The Blazer

John Muir Early College Magnet High School

February 22, 2021

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artwork courtesy of ESMoA art laboratory museum

Muir Adopts an Anti-Racist Approach to Curriculum

by Amiya Morton

History plays a great role in high school. Teaching students about the past events in their world is very important, but with more and more awareness around racial inequality, the question is how can educators be more aware of race and teach students about it as well?

John Muir Early College Magnet High School (JMHS) teachers and staff are moving forward this year with plans to adopt an anti-racist curriculum to expand their students confidence, as well as teach those who are unaware of the importance of a community and culture’s past.

Having an anti-racist curriculum is acknowledging different races, and ethnicities by focusing on their struggles and accomplishments in the past. A racist curriculum blocks students from learning about others and other points of views on events in the world as well as shutting the door to expand their knowledge about many different people.

All schools should absolutely strive for a diverse curriculum; even schools that are predominantly white. There are narrow perspectives taught about black people and showcasing only the suffering and slavery of the community continues the silencing of this group of people.

Instead, curriculum should show students the empowering ways the communities have overcome obstacles, and the truths about their lives and who is responsible for them. This fosters a complete understanding of the way people are treated and silenced, also encourages students to express empathy and acknowledge every point of view not just one.

Muir is focusing on this for the importance of the black and brown students, and to make everyone more aware that conversation on color may be uncomfortable but is something that 100% needs to be talked and taught about to promote racial equity.

Manuel Rustin, a history teachers at JMHS, has designed a whole class of work that focuses on the histories of black and brown people.

He explained, “For too long we have ignored the fact that this diversity and our own students’ backgrounds ought to be carefully considered when designing curriculum and teaching practices.”

Assistant Principal Ricardo Robles, when asked about why this is important have an anti-racist curriculum responded saying, “I think it's important at every school because the whole United States has been built on racism and we have to address that.”

Ignoring race in classes widens the achievement gap by forcing all students to learn in a uniform manner that often ignores cultural differences and hinders students’ ability to prove they have mastered content. It often ignores different methods of expression that students may be comfortable with.

Rustin added that, “The so-called 'achievement gap' would have never existed in the first place if we had a humanizing, equity-driven, integrated, and inclusive system.”

Now with trying to shift to be more anti-racist in education, student tasks would have to change as well.

Rustin said, “I allow students freedom to demonstrate their learning in various ways”

He continues, why it is important for students of color to have multiple ways to demonstrate their learning, “allowing a student to demonstrate their learning in a way that better suits them (perhaps spoken, visual, poetic, etc), the teacher can gain a better sense of whether the student understands the concept.”

Rustin shared his actions in supporting his students and being anti-racist, “I focus my content on issues and stories that connect to my students’ experiences and backgrounds.”

For example, a lot of topics with literature and history involve white people, and when a topic is about a different race it focuses on the bad things, and can be mostly only slavery. This gives students a single story of how black people lived. It wasn’t a choice of living. It ignores the other facts from black and African-American culture aside from slavery.

Having an anti-racist curriculum involves lots of changes in the classroom.

Robles shares some change that will be made with teachers, “be more explicit about the work that we’re doing, and more intentional in the work.”

When asked “why now?” Rustin explained, “Because we are already late. The nation, and our school system, should have reconciled with its past and vanquished racial hierarchies long ago.”

You have to remember the education system began a long time ago. Over time the stories in history books have silenced many communities. This only strengthens and builds stronger racist practices.

Keeping lessons about one culture and one point of view of the world limits students learning skills and limits teachers ability to connect and understand their students thinking; both of students of color as well as others.

Rustin added that it “helps make sure the student isn't unfairly penalized. This is particularly important for students who are not from the dominant culture--in this case, students of color.”

Having a racist curriculum is a locked door for colored students and only a mirror for non-colored students. An anti-racist curriculum will open more doors for every student.

“You're not neglecting any aspects of who the students are and your valuing who the student is completely” Robles said.

He added, “seeing themselves valued, respected and honored, I think that's one of the benefits.”

Students strongly benefit from anti-racist learning; black and brown as well as white students. Exposure to diverse perspectives of the world can help their thinking. Black and brown students can be able to grow and not only learn about their community's past, but also have a voice and opinion about it without the feeling of being uncomfortable to speak on the topics.

In the current polorized society, perspective and understanding of diverse cultures and perspectives is essential.

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ASB Works Hard to Keep School Spirit Lifted

by Pamela Cortes

John Muir High School’s 2020-2021 Associated Student Body (ASB) is trying their best to keep students engaged in school spirit online.

Students with school spirit perform better academically and are more social. It also allows students to support their school and participate in activities with their friends.

Andrea Magdaleno, event coordinator for the class of 2021 says, “School spirit is important because it gets students to get involved and also makes school fun.”

When asked if she thought school spirit was more important now during this pandemic and remote learning, Magdaleno said, “Yes it is more important now to have school spirit because online school is so unmotivating and makes it hard to learn and students need something fun and exciting to get them motivated.”

Because of the pandemic and students being forced to attend classes from home, communication between students and ASB has gotten more difficult.

Announcements for activities hosted by ASB are online through email and social media.

ASB Advisor Cassandra Franklin says she feels like encouraging school spirit is always important.

“This year almost everything that we are doing is virtual and we are trying to make sure that we get announcements out to everyone in the school during seminar so that our community is aware of the activities that we have to offer at our school,” said Franklin.

When asked what she hopes to accomplish this year, Franklin said, “Our hope for this year is the same hope for every year. We just want to motivate our fellow students to take pride in our school, in themselves, in our community, and have some fun memories to look back on once the year is over.”

School spirit is often what makes high school enjoyable and teachers, parents and students work hard to foster it in every high school student. It creates a sense of pride and community in a high school.

“School spirit is what makes high school so memorable and gets students to look forward to going to school. Students tend to do better academically when there is school spirit because they want to be more engaged,” said Magdaleno when asked how school spirit enhanced the overall school experience and grades.

In the past, John Muir High School had spirit weeks, pep rallies, and sometimes movie nights for all the students.

John Muir also had school dances. But to attend one of the school dances, you had to have good attendance.

ASB president Goyahkla Robles says, “Usually, in the past, there would be posters all over the school and a big assembly at the end of spirit weeks. Now we continue with spirit weeks and post and remind students during our weekly announcements or through our Instagram @jmhs_asb, we encourage students to participate by sending in pictures through our dm’s or email in their spirit wear.”

Hailey De Alba, the senior class of 2021 president says, “Planning events has been difficult but getting a good amount of students to participate is definitely a big challenge. A lot of time and effort goes into planning events and advertising but many students do not participate which makes the events, not as fun and enjoyable. As well as when students do not participate it is discouraging to plan more events.”

ASB has recently planned a single person, outdoor, COVID-19 safe, activity that allows students to participate while still being safe.

“Who rocks the house is a safe outside interactive event where any student from any class level can go searching for a mini hidden house, it’s a scavenger hunt for all to participate in,” said Robles.

“Clues are given through videos that the students take when they re-hide the house in a new location,” said De Alba.

Even though high school has looked vastly different this year than in years past, ASB is working hard to make sure the school spirit and community among students is strong.

Schools Continue Remote Learning With Accomodations

by Rudy Flores

With COVID-19 cases increasing at a fast rate, schools around the country will remain closed and continue with remote learning. John Muir Early College Magnet High School (JMHS) had hoped to re-open sometime early this year, but the plan to re-open schools has been postponed because California is heavily impacted by COVID-19. This means for the safety of the students and staff, JMHS will be continuing with remote learning.

Last semester was very difficult for some students at JMHS due to a lot of technical problems. Students and teachers had problems using the new app Webex because no one had used it before. This caused some students to show up to class late or not at all.

Antonio Cervantes, a senior in the Engineering and Environmental Science Academy (EESA) said, “Last semester for me was bad because Webex kept lagging for me. I’m not comfortable with entering the new semester because of the previous problems I had with Webex.”

Even though the first semester was hard on some students, for others it was a bit smother. “Last semester was fairly decent for me,” said Arthur Jones, another EESA senior.

Another problem was classes being cut short. Instead of classes being ninety minutes long, they are only 70 minutes long. Teachers have less time to teach the material of the subject, and a lot of the time they do have is lost to technological issues or catching late or absent students up. Most problems that students had, teachers were experiencing as well. This made them more understanding and lenient with the students.

Some teachers at JMHS have changed their grading policy to help students in their classes improve their chance of passing. Students have until the end of the five week grading period, or sometimes the end of the semester, to turn in missing assignments with no points deducted.

Charles Vines, an English teacher in the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Academy (AEM) was asked about a change in his grading policy and said, “My policy has been the same since the beginning of the year, but it is different from what it was in years past for sure. It's important to be flexible and understanding, especially in extreme situations.”

Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) has agreed to a credit recovery policy that will help students who experienced personal, health or technological struggles first semester. If a student had a D or F for their first semester final grade, they can now have a 2nd chance of passing that class. All students have to do is pass the class they failed with a C or above and it will average your first semester class grade to a C. This gives students an opportunity to recover from the challenges that have plagued them and remote learning during a pandemic.

Senior Defense was a mandatory requirement for seniors in order to graduate. But for this year, it has now been made optional for seniors. All they have to do is write their senior reflection and pass.

We have entered into a new semester and hopefully students and teachers have adapted to remote learning, we could have a more positive semester.

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new coronavirus vaccine and syringe

photo courtesy of

Coronavirus Vaccine Roll-out Slow to Start

by Gabrielle Andre

After months of living in the CoronaVirus pandemic, a vaccine has finally been manufactured. While some first responders are being vaccinated the rest of the country is sitting on standby. The vaccine roll out “Warp Speed” has appeared to be anything but fast. Many delays have plagued the system. As a result, many vaccines are expiring before they arrive, and deaths from the virus are still at a high. So what is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) and government agencies doing to help, and what can we do to support?

In the new stages, hospitals are still struggling to get the people vaccinated. With the overflowing of hospitals, there is nowhere to vaccinate and the vaccines aren't making it to state agencies to be administered. It also seems that the government isn't addressing the flawed rollout issue as it is nowhere to be found on any of the website’s pages.

Thankfully though, as of January 26 the CDC and Federal Drug Administration (FDA) have predicted that the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be approved in late February or early March. They also estimate that up to sixty percent of the general population will be vaccinated by June. So what will this mean for life getting back to normal?

When asked, Assistant Principal Ricardo Robles said, “Right now it looks like we don’t have enough vaccines for everyone. What we have to do is first make sure that people are safe. Too many people have gotten severely ill or died. Safety has to be our priority.”

The longer that the virus is passed through the communities unchecked, the more mutations it has the opportunity to undergo so the situation is changing almost daily.

Chemistry and Physics teacher Daniel Harris said, “The variant carries mutations that may weaken the effect of vaccines. We just need to reduce transmission as much as possible; meaning with a combination of vaccines, social distancing, masking, and good hygiene, we'll be getting closer to back to normal.”

Many states have set up mass vaccination sites to try to curb the spread of Coronavirus. The largest one in the Los Angeles and Pasadena area is at the famed Dodger stadium, which averages at 6203 vaccinations a day. This should significantly slow and eventually stop the spread of coronavirus and help return some normalcy to people’s lives.

After a year of Covid-19, and almost a year of lockdown, we all hope that these predictions will come true and we will be able to return to our old lives.

Hospitals Reach Capacity and Struggle to Treat Patients

by Kevin Posada

Los Angeles county currently has 1.1 million cases of COVID-19, and its hospitals are flooded with patients. Hospitals are now turning gift shops and chapels into care space for new patients. Even with these expanded care options, Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center had to shut it’s doors for ambulance traffic for 12 hours at one point.

Some patients who required intensive oxygen had waited for up to 18 hours, while patients who needed intensive or intermediate levels of care could not be treated because of limited resources.

During the holidays, COVID-19 cases grew as expected even after LA County health officials warned of possible COVID-19 cases surging via family gathering and out-of-town trips.

Experts had predicted that there might be a boost in corona virus cases by mid-January, double the hospitalizations by late January and early February, and a large number of deaths by early to mid February.

Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, a medical epidemiologist and infectious disease expert at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, stated that a person who is exposed to COVID-19 during a Christmas gathering has a possibility of being infectious by New Years Eve. Doctors warned that a person could show no symptoms and might go to a New Years Eve party giving more people the virus.

With vaccines finally available in the US and several other countries, the latest COVID-19 news has reminded us that we still are nowhere near finished. A more infectious strain of the virus; first identified in the UK as B.1.1.7, has been confirmed in about 33 countries and five states.

In addition, another newly identified strain in COVID-19 cases in South Africa is believed to be even more contagious than the previous strains. This new strain is called 501.V2 and so far it has not yet been confirmed in the US. Even so, Dr. Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Newsweek on January 5th that he believed it was already here, and it is becoming more prevalent.

With this in mind, LA hospitals will continue to overflow with new patients. Meanwhile, hospitals like The 172-bed Memorial Hospital of Gardena are not only short on supplies but they also have staffing shortages.

Hospitals are seeking traveling nurses from around the country, and also request nursing resources from the National Guard. While hospitals await extra assistance, they have been hiring final-year nursing students as nursing assistance and also implemented a team structure that lets staff from close departments ease workloads to allow ICU nurses to focus on the crucial work.

With more vaccines, and a little bit of help from the public the end of the pandemic is hopefully in the near future.

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Muir soccer players 2020

photo courtesy of Dulio Martinez

Sports Still on Pause

by Arianna Marquez

The new year of 2021 has now begun and all sports are still waiting to be cleared. There are only a few of months until the school year is over, and all senior athletes are anxious to see if they’ll even get to play their final year. All parks and fields are closed to assure athletes don’t practice. California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) states all athletes are not allowed to practice until they are cleared by the league.

Mid-defender Jesus Valdez who plays for the John Muir boys soccer team along with other athletes are upset since their season has not yet begun. No sports are allowed to practice or play any games until they get the okay from CIF.

Valdez said, “It’s sad since we are seniors and we didn’t get to have our first game or finish our last game. We were counting on the season to reunite and have fun until we go off to college.”

Sports have had an impact on most athletes and has mentally kept them in the right state of mind, but for Valdez when asked about his disruption, he said, “Mentally it gives me more time to focus on school work and just more time to hang out with other people but I do miss my team.”

He continued, “The whole pandemic has affected me from playing because everything is closed some parks are closed some fields are closed and all of this with the mask a social distancing makes it harder for us to go play.”

Jalen Cooper who plays defensive end for Muir’s varsity football team said, “I feel very upset that my final season is over because we have made it to the championship last year but came off short and not being able to play or get a chance to go back and win the whole thing it hurts.”

As for players’ futures, some athletes are sitting with college offers, but this whole pandemic has affected a lot of other athletes who were hoping to receive any offers. Without a senior season there are unable to show off for colleges.

Cooper said, “Yes it does, and it takes away opportunities and not being able to play I can’t give the colleges an idea of what they are looking for and what they are getting.”

When asking Copper about not being able to play and how it has affected him academically he said, “it takes away full rides and offers that I had for a chance where my mom didn’t have to pay nothing and giving me a chance to go to college with nothing to pay.”

Girl’s Soccer Head Coach Mario Hernandez thinks there will be no season and he said, “As far as I know and from what I’m hearing, no. Too much of a risk in terms of COVID 19.” The United States is now sitting at 25.8M COVID-19 cases.

“The further we get into the academic year, the shorter the time to complete the season without the risk of injury. Most sports required a preparation period or conditioning to get into playing shape. Without this, we could be risking injury” Hernandez said.

This year hasn’t been the year we all expected for especially seniors as they don’t get to play their final year. Seniors not only lost the chance to do their senior activities, but they also don’t get to have their senior night on the field or court. The major impact it has on seniors is this year was their last chance to play with their teammates and make those lasting memories.

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a large crowd protests the lockdown outide the state capital in Sacramento

photo courtesy of the Sacramento Bee

Coronavirus Cases Increase As Orders Are Ignored

by Christopher Galicia

Today coronavirus cases are soaring to the thousands each day. One big cause is people ignoring the orders to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus.

Since the government has issued a state wide shutdown, citizens have continued to ignore the orders. New York City and other major cities have protested the shutdown to keep their establishments open.

The shutdown started in March 2020 after multiple cases of coronavirus were reported in multiple states, and caused hospitals to fill up to full capacity.

Some people who choose to ignore the stay at home order are also infected with the virus and going to places such as grocery stores, buses, and airports spreading germs that spread to those who are not infected.

Saul Osorio, a senior in the Engineering and Environmental Science Academy (EESA) said, “The only time I have ever left my home was to go to essential places. At this point I do not think the vaccine will help because the virus will continue to expose those who are likely to get it.”

Many people across the country are protesting the lockdown and quarantine, even going so far as to petition a recall of California’s governor Gavin Newsom. Many believe that the government is taking away their personal rights.

Osorio said, “I sacrificed my senior year for quarantine and keeping my community safe. If people believe that the government is “taking away their right, '' I argue that the protesters are taking away people’s lives.”

Jenifer Lopez, a senior in the Business and Entreprenuership Academy (BE) added, “During this pandemic, I haven't been able to completely stay at home because I work, but when I get off work I come straight home or sometimes go to the grocery store, but I for sure haven't been out with friends.”

When asked about her thoughts on the people protesting the stay at home order saying it violates their civil rights, Lopez said, “I believe that the protest in New York is one of the reasons that people got infected because they were all together crowded up and not knowing who of all those people had the virus.”

This global pandemic is the largest in history, and affects everyone, so each person must do their part to curb the spread so that there can be some sort of return to normal in the near future.

Love In The Time of Covid

by Miracle Green

Valentine's day was one more holiday that fell victim to the pandemic this year. February 14 is a very popular holiday celebrated in the United States and different places around the world. You exchange gifts, candy, etc. between the ones you love.

When I think of Valentine’s day I think about spending it with my significant other. Going on dates, buying each other gifts, and showing that person that you love them. This year, my boyfriend and I decided to just spend time together at home and watch movies all day. But many other people chose differently.

Kylan Culpepper is a junior in the Business and Entrepreneurship Academy (BE) and explained what he and his girlfriend did this year.

Culpepper said, “My other half and I aren’t going to give gifts this year, but we’re going to watch netflix and eat good food.”

Daniela Nepomuceno, a junior in the Arts Entertainment and Media Academy (AEM) when asked how she feels about Valentine’s day this year said, “I'm kind of sad because you can’t really do anything because of COVID-19.”

Madison Castillo, an AEM senior, was asked what she’s giving her significant other and what she feels is most special about Valentine's Day.

Her response was “I’m getting my significant other a chain, a goodie basket, and a hoodie. The most special thing about Valentine's Day is giving out love.”

Even though COVID-19 is active, couples and family are still showing that they appreciate the ones they love.

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small buisiness owner Perry Bennett of Perry's Joint in Pasadena

photo courtesy of Pasadena Now

Essential Small Businesses Suffer Through The Pandemic

by Oscar Reyes

Small businesses provide jobs for a community and can help the people of that community earn some more money, but with COVID-19 small businesses had to shut down and won't be able to open anytime soon. This means communities will be struggling to find jobs or to make the money they need. Some small businesses may also offer food, water, and other supplies community members need.

John Muir Early College Magnet High School (JMHS) Business teacher Louis Bond said, “Small businesses create two-thirds of new jobs and help drive our economy. When small businesses close communities suffer due to lack of options and less employment.”

Currently, with the restrictions for restaurants and bars take-out food is allowed, and there is no evidence that COVID-19 spreads through food. This means that Indoor businesses are looking for workers which opens a whole new way to earn money. Indoors businesses can help small communities earn money or buy food or supplies.

Many companies had to shut down because of COVID-19 which caused them to lose money, and without any income, many have gone out of business. A few companies have been temporarily closed, but others couldn’t survive and had to close down permanently. Due to companies closing down, many people recieved fewer hours, were temporarily laid off, or lost their jobs entirely.

The Government has helped small businesses get back on their feet by giving loans and stimulus checks. But another way small businesses can get back on their feet, is if people start supporting their local small businesses.

People can help a business by frequenting small establishments, and making it popular online so they get more customers. This influx in business will also add new opportunities for work.

Bond said, “Buying from small businesses when possible by purchasing gift certificates, ordering takeout or delivery, and share your favorite small businesses on social media can help small businesses.” Once this is all over, small businesses will have to recover and this could help the way back be much more manageable.

Bond said that they will need to receive loans and ensure the safety of workers to not get a lawsuit. Once small businesses open back up, people will have jobs again and the economy will be normal once again.

Small businesses are the cornerstone of many neighborhoods and our economy overall. Without them many neighborhoods will struggle to recover economically and emotionally.

Contributing Writers

Gabrielle Andre

Rudy Flores

Christopher Galicia

Mauricio Gasca

Miracle Green

Arianna Marquez editor-in-chief

Amiya Morton co-editor

Kevin Posada

Oscar Reyes

Mission Statement

The Blazer is produced by the Journalism Class at John Muir High School. It is a completely student-run newspaper, and all content is revised by student editors. Our goal is to re lease a high quality, informative, and factual newspaper that accurately depicts the John Muir community. We, the Journalism staff, understand and will apply our rights under the California Education Code 48907. This newspaper does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the John Muir High School administration, faculty, or the PUSD. For any questions or concerns, letters to the editors are always welcomed. They can be sent to The Blazer’s email at jmhsblazer@ where editors reserve the right to edit any submissions for clarity