Citrus Valley’s BSU visits Arroyo Verde BSU for first “Mentor Day”


The Black Student Union club for Citrus Valley High School traveled to Arroyo Verde Elementary School for the first ever Mentor Day on May 25.

Third grade teacher Andrea Jessup invited BSU  to come out and spend time with a newly formed BSU at Arroyo Verde, while also spreading the message of inclusivity and equality.

Citrus Valley High School senior and BSU president Amanda Keza said that “It was a really gratifying experience to be able to touch these kids’ hearts and give them a more hopeful outlook on how fun a club like BSU is in high school.”  

Citrus Valley students started by assigning five children to one Citrus Valley BSU member. In these groups the mentors played icebreaker games to allow the children to feel less shy and more comfortable.

This then gave mentors a chance to explain to children what BSU is and why it is important and also a good club to join when in high school. BSU members also made sure that the children knew that BSU is and always will be a safe space.

Keza also says “hopefully we helped alleviate some of the anxiety they had with moving on to middle school and high school.”

Citrus Valley played more games with the elementary children, conducting races and dance circles.

One of the more popular games was “the cup game.” In the game, two people stand across from each other with a plastic cup in between them and while Citrus Valley mentors played a game of Simon Says. When the mentor announced the word “cup,” the first person to grab the cup won a prize.

The event was overall beneficial for all students because it gave Citrus Valley Students a chance to spread their message while also providing the youth with a better understanding of BSU.

Citrus Valley High School BSU advisor Sheena Debose remarks “Epic seeds were planted that day.”                    

Members from the Citrus Valley High School Black Student Union visit the BSU Club at Arroyo Verde Elementary School for the first “mentor day.” BSU Members pose with Citrus Valley BSU advisor Sheena Debose in front of the Arroyo Verde mascot wall. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Jessup)

Honoring the 24th year of Pride Month


A photo of two queer men taken from the book, “A Photographic History of Men in Love 1850s-1950s” by Hugh Nini, Neal Treadwell, and Paolo Maria Noseda. 

LGBTQ Pride Month has been changed several times and has a complicated history. 

“The federal government first recognized the month in 1999 when President Bill Clinton declared June ‘Gay & Lesbian Pride Month.’ In 2009, President Barack Obama declared June LGBT Pride Month. On June 1, 2021, President Joe Biden declared June LGBTQ Pride Month,” as written by 316th Wing Historian on Joint Base Andrews, an official website of the United States Government.

There are many recognized queer holidays. According to the University of Nebraska, the most recent is the International Trans Day of Visibility on March 31, National Transgender HIV Testing Day on April 18, and Lesbian Visibility Day on April 26. May 16 was Honor our LBGT Elders Day, the following day was International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, and May 24 was Pansexual and Panromantic Visibility Day. 

It is a common misconception that queer existence only became relevant in the late 20th century. However, queers have a rich history and cultural significance that is celebrated through Pride Month. The Stonewall Riots of 1969 is an important historical event remembered through Pride Month. 

The Stonewall Inn still stands in New York as a reminder of the Stonewall Riots of 1966. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Stonewall Riots, also referred to as the Stonewall Uprising, first occurred on June 28, 1969, in Greenwich, New York. At the time, any solicitation of homosexual relations was outlawed and queer bars, such as the Stonewall Inn, broke this law to provide queers with a safe place to refuge. 

On Saturday, June 28, 1969, several policemen raided the Stonewall Inn and arrested employees for selling alcohol without a license, and roughed up several of its patrons. The NYPD “In accordance with a New York criminal statute that authorized the arrest of anyone not wearing at least three articles of gender-appropriate clothing—took several people into custody,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica.  Many people were subject to arrest if they did not wear at least three pieces of clothing appropriate to 1960s gender norms. It was the third raid on a Greenwich Village gay bar in a short period. 

In response to the raid of the Stonewall Inn, unlike the usual passive behavior of queers during police raids that officers were used to, “some 400 people rioted. The police barricade was repeatedly breached, and the bar was set on fire. Police reinforcements arrived in time to extinguish the flames, and they eventually dispersed the crowd. The riots outside the Stonewall Inn waxed and waned for the next five days,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica. 

At the time of the Stonewall Riots, there were several ongoing social movements such as the Civil Rights Movement and the Feminist movement. With all of the social change going on, the residents of Stonewall, who also witnessed racism and misogyny, were likely inspired by several of these social movements. Thus, Stonewall became its inspiration as a symbol of resistance to discrimination against queer people. 

The Stonewall riots did not initiate the gay rights movement, however, it inspired a new generation of activists. Due to this, shortly after the riots, several queer rights organizations were created. 

“Older groups such as the Mattachine Society, which was founded in southern California as a discussion group for gay men and had flourished in the 1950s, soon made way for more radical groups such as the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica. 

The Stonewall Riots paved the way for queer organizations, and thus, social change that led to Bill Clinton recognizing these efforts by administering June as Pride Month. However, queer people have impacted our society long before Bill Clinton or the Stonewall Riots.

Alan Turing is still revered today as a queer icon and the person to crack the German Enigma Code. (Flickr)

Some of America’s most significant cultural influences were queer. For example, Alan Turing played a crucial part in the ending of WW2 by cracking the Enigma Code. The enigma was a WWII “device used by the German military command to encode strategic messages.”

As stated in an article by the BBC UK News, Alan Turing “was also a victim of mid-20th Century attitudes to homosexuality and in 1952 was arrested because being homosexual was illegal in Britain at this time.” In 2013, Turing he was pardoned and and in 2017 the government agreed to eliminate criminal records of men who had been accused of this “crime.” This is why the pardoning of this nature is known as the Alan Turing law. “In 2019 Turing was named the most “iconic” figure of the 20th Century and his face now appears on the £50 note,” according to BBC UK News. 

Turing is not just a queer icon or an unimportant part of our history. In cracking the Enigma Alan Turing ended WW2 earlier than it would have had the U.S. not been able to intercept German messages through the Enigma, thus saving millions of lives. His arrest and eventual suicide are also prime examples of one of the many queer injustices that have occurred throughout our nation’s history. 

A movie was created in 2014 about Alan Turning called “The Imitation Game” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, with an overall rating of 90% on rotten tomatoes and an 80% rating on IMDB and Common Sense Media. The movie provides a more in-depth visual of Turing’s life and struggles and how he cracked the Enigma.

Elton John is still touring in the UK and the US at 76. (Wikimedia Commons)

Queer people haven’t only been present during highly historical moments that saved lives, they’ve also played a part in our pop culture. Elton John and David Furnish are prime examples of this through their 30-year relationship that began in 1993. “In 2014 after gay marriage became legal in the UK the pair got married and have two sons born via surrogacy.” The pair waited over two decades to marry and struggled through discriminatory laws while Elton John was making music. 

Elton John has sold “over 300 million records, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time”, as stated in an article by BBC UK News. Some of his most famous songs are, “Candle in the Wind”, “I’m Still Standing” and “Are You Ready for Love.” His music is still sold all over the world, featured in many movies, and he’s sold hundreds of merchandise. 

Being one of the best-selling music artists in the world, Elton John provides representation and inspiration to the queer community. He’s dedicated 30 years to his husband and struggled through discrimination while making some of our culture’s most influential songs, and he’s dedicated over 50 years to his career. 

Pride Month was first recognized by Bill Clinton in 1999 and Stonewall was one of the first examples of queers banding together for change. There have been many influential queer people in our society and pop culture. Pride month not only celebrates these people and their impact on our world but also the average person with a sexuality that deters from the norm. This June will be celebrated as the 24th Pride Month and the celebration of the right to love. 

News brief: Google Doodle highlights Filipino adobo


Google Doodle highlighted the “tender, juicy and soulful” Filipino “adobo” through an illustration by Filipino artist Anthony Irwin on March 13.

The illustration done by Irwin depicts two children looking and then smelling the Filipino dish on top of rice. A garlic bulb, bay leaf, chicken wing, bottle of coconut milk and giant spoon and fork replace the name for Google.

The Google Doodle depicts two children sniffing the chicken adobo, while the ingredients used for adobo spell out the word “Google.” (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/ Ethic News)

The word “adobo”, according to the Filipino blog Pepper, comes from the Spanish word “adobar” which means “marinade” or “pickling sauce.” Despite the Spanish name and other versions of “adobo” in Mexico and Spain, the origin of the dish came from the Philippines. 

According to The Spruce Eats, “adobo” got its Spanish name when Spaniards in the 16th century came to the Philippine Islands and noticed how many indigenous people were preserving their food by using the high acid and vinegar and the high salt content in soy sauce.

By cooking a desired protein with vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves for anywhere from one to two hours, “adobo” tastes better as it ages which allows the flavors of each ingredient to shine.

The most popular version of “adobar” would be “adobong kapampangan” which has chicken and pork, but Filipino “adobo” varies from province to province and household to household. In Southern Luzon where coconuts are bountiful, Bicolanos make “adobo sa gata” that combines coconut milk into the dish. Another version of the dish is “adobong puso ng saging” which is a vegetable based “adobo” that uses sliced banana hearts instead of meat.

“I love adobo,” says Redlands East Valley senior Charlize Munar, “It describes very traditional [Filipino] food. If I thought of ‘Filipino,’ I would definitely think of adobo. It’s a taste of home.”

Citrus Valley’s Black Student Union celebrates Black History Month on campus


The month of February has been designated as National Black History Month after Carter G. Woodson created what he called Negro History Week in 1926. Carter held Negro History Week during the second week of Febururay, in honor of Frederick Douglas’s and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. After this, Woodson’s concept was expanded into Black History Month which was officially established in 1986 when congress passed Public Law 99-244.

During this Black History Month, Citrus Valley High School’s Black Student Union (BSU) club presented multiple different activities in celebration. During the month of February, BSU hosted an after school movie night, had different members of BSU give a quote on the announcements every day, hosted a living wax museum, sold chocolate covered strawberry valentine grams, and hosted a black history themed spirit week. 

Starting from the 13 to 17, BSU planned themed days for the entire week. These days included Sunday’s best, where people dressed in their best church. Fresh prince day where everyone dressed in 90s decade fashion. Harlem Renaissance day in which students dressed in 1920s fashion. Next, there was Favorite Television show/ Sitcom where students dressed up as a character from their favorite tv show or sitcom. Lastly, wear red, green, and black day where students will wear red, green, or black clothing articles to represent the colors of the African flag. 

In regards to the BSU spirit week, junior Jazz Daughtrey stated “It made me, as a black student on campus, feel connected to other black students on campus and even if only BSU members participated, we were the only group that truly mattered.”

BSU advisor Sheena Debose dressed up during the Harlem Renaissance themed spirit day, dressed in 1920’s attire. (Meanna Smith/Ethic News photo)

Junior Jazz Daughtrey dressed up for favorite television show/sitcom day, dressed up as game show host Steve Harvey. (Meanna Smith/Ethic News photo)

On Valentine’s Day, BSU made chocolate covered strawberries and sold them as valentines grams. The grams were packaged and delivered to classes on Valentine’s day. BSU used the selling of the grams as a fundraiser to fund events in the future.

The making and decorating of the chocolate covered strawberries. (Meanna Smith/Ethic News photo)

On Feb. 17, 2023, BSU hosted an after school movie night that began with karaoke. There was pizza provided as well as other snacks and beverages. The movie night began at 5pm showing the 2002 film “Barbershop” as a way to celebrate black entertainment. BSU member and senior, Amanda Keza, stated “the movie night was a lot of fun and it was important because it helped me find a sense of community on campus.” 

Students watching the film in the Citrus Valley High School Bistro. (Meanna Smith/Ethic News photo)

BSU also presented its first ‘Living Wax Museum’ event in the library during lunch on Feb. 21. Members of BSU dressed up as historical black figures and created poster boards for students and staff to see during lunch. The event was very popular and even had a line formed outside of the library to enter. Some of the historical figures that were presented include Jimmy Hendrix, Rosa Parks, and Kathleen Cleaver. 

BSU president and senior Amanda Keza presenting Jimmy Hendrix during the Living Wax Museum. (Meanna Smith/Ethic News photo)

Black History Month on campus was very active and fun for many students. It was important to so many students to finally see Black History Month celebrated on campus and to connect with different people.

Photos: Dragons visit the largest Chicano art collection in the world


Orangewood High School students visited the Cheech Center of Chicano Art and Culture in Riverside on Feb. 1. The Cheech, which is part of the Riverside Art Museum, contains the art collection of actor and art collector Cheech Marin. It is the largest Chicano art collection in the world.

The trip was open to Orangewood students who attended three lunch meetings to learn about Chicano art. The field trip was free for students because it was funded by a grant from the Redlands Educational Partnership.

Orangewood senior Joceline Mata says that her favorite art piece was “the cactus art sculpture because it shows pride in your culture.”

The theme of the entire field trip was Chicano art and culture. Students who attended also got lunch at the Tamale Factory and a black and white disposable camera to create their own photo art. They visited the Cesar Chavez Memorial statue and created their own art listening to Latino music in the museum.

Orangewood High School students stand in front of the Cesar Chavez memorial statue in downtown Riverside on Feb. 1, 2023.

The tour included Luis Garzas black and white photo exhibit called “The Other Side of Memory.” Each student who attended the field trip got a free black and white disposable camera in honor of this exhibit to inspire them to create their own art from black and white photography too.

Museum tour guide Alexa Vasquez leads students through the Cheech Center of Chicano Art and Culture and the Riverside Art Museum.

Lunch at the Tamale Factory in downtown Riverside included many Mexican food options and Mexican cookies for dessert.

The last part of the tour was a talk about art and time to create art.

Tết Nguyên Đán brings a new beginning to Vietnamese households


Depending on your source, the recent lunar new year may be the year of the rabbit or year of the cat depending on what culture you are celebrating. For Chinese Lunar New Year, it is the year of the rabbit, but for Vietnamese Lunar New Year, it is the year of the cat.

Besides having a year of the cat instead of the year of the rabbit, Tết differs from Chinese new year by having the year of the buffalo instead of the year of the ox and the year of the goat instead of the year of the sheep.

The Vietnamese Lunar New Year is called Tết Nguyên Đán or simply Tết which directly translates to “the first morning of the first day of the new period.”

According to the Asian Nation, Tết is almost like New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Christmas, and Thanksgiving combined because it is the biggest and most important holiday to many Vietnamese. 

Tết Nguyên Đán is celebrated for the first three days of the first month of the Vietnamese lunar calendar which is around late and early February. According to ThoughtCo., some traditions can be observed for up to a week. This year, Tết will begin on Jan. 22, 2023.

Those who celebrate it for three days usually spend the first day with immediate family, the second for visiting friends, and the third day is dedicated to teachers and visiting temples. 

Similar to Chinese Lunar New Year, Tết is used as a fresh start, so in preparation of the coming new year, individuals clean and dust their homes in hopes of attracting luck and as much good fortune as possible.

“Before Tết, we prepare the house by cleaning it entirely,” said Redlands East Valley High School senior Jennifer Huynh, “It’s believed that cleaning your house before the new year will bring you good luck because it gets rid of the bad luck and misfortune.”

Another tradition during Tết is to hand out red envelopes with money inside to children.

“People give out lucky money which is called li xì,” said REV senior Chi Vo.

“For my family tradition, we all wear red and go to my grandma’s house,” said Redlands East Valley High School junior Kayla Vu, “My grandma makes a lot of food including moon cakes. Later in the night, the older people in the family like my aunts and uncles give me and my cousins money in red envelopes.”

All can now take part in the Vietnamese Lunar New Year by attending a festival. The popular festival is called the UVSA Tết Fest, and it is organized by the United Vietnamese Student Alliance (UVSA). Tết Fest is held in Orange County at the OC Fair and Event Center and tickets are $8 which are purchased at the main gate.

Tết Fest went from Jan. 27 to Jan. 29. Festival activities include a pho eating contest, lion dancing, and plenty of food and merchandise from small businesses to purchase.

Soul Food Fest unites students and Redlands community with Black culture


Stronger Together Now, a community outreach organization, hosted their second Soul Food Fest on Sept. 11 at Ed Hales Park in Downtown Redlands. This event was sponsored by Chase Bank.

Stronger Together Now, the organizers of the event, set up a booth with an inspiring promotional banner advocating against racism and other prejudices. At this booth, t-shirts and tote bags could be purchased and a donation jar was available for people who would like to see more events like this in the Redlands  community.  (Ethic News photo)

This festival gives many Black owned businesses and organizations a chance to showcase their products or services. This festival was also a great way for the Black community to be recognized in the city of Redlands. The Soul Food Fest gave the local high school club Black Student Union a chance to connect with each other while also connecting with the community and its citizens.

Showcasing a game booth table with cup stacking and cards, various Redlands Unified School District Black Student Union members work together at the Soul Food Festival on Sept. 11. Students from Redlands, Redlands East Valley, Citrus Valley and Orangewood High Schools were present at the event.  (Photo courtesy of Quinkitha O’Neal)

Some of the businesses that were present during the festival were House of Purvian Cookie, Brooklyn’s Bakery Bites, Delviccio’s BBQ SmokeHouse, Asdelina’s Agua Frescas, and most popularly known, The WingMan. Citrus Valley, Redlands, Redlands East Valley and Orangewood High Schools all had BSU clubs present at the festival. 

The House of Peruvian Cookie at the Soul Food Festival was a popular choice among the many food booths, selling many desserts and cookies. The House of Peruvian Cookie is mainly located in Santa Clarita and is a cookie selling business based on Peruvian desserts. (Kevin Kambey/Ethic News photo)

Andrew Simmons, senior from Orangewood High School’s BSU, said, “ I really enjoyed seeing other schools’ Black Student Unions and helping all the different booths set up.”  

Jazz Daughtrey, a junior at Citrus Valley High School, attended the festival with the Citrus Valley’s BSU and said she loved “the soul food fest and seeing the Black culture.” 

“The food was amazing and I love how welcoming the other Redlands BSU clubs were,” said Daughtrey.

Another member of Citrus Valley’s BSU, sophomore Kalaya Felton, stated, “The shirts that people were selling were so beautiful and everything was so well put together. The soul food festival was just overall awesome.”

Various activities were available to participate in during the festival. These activities included spades and dominos contests, music, and food competitions. The food competition consists of three different categories: best main dish, best side dish, and best dessert. 

The award for best main dish was given to The WingMan with his lemon pepper wings, the winner for best side dish was Papa’s BBQ for their mac n cheese, and lastly the winner for best dessert was Still Standn Barbq with their famous banana pudding. 

The winners of the competition were awarded a certificate of appreciation as well as an additional prize. Spades and dominos winners were awarded a customized domino or card set. 

While the judges were tasting food from all the different food competition competitors, Kologbo Daughtrey gave a live performance on his soprano saxophone. He played a variety of songs including “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers. 

The Soul Food Festival had a mission of bringing the Black community and all people in Redlands together to bond and unite as one. 

Redlands citizen Kaylee Doll, junior at Citrus Valley, stated, “I think the Soul Food Festival was really a pure, safe, and fun environment and it was a great way to spend my Sunday afternoon.” 

Cuisine with Aileen: Offal is not awful

Editor’s Column

Aileen Janee is the sports editor for Ethic News.


Pig cheeks, oxtails, and chicken feet–all seen as disgusting pieces of the very animals we eat, but one man’s trash is another man’s treasure as they say.

Offal is all of these things. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, offal is “the waste or by-product of a process.” By associating the less used pieces of meat as waste, there is already a negative connotation to these other parts of livestock.

When I was in one of my classes, we were talking about Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” and the teacher branched off to talk about how pieces of meat including pig cheeks or tails are undesirable.

In most other countries outside of America, they use the “undesirable” and “unwanted” pieces of meat.

As a Filipino, there is a traditional dish called sisig and it is made up of the unwanted pieces of meat, pig cheeks, ears and more, and kare-kare which is another traditional dish usually made with peanut butter and oxtail. These are delicious dishes, and I pride myself on being a Filipino.

Other delicious dishes include chicken feet that one can find at Chinese dimsum restaurants, but when I was watching an old Disney show with my siblings, they used chicken feet and called them monkey knuckles in a sketch making fun of microwave dinners.

Although the conversation on chicken beaks making up chicken nuggets most likely only lasted a few minutes, a few confused minutes. I couldn’t help

Starting with “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair, a novel originally written to expose the exploitation of immigrants coming into America, Americans started to have a negative view on offal.

A part of the stigma can come from back in the day when good cuts of meat were associated with the rich and the unwanted parts with the poor. Logically, the impoverished would try to make their dish as delicious as possible with whatever they have.

Things have obviously changed from the Progressive Era: the food and drug act and necessary nutrition facts. The making and processing of our foods is now better.

Even the local Costco is starting to sell beef tripe and ox tails; near the meat section, I saw a few people piling up and looking at some large white meat, so when I went over to check it out, it was beef tripe, and right next to it was oxtail. I was filled with joy to see offal in a place more accessible to people.

Food culture is culture. Attacking someone’s food is attacking their identity and their culture, whether or not it is intentional, but that article is for another time.

For the time being, normalizing offal allows people from multitudes of countries to have pride in their cultures and not have to feel put down or what their eating is disgusting simply because it is not what the majority indulges in.

America is known as the big melting pot so it should be just that: a big melting pot with a variety of delicious cultures.

What’s your cupid?


February is known as the month of romance. For centuries, people have celebrated this holiday of love by gifting their significant others flowers, chocolates and hugs. 

According to, legend has it that the most evidenced theory of the creation of Valentine’s Day began with the actions of St. Valentine between the years 174 A.D. and 269 A.D. St. Valentine served under the Roman Emperor Claudius II, who decided that single men served as better soldiers than those who were married. So he outlawed marriage of eligible young bachelors. 

In protest, St. Valentine married young couples in secret until his actions were discovered and he was sentenced to death on Feb. 14, 269 A.D.–hence the celebration date of Valentine’s Day. 

During the same time period, the pagan festivity Lupercalia was celebrated annually on Feb. 15. 

As a holiday that celebrated fertility through sacrifices and occasionally paired men and women for marriage in public raffles, the Catholic Church discouraged the holiday because it did not follow Christian ideals.

 After 1,200 years of the annual celebration, Lupercalia was outlawed in the late fifth century—the same time that Valentine’s Day was declared a holiday. 

While not all historians agree that the banishment of Lupercalia directed the traditions of Valentine’s Day, both holidays do share similar traditions that revolve around love and sexuality, according to ThoughtCo.

Now, according to Odysseys Unlimited, Valentine’s Day has grown in popularity around the world and is celebrated in over 25 countries. Each of these countries have their own traditions, some of which do not merely focus on romantic relationships. 

In the countries of Mexico, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Estonia, platonic love is more commonly celebrated on Valentine’s Day. Gifts of chocolate, flowers, and cards are shared not only with significant others but with friends and family who the giver is fond of.

America is another country where platonic love is acknowledged on Valentine’s Day. While romantic relationships are still in focus, a common example of these expressions of kindness and appreciation are seen in elementary schools. Each student is encouraged to bring small gifts of candies or toys to give to each other so no child feels left out. 

While this custom is not celebrated in grade levels above elementary school, some kids still give small gifts to friends. 

MaIia Coggins, a sophomore at REV, says, “I usually buy candies and make stuff for people. I give out love to all of the homies.”

On Feb. 13, Joshua Masangcay, a senior at Redlands East Valley High School, shops for a Valentine’s Day card at the Target store located at Citrus Plaza in Redlands, California. The card he holds features Leslie Knope, played by Amy Poehler, from the television sitcom “Parks and Recreation,” who invented Galentine’s Day. (ELLA FITZPATRICK/Ethic News photo)

On Feb. 13, Alicia Gullon, a senior at Redlands East Valley High School, shops for a bouquet of flowers for Valentine’s Day in the Target store located at Citrus Plaza in Redlands, California. (ELLA FITZPATRICK/Ethic News photo)

The fear of being alone on Valentine’s Day is a common thought, according to PR Newswire. This is due to the pressures some people feel to fulfill the unrealistic societal expectations of having a date. 

According to a study, The Pressures of Valentine’s Day and Dating reveals that 43% of single people admit to feeling the pressures of these traditional, and ancient, outlooks of how Valentine’s Day should be celebrated.  

Brooke Casamassimo, a sophomore at REV, says, “I think people view Valentine’s Day as a day to be romantically validated by someone else. And even though that’s desirable, you shouldn’t have to wait for one day to want or deserve it.”

To overcome these societal expectations, on Feb. 13, some women celebrate “Galentine’s Day”— also known as “Palentine’s Day,” as to not be gender specific. Created by Leslie Knope, a fictional character played by Amy Poehler, in the United States sitcom television series “Parks and Recreation,” it has turned into a holiday recognized by social media and younger generations as it celebrates being independent and the empowerment of staying single.

Editor’s note: The date of St. Valentine’s death was mistakenly published as 296 A.D. in the original post. It has since been corrected on Feb. 15 at 2:17 p.m.

Wildcat Beatriz Braga reflects on move from Brazil to California


While many students spend the summer heading into their sophomore year completing homework for their first Advanced Placement class or simply relaxing after surviving their freshman year, Redlands East Valley High School junior Beatriz Braga was adjusting to California after moving from Campinas, Brazil in 2019.

Beatriz Braga and her dog Alvin in Riverside, California in 2020. Alvin is currently 13 years old and has moved with Braga and her family to California. (Courtesy of Beatriz Braga)

With relatives in four different states in the United States, Braga’s family decided to make a life-changing decision and immigrate.

Braga explains that Campinas wasn’t the safest city in Brazil in which violence and robbery were frequent occurrences for residents. She recalls multiple experiences where she and her family had to call the police over incidents, even while living in a safer region of Campinas. 

When she was five years old, someone attempted to break into her house, prompting her parents and her to lock themselves in a room and call the police. Fortunately, the suspect was identified. 

At six years old, after she and her mom heard noises coming from their garage at 3 a.m., they saw two men fighting each other while almost breaking Braga’s gate in front of her house. The police were called and everything turned out okay. 

Braga said, “When I was 13, me and my family went to see the fireworks in the city. When we came back, everything was gone. That was in my aunt’s house, so me, my parents and my aunt, lost everything valuable you can imagine.”

“I used to hear gunshots at night, and I was constantly thinking that me and my parents were in danger,” said Braga. “This thought of ‘I’m in danger’ is not healthy at all.”

In Brazil, ancestral origins vary between regions. According to Braga, North Brazil consists mostly of indigenous people while South Brazil has many ancestors from Germany and Italy. In addition, some may come from nearby countries, such as Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru and Argentina, resulting in Spanish being more commonly spoken on the border. Despite the mix in races and nationalities, the majority of Brazilians speak Portuguese, which is the official language in Brazil.

“You will be very welcome there. Brazilians are really funny and respectful people,” said Braga.  “It is so easy to bond and create a friendship with someone there. Literally, we can tell our entire lives in one conversation, so you might ask yourself ‘Why is she telling me this?’ Don’t worry because it is a very Brazilian thing.”

Restarting her life when she was 15 years old was certainly not a simple experience. Braga had to leave some of her family and all of her friends behind in Brazil in order to move to Southern California. 

“I will not lie, it was not easy to make friends here either,” said Braga. “Most people at 15/16 already had a group of friends settled down.”

Beatriz Braga, her friends and her Portuguese teacher at their middle school graduation in Campinas, Brazil in 2018. Braga’s school system involved graduating middle school at the end of their freshman year. (Courtesy of Beatriz Braga)

Like many immigrants, the language barrier can be one of the most challenging aspects of adapting to an environment in a new country. 

“Some people underestimate your intelligence based on your accent or proficiency in English. It is very uncomfortable not being able to express yourself, and some people do not even try to help or understand a beginner,” said Braga. 

However, not only does being bilingual open up more job opportunities, it also allows oneself to have a greater view of the world around them and to better appreciate other cultures. 

“I would say, being bilingual and constantly switching languages, made my perception so much more ‘open,’ as well as my mind,” said Braga. “It seems like I’m able to understand the world around me more calmly and reasonably.”

REV Spanish teacher Susan Johnston said, “I was always impressed with her ability to switch languages quickly and correctly.”

Johnston continues, “Whenever I have a student in my class that speaks another language, I have an even higher expectation since I know they will be able to process a third language even more quickly. It has always been the case that exchange students or any other student speaking a language, other than Spanish, adapt more quickly and learn faster than some monolingual students.”

She and her family currently reside in Loma Linda. Braga has some family in Loma Linda that moved there about 12 years ago. She is a Seventh Day Adventist church member, as the majority of those in Loma Linda are. In Brazil, Braga had attended a Seventh Day Adventist school. 

Braga completed one semester of high school in Brazil before moving to California. At REV, Braga most enjoys being able to choose her own classes in her schedule. In Brazil, students didn’t have the opportunity to organize their own schedule. They also had 15 classes per week, compared to the six classes students have in the Redlands Unified School District. She notes that Spanish and English classes were required since the kindergarten level at her schools. 

She said of her REV teachers, “I would say I was very lucky to get to know all of my teachers. They are all very hardworking and friendly.”

Although Braga still has some family residing in Brazil, she is thankful for the opportunity to move and the new opportunities California has brought her. 

Braga said, “Restart[ing] your life can be very difficult sometimes, and fun too. Besides all that, I am very grateful for who I have met, and where I live now.”

Winter holidays celebrated around the world

Originally published in La Plaza Press


It’s not common for the average American to celebrate Christmas and New Years but it is important that our society educates themselves and learns about the diverse winter holidays and traditions that people celebrate all around the world. America is a “melting pot” of all cultures, races, traditions, religions and colors. It’s important to educate oneself on the different cultures and celebrations of the holidays because education is one step closer to uniting people from all different backgrounds.

Diversifying your narrative means to educate oneself on the different cultural and religious celebrations around the world. (ARIANA GHALAMBOR/ La Plaza art) 

Boxing Day:

An old tradition where it allowed servants to take a day off and receive special gifts from their “ masters.” Boxing day begins the day after Christmas and it is usually used for charity drives. Typically, boxing day is celebrated in Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Boxing Day coincides with another holiday, St. Stephen’s Day, that is observed in many of the same countries. St. Stephen’s Day honors a Christian martyr who was stoned to death in 36 A.D.It is considered a shopping holiday. Boxing Day is a time to spend with family or friends, particularly those not seen on Christmas Day itself. Many people will gather for meals, spend time outside, or simply relax at home and enjoy the day off. Traditional Boxing Day food includes baked ham, pease pudding, and mince pies with brandy butter, along with a slice of Christmas cake or another dessert. Boxing Day has recently become synonymous with watching sports. A number of leagues in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland hold football and rugby matches, while Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are known for cricket matches on Boxing Day.


Omisoka is a holiday celebrated and loved by Japanese people on the final day of the lunar month. (ARIANA GHALAMBOR/ La Plaza art)

Omisoka is a Japanese traditional celebration on the last day of the year. Traditionally, it was held on the final day of the twelfth lunar month. Its important activities for the concluding year and day were completed in order to start the new year fresh. Some of these include house cleaning, repaying debts and purification. About an hour before the New Year, people often gather together for one last time in the old year to have a bowl of toshikoshi soba or toshikoshi udon together. At midnight, many visit a shrine or temple for Hatsumōde, or the first shrine/temple visit of the year. People celebrate with their friends and families with various traditions to remember the past year, and bring in the new. The history behind the day is to prepare for deifying and praying for “Toshigami Sama” which can be translated into Shinto god which takes charge of the whole year, rich harvest of rice.

Three Kings Day:

Three Kings Day is celebrated Jan. 6, which is the twelfth day of Christmas known as the Feast of the Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day. It celebrates the biblical tale in which the Three Kings, or Three Wise Men, visit baby Jesus after his birth three Kings find baby Jesus by following the path of a star across the desert for twelve days. According to the Gospel, the three Kings, named Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar traveled to Bethlehem to bring gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus. Children celebrate Three Kings’ Day by receiving gifts of their own. Children in Spain and Latin America are instructed to leave their shoes by the door of their house so, like Santa Claus, the three kings can come and leave them presents. Three Kings’ Day is as important and as widely celebrated as Christmas. In Mexico, bakers make a “rosca del rey”, a sweet bread meant to represent a King’s crown, that is a mile long. People fill the streets to get a slice of the special holiday bread. The bread often has a baby Jesus doll hidden inside.


Christmas trees are used in several countries to celebrate Christmas. Typically, people leave presents under the trees for loved ones to open up. (ARIANA GHALAMBOR/ La Plaza art)

Christmas is celebrated to remember the birth of Jesus Christ; people celebrate Christmas Day in many ways. It is often combined with customs from pre-Christian winter celebrations. Many people decorate their homes, visit family or friends and exchange gifts. Some groups arrange meals, shelter or charitable projects for people without a home or with very little money.

Many different families celebrate the holidays with their own traditions some considered old fashioned ways such as leaving cookies and warm milk near the fireplace or tree or leaving a mistletoe above the door and a common one of the good and naughty list hence the gift of “coal” for christmas.

Every year a big staple in Christmas festivities is buying a Christmas tree and decorating it for the holidays to lay your presents under to unwrap on christmas morning. Then legend has it that a fir tree grew out of the fallen oak. 

New Year’s Eve:

New Year’s Eve is one of the largest global celebrations because it marks the last day of the year in the Gregorian calendar, Dec. 31, before the New Year. Many people celebrate New Year’s Eve to bid farewell to the year that ends and to welcome the New Year.

Common traditions throughout the United States include singing “Auld Lang Syne” to greet the New Year, and eating black-eyed peas for good luck.

On Dec 31., many people worldwide either watch a countdown on live TV or go to an event where they countdown to welcome the new year.

Chinese New Year:

Tied to the Chinese lunar calendar, the holiday was traditionally a time to honor household and heavenly deities as well as ancestors. It was also a time to bring family together for feasting. 

With the popular adoption of the Western calendar in 1912, the Chinese joined in celebrating Jan. 1 as New Year’s Day.

Ritual sacrifices of food and paper icons were offered to gods and ancestors. People posted scrolls printed with lucky messages on household gates and set off firecrackers to frighten evil spirits. A common tradition of Chinese New Year is for elders to give out money to children.

Along with every holiday comes countless traditions, a few are “Confucianism put special emphasis on filial piety, which was believed to preserve harmony and keep families together. … For thousands of years, traditional Chinese family structure was strictly patriarchal, with the father or eldest male as the head of the household as well as provider and guide” (, such as according to Cindy Tang. A lot of popular traditions world wide are different festivals before and after Chinese New Year.


Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor and chairman of the Black Studies at California State University Long Beach in 1966. The aftermath of the Watts riots sparked an idea in which Dr. Karenga found a way to unify African Americans as a community, so he began to research African harvest celebrations. After combining several different harvest celebrations, he combined aspects of the harvest celebrations from Africa to form the basic idealisms of Kwanzaa. 

The name Kwanzaa comes from “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Every family has their own unique traditions and ways to celebrate Kwanzaa in their own way, but typically they celebrate by singing and dancing with African drums and a large feast. The celebration lasts seven nights and families join together and a child will light one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder) and one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa is discussed. The seven principles of Kwanzaa are as follows:

  1. Unity: to strive for and maintain unity in families, communities, and race
  2. Self-Determination: to define, name, create, and speak for themselves
  3. Collective work and responsibility: To build and maintain their community together and collectively solve one another’s problems
  4. Cooperative Economics: To build and maintain their own stores, shops, and businesses to profit from together
  5. Purpose: To make a collective vocation of building and developing a community in order to restore their people to their traditional greatness
  6. Creativity: To always do as much as they can for the community and leave it better than they came into it
  7. Faith: To believe with all our heart in their people, parents, teachers, leaders, and the righteousness of the Black victory in their struggle

The principles of Kwanzaa are meant to unify and strengthen the Black community by celebrating family stories, a feast, and dancing. The African feast is called a Karamu and it is eaten on Dec. 31. The candles are ceremonial objects that represent the sun’s power to provide light. 

Another important object in Kwanzaa is the “kikombe cha umoja” otherwise known as “the unity cup.” The kikombe cha umoja is a special cup that is used to perform the libation (tambiko) ritual during the feast on the sixth day of Kwanzaa. The liquid inside of the cup represents the living dead whose souls stay with them on Earth where they worked. The Ibo of Nigeria believe that to drink the last part of a libation is to invite the wrath of spirits and the ancestors because the last part of the libation belongs to them. During the feast, the unity cup is passed to each guest to drink from it and promote unity. After the cup has been passed around to everyone, the eldest guest will pour the liquid (usually juice or water) in each directional way (North, East, South, West) to honor their ancestors. The eldest will ask the gods and ancestors to join their festivities and bless all people who did not join the gathering. After the blessing, the elder will pour the liquid on the ground and the group says “Amen.”

Many Kwanzaa gatherings are held at churches. It is common for families to have a cup specifically reserved for their ancestors and everyone else has their own individual cup. The last few ounces of the libation is poured in the host’s cup who drinks from it and passes it to the oldest person in the group to make a blessing. On the last day of Kwanzaa, the community celebrates what is called “Imani” and they share gifts with one another as a sign of growth, self-determination, achievement, success, and health. They exchange gifts with only members of immediate family and especially children to reward their accomplishments. It is encouraged to give handmade gifts to promote the idea of self-determination, purpose, and creativity and to avoid material consumption in the December holiday season. It’s common for a family to spend the year making candleholders, cards, or dolls for their guests. Accepting a gift signifies the obligation to fulfill the promise of the gift: for the recipient to follow the training of the host and stay in the social relationship.



Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that starts on Kislev 25 (Dec. 25 in the Gregorian calendar) and is celebrated for eight consecutive days. Hanukkah is a holiday celebrated in Judaism and is used to remember the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem by the lighting of candles on each day of the festival. Even though the holiday wasn’t officially mentioned in Hebrew Scriptures (such as the Torah), Hanukkah came to be an infamous holiday and one of the most widely celebrated Jewish observations. Hanukkah starts on Friday, Dec. 11 to Friday, Dec. 18 in 2020. It lasts for eight days because the Talmud states that when Judas entered the Second Temple in Jerusalem, he found a small jar of oil that wasn’t used by Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The jar only had enough oil to burn for one day, but as the story goes, the oil was able to burn for 8 days until a new oil was found. Hanukkah includes a variety of religious and nonreligious customs and the most famous and important of all is the menorah lighting. A menorah is a candle holder with 8 branches to hold a candle stick in each and holder for the shammash (“servant”) candle that is used to light the other eight candles. In older times, Olive oil was used for lighting the menorah, but over time the Jewish people used regular wax candles of their choice. These candles are placed in the menorah consecutively each night of the festival from right to left but are lit from left to right. Usually the people celebrating this religious observance offer a blessing while the candles are lit at night. Due to the unfortunate hatred towards Jewish people and their traditions, the menorah is now brought inside the house because before when it was placed outside the home because of offending neighbors.

Winter Solstice:

Winter solstice, otherwise known as “Shabe-e-Yalda” in Iran is one of the most ancient Persian festivals celebrated every December 21 by Iranians globally. Yalda is the celebration of the winter solstice because it is the longest night of the year and last night of autumn. Yalda directly translates to “birth” because it refers to the birth of “Mitra”, the mythological goddess of light. This is because the days get longer and the nights get shorter in winter, so Iranians celebrate the last night of autumn as the renewal of the sun and victory of light over darkness. On Shab-e-Yalda, people gather in groups of family, friends, and neighbors (usually at the home of grandparents or familial elders) eating fruits and reading Hafiz poems (a famous Persian poet). Eating is the most lengthy part of the night. Persians gather to eat typically red colored foods like watermelon, berries, and pomegranate to share the last remaining fruits from summer together. The fruits of Yalda have a symbolic meaning: watermelon symbolizes the sun by its spherical shape and is said to keep one safe from winter diseases. Pomegranate is the symbol of birth and the color red symbolizes the glow of life. Reading Hafez poems is one of the most quintessential aspects of Yalda. Each of the family members makes a secret wish as they open the book to a random page and the elder reads the selected poem loudly. Since the poem is believed to be the interpretation of the secret wish, the guests will try to guess the wishes of others.  Yalda is also celebrated in other formerly Persian Empire countries such Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia and Azerbaijan sharing the same traditions and ways of celebration.

While there are many holidays celebrated at this time of year, it doesn’t mean they don’t have the same “winter-cheer.” One thing all of these holidays share is the gathering of family. It is important we all take the time to commemorate and spend time with our families, whether it be on a Zoom call or at home. Although more than 2 billion people globally celebrate Christmas, it is still important to recognize the 200 countries that celebrate other holidays in this time of year. 

Video: What does it mean to be American?

Created by EMILY WALOS


With the 2020 United States election coming to a close, it is important to remember that in the end we are all Americans, no matter the personal definition. It is the people of the United States’ responsibly to unite and exercise their right to have a say in government, ensuring freedom of the people. This is what high school students of Redlands Unified School District say about what it means to be an American.

Day of the Dead poems and photos from Redlands High School students, part 2

Originally published in La Plaza Press


La Catrina was feeling some pressure, 
Worry lines criss crossed her bones, 
An email that came down from corporate, 
Was laden with menacing tones,
“Your numbers were down in September, 
October’s not looking much better,
Now the Day of the Dead is approaching,
And people should be a lot deader!”
La catrina slunk off to the bathroom,
Had a panic attack in the stall,
That’s where she worried herself to death,
And so, reached her goal after all.

Ava Avila

La Catrina and Ava Avila. (Courtesy of Ava Avila)

He ran throughout the fish market
Shouting “¡Ayudame!”
For on his head, eating his hair
Was a giant manta ray
As panic chased him to the piers
Where the sea would crash and bark
He leapt down and found himself
In the mouth of an angry shark

Meilani Bautista

There once was a girl named Larra Pauline. 
She was very afraid of the color green. 
She walked outside to play with friends but she saw something she never seen. 
Afraid of the color she ran to the mall,
but later that day she died from a great fall. 
On the day of the dead she visited her family. 
She even ate a lot of skull candy. 
When she had to go back, 
she said goodbye, 
still very sad that she had to die.  

Charlize Halim

Larra Lacificar. (Courtesy of Larra Lacificar)

The Romans they claimed to be
Going about the world to search
Led them to the shore of the sea
Where the Greeks were perched
Percy Jackson sipping a cup of tea
When he drowned them as they lurched
Like they were a flea

Saanya Shrivastav

When he was angry
Luke wanted to teach a lesson
Went to percy on a beach
They walk in one direction
But Luke was in the ocean
And Percy went home
So Luke was killed

Saanya Shrivastav

No One Is Going to Graduate
Math is dead. 
The teacher knows that. 
He teaches y=mx+b that scare the students like skulls. 

Death is here. 
The students are becoming skinnier.
The students do not pass their test. 
The teacher dug their tombs, and now no one is going to graduate. 

Laura Massie

The dead is here. (Courtesy of Laura Massie)

La calavera does not have hair
La calavera does not eat pears
¿La calavera lives where?

She lives in the dark shadows
Where the clouds are very big
La calavera likes to dig?

La calavera digs a big hole
La calavera who makes a fall
Oh no! Oh no! Where did she go?

The dirt covers her up
Where did the calavera go?
Nowhere to be found
Long lost the calavera

Cristina Ortega

His name is Jacob
He surfed quickly
Far away from death.

Jacob Bennett

Flower of the Dead. (JOCOB BENNET/ La Plaza photo)

You were a crazy one Jacob,
Always enjoyed putting up a fight 
and breaking everything in the house
you fought with so much might.  

Your brothers were battered
but you were flattered.
It was all out of love though
and fun too

The little silly attitude
made your family have gratitude.
They loved you 
always and forever.

 Lucy Valencia

Day of the Dead poems and photos from Redlands High School students, part 1

Originally published in La Plaza Press


On the day of the dead
We celebrate
On the day of the dead
Do not be late
On the day of the dead
The dead awake

On the day of the dead
We leave an altar
On the day of the dead
You know walter

He was born different
That's his fault
He was born different
He is very tall
He was born different
But that doesn't make him less than you

Noah Patino

Image of a girl. (DEBRA CHENG/ La Plaza art)

 Juan is a candlestick maker, 
 Making candles all day as a caretaker 
for the muerto. 
 Watching over the graves,  
Feeling their waves of energetic energy 
through their bones. 
Digging new graves everyday, 
Through day and night, 
Working so hard, 
All the way until his skin charred, 
Scarred from all the work he had done. 

Kareem Hassen  

Family Altar. (NOAH PATINO/ La Plaza photo)

The boy lied to his parents about his grade. 
Death came along  and told him,  
I will accompany you  
for I can no longer use my mouth to lie  
and if you keep up like this  
the same thing will happen to you. 

Jan Ian Benito 

Mia Brubacher on Olvera Street. (Courtesy of Mia Brubacher)

It's six in the morning
And the boy can't sleep
Because the dead is here visiting him,
Dressed in her long black hood.

Not afraid
Because he's as dead as they come.
Few know how it is
Being made of coffee.

Walking beside the bed,
Look at the boy
And give it a welcome.
"Come with me."

Before getting lost
She lifts her tired eyes to look at him.
“I don't want to look at you anymore.
Leave me alone."

The room was quiet,
And he thought for a moment.
He got up to dress.
He thought about starting the day early.

Ava Soemarna

Today we lie, with pumpkin pie, 
and a president on a bed 
To which they say
might done or dead
From a virus who came in his stead
From which he takes his stride to die 
With pride,
only on a rise.
Pride so fresh and deep
He still refuses to weep
Oh foolish president on his knees
Won’t be lying with his little please
Till he becomes o’ so foolish,
O’ so ghoulish,
And is finally put at ease

Debra Cheng 

 Oh Sebastian, 
always dreaming and imagining, 
Never thinking of where you should be 
And never thinking of where you are going 
Cliffs have come close to taking you life 
Yet you are still dreaming and alive  

Robert Venegas

Alebrijes are animals that guide the souls in the afterlife. (ROBERTO GALINDO/ La Plaza photo)

I’m a very brave teenager,     
The skeleton lady wanted to see my valor,      
She wanted to take me to the grave,          
Because I’m very daring, 
I was smart,    
I was able to escape.    

Joshua Ramirez  

Charlize Harim. (LARRA LACIFICAR/ La Plaza photo)

Charlize Halim,
A girl and a friend to all.
She liked to sing 
and go to the mall.
She had a party, 
but no one came.
She felt sad 
so she played a video game. 
The dead took her away 
because she was too good. 
On the day of the dead, 
she ate a lot of food.  
People gather together, 
and now remember, 
not her being nice, 
but that she won a game 
and her love to eat rice.

Larra Lacificar

Playing volleyball. (AFIFA MOHSIN/ La Plaza photo)

The girl is tall,  
her name is Afifa
She plays volleyball with her friends
But now the skeleton is looking for her, 
but now she plays tennis. 
She likes to spend time with her friends. 

 Afifa Mohsin

Redlands students share their favorite traditions in their cultures

Originally published in La Plaza Press


Every culture has a unique set of values, beliefs and traditions that define themselves from others. From religion to cuisine to language, culture is generally established at a young age leading to customs being passed down from generation to generation. Each culture’s stories deserved to be told in order for others to value and appreciate them more. 

Students from Redlands East Valley, Citrus Valley, and Redlands High School shared an aspect in each of their cultures.

“My favorite Indonesian tradition is when the kids and parents dance called manortor and wear traditional clothing for any occasion.” – Jessica Simbolon, RHS junior

Hanami [Japanese] – appreciating the beauty of flowers, and especially of blossoming cherry trees. ” – Sophia Le, REV sophomore

“I am Greek and I love making Greek cookies with my family. They’re twist-shaped cookies that are so good!” – Isabella Bojorquez, CV senior

“My favorite tradition in my culture is giving up bad addictions and habits during ‘lent.’ This occurs during the spring and Catholics like myself do this from Ash Wednesday until Easter. Lent betters me as a person, and I enjoy this time of the year.” Jacob Echevarria, RHS senior

“One of my favorite traditions in my culture would probably be weddings because Arab weddings involve many things such as social interactions, dancing, and the entertainment. Many Arab weddings have the bride walk down the aisle or stairs with her groom while the zaffah group comes in with them to bring more attraction towards the bride and groom. Zaffah is a group of men that hit drums to the beat of the music.” – Lara Takkouche, REV junior

“My favorite tradition celebrated in my culture is Dia de los Muertos. Every year my family celebrates our ancestors and the ones that passed before us. It allows us to honor them and to celebrate life.” – Madison Jimenez, RHS senior

“Like Chinese and other various cultures, in Vietnamese culture, we celebrate Tết, which is Vietnamese New Years. During Tết, we dress up in traditional dresses called Áo Dài, and join together with friends and family to gamble, eat traditional and seasonal foods, give and receive lì xì (lucky red envelope money), and wish each other luck in the new year.” – Trinity Le, CV freshman

CV freshman Trinity Le wears a traditional dress, called Áo Dài, to celebrate Tết, otherwise known as the Vietnamese New Year. Tết marks the beginning of each lunar new year and is often celebrated with sociable activities, ancestral worship and traditional foods. (Courtesy of Trinity Le)

These are Vietnamese Chung cakes, which are square sticky rice cakes often filled with pork and green beans and covered with bamboo leaves and strings. (Courtesy of Trinity Le)

Everyone has their perspectives of various cultures and although no culture is identical, occasionally they share similar characteristics. Learning about cultures from people who are immersed personally in their culture provides more authenticity than assumptions and can encourage an open-minded worldview.

Foreign exchange student explores American high school culture at Redlands East Valley


Isabelle Ingebrigtsen is a foreign exchange student from Norway. She was Redlands East Valley’s cross-country manager last semester and plans to be a manager for track as well. Ingebrigtsen was inspired to study abroad after hearing the stories her father would tell her about times in the 80’s when he was a foreign exchange student himself.

She is involved in the program EF, Education First, which has provided “life changing education for global citizens” in 114 countires since 1965. When Ingebrigtsen was browsing on Youtube, she came across educational videos about EF. She also watched Highschool Musical, which depicted the idolized idea of American highschool. This popularized her traverse and she decided to try the American highschool experience.

In all places of the world, culture can differ widely. Coming from Norway, Ingebrigtsen’s culture is very different so when she came to the United States, she explained that, “people talked a different way and communicated differently than in Norway.” The American school system is also very different compared to hers. She does not have organized sports at her school, so if she wanted to participate in extracurriculars, she would have to participate in activities outside of school. Because of this, her school lacks the school spirit that REV displays. Because of this, she wanted to get involved and campus. She was Redlands East Valley’s cross-country manager last semester and plans to be a manager for track as well. 

The Norwegian school system is typically state-supported to ensure equal education for all. Meaning that the state also funds students’ college education. The school system is also divided into three levels. Elementary school, which is kindergarten then grades 1-7. Then, middle school (lower secondary school), grades 8-10. And lastly, highschool (upper secondary school), grades 11-13. 

When coming to the United States, Ingebrigtsen did not find it hard to adjust. She has been prepared for one of the many difficult parts of adjusting to a new country–the language. Ingebrigtsen began to learn english in grade 1, which is usually typical for other international countries because of the broad use of english around the world. When entering middle school, in order to get a diploma, it is required to pick a third known language to study, given the options of German, French, Spanish, or Chinese. So, she is very cultured for her age when it comes to foreign language.

Ingebrigtsen doesn’t have the opportunity to visit home during the school year, so she video chats with her friends and family in Norway whenever she gets the chance. Nevertheless, she does “love to hang out with friends” in her free time. She also likes to travel “so [she] wants to see everything including the culture and the sites in California.” Her favorite place she has gone to is the beach and seeing it’s “beautiful sunsets.” 

Before coming to America, she had dreams to live here, but after seeing how expensive everything is compared to Norway, those dreams came to a halt. However, she  “would love to come back for a couple months at a time in the future.”

When Ingebrigtsen leaves she will miss “[her] friends, the language, the access that [she] has to the beach, and the amazing food.”

Student Voices video: Do you think it’s important to be bilingual and why?

Originally published in La Plaza Press


Victor Basurto“It’s important to know Spanish because you can use it at work and they can pay you more.”
Joseph Pernett“It’s important to be bilingual because when you go to the university they give us extra points.”
Rober Ebrahim“It is important to be bilingual because you can apply for jobs and it’s good for jobs and it’s also good because you get to know so much more about our world.”
Norman Henriquez“I think it is important to be bilingual because in the future, when you get future jobs or just in a workplace in general, there could be people who speak different languages and a lot of time, a lot of languages are similar so if you are able to understand at least one different language, you will be able to understand what other people are talking about and like when you are in a workplace, like if you wanted to become a doctor or you wanted to be something, it’s good to be able to understand who you are talking to and the services you are doing, it’s easier to provide for people if you can understand them.”
Todd Jackson“Yes, I think it is important to be bilingual because you can communicate with more people like you can travel and be able to understand more people and its easier too. Like you can take Spanish and already know it and yeah, it’s just better all around.”
Ernesto Gomez-Cornejo“I think it is important to be bilingual because you can express more culture and you have more of a mix for everybody like you can make more friends and meet more people when you are bilingual.”
Kenny Ricks“I do think it is important to learn Spanish because especially with the job market who are looking for people who speak Spanish for bilingual opportunities and also I think it is more important because learning about other cultures is always fun and exciting especially when you can meet new people and try new foods and stuff.”
Jade Herrera“So I think being bilingual is very important because you have an advantage when you are applying for jobs like when you apply for a job and you are bilingual, you are automatically going to catch the attention of whoever is hiring you and I also think it’s important especially in the workforce because you will able to connect with much more people and you will be able to speak your second language so you will be practicing too. I also think that it’s beneficial because you have much more media in your hands. You will be able to access great songs, great television series, and books in that other language so you will have much more great things to look over.”
Joel San Juan“Practically speaking, it is a very spectacular benefit to speak Spanish and English in a fluent way because it has given me the privilege of when I travel to Mexico, for example, it has been a great privilege to speak Spanish completely well and at the same time it has also been incredible that I can speak Spanish with people from other parts of Latin America, for example when I go to Los Angeles or when I am doing business.”
Ulises Gregorio“I say that it is very important to speak two languages because you can live together with many people and help many people speaking Spanish.”
Blake Bergman“Okay so it is very important to be bilingual because like if you want to talk to people in like a different language like you get to talk to them and stuff and it’s also good to like meet other people who speak different languages so you can more understand the human connection and stuff.”
Donecia Campos“I think it is important to be bilingual because it offers an opportunity to be able to communicate with others, not only using a language you have learned but like another one. It’s easier and a lot more fun being able to use different vocabulary words and saying it in a certain way.”
Rosemary Ventura“I think is important to be bilingual because you are able to communicate with others who speak that language and are able to help them.”
Matias Bianca“It’s important to be bilingual because I can translate with my friends.”

Redlands East Valley French teacher explores French culture with students

Redlands East Valley French teacher Jennifer Baldwin goes over student responses in her French I class on Tuesday, Feb. 26. In this lesson, Baldwin reviews conjugation of French verbs in the present tense. (ELLA FITZPATRICK/ Ethic Photo)


As a young adult, it is always difficult to decide what career to pursue. Choosing to be a teacher might not always be a young adult’s first choice; it wasn’t Madame Baldwin’s first choice, but her love of French culture and language inspired her to explore and teach high school students this alluring language.

In high school, Baldwin had no intention to take up the French Language, but her sister insisted that she should, which sparked her passion. When she graduated from California State University, San Bernardino with a French major, a teaching position was available, so she thought she would explore her options. Eighteen years later, she is providing new experiences for her students and is also the advisor of the French club.

As Baldwin became more passionate about learning more about the language and culture of France, she decided to study a year abroad during her senior year of college in Aix, a city in Southern France. It was here where she really embedded herself into the French culture and “got better at [her] own abilities and confidence in French.”

As a result of her studies in the country, she has now gotten more involved with teaching and encouraging students to learn more. She has also found opportunities to work in France over the summers through a program organized by the Council of International Educational Exchange, and she travels with her students to help familiarize them more with both the language and culture that they have been studying.

CIEE’s program allows students and teachers to come together to explore cultures and languages. By studying or working abroad with students, says Baldwin, participants exchange ideas and experiences “to build bridges between individuals and communities.” This organization gives students the opportunity to expand their knowledge about all of the cultures and languages around the world.

Sophomore Lilian Mohr said, “Her class is a good balance of learning the French language but also being exposed to the French culture, learning about foreign exchange programs to be part of, and learning the importance of being bilingual.”

When Baldwin had first started teaching, she had no experience teaching a class, so for the first couple of years she attended night school and got her credentials and masters in education. “Experience is definitely the thing you learn the most from,” Baldwin said. By being put into classroom situations and working with students, she has put herself onto a straight path. Even now she is still learning new ways to teach more effectively.

Over the years Baldwin has gone on many indelible adventures, but these adventures are what inspired her to encourage her students to explore new cultures.  Everyday Baldwin enjoys interacting and teaching this foreign language and culture to her students.

Redlands East Valley teacher Celano promotes cultural exchange

foreign exchange lunch
Featured above are Xiyu Liu, from China, and Gabrielle Burband, from France, at the “Meet and Greet Lunch” on September 5, 2018, at Redlands East Valley High School. At this lunch the foreign exchange students get to meet and interact with the students at REV, while also getting a chance to explain where they are from and what their hopes are for this school year. (Julia Falgout/ Ethic photo)


Throughout the world’s history, people have been getting their education in other towns, other cities, or even other countries. Famous intellectuals, including the likes of Aristotle, even had to travel to receive their education. The idea of not waiting for the chance at the best possible education to just fall in your lap has been passed down through generations.

Nowadays these ideas still carry through into the modern day high school education programs that are happening across the world. Students of any age from hundreds of countries  now have easy access to programs that can allow them to travel anywhere to receive a new and exciting education while getting to experience new cultures, miles away from where they normally live. But even though the Foreign Exchange program is not a crazy concept, many students don’t even realize that these amazing programs are happening right now in the middle of their school.

Michael Celano is a language teacher at Redlands East Valley and also a mentor and adviser of sorts for the foreign exchange students that have come to the school for the past fourteen years. Even though he doesn’t truly run a Foreign Exchange Program, he is still a big part of the students’ lives when they come to REV. Here at REV there are currently four foreign exchange students and many more have visited through the years. These students normally stay for one year and get to experience an education in a completely new environment. There have been students from Japan, China, Argentina, Panama, The Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Australia, Spain and France. There have been so many that Celano has started to lose track. But for the students that are here, he has set up meet and greets, presentations and information meetings to inform REV staff and students of their presence in hopes to inspire interest in the REV student body.

Language and foreign culture has been a major part of Celano’s life since he started taking foreign language classes in high school. Throughout his high school years, he took Spanish, French and German. Then, once he got to college, he continued with his passion for foreign language and took even more classes. When questioned on why he has continued on this path when most students choose to just take language classes in high school, he said that he “found them fun and interesting” and felt inspired to become more educated on foreign cultures. Following his passion, he has traveled across the world to places like Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, Peru, France and many more over the years. He even plans to continue his travels in the future with an educational trip to Guatemala in 2020.

Celano is a great source for students interested in foreign studies because he truly has seen and experienced so many different languages and cultures from around the world. He loves coordination with REV’s foreign exchange students because he enjoys “getting to learn about other countries and their cultures through the students.” He hopes that REV students will get to meet these new foreign exchange students at the multicultural assembly or when the foreign exchange students give presentations to the student body this spring. He hopes that these interactions with teenagers, who are the same age and going through the same things in life, will help encourage REV students to become an exchange student to another country at some point during their education or consider studying abroad in college.  

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Above are Gabrielle Burband and Ly Nguyen, talking with students at the “Meet and Greet Lunch” on September 5, 2018, at Redlands East Valley High School. They are talking about what country they are from and answering questions from other students. (Jonah Martinez/ Ethic photo)

After speaking with the foreign exchange students themselves, the true impact that this kind of experience can have on teenagers as they go through high school is quite impressive.  Ly Nguyen, one of the four new students here at REV this year, is spending her junior year here in the States all the way from Vietnam. A few weeks into this year-long journey, she already has had an amazing experience with the staff, students and the educational system here in America. Nguyen says she “loves the school so so so much” and since day one “all the friends she has met have been so nice and lovely” to her. Comparing her education back in Vietnam to here at REV, she feels that “US education is not as stressful as back in Vietnam.”  She “likes the education here because it’s based on things that can can help plan for her future.” The Foreign Exchange Program allowed Nguyen to experience a different culture and high school experience. Things like football games, Homecoming dances and Taylor Swift music videos are all things that many students take for granted here in the States that are educational and exciting experiences for foreign students.

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Above is Benjamin Milleder from Austria, at the “Meet and Greet Lunch” on September 5, 2018, at Redlands East Valley High School. He is talking with REV students about his experiences in Austria and plans for the rest of his stay in America. (Julia Falgout/ Ethic photo)

These programs are happening around the world with students from almost every country imaginable, and there is an amazing community of foreign students that are here at REV right now. People like Celano, teachers, classmates and everyone else here at REV have made an amazing impact on these students’ lives and will continue to change students’ high school experiences for years to come. 

Redlands East Valley’s Christine Naser reflects on her emigration from Syria



The United States of America has been a hotspot for immigration ever since the English Puritans sailed on the Mayflower to Plymouth, Massachusetts. Often, one hears stories of Europeans making the voyage to Ellis Island, or families south of the border looking for a fresh start. All of these immigrant stories feel like they only happen to strangers with no contact to Americans personally, but they are closer than one may think.

Meet Redlands East Valley sophomore Christine Naser. A little over a year ago, she and her family moved to Redlands, California, from Syria.

“I moved here because all of my father’s family was here, and for the money,” explained Naser, “we had little money in Syria…the prices to buy everything have been going up, and you need to be able to afford food.”

Syrian food inflation, as well as the drop in value of the Syrian pound, has created a problem for many families in the Middle Eastern country.

“It’s become really expensive,” Naser says.

The Naser family has been planning to move here for around 12 years.

“We started from like 2003 to 2016,” she said, “You can’t just go to the airport and get a ticket. No, you have to wait, because there are a lot of immigrants who want to come here. We had to wait about 12 years, then we came here. It was just a lot of waiting. For the first two years, we didn’t really feel like we needed to come here, but for the last two years, everything became expensive.”

Regarding how she adjusted to speaking English, Naser says, “My first language is Arabic. I learned a little English in Syria, but we learned it in almost a different accent. Here, it was really difficult to learn…you feel like you are weird to other people, like you have a different language and a different mind. It becomes easier with time.”

She recalled her first day at REV. “I was really scared, like the first day of school here, I literally cried. I didn’t know anyone here, and I didn’t really know how to talk so it was just really scary.”

She later got used to the atmosphere and made some new friends.

“You just need the time to learn, and this country has a lot of different things. It’s much easier to adjust this year than last year. It’s more comfortable now,” she said.

Christine’s family is also getting used to the language and culture of America.

“I actually have one little brother and one older sister. My sister is a senior right now, and my brother is nine years old,” she said. “They are learning the language the same as me. My father and my mom are working. They know a little English. My mom works with other people who speak Arabic, so I actually know more English than my parents.”

Since her family’s big move, Naser has been able to adjust well to her new country. She was recently involved in REV basketball, and currently sings as a second soprano for REV’s intermediate choir, Bella Voce. She has an older sister who is a senior at REV, and a nine-year-old little brother, both of whom are succeeding in school. Her family has adjusted well and each day they continue to adapt and excel in their new life.

Foreign exchange student from Italy, Margherita Brunelli at Citrus Valley High School



Margherita Brunelli is a foreign exchange student here at Citrus Valley High School. She is originally from Brescia, Italy and has come to America to be a student for a school year.

Back home Margherita is an only child but here she is sibling to her house sister Jasmine Alexander, a senior at CV.

When asked why she chose to come to America she said, “I visited America a couple times before when I was younger, and I loved it. The people were so nice and the place was beautiful. It became my dream to live here, so I took the opportunity to do so.”

Outside of school, Margherita likes hanging out with friends, being with her host family, and going to go get Starbucks. She isn’t involved in extracurriculars at CV, mainly because she wanted to focus more on learning the English language.

Margherita’s favorite thing about CV is all the extra activities the school has to offer such as school dances, rallies, and sporting events.The biggest differences she has seen about America and Italy is that America is very dependent on cars. She says, “Everything is a walking distance in Italy, it makes it easier to hang out with people, here you need a car to take from place to place.”  

Margherita will return back to Italy in June and she said she would cherish this experience and that she will also miss all the friends she has made this past school and thanks her host family for taking care of her.

A Visit From a Taiwanese Foreign Exchange Student 


Jason Lin arrived in America about a month ago from Taiwan. He is from the biggest city in Taiwan, Taipe. Before coming to America, he lived in a city like environment where he said he can go anywhere on subway in about 10 minutes. He said the school system in Taiwan was harder and that the average time for school was usually from 7 AM to 5 PM. Furthermore, unlike students in the United States, Taiwanese students do not get to choose the classes they want to take or their teachers.

When asked why he wanted to be a foreign exchange student, he replied “I want to experience different cultures.” Also, he liked the freedom Americans influenced and admired the media mostly through music and movies. Later on, when asked who would he like to bring with him to America, he said he would like to bring his friends because he believes that they will have a fun experience as well.

​While studying abroad, he hopes to go to popular tourist destinations such as Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Las Vegas. Hopefully Jason will enjoy his stay in America and hold onto exciting memories! 


Jason Lin

Interview with Siljia Holtta, 18,  from Jousta, Western Finland


Siljia Holta, 18, is a foreign exchange from Finland who attends Citrus Valley High School.
What are the differences between Finland and America?
A: “I think the biggest differences between the daily life is that school and church are a really big character in your daily life. Usually in high school, we go to school for a couple hours and we go home and do our hobbies. They aren’t connected with the school, and nobody in Finland goes to church unless they are really religious, and that’s probably the biggest differences because here it’s pretty normal to go to church every Sunday and have church activities after school. We probably only go to church before Christmas, if we want.”  

What is your favorite thing about America and why?
A: “I think my favorite thing are the people. The people are very kind here and really open minded and they talk a lot; I like that. The food is my favorite thing, too!”

What is your favorite thing about Citrus Valley?
A: “Citrus Valley is really good. I like it. The school spirit here is really big and I like that. I like the campus. It’s really big, that’s why I would get lost the first couple of weeks really bad. I love being here. The people are really nice here.”

What are things you enjoy doing outside of school?
A: “I like hanging out with my friends. The football games are awesome. Going to eat somewhere new is fun. I just like chilling out. In Finland, I would usually do a lot of training after school like the gym and running or I would hang out with my friends in the evening, because the homework doesn’t take that long in Finland.”

What are the differences between the schools in FInland and in America?
A: “Like I said the homework takes a lot more time here and in Finland the studying is more by yourself. Like if you show up late it’s okay you’re late, you just missed something from class. They aren’t going to call home or anything, that’s your own fault and if you ditch school that’s your fault, because then you are left behind from the class so you have to catch up at home and the teachers usually don’t give us homework because if we learn something in class it’s our choice if we want to study it or not. We have exams every 6 weeks and then the course changes. We have to be more independent and figure out if we want good grades or not. The school is not as strict like it is here.”

Foreign Exchange Students Attend Redlands High Schools

Redlands East Valley’s foreign exchange program is run by REV’s Spanish teacher, Mr.Celano.  Redlands’ foreign exchange students include Beatrice Delledonne, Emilie Strenzke, and Flurina Gees.

Beatrice Delledonne, 17, is a senior at Redlands East Valley High School.  She comes from Milan, Italy.  In America, she lives with Flurina, another foreign exchange student.   Back at home, she is a sibling to Sofia, 13. Here at REV, she is a member of the volleyball team.  She enjoys hanging out with friends, listening to music, and watching movies.  Beatrice hopes to pursue a career having to do with kids, such as Psychology.  When asked about her hopes for senior year, she said she wants “to learn English and have fun, because my senior year is in Italy, so I have another year when I go back.”   She adds that she really likes REV.

Emilie Strenzke, 16, is a junior at Redlands East Valley High School.  She is from New Berlin, Germany.  Emilie transferred here on Aug. 14 this year, and she’ll leave June 19, 2016.  At home in Germany, she is a younger sister to  Felix Strenzke, and her house brother here in America is Johnathan Forrester, senior at REV.  She is a member of the basketball team here at REV.  In her free time, Emilie enjoys hanging out with friends, horseback riding, motorcycle riding, and playing sports.  Her hopes for the future are to have a good job, family, and pets.  When asked about this year, she hopes “that [she] can learn better English and get all the experience needed, and meet new people, so that [she] can have friends from America.”

Flurina Gees, 15, is a sophomore at Redlands East Valley High School.  She came to America from Switzerland.  She is currently living with another foreign exchange student, Beatrice, and host parents.  Flurina is a member of the cross country team and plans on participating in track as well.  She partakes in Spanish Club. At home, she is a sibling to brother Maurus Gees, 19.  She enjoys traveling, exploring new places, and hanging out with friends.   Flurina hopes to see the world as she grows older.  When asked about her hopes for this year, she said she wants “to just have a really great year and make a lot of friends; just live the American culture. Just have fun!”  She really likes it here, especially with all the football games and rallies.