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Learning Loss Tied to Covid 19


 A two week break: something that seemed like heaven to students when it was first mandated on March 13, 2020. But what started as a pleasant break turned into a two year nightmare, one that now has found to cut deeper into students’ lives than it already has.

     Through various studies conducted over the course of the past two years, it was discovered that many students who participated in distance learning showed signs of learning loss as time progressed,  a CNBC report estimating a drop in standardized test scores in northern California ranging from as mild as 2.91% to as severe as 8.18%, with grades 4-7 being the most affected.

    To see MVHS’ side of the situation, I talked to Mr. Cina Abedzadeh, the assistant principal who specializes in guidance and curriculum here at Mission Viejo High School.

      In regards to the pandemic, Abedzadeh had a similar stance on distance learning, yet some other unique and agreeable opinions to go along with it.

     “I know distance learning did not help and it wasn’t what was best for students at the time, but having said that I firmly believe that we had to go on it because we knew so little about the Covid-19 and the dangers. I totally understand the whole concept behind closing the doors, but I also know that it wasn’t the best for students.”

     While believing there was an obvious downside to online learning, Abedzadeh found a positive outcome of the situation.

     “I will say what came out of that was an advancement in teachers’ ability to use technology, how we use technology and being consistent with learning platforms like a Google Classroom or Canvas. I think that really pushed teachers to be more proactive in that realm and that was a benefit.”

     When asked what he believed the root of the case of learning loss was, Abedzadeh  believed part of  it was the false security that was created during those two years of online learning.

     “I think there’s a false sense of security for about two years right where the state intervened with how grades can be determined. A kid could go from a pass/no pass rather than having a letter grade. A lot of safety nets were built into the systems a few years ago where those safety nets no longer exist. Now, when I look back on it we one thousand percent needed those safety nets”

     While in many cases distance learning negatively impacted schools and students as a whole, those in poverty seemed to have significantly larger problems because of this occurrence. 

     In a report done by CNBC, it was found that the school district of Galt, an area known for having high poverty rates, had a less pleasant time out of most California schools from the pandemics. In the district, standardized test scores had a significant drop,  with a 3.14% decline in ELA scores while having a 5.46% decline in math.

     In contrast, those who were wealthier were able to gain access to outside sources, being able to improve their education while poor students suffered greater effects. 

    However, those in places of high poverty were not the only ones severely affected by online learning. Black and hispanic students were also seen having setbacks due to this phenomenon, many of these students not being given the right tools such as internet access, computer access, and time with teachers to improve their education. 

     An article by Shainne Winston touched on this topic, stating that researchers estimated that 12-16 months of learning for students of color may be lost due to the pandemic, as opposed to white students who were predicted to have only lost 5-9 months.

     Disabled students were yet another group that unfortunately seemed to take heavy hits. Whilst learning online, many of the disabled had to receive their personal support online, a daunting result that had long-lasting problems. When people started returning to their jobs and schools, there was a wave of resignations from special needs staff members, which caused the department to become understaffed.

     To combat the issues created by online learning, multiple schools were reliant on summer school to fix the problems created. 

     Schools have also gone the alternative route of urging students into taking tutoring opportunities or providing it in their classrooms. However, this solution can become costly to the students and schools. In addition, students would need independent help, which can be difficult to provide for every struggling student.

     Here at Mission Viejo High School, many actions are being taken to combat the problems created by online learning. When asked about this, Abedzadeh said, “There are a lot of funds that are dedicated towards learning loss. We were granted extra funds to create the diablo learning centers, tutoring sessions built within the bell schedule, before the bell schedule, during lunch, and after lunch for students to go get help. We [also] have our NHS and CSF tutors pushed into those sessions to help students.”

     Learning loss during quarantine wasn’t the only large impact on students during the past few years. Throughout this period, kids, teens, and even most adults lacked social interaction, which, in retrospect, made the return to normal life a more challenging task. 

     While some may argue that individuals were able to keep up socially through online interactions, the idea of physically being in the same room while engaging in a conversation was nonexistent for the past two years, making it harder to do once people were able to step outside of their homes. 

     To find out more about the social effects of online learning for students, I talked to Piper Smith, a Freshman at MVHS who did not believe the pandemic affected her social skills positively.

     “It kinda made me distant from people other than my family. I couldn’t see anyone which made it hard to interact with other people”

     While it may seem like a lost cause, the effects of learning loss and other resulting factors from the pandemic could be lessened. With enough effort and commitment, it is not impossible to come back to normal life after spending what seemed like forever confined to our home.


Scholar-Athlete Cody Going: Going to Division 1


     Cody Going has been in Mission Viejo high school’s football program, a team ranked number four in California by MaxPreps, for five long years. From his time in eighth grade to now he’s been able to see the athletes at Mission Viejo High grow from teammates to a family.

     Prior to football, Going was involved in swimming for six years but “most of [his] friends started switching to [football] at the start of middle school, and so [he started] to feel a bit left out, so [he] was like ‘you know what, I might as well try it out and see if I like it’” and Going ended up falling in love with the sport.

     During his time at high school, Going has maintained taking challenging classes while starting on the team, “of course I’m going to have to sacrifice a lot of my free time after school, being at practice, and on Friday nights, at games, but then the sacrifice also comes when I get home [from all that] and have to do all of the honors work…[but] I love classes, I love the rigor of them [and] couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. But while I’m in season it is really hard to balance the two.”

     On the field, Going is number 76, an offensive lineman (specifically guard or defensive tackle), one of the people that defend the quarterback and clear the way for the running backs. These are the unsung heroes of offensive football, often only seen when they blunder, when I asked Going how he feels about filling that role and handling the pressure of that he responded, “[Head] Coach Johnson does a great job of recognizing us and appreciating what we do… I know how important not only myself but how important the other four offensive linemen are, [our offensive success] comes down to what we’re doing”

     “[As for the pressure,] you get used to it the more you play, I started my sophomore year (Covid Season), when we were missing a lot of guys, and so I ended up starting, and was really nervous my first game, I threw up out of nervousness, but as time went on my nervousness faded away and a switch just clicks that’s like ‘it’s time for me to do my job.’”

     With our school being one of the top public schools for football in the nation, the athletes are put under extremely high expectations, but Going never felt extremely affected by this. “Thankfully our coaches have been here a long time and know how to get into your mind that you’re at an elite program, you have to practice and play like that. You really don’t think about the pressure too much when you’re practicing and playing; it is just another day for you. That is until you get to the playoffs. That’s when the expectations come back because we’re a public school; we’re always going to be looked down upon versus private schools.”

     This year the Diablos were able to show the private schools that they could hold their own, making it to the CIF-Southern Section semi-finals, the main reason Going thinks that the team was able to do that was because “we were able to shut out the noise… you kept seeing that Centennial High was going to blow out Mission like last year, but losing that last year was also a really big motivator for us. But in the end it came down to us focusing on our assignments, doing our jobs, and the coaches just treating it like every other week. The Long Beach Poly loss the week prior was also a big wakeup call; our mindset changed from us thinking we were unbeatable to ‘oh, we can lose to anyone, even if we were predicted to win.’”

     “In the end though, Coach Johnson and Coach Peyton set us up for some great plays and without Johnson’s leadership I really don’t know if we would have one that [Centennial] Game, especially with his experience at Bosco (the #1 football team in California) in the playoffs.”

     Although they weren’t able to make it to finals, Going’s senior year was a really great finish to his high school career, the entire playoffs felt like a high to him, and the season prior contained one of an alltime highlight of his time in football. “[Getting ready for] the Servite Game I was coming off from injury and I missed the entirety of summer ball, but I and the team ended up playing great, and with it being the first home game the sounds of the crowd was like a high, you come out of the banner, and you hear the crowd cheering, and there’s nothing like that.” 

     His advice for the incoming athletes is “try to have a matter of perspective, one of the toughest parts of football isn’t the physical part but the mental and emotional part, you have those feelings of ‘am I good enough?’ but the more you think of that the more it will affect your game…for anyone that is looking to be in a position similar to mine: remember who you are playing for, remember you’re playing for your teammates and your program. A big problem of high school football is only looking out for themself and trying to look the best so they can brag, just remember who you’re playing for. Do your 1/11th and the rest will come.”


     Going is committed to University of San Diego after receiving a Division 1 offer to play there, but that’s not the only reason he wanted to go there, “I’m a big academic guy…I want to set myself up for the greatest chance of success, and USD ticks all of the boxes for that: great program for my major, great location, and I have family down there.”

     As for playing in college ball, Going feels pretty prepared. “ I think Mission has prepared me very well. Coach Johnson brings in a lot of things from college ball and brings them back to our high school to prepare those that are looking to play college ball in terms of conditioning and practice… I’m looking forward to [college ball] though. I am not going to be the big man on campus anymore, I’m going to have a lot to prove, which is going to be a great motivator… But like any incoming college student I have to be ready to adjust, which is going to be a challenge but I am looking forward to it.”

     Going has loved his time at Mission and has mixed feelings about his next chapter in life. “When we lost that Bosco game and that feeling set in that it’s all over, it was really hard to cope. A lot of seniors told us ‘it goes by faster than you think.’ But it really does go faster than you think. But it’s a good thing I’m sad about it, because that means I really cared about it.”

The Acceptability Of Fast Fashion

     Fast fashion is a deeply engraved prospect of society; And over time, many major companies have become involved in the immoral business practices that endorse fast fashion. These unethical practices include massly producing “trendy,” poor quality clothing, and selling them for unbelievably cheap prices. While the low prices of such merchandise may be alluring at first glance, it is merely a tactic to get people to buy clothing in bulk to earn a higher profit.

 Many people fall for this manipulation only to throw out the tons of clothes that they’ve purchased when they’re out of style, or when they get torn and fall apart. 

     These clothes, inevitably, end up in landfills and make up the heaps of textile waste built up in the environment. Name brands like H&M, Zara, Forever 21, and GAP are massively popular– And most importantly, not pricey. For a large portion of society, trendy and cheap clothing is an offer too good to pass up. In this society, where wealth and fashion seem to be the most important matters, buying from fast fashion brands is practically unavoidable. On social media platforms, massive clothing hauls from online shops such as Shein have absolutely skyrocketed in popularity, and encouraged the delving into fast fashion. 

     The amount of waste Shein alone has subjected to the environment equates to about 6.3 million tons of Carbon Dioxide emissions. Furthermore, according to online news website Insider, Shein workers in China have been discovered to be paid as little as 4 cents for each garment they make. An excerpt from Insider states, “They often work 18-hour days with one day off per month.” Another line observes, “Some workers even wash their hair on their lunch breaks, because they have so little time left after work.” Clearly, conditions at Shein are unnecaptably horrible.  Fast fashion is a  prime example of privilege, however, it is becoming less and less easy to avoid. A majority of people who purchase from fast fashion do not have any other choice. It’s not that a majority of fast fashion endorses enjoy supporting sweatshops and manual labor, but that it’s just more convenient.

      Although clothing that is made by fast fashion stores may not be durable, or last a long time; It is a privilege for many people to be able to purchase clothes that aren’t second hand. 

     Conclusively, it is not the consumers to blame for the spread of fast fashion, but the distributors of fast fashion themselves. Everyone has their own reasons for shopping fast fashion, and although it is a choice to shop, it’s not realistic to expect a mass amount of fast fashion shoppers to be financially capable of cutting out fast fashion as a whole. Some companies to consider, though, are brands such as: Girlfriend Collective, a primarily activewear clothing store, Outerknown, a clothing shop based on standard fashion items such as t-shirts and sweaters, or Rothy’s; a sustainable shoe and handbag store that turns recycled water bottles into shoes, handbags, and more. There are several sustainable clothing stores to shop at, and while they may not be as cheap as Shein or other websites, they will last a lot longer and are tons better for the environment. Thrift shopping, garage sales, or even clothing swaps are also a good alternative to fast fashion. Everyone, no matter how much, has supported fast fashion at one point in their lives. However, that doesn’t mean it’s too late to shorten the indulgence in fast fashion. While there may not ever be a world without fast fashion society can limit the usage to a manageable point.

Coach Chris Ashbach inducted into CIF’s Hall of Fame


      Congratulations to Coach Chris Ashbach for being inducted into the CIF Southern Section Hall of Fame 2022. 

    I had the great opportunity to interview Coach Ashbach on his achievement, and his backstory on how it all started. 

     “To me, it was more like a lifetime achievement award,” he told me.

      As a young kid, Ashbach played baseball and soccer. In high school he played football for Capistrano Valley.  After graduating he moved to baseball, playing one year in the Western League Minor League and deciding to concentrate on baseball after high school. 

     Ashbach’s coaching career started right out of college; he received his teaching and coaching credentials at Santa Clara University and then attended National University. He then received a teaching and coaching position for baseball at Mission Viejo in 1996, later becoming the head coach of the baseball team in 1997, which would be the start of a successful coaching journey.

     Throughout the years, he has had a total of 404 wins. His coaching has led to two CIF Southern Section Championships and five league championships. Ashbach has made 16 CIF Southern Section Playoffs appearances, won CIF Southern Section coach of the year twice, and won the Orange County All-Star Game Coach 5 times. All of these achievements led up to his lifetime accomplishment of being awarded the CIF Hall of Fame award. 

       The new coach of MVHS boy’s baseball, Coach Holley, states how Coach Ashbach’s work ethic and his ability to get the most out of his players efficiently is something that he strives to replicate and follow through with. Coach Holley even says “Coach Ashbach is as deserving of the CIF Hall of Fame as anyone I’ve ever known. His success on the field is obviously deserving, but even moreso, his personality and willingness to help is beyond anything I would have expected. For me, he is not only a good friend and  mentor but, at times, also a therapist. I truly don’t know how far I would have gone in this job if he wasn’t here helping me through it.”

  Since his retirement in coaching at Mission Viejo High School, Coach Ashbach has been teaching here and spending time with his three kids. He is also currently coaching little league baseball, girl’s softball, and soccer as well. He is now teaching government and criminal/civil law, which is an elective course for sophomores and juniors.

   He states that he is very lucky to have a lot of good players that went through Mission Viejo High School during his time at this school, including current Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher, Patrick Sandoval.

     “Good teams [and] good coaches are made by good players, and we are fortunate here at Mission Viejo to have a lot of good athletes come through this school.” 

Merry Cheap-mas!

     This holiday season, like many before it, people are searching for good gifts that won’t break the bank. But nowadays, those can be hard to come by. It seems like every good gift is expensive enough to send me into lifelong debt. So, if anybody else is in the same boat, here are some great cheap gifts that anybody would like.

     First up is good ol’ reliable candy. While it might not work for family, I’m sure friends would certainly appreciate a goody bag with all their favorite candies. If you just head to the gas station you can find plenty of candy for a couple bucks a pop. Other options are drug stores like CVS or Walgreen, and The Dollar Tree. You can also go to Party City and get some pretty cheap single pieces of candy. 

     Another good option that can’t disappoint is a gift card. You can pick one from wherever your friend or family likes to shop. It’s simple, reliable, and easily customizable. Good places to get gift cards are Target, Starbucks, Amazon, Boxlunch, Visa, or a favorite restaurant. 

     Next up is trinkets. While this might sound a little weird, hear me out. Things like stickers, pins, buttons, and patches all fall into this category, and you can find ones that correspond to almost any interest a person might have. They’re inexpensive and super easy to find. You can head to any store like Target or search for some on Amazon.

     As for clothes, while you cannot always guarantee that the they’ll will be under twenty, you can still find some good ones at stores like Target, or clearance sections at mall shops. Another good place to find cheap clothing are  thrift stores. You might have to do some digging, but there’s some good stuff.

     Another great idea is movie tickets. It depends on what seats you get tickets for, but you can easily buy a couple tickets for under $20 and have a good time with friends. It might not be a physical gift, but you can make a memory out of it. You can get these at an  actual movie theater, or you can buy them online with apps. Some of the more popular theaters are Regal and AMC, both of which have apps that you can buy tickets on. You can also buy them on Fandango if you prefer that. 

     While this one will certainly take more effort, you can never go wrong with a handmade gift. It can be anything you think the recipient would like, and at the most you might have to spend a couple bucks on supplies. It’s unique and heartfelt, but still realistic for people on a budget. 

     There’s plenty more good cheap gifts out there, but hopefully this list can kick start you on finding one. At the end of the day as long as there’s thought and effort put into it, any gift can be a good one. And of course, have a very merry Christmas, and a happy new year!

Disenchanted loses some of its Enchanted magic

Disenchanted starts off years after her happily ever after. Giselle, Robert and Morgan move to a new community and Andalasia (a magical kingdom) and the real world are thrown off-balance. Disenchanted is a sequel to Enchanted, which came out 15 years ago.
The movie Disenchanted took 15 years to make while fans thought there wasn’t even going to be a sequel. The main character, Giselle is a woman who is burnt out while her husband Robert plays along, more of a caricature of a picture perfect husband than Giselle’s princess role in the first film. Adams, Marsden, and Rudolph carry the movie, as Dempsey is content playing the supporting arm candy, taking a backseat to the mounting drama.
To plot the summary, Giselle, Robert, and Morgan move to a new house in the suburb of Monroeville with their newest addition. The community is overseen by Malvina Monroe, who has nefarious intentions for the family. When problems arise, Giselle wishes that their lives were the perfect fairy-tale. The spell backfires, with Giselle rushing to save her family and her homeland of the Kingdom of Andalasia before the clock strikes midnight.
The first part of this movie is very confusing mainly because so much is going on. I watched Enchanted (the first) a long time ago and I barely remember what happened in the movie. I believe that if watches are gonna watch Disenchanted watch Enchanted before. The movie was a 6/10 on disney plus but I give it a 7/10.
The movie was necessarily boring, the first parts of the movie were fun to watch but as it got near the end it started to get more boring. Much like its message, Disenchanted reminds us that every moment has the potential for providing us with a happily ever after, but it’s the good and the bad that makes it ever more enchanting. Did we need a sequel to Enchanted? No, not really, but it’s cute enough to cast a bit of an idealist spell this holiday season.

Lindsay Lohan’s Comeback

     After spending years out of the spotlight, actress Lindsay Lohan, best known for her roles in The Parent Trap and Mean Girls, is back and better than ever. She is starring in the new Netflix movie Falling for Christmas.
     Going into this, I was not expecting very much. I was expecting to not be able to sit through it, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was decently engaging and had me interested the whole time.
     This movie is about a spoiled and newly engaged heiress who finds herself in a terrible ski accident causing her to lose her memory. She is found by a man who owns a small lodge and was recently widowed. He has a daughter who makes a wish for her dad to find love. But the question is, will he find it?
     The chemistry between Lindsay Lohan and Chord Overstreet is what truly brings this movie to life. The romantic-comedy vibe of this movie perfectly fits Lindsay’s personality and Lindsay did an excellent job in this movie after being off the grid for a long time.
     This movie had everything a classic rom-com Christmas movie should have, from the love interests meeting from bumping into each other to a dramatic outfit reveal.
     This movie was extremely predictable and did have some questionable aspects, but when watching a corny movie like this, you can expect it to be like that. It can be viewed from two completely different perspectives while watching this movie.      You can view it as a fun simple Christmas movie that can be an enjoyable watch, or you can view it as a terrible movie with corny jokes and something you just cannot sit through.
     I do recommend this movie, it is worth that watch and can be something fun to watch with friends or family. If you enjoy the classic Hallmark-type movies, you will enjoy this, but if you don’t, I still say give it a try. It might surprise you; I know it surprised me.

Real VS Fake Tree: The Seasonal Showdown

  It’s that time of year again: Christmas. Time to string up the lights, light the fireplace, hang the wreaths, and, most importantly, set up the tree. With this cardinal part of seasonal decor comes a yearly debate, whether to go with a real or a fake Christmas tree.

     This question is not as shallow as sacrificing tradition for convenience, this decision goes as deep as weighing the financial and environmental impacts of both. After looking at the debate from a financial, environmental, and performance standpoint, I have come to the conclusion that getting a real Christmas tree is the way to go.

     Financial view: Wanting to save money is a valid reason why someone might choose a fake tree. Faux Christmas trees cost on average a little over $100 and usually last from four to six years. Real trees, on the other hand, cost on average about $80 and only last for that year. Pricing obviously will differ with quality and size, so someone could probably make either option work on a tight budget.

     Environmental view: With the state of the earth at the moment, it is important to keep the impact of your choices in mind. Just the production of fake trees is exponentially more harmful than the whole process of producing, transporting, and discarding real trees. They are mass-produced in factories and are made of plastic and metal, which are not biodegradable. Also, extensive amounts of carbon emissions are produced from manufacturing and transportation and tons of waste is created from the packaging and discarded trees. This process is very harsh on the environment from start to finish, all for a cheap tree that only lasts about 4 years. 

     Real trees on the other hand are ethically and sustainably grown on local farms. This means very minimal transportation or packaging is required. Not only is it majorly cutting down on carbon emissions, real trees produce tons of fresh oxygen into the environment. It is beneficial for air quality and supports small, local farms. Also when it is time to discard them they are completely recyclable and can be used for paper or lumber. 

     Performance view: There is no debate that real Christmas trees will always take the win in this category.  There is nothing that gets someone in the Christmas mood like the fresh, pine smell of a genuine tree. There are a few fake ones that try to replicate it with chemical-smelling pheromones and perfumes but they never really do the trick. Nothing can compare to the real deal. Not only the smell but the look of them too. No matter how advanced a faux tree one gets, you can always tell the difference between them. Plastic and metal can never truly replace fresh pine and wood.

     Still, the question remains, which Christmas tree is best? Even though real trees seem to be the clear answer, it isn’t for everyone. Every family and house is different, so what is the right option for one house may not be the right one for others. Everyone’s situation has different circumstances, with different solutions and that’s ok. This being said, I do recommend getting a real tree this holiday season if possible. But at the end of the day, Christmas is never defined by what type of tree you have, but by the people who gather around it.

Is Twitter dead?


     Recently Musk has filled the headlines of every publication with his various attempts to make his “public town square” that he calls Twitter profitable.

     He’s tried creating a subscription service that gives you a blue check, which failed miserably, cleared out the entire executive board of Twitter, cut 7,500 jobs, and told the people that are staying that they have to be “hard core” if they want to stay.

     At this point it just seems like Musk is throwing every monetization strategy possible at the wall and seeing if it sticks. It seems only natural for him to do so, though, after making what seems to be an impulse buy and trying to back out of it, and being forced to purchase it by law.

     Although he reluctantly bought it, having to sell $4 Billion of Tesla stock to do so, he still has carried out his objectives: removing all moderation from the app to make a “public town square,” although with the obvious restrictions (nudity, inciting violence, some, but not all, misinformation etc.). 

     But the problem with this, coupled with his blue check subscription, is with this promise he allows the spreading of misinformation and relative echo chambers, especially with one of their comment features, which allows accounts to set replies to only be sent by people they follow.

     Twitter was already a sinking ship though, did he make it any worse? Yes, through virtually no content moderation countless advertisers have pulled out, reasoning that they don’t want their company to be seen next to a tweet by Kanye featuring a Swastika inside a Star of David, which is why Musk has stepped back on his promise, banning him from the platform. 

     Although this was not that big of a step back as although Musk promised prior to completely eliminating content moderation and said when he bought it that those rules have been enforced, Twitter themselves never said they were changing their policy and their content moderation rules never changed on their help page.

     But that in itself is a major problem, people don’t even know what the rules are because you have the CEO saying one thing and the actual company saying another.
    This is a big dilemma because, like I said prior, Twitter needs money, and ads are one of the main ways to do that, but when you don’t promise brand safety, and, on the contrary, have an extremely unhinged CEO that randomly tweets things, of course you are not going to get any advertisement money. 

     You can’t have both Elon, either save the sinking ship by actually enforcing content moderation or die trying to make your personal utopia. Actually moderating would also likely increase its user base, if you aren’t constantly ridiculed for the most minor opinion you have and you are able to have an actual conversation with someone then of course your user base would increase. 

     The thing is, though, we are in the middle of a company that’s been running for a decade being transferred to a person who has never dealt with content moderation, and a man who is also trying to take the company out of the debt that he put them in from the purchase. There have been A LOT of bumps in the road but Twitter will likely bounce back, to be fair its user base is at an all time high right now. 

     If Musk can learn how to moderate it enough to make it friendly for advertisers while also maintaining some free speech, and find new ways to monetize it enough to not make that much of a loss, then it will likely still be around for it. Then Musk might be able to focus on his actually profitable company, Tesla, whose stock has fallen drastically since the purchase of Twitter due to Musk’s recent disinvolvement in Tesla.

     Only time will tell though.