John Muir Early College Magnet High School

December 17, 2020

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Coronavirus Numbers Force Schools to Stay Remote

by Amiya Morton

During this pandemic hardship, John Muir Early College Magnet High School was supposed to re-open around February after the abrupt shut down in early March of 2020. Now it looks like there may be more time added to the wait of going back to school physically.

As many all know, COVID-19 has not been an easy era for the world. Cases are rising as we speak and the surge in the area is not holding back. As a result, Muir students, and many others, have not been in school for well over 8 months and counting.

The recent rapid rise of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and California has put a stop to all plans to reopen schools for in person learning as previously planned.
“Superintendent, Brian McDonald has announced that schools will not re-open in January as previously planned. No future date has been proposed yet.” says Michelle Bailey, a school board member in the Pasadena Unified school district.

For student athletes who have not had their proper seasons during this school year and have questions about sports as well, “The CIF will advise the district on when competitive sports can return to schools. According to their website, We should hear something after January 1, 2021.” Bailey said.

The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) does not expect there to be an issue from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) regarding full practices and competitions after the date above as well.

Now with school being online, students’ lives in all aspects are affected, staff can’t be as hands on with their students like in the past and online learning has impacted everything. There are systems and safety nets that can not be implemented in the same way it has in the past with in person education.

Bailey shared, “My biggest concern about remote learning is its impact on learning, our homeless students, students who are challenged with learning in a remote environment, and challenges with connectivity and technology.”

Senior, Laydie Sanders in the Arts Entertainment Media Academy expresses some thoughts about the possibility of school reopening and the struggles with learning remotely.

“At home my bed and my phone are here with me and I just feel like there's no way for me to fully get work done and pay attention, without asking someone else for help or needing a push to do my work.”

Likewise, while students are at home learning, they are also sharing their space with many other family members, and school and home life begin to blur.

“Some students have to babysit also as they are doing school so that interferes with a lot” Sanders added.

Each student has different learning needs while in school, and those needs and differences are only exacerbated by having to navigate curriculum and family at home, without the usual support from staff. For some, the stress is a lot.

Bailey explained the impact of online instruction, “this current online instruction impacts students, teachers, and parents in different ways. Some continue to thrive with no problems, while others are totally stressed out behind it.”

Since school is in fact not reopening in the beginning of the new year and there is no longer a specific date, students are having to do the best they can finishing this semester and starting a new one.

“I do think that it is unsafe because there are people who think the virus is not something to worry about and then there are people who take all the information that has been said and think about it and take all the precautions,” Sanders said.

Even though the reopening of schools is not certain at this time, students and staff are working tirelessly to implement and learn the curriculum as best they can in preparation for the future after the pandemic.

Teachers continue to educate and students continue to work hard and the senate has passed a law to create checks and balances on remote learning.

Bailey gave insight about the Senate Bill 98 (SB 98) and its intended purpose. Governor Newsom signed SB98 into law on June 29, 2020. It is a budget bill but the bill also includes requirements for distance learning and in-person instruction for this school year to insure that all students are offered a quality education in this difficult time.

"SB 98 states that school districts must offer in-person instruction and allows local educational agencies (LEAs), including county offices of education, charter schools, and school districts, to offer distance learning. With regards to in-person instruction, the district has decided not to re-open schools until such a time that everyone can be safe,” Bailey said.

For now remote learning will continue until there is new information about a date to have everyone return safely. After winter break John Muir High School continues remotely on the fourth of January, 2021.

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photo of student computer and learning at home

photo courtesy of Gabrielle Andre

Teachers Modify Grading to Insure Equity

by Gabrielle Andre

This year has caused no shortage of changes in everyone's lives; especially student learning during a global pandemic. Thankfully, many teachers have catered to our need for a modified paced school year, with a change in grade requirements and late work policies as well.

When asking the new math teacher, Ms. Lorea if she changed her teaching strategies and policies to help students survive this online learning format she said, “in a sense I did change my policies for grading. I have allowed students to turn in late work and still receive full credit. I have allowed extra time on quizzes/tests to be turned in.”

This is a choice that many teachers are making; to be as accommodating as possible. This a much appreciated consideration with all of the new difficulties students face with remote learning.

Students also have feelings about these changes, sophomore Reyna Rodriguez in the Business and Entrepreneurship Academy (BE) said, “I feel like it’s great right now. It’s a hard time for everyone and school is already stressful as is. Sometimes it’s not our fault that an assignment is late and I like how understanding they are about that.”

Jazlyn Bradley, also in the BE academy said roughly the same thing when discussing grades and classes and the unique struggles and accommodations that teachers are making to help students succeed.

“I’m grateful they let us turn in late work and grade easier because this new lifestyle is very stressful and it’s hard to stay focused sitting in front of a computer all day,” said Bradley.

There is a lot less encouragement and personal connections then there would be in school. Which has become a problem for students everywhere.

Sra. Moore, a Spanish teacher at John Muir, when asked about the grading changes said, “I believe there are many lessons in life that are learned the hard way. Closing one door, like getting a bad grade, does not preclude a student from opening another such as summer school or a PCC course.”

With the current situation and hardships on every student trying to learn remotely, teachers are forced to look at grading in a new way.

Sra. Moore continues, “I do hope that teachers are taking the time to seek equity in grading especially during an unprecedented pandemic situation. I hope that they offer tons of options for students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills.”

With the semester coming to an end students need to take advantage of new late work policies to get the best grade possible and thank teachers for helping students through these tough times.
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a John Muir soccer player moves the ball down the field in 2020 season

photo courtesy of John Muir Instagram

2021 Sports Tries to Make a Comeback

by Arianna Marquez

John Muir’s 2020-2021 sports are now waiting to start their first practice since the whole pandemic derailed the 2020-2021 seasons. In order for sports to start-up practice, they must get clearance from the state. Coaches are now focusing on the safest way to assure they keep up with the COVID guidelines.

Track runner Sai Grant commented on starting her senior year of track and said, “I will be happy to finally get back on the track and field to start practicing again.”

COVID cases have now gone up and the United States now has more than 16.8M COVID cases. The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) is now waiting till COVID cases to go down to clear all sports to practice.

With the uncertainty and potential dangers this poses to players, Grant said, “We should wait so we don’t risk it going higher.”

COVID guidelines say both coaches and players will need to be screened daily for any symptoms, players must bring their own water bottles, and face masks are required at all times. Grant said, “I feel safe because although the virus is real, I know that I don’t have to fear it so it doesn’t raise anxiety.”

Girls soccer coach Mario Hernandez spoke about how practices will start, “We are hoping to have a small group of players practices as pods. They would have their own individual balls and water. There wouldn't be any physical contact. We would solely practice ball skills and conditioning at first.“

Even though the protocols for starting sports is difficult for all that are involved, coaches and players seem ready to make the commitment to the safety protocols.

“Wearing a mask is a non-negotiable for me. Everyone that comes to practice and is part of the team would have to wear one, including myself. They wouldn't be allowed to be out practicing with the team if they chose to not wear one,” Hernandez said.

After such a crazy year in the lives of students, staff, and sports, many are ready to get back to what they have been missing in this isolation and quarantine.

Alize Rocha, a senior who plays forward for John Muir girl’s soccer team said, “I’m feeling excited. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to play and I can’t wait to see everyone.”

When practices begin it’s up to players and coaches to keep up with the COVID guidelines. Rocha spoke as a player about how she’ll keep up with the COVID guidelines, “Our coach has made sure to inform us of the guidelines. This includes having our correct paperwork and bringing our own ball and water. As a player, I’m making sure I’m doing everything I can to ensure my safety and those of the other players.”

This year will definitely be different from other years as both players and coaches will be wearing masks and may even play without a crowd to cheer them on. Everyone is looking forward to seeing how this season will play out. As of now, the first football game is scheduled for January 8, 2021, but with COVID cases at an all time high in the country and in California, the future is uncertain in many ways.

Remote Learning Transforms Instruction and Grading

by Kevin Posada

Since the shutdown of schools from COVID-19, every student and teacher at John Muir Early College Magnet High School (JMHS) has been forced to move to online classes. After several months of online classes, students and teachers have had mixed experiences with this new learning environment.

Online classes have changed the way students learn, and teachers' way of teaching and grading. From class work, to homework, to keeping up, to grades, most students are struggling with this new system of learning. Meanwhile, teachers have their own difficulties in this environment, specifically with student engagement and grading.

Most students say they would prefer to go back to physical classes. In an interview with John Muir student Jessica Robles, she said online classes were more complicated than regular classes.

Robles stated, “It's harder to communicate with groups and easier for students to not do work.”

She says she prefers physical classes because she feels like it's hard to make friends or to communicate in general which is a weakness of hers in this online environment.

Ciera McJunkin, a junior at John Muir had a different answer, “It's harder to stay motivated to do work."

While there students have communication problems others have trouble keeping their motivation to work. Or in the worst case scenario, they have trouble with both.

For most students it feels like online classes are more of an option than a necessity which is part of the reason why it's hard to stay focused or even treating it like regular classes.

On top of that, since it's distant, students find it hard to make friends and participate in break out sessions.

As many students have adapted to the online system, so have teachers. Teachers want to help students feel supported and want to do everything possible to help them out in this environment which is why most of them have changed their ways of grading.

JMHS English teacher Israel Vines said, “I'm allowing late work with no penalties and I have a 50% low grade threshold, meaning that the lowest grade a student can receive on an assignment - even if they don't turn it in - is a 50%.”

In addition, teachers stay after school in office hours where they meet with students to provide extra help with classwork or homework.

Online classes aren't just a new environment for students. One major thing teachers have complaints about is that they don't like staring at avatars all day. Since almost no students turn on their cameras, they suspect that perhaps the focus and attention of students is much lower than in the physical classroom, which can get really frustrating.

Since students don't keep their cameras on teachers have no idea what their students even look like which is another difficulty they have: remembering names and faces, and having that personal connection with students that makes teaching and learning more manageable.

Overall, students and teachers are doing the best they can and will continue to focus on curriculum, learning, and supporting each other in this new educational format.

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photo of 2020 senior class at college signing day assembly

photo courtesy of John Muir Instagram

COVID-19 vs. Senior Year

by Rudy Flores

Due to school shutdown because of the widespread of COVID-19, seniors are not able to traditionally enjoy their final school year, or participate in senior activities.

On March 13, 2020, PUSD made a decision to close all schools until the virus was under control.

People were advised to stay home in order to stop the COVID-19 from spreading and from getting worse. While there were people who stayed home to stop the spread, there were also other people who didn’t listen and believed the virus to be fake.

There are currently almost 17 million cases of coronavirus in the U.S. alone. This means its very difficult to reopen businesses like restaurants, schools, and other places in the community. Which also lowers a chance for students returning to school any time at all during the 2020-2021 school year.

Typically senior year is full of senior activities, dances, and celebrations of this closing chapter of young adults' lives. But due to the pandemic, quarantine, and social distancing, those are all out of the question. Daniel Harris, a science teacher at John Muir and Adviser for the 2021 senior class said “We had all kinds of plans, and we’ve only been able to do a few because of COVID.”

When asked about how she felt about her senior year, Jennifer Lopez, a senior at John Muir High School and also school Treasure responded, “I feel really sad because I thought we were going to go back to school and have a normal senior year, but now it looks like it's not going to happen, but I’d rather stay home than get sick.”

This pandemic has changed the way we all live our lives, and kept us from getting together with friends and family, but fortunately, most of us will go back to normal soon. Seniors however will not get another senior year to make those lifelong memories.

Goyakla Robles, a senior who also attends John Muir High School and also the Associated Student Body (ASB) president said, “I’m sad that I won’t get to enjoy our last year of high school especially since I’m separated from my friends.''

Even though seniors may not enjoy their last year at John Muir, at least they are staying home to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19. Eventually life will return to normal, or a modified version of normal, but the memories will be forever altered.
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photo of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett

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Supreme Court Adds 6th Conservative Justice

by Miracle Green

The Supreme Court suffered a great loss in October when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away. The Republican party rushed to fill her seat with a sixth conservative nominee solidifying a conservative supreme court for years to come.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg occupied the 7th seat on the U.S Supreme Court. She successfully fought against gender discrimination and unified the liberal block of the court. She sadly passed away due to cancer on Sept 18, 2020.

Since her death, President Trump raced to replace her without delay before the election. Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett of the United States of the 7th Circuit in Chicago., and she was quickly confirmed by the senate on October 26, 2020. She took the oath of office on October 27, 2020.

Justice Barrett replaces the liberal ideology of Ginsberg with her very conservative ideology making the Supreme Court firmly conservative for decades to come.

One week later, Joe Biden and Donald Trump faced off in the 2020 presidential election, and after days of counting votes, Biden prevailed. This election marked the biggest voter turnout in history, signaling the pressing need for Americans to have a say in their futures, and the laws that affect Americans' everyday lives.

The Court appeared to support Obamacare even if it strikes down the mandate that everyone must have health insurance, when five supreme court justices, including conservative justices, rejected Republican attempts to overturn the law.

John Muir math teacher Yereny Loera had her own opinion on this topic, she said “Obamacare has helped so many people and should be kept in place. The court should see that the program enabled more people to have access to affordable health insurance and has helped lower class more so to be able to have equal access as others”.

In addition to the Affordable Health Care law that has been targeted by conservatives, Roe vs. Wade, which made abortion legal on a federal level in 1973, has gotten a lot of focus in many states, and with many conservatives.

The Supreme Court legalized abortion in a seven-to-two vote from the justices ruled over the country at the time. But recently they are questioning if they should overturn the law or not. Karizma Blackwell a student from the Arts, Entertainment, & Media (AEM) academy said, “Roe vs. Wade should not be overturned and that simply should not be up for discussion in the first place, because allowing women to have a choice [about their bodies] is a basic human right, and that right will affect so many people in a negative way if it is overturned.”

Since Supreme Court Justices serve for life, this Court will continue to make critical decisions for all Americans for decades.

Senior Defense Goes Virtual

by Oscar Reyes

This year, 2020 is a difficult time to do any kind of event, so how will the senior class of 2021 present the senior defenses? It is now decided that this year the senior defense of learning presentations will be done by an online virtual meeting.

This shift in format is especially stressful for seniors. In the past, the reflection on learning and artifacts were discussed in detail in English classes, and CTE classes. This year seniors had to navigate the process from home.

Business and Entrepreneurship (BE) senior at John Muir Early College Magnet High School Andrea Magdaleno said, “I am most nervous about presenting, I feel like I'll get too nervous and forget what to say and maybe speak too fast.”

Another senior, Goyahkla Robles in the Engineering and Environmental Science Academy (EESA) said he is “nervous he will not pass.”

There are mixed feelings about this culminating project, some seniors find the senior defense very difficult, and some think it will be easy.

When asked about the stress of presenting senior defense online, Robles said, “Personally I feel good about what it's supposed to do for other students, but for me this year it felt very tough doing it through an online environment.”

This new learning environment has been difficult for students and teachers to adapt to, and some struggle with time management.

Robles said, "I also felt like I was rushed, But my English teacher was there to help me.” For him, it was very hard to work online but he is making it through with the help of his teacher.

Every year the senior defense is a source of anxiety for students, but usually they realize that it is a much less daunting process than anticipated.

Magdaleno says, “I feel like the senior defense was easier than what I thought it would be.”

She found it easy and doesn't see any struggle. She got comfortable with the online environment but some students are still getting used to it. Also, amongst the other work seniors have to do, stress levels are high for some but not all.

“Everyone made it seem like it was hard but it turned out to be quite easy,” said Magdaleno. She continued, “I am kind of nervous to present but other than that I feel ready.”

Robles expressed, “I am confident that I will pass, I did my best and used my resources that I had to finish the best I could.”

Both of these students are ready to take on the senior defense and they are ready to do their presentations. As for the rest of the John Muir seniors, they can redo their senior defense, but since students need to pass the senior defense to graduate, everyone has to do the best they can.

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artwork shows the earth on fire

artwork by Christopher Galicia

Climate Change is a Collective Problem

by Christopher Galicia

Climate change includes both the global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases, and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns.

It is a long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth's local, regional and global climates.

In Pasadena, the most likely primary impacts of climate change include temperature extremes, changes in precipitation, and increased storm frequency and intensity, all influencing wildfires in the region.

The whole world is being affected by climate change at the current moment.

The most affected area being the glaciers in Antarctica and Alaska melting from high temperatures increases. As ice melts, more water flows to the seas from glaciers and ice caps, and ocean water warms and expands in volume. This will be catastrophic for coastal areas such as California when the water levels rise as a result.

The climate and the earth's temperature rise by burning fossil fuels, cutting down rainforests and farming livestock.

This adds enormous amounts of greenhouse gases to those naturally occurring in the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect and global warming.

Even though a lot of damage has been done, it is not too late for people to make a difference.

Oscar Martinez who is a part of the Engineering Environmental Science Academy (EESA) states, "By using fewer cars, buses and trains we can help prevent climate change."

Places like Antarctica where the climate has recently changed due to rising temperatures might seem far away, but it has a ripple effect that reaches far and wide.

When asked about the significance of the problem Martinez stated, "I don't think climate change will affect me right now, but maybe our future generations.”

Taylor Van Hoorebeke teaches physics at John Muir and said, “The most important step will be cooperation on a global scale.”

Representatives from all governments must come together to recognize the risks, collect and share accurate climate data, and commit to investing in renewable energy.

Other proposals include overhauling public transportation sectors, modernizing buildings by making them more energy efficient to reduce need for heating and cooling, and implementing widespread sequestration practices that remove gases such as carbon dioxide and methane from the atmosphere.

As global citizens, we also bear some responsibility.

Climate change is affecting all of us right now and without immediate intervention will cause irreparable harm to our planet.

We all need to do our part to reduce our carbon footprint and create a more sustainable future for our planet.

The New Normal: Holidays in Isolation

by Mauricio Gasca

This year's holidays just got a makeover. The Coronavirus showed up and ruined everything. When I say everything, I mean everything. Mostly everything is closed, and It has had a big impact on our holidays. Due to the restrictions from the mayor on social distancing and social gatherings, families are unable to gather together to celebrate.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were very different because many people who usually go out, or gather at family member’s homes, were advised to stay home.

Joseph Said, in the Arts, Entertainment, & Media (AEM) academy, states that this year's holidays were ruined by this coronavirus, “The virus is getting worse. What we need to do is stay home and celebrate it inside our homes.”

When asked about the holidays being altered this year, Joey Sanchez said, “I still celebrated like if the virus didn't exist. I still know that COVID 19 is out there and I'm trying my best not to be affected and others should be aware too."

Since the beginning of the year, every holiday has been affected by the pandemic. July 4th was not celebrated like we usually celebrate it. The Rose Bowl usually holds a fireworks show where people could go and watch the fireworks, but this year, due to COVID-19 it was cancelled.

This year’s Halloween was also celebrated differently, as they canceled trick-or-treating to comply with social distancing protocols, which made a lot of kids sad.

For those who celebrate holidays, they play a big part in our lives. It’s the time where we get to have fun, come together for a celebration, or remembering something or someone. We can still celebrate with our immediate families or online, but it won't be the same as the last few years. It won't be like this forever but we hope to get back to our normal state very soon.

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