.” Many teachers and staff members throughout the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District have already gotten their first dose of the vaccine since the Tier 1B was opened up in Orange County. 

The Process

The prioritization for teachers and staff was a vital decision as the District moves to combine both cohorts for in-person instruction. According to Richard McAlindin, the Executive Director and lead director overseeing this project for staff vaccination, the district was able to acquire two sources for the vaccine; one of which was through the federal program, Family Health Matters, and the other through Albertsons pharmacies. With vaccinations now opened for district-wide, teachers rushed to make appointments as soon as possible; this influx led to minor complications as many teachers described feeling as though they were on a scavenger hunt.  Aside from initial complications, there were not any major hurdles in the project’s execution, as stated by McAlindin who takes pride in the fact, “[they] had a dedicated team committed to the initiative and I’m proud of their effort.” 

In addition to minor hurdles, the Executive Director communicated that the school nurses in the district’s dedication to the cause made the distribution of vaccines significantly easier, asserting that, “they are an exceptional group of people who care about the health of our students and employees.” A large amount of credit goes towards these nurses that have played a huge role in administering vaccinations as safely as possible and their efforts are truly applaudable. 

The Expectations and Teacher Thoughts

When asked about any expectations going forward with such a task, McAlindin expressed that “given that access to the vaccine was very limited initially, my expectation was that our employees would be excited that we could offer the vaccine at a District office location for anyone who was eligible to receive it.”; these expectations were met as many teachers voiced excitement in finally being able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

 Julie Walker, a Valencia language arts teacher, shares her thoughts in receiving the news, “I just missed the first round (those over 65) so I was VERY happy to hear that teachers would be in the second round.” Walker adds on stating that the district’s protocols are incredibly thorough when touching on combining cohorts, “I feel pretty safe with having had the vaccine and with the school district’s protocols, so I’m not too concerned.”

In regards to combining both cohorts, Krause adds, “Getting the vaccine hasn’t really changed my concerns about when cohorts are combined.  The vaccine doesn’t make you immune. You can still get sick and you can still spread the virus.  So we still have to be just as vigilant as before.” 

While most teachers and staff on campus have received at least one dose of the vaccine, there are still those who have yet to receive the vaccine. Kiley Kendall, who has not received the vaccine, offered some of her thoughts, expressing how excited she is to be eligible for the vaccine, “I think the vaccine has given many teachers a sense of ease when in the classroom. Especially with in-person learning making a much needed comeback!”  

Life is slowly, but surely, returning to normal, and teachers receiving the vaccine is a huge step in that direction. Huge efforts made by the district are ensuring a swift distribution of vaccines, making Valencia High School safer to return to for teachers and students alike.