Citrus Valley High School annual Fall Fest kicks off homecoming weekend


Citrus Valley High School held their annual Fall Fest after school from 12:33-3:30pm on Sept. 24. This event gives each club a chance to fundraise for themself and attempt to sell out in the product they are selling. This provides a fun entertaining environment for both students and clubs.

Participating clubs had canopies stationed in their designated spots around the quad and each program was given time in sixth period to prepare their table for the chaos to come. As soon as the bell rang, students swarmed the quad with money in their hands ready to purchase goods. 

Each club is in charge of getting their own donation from businesses to sell at their booths. The quantity is up to club leaders and businesses to ensure they are within their budget. Club leaders are free to donate and help fund their materials being used. 

All the clubs fundraising were successful and Fall Fest was a hit with students enjoying their treats and meals after school in the quad. It is planned to return for the following school year and make another appearance on campus.

Photo 1: Students at Citrus Valley crowd around multiple clubs selling a variety of snacks and drinks. Lines during this part of Fall Fest became extremely long making it difficult for students passing through. (ELIZABETH MALLOY/ Ethic News Photo)

Photo 2: Fall Fest included the hosting of a talent show, where many students showed off their amazing talents. Sophomore Elizabeth Roman was one of the first performers, singing the song “She Used to Be Mine” from the musical “Waitress” with the help of ASB sophomore Briana Ton. (ELIZABETH MALLOY/ Ethic News Photo)

Photo 3: Fall Fest included the hosting of a talent show, where many students showed off their amazing talents. Sophomore Elizabeth Roman was one of the first performers, singing the song “She Used to Be Mine” from the musical “Waitress” with the help of ASB sophomore Briana Ton. (ELIZABETH MALLOY/ Ethic News Photo)

Photo 4: Sophomore Atalia Rivas performed a song on her guitar, showing off her talent with the instrument.  (ELIZABETH MALLOY/ Ethic News Photo)

Photo 5: The students at Citrus Valley lined up to get a cup of Kona Ice. Kona Ice was one of the most popular snacks out of all that were available. (ELIZABETH MALLOY/ Ethic News Photo)

Homecoming Court tradition remains alive at Redlands East Valley High School


Homecoming has become one of the most anticipated weeks in the school year. Not only because of the dance itself, but due to the festivities surrounding the event, which includes a pep rally, carnival, spirit week, minimum day and the announcement of the Homecoming court at the Friday football game. Overall, these Homecoming celebrations help promote school spirit and welcome back students and faculty. 

However, students often become accustomed to these traditions without truly knowing how Homecoming came to be. 

Homecoming was originally used in colleges before it spread to high schools.

The University of Michigan is credited with beginning the tradition of Homecoming in 1911, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association,

Missouri Athletic Director Chester Brewer encouraged their alumni to return to their school for their annual football game against the University of Kansas, which drew a crowd for a weekend of festivities surrounding the game. Since then, its growing popularity among colleges has allowed homecoming to become a staple in American high schools. 

The Homecoming football game also draws much excitement as the Homecoming court is announced. 

The Homecoming court comprises students who are voted in to represent the student body as king, queen, princesses and princes. However, the tradition initially began with only women competing for the title of queen. 

At Redlands East Valley High School, one boy and one girl from each grade level need to be nominated from a sport or club to be a candidate. Then, after a voting period that is open to all students, the princesses and princes are announced at the Homecoming pep rally during school while the senior king and queen are revealed at the Homecoming football game. 

The REV Homecoming court was unveiled on Oct. 1 during their football game against Beaumont High School at Citrus Valley High School. Their court consists of the following students: Kadin Khalloufi as the king, Shannon Cockerill as the queen, Maxwell Cannon as the junior prince, Brooklyn Martinez as the junior princess, Palmer Aguilar as the sophomore prince, Amanda Morrison as the sophomore princess, Cash Dabbs as the freshman prince and Ciela Pickett as the freshman princess. 

Redlands East Valley High School senior Kadin Khalloufi wins Homecoming king alongside his mother Kathi Khalloufi on Oct. 1 during halftime of the REV Homecoming football game against Beaumont High School at Hodges Stadium. Khalloufi is the varsity football captain and was playing in the Homecoming game prior to halftime. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News photo)

At REV, Khalloufi is a varsity football captain and participates in varsity wrestling, volleyball, Possibilities club, National Honor Society, California Scholarship Federation, Key club, tutoring club and Speech and Debate.

“I think there is great honor in being the Homecoming king as you represent the majority opinion of the school,” said Khalloufi.

He continues, “It’s crazy to me that people actually wanted me to be Homecoming king and I still am in shock over it.”

Redlands East Valley High School senior Shannon Cockerill wins Homecoming queen alongside her father Brian Cockerill on Oct. 1 during halftime of the REV Homecoming football game against Beaumont High School at Hodges Stadium. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News photo)

At REV, Cockerill is REV Associated Student Body Executive President, varsity soccer captain, the vice president of Chess and Games club and the president of the Red Cross club. She is also a part of varsity track and field, Key club, Mental Health club, NHS, CSF, Interact club and Heal club. 

“Everything I am in and have been involved in for the past four years helped me get to know a lot of people. I knew them from one activity or another and took the time to remember them and them remember me,” said Cockerill. 

“Being homecoming queen to me, is more than being a popular person. It was being someone people remembered for being kind, positive and friendly.”

Redlands East Valley High School seniors Kadin Khalloufi and Shannon Cockerill are crowned as Homecoming king and queen on Oct. 1. Khalloufi and Cockerill were both involved in Homecoming activities with Khalloufi as a football captain and Cockerill as the executive president for Associated Student Body. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News photo)

Blackhawk alum Carl Keiser welcomed as a full-time teacher at Citrus Valley High School


Seeing familiar faces on campus is important and as the school year starts, Citrus Valley High School’s class of 2022 has started to realize former resident substitute Carl Keiser is back and has his own classroom.

Carl Keiser poses with Paul Beaumont, a previous teacher and now colleague. (BELLA ESPINOZA/Ethic News Photo)

After spending two years teaching moderate-to-severe disabled students in transitional kindergarten through second grade at Cram Elementary School, Keiser is now at Citrus Valley teaching grade 12 English and Integrated Math IA and IIA.

Keiser says, “My Cram students have a very near and dear place in my heart because they were my first.” 

But, he is excited to tackle his first year at Citrus Valley and aims to show his students the true value of what they are learning.

Keiser says the biggest difference from subbing across campus is that he has the same students every day. 

“Seeing them at the beginning of the year and then at the end of the year will be truly rewarding,” Keiser said. 

Since most of his substitute teaching positions last for a month at a time, the amount of time Keiser has spent with his students is more than he normally would have. 

Keiser says, “We are already past a long term sub position, so this is already uncharted territory.”

Paul Beaumont, a world history teacher at Citrus Valley and one of Keiser’s previous teachers, said that Keiser “saw the practicality of what we were teaching and saw how it could be useful.”

He has used what he learned from being a student himself and transformed that into a teaching style that encourages and guides students. 

Beaumont has had a few of his students become teachers and even colleagues, but he especially believes Keiser is ready for the task of teaching. 

¨It’s great to see [Keiser] grow up, mature, and thrive in his profession,” said Beaumont. “He can do whatever he wants, because he’s got the skills.”

Kenneth McGrath, Citrus Valley Advanced Placement Literature and Composition and the Expository Reading and Writing teacher, remembers Keiser as a fantastic student and being super involved in school. 

McGrath said Keiser “is just capable of so much and is just starting to scratch the surface” with this new beginning. 

As he establishes the foundation of his new career, Keiser has taken inspiration from McGrath, Beaumont and Maria Deveau, a fellow Spanish teacher at Citrus Valley. 

With a strong team of supportive teachers, Keiser has readily made the shift from substitute to full-time teaching.

Autumn has arrived: Students in Redlands look forward to the new season


Starbucks has their decorations already on display which creates a nice autumn setting for their customers to enjoy as they eat their food and or beverage. (Photo courtesy Andrew James)

Autumn has arrived and Redlands is prepared for the shift into the new season. All around town, citizens are putting out pumpkins, flags and colorful objects, to celebrate the beginning of this new time of year. Decorations can be seen at people’s homes and businesses. Many buildings are decorated or filled with autumn products so that people feel a warm, inviting presence as they enter their establishments.

One of the businesses that have immersed itself into this season’s charm is Starbucks.  Many people look forward to the seasonal food and drinks that they showcase, and the cafe has added more drinks and food products to emphasize the autumn theme. Their seasonal offerings include items such as iced pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin scone and iced apple crisp macchiato.

Walmart and Smart and Final have stocked their shelves with Halloween and autumn decorations in preparation for the season. (KENDRA BURDICK/ Ethic News)

Retail stores are also starting to update their inventory to have more fall products for people to buy and celebrate the upcoming season. Target and Walmart have already put some Halloween-themed toys and small animatronics in their businesses. 

Along with decorations, creepy and creative costumes are on their way. Some stores, such as Party City, are providing discounts. The Halloween store Spirit Halloween in Redlands has a stock of different sorts of costumes and theatrical decorations.

Mel Megana Franco and Ashley Ranaballer are eager about autumn because Halloween is coming soon. (KENDRA BURDICK/ Ethic News)

Because of COVID-19, a vast majority of events designated to celebrate the autumn season were canceled or not celebrated as they were before the pandemic. But now, the events are starting to reconvert back to their normal ways.

One example is the Yucaipa Apple Butter Festival at Los Rios Rancho. Even with the fire that occurred on October 2, 2020, and the rebuild, Los Rios Rancho is planning to effectuate the festival. The Apple Butter Festival is from Friday, November 26 through Sunday, November 28 this fall.

Another event that helps revitalize the autumn spirit is the “Redlands Turkey Trot.” This Thanksgiving Day 5K run and a 1K “Fun Run” is held for kids throughout the beautiful city from 7:30 to 9:00 in the morning. The race course will start at Sylvan Park and interwork through the Redlands streets and around the University of Redlands before ending back at the Park.

Fae Norris can’t wait for the rain to relieve everyone from the high sweat-inducing temperatures and Eli Naser is enthusiastic for the football season to begin when autumn comes. (KENDRA BURDICK/ Ethic News)

The students around Redlands East Valley High School are excited about the season and looking forward to the cool weather. According to The Conversation, in the article  “Academic Rigor,” the weather throughout Southern California typically lifts from the heat and begins to cool when autumn comes. 

Other students are excited about the sports games that will follow, such as football, golf and water polo. A vast majority of students and staff are looking forward to the break and taking some time off to bask in the ‘season of rest.’

According to  “Peace Through Action * USA,” a web series devoted to keeping peace within our humanity, the season of Autumn “summons us to Be Peace… Being at peace is personal behavior.”

Nicholas Valencia and Megan Rimmer are zealous to do their favorite autumn activities. Megan plans to shop and Nicholas plans on eating. (KENDRA BURDICK/ Ethic News)

Zaryah Bernard, a sophomore on Redlands East Valley’s volleyball team, shows us that she’s anxiously awaiting to see the trees change colors. (KENDRA BURDICK/ Ethic News)

Autumn is blowing through the cities, making the leaves change, and letting people know that it’s time to set up events. Everyone is excited for the season and are eager to start its festivities.

Wildcat alumni April Saibene joins Redlands East Valley High School counseling staff


April Saibene, once a student at Redlands East Valley High School, has returned to REV this school year as a newly hired counselor. After working as a counselor at Clearwater Elementary School in Perris for two years, Saibene was first hired at REV as a temporary counselor covering grades ten to 12, last names Dj-J, but a few weeks into the school year, she obtained the permanent position.

Redlands East Valley High School counselor April Gamez in her office on Sept. 8. Gamez counsels sophomores, juniors and seniors with last names starting from Dj to J. (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News photo)

Born in Brawley, California, Saibene lived in Mexico until the age of three; her parents were both born in Mexico, therefore she is a fluent Spanish speaker. In addition, she has lived in Redlands and Mentone. In free time, Saibene enjoys spending time with her family. She and her husband, Andrew, currently have a seven-month child named Sonny. Saibene also has three siblings: Diana Gamez (REV 05′), Frankie Gamez (REV 07′) and Angel Gamez (Citrus Valley 12′).

Saibene graduated from REV in 2010. She considers counselor Laree Orland a mentor during and after high school; Orland is currently the counselor that covers all Advancement Via Individual Determination students.

While at REV, Saibene participated in track and field and cross country, coached by Andrea Johnson, and softball with Jim Cruz and Sandy Crumrine as her coaches. She also played soccer outside of school recreationally. 

Saibene, being a lover of sports, had thought she would pursue a career surrounding sports in some aspect, such as by majoring in kinesiology. 

However, she ultimately decided to major in sociology. 

While working toward her bachelor’s degree at Cal State University, San Bernardino, Saibene worked as a waitress at Johnny’s Tacos and Sports in Redlands for four years.

Following earning her bachelor’s degree in 2014, Saibene then worked at Tom Bell Chevrolet for two years. While she was there, she was a receptionist and worked her way up to service writer and later assistant manager. 

Afterwards, Saibene attended the University of Redlands to pursue her master’s degree in school counseling while starting to substitute in the Redlands Unified School District. She graduated in 2019. 

In addition to coming back to REV, Saibene is also entering the same campus as her older sister, Diana Gamez who is  currently in her ninth year of teaching Spanish and Advancement Via Individual Determination teacher at REV.

Gamez used to eat lunch in her room and keep to herself, but now she tries to stop by at least once a day to visit her sister to say hello or have lunch together. 

Gamez says Saibene “has a heart of gold and is very compassionate. I know she really liked working at the elementary school level, but I honestly think she’s going to do great things at REV.”

Saibene attributes her sister to being one of her role models as Gamez was the oldest and most influential to her and her siblings. 

The personal one-on-one aspect of counseling is what Saibene loves most. She didn’t want to become a teacher because she feels she works better with individual, small groups compared to a big group. 

Amid this pandemic, Saibene believes that dealing with grief, lack of social skills and not being cognizant of school expectations are some of the biggest challenges that students are facing.

Due to COVID-19, losing family members has become a common occurrence for some students. 

As a result of distance learning for the 2020-21 school year, Saibene feels that some students haven’t developed a grasp for expectations for in-person learning, especially freshmen and sophomores who had never been on the REV campus yet. 

“Technically, our seniors were only here for a year and a half, so they didn’t really get a feel for the expectations or like the rituals, you know the things that we have here at REV that make it REV,” said Saibene. “I think that’s a challenge that [students] are facing; they just don’t know and they don’t know what to expect and they all still feel scared and nervous.”

However, in order for students to be successful in high school, Saibene strongly recommends getting involved in something at school, such as clubs or sports. 

“I would say make sure you stay involved, be nice to your adults, self-advocate for yourself, [and] speak up for yourself,” said Saibene.

At REV, Saibene aspires to be someone that students and staff feel comfortable coming to. 

“I hope to be a safe place for students and staff where they feel comfortable with me whether it’s sharing good news or bad news, if they need some guidance, advice, or just a room for them to vent,” said Saibene.

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Citrus Valley Homecoming prompts endearing proposals


Citrus Valley High School’s Homecoming for the 2021-22 school year is scheduled for Sept. 25. This announcement has prompted many students to ask their friend or crush to join them on the special night.

Juan Montes, a junior at Citrus Valley, asked  Citrus Valley junior Ashley Pham, to homecoming on Sept. 11. Pham, a gymnast and cheerleader, said yes to Montes after he asked with a walkway of  rose petals and candles and a poster that said, “If my puppy dog eyes don’t work, Maybe Leia’s will.”

“I was really surprised, because I came back from a four hour practice and that was the least thing I was expecting, so I was really happy and excited,” said Pham. 

The two are attending as best friends, proving that a homecoming date doesn’t necessarily have to be a love interest.

Juan Montes asked Ashley Pham to homecoming with candles, rose petals and a sign that read, “If my puppy dog eyes won’t work, maybe Leia’s will,” referring to Pham’s dog, Leia. The pair will be attending homecoming as best friends. (Photo Courtesy of Juan Montes)

Citrus Valley seniors, Evan Burnell and Milana Espinoza, decided to go to homecoming together. Blackhawk Baseball player Brunell asked Espinoza on Sept. 10 with a bouquet of sunflowers in one hand and a poster that read, “Will you be my sunshine at hoco?” in the other. 

Although the two were dating before Burnell’s proposal, they now feel their relationship is stronger than ever.

Evan Burnell and Milana Espinoza posing with each other in the school parking lot after the proposal. Prior to the homecoming proposal, the pair was already a couple. (Photo courtesy of Evan Burnell)

Citrus Valley junior Makenna Williams accepted Citrus Valley junior Julian Ramos’s homecoming proposal. Ramos, another blackhawk baseball player and member of Equality club, took Williams on Sept. 14 to the spot of their first date where he prepared candles in the shape of a heart awaiting her arrival. He asked her with a sign that said, “Will you make this night as special as our first date and go to Homecoming with me?”

Williams said, “It was fun and exciting. I got those butterflies that gave me first type of date kinda vibes.” 

The pair recently celebrated their year and a half anniversary.

Ramos said, “I was pretty nervous, but I was happy when she said yes, I knew she would be happy with how I asked her.”

Citrus Valley junior Makenna Williams and Citrus Valley junior Julian Ramos posing with their homecoming proposal sign. Williams and Ramos have been together for a year and a half and are looking forward to homecoming. (Photo Courtesy to Julian Ramos)

Dylan Wright, a sophomore at Citrus Valley, asked Citrus Valley sophomore Sophia Imoud to homecoming on Sept. 9. During the evening football game, Wright walked onto the field  in front of everyone in the stands and asked her to be his date.

Ihmud said, “I was really surprised. I was with my cheer team and then he came with his poster and proposed in front of everyone and I was really happy.” 

Wright said, “I knew I wanted to go with her, there’s no one else I’d rather go with then. I knew I had to do something special because she is a special girl. I was scared she would say no but she said yeah.”

Sophomores Sophia Ihmud and Dylan Wright pose together on the football field after the Sept. 9 game. He asked her to homecoming with flowers and a sign that read, “Flowers are the 2nd most beautiful thing. Can I go to homecoming with the 1st?” (Photo courtesy of Sophia Ihmud)

After Citrus Valley ASB social commissioner, Emily Walos, had given a speech to the school student body to promote the event at the Homecoming Fashion Show, Citrus Valley senior varsity football player Aaron Roque asked Walos to homecoming on Sept. 10.  

He went backstage with the help of Walos’s friends and was able to surprise her with a stuffed bear and sign that said, “I could not bear to go to hoco without you.” 

Walos stated, “I was really surprised, because he had planned it all with my best friend. I am so excited for homecoming to have a great time.”

Although they are going to homecoming together, they are only friends but feel closer as friends. 

Roque said, “I felt excited, I feel like I’m gonna have a good homecoming.”

After the ASB homecoming fashion show, senior Aaron Roque asked senior Emily Walos with a sign that read, “I could not bear to go to Hoco without you,” and a bear correlating with the sign. The two will be attending as friends. (Photo courtesy of Emily Walos)

Citrus Valley sophomore athlete Micah Magana asked Citrus Valley sophomore cheerleader Jaymie Requejo to homecoming after the Sept. 9 football game. He asked her in front of the cheer squad with a football that said, “Will you tackle me to hoco?” 

Requejo said, “It was very exciting. I was happy, and I wasn’t expecting to be asked to be homecoming.” 

Magana faced a challenge with the homecoming proposal as he felt anxious and nervous asking her to homecoming. Yet, the pair, who have recently begun dating, are very excited to go to homecoming together.

Micah Magana and Jaymie Requejo have been dating since the proposal on Sept. 9. (Photo Courtesy of Jaymie Requejo)

Citrus Valley senior baseball player Tevin Bookman asked Citrus Valley senior Morgan Hendricks to be his date in the quad on Sept. 9. He waited for her to come out of the E-building for lunch with the poster he created saying, “It would be an almond joy to take you to hoco.”

“I was excited. I wasn’t expecting it, so it was interesting,” said Hendricks. 

The pair, who had recently started dating, believes that homecoming brings others together in a way no one would have ever imagined.

A sign filled with Almond Joy candies read, “It would be an Almond Joy to take you to homecoming,” along with flowers. (Photo courtesy of Morgan Hendricks)

Sophomore Gavin Close asked sophomore Lillyanne Cesena on Sept. 15 with a poster that said, “Roses are red, violets are blue, I really want to go to homecoming with you. Homecoming?” 

Cesena said yes. 

“I was nervous but I kinda had some feeling he was gonna do it so I was a little bit prepared,” said Cesena. 

Gavin Close and Lillyanne Cesena stand together with the homecoming proposal sign and flowers. Close and Cesena will be attending as friends, although both believe something more may happen in the near future. (Photo courtesy of Gavin Close)

Whether or not students attend homecoming as a couple, friends, or alone, the event is a night promising memories and a fun experience.

20 years after 9/11: Orangewood teachers recall shock and disbelief


Three teachers at Orangewood High School recall when they first heard about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks: Mark Perkins, physical education teacher, Norma Beckwith, social studies teacher and Louise Gonzales, mathematics teacher.

Mark Perkins, P.E. teacher

Audio recording of interview on Sept. 10, 2021 with Mark Perkins, physical education teacher at Orangewood High School, on what he remembers about the 2001 attacks on the twin towers. Perkins recalls shock.

DEBBIE DIAZ: What were you doing on the day the twin towers were hit?

MARK PERKINS: I didn’t find out about the twin towers until I woke up that morning and then — I don’t know how I knew it was on the news — but it was on the news. Oh, I know how I knew it was one the news. I had a cousin, my wife’s first cousin, he was doing his residency at the closest hospital to where the twin towers fell. When they were bringing victims in, they were bringing them to his hospital. So he called us just to let us know how he was okay. So that’s how I found out that morning about the twin towers. Does that answer your question?

DIAZ: Yes. What was your reaction when you first found out?

PERKINS: I would say the biggest reaction is shock. I would say, you know, my wife grew in a country, she was born in Africa, she grew up in a country where there was war and that kind of — the kind of behavior that happened in the U.S. on that day was like what she remembered happening in the country that she grew up in Malawi in Africa. And nothing like that had ever been seen before in America. So it was just shock the fact that bad guys could come in and do that to us, and we just let it happen.

PACHECO: No one have responsibility.

DIAZ: Do you know anyone that was affected physically by the attack?

PERKINS: Like I mentioned earlier, my cousin was in his second year of residency at one of the hospitals, so he got to see a lot of the victims that were brought in. So I can’t say that specifically victims, but it was interesting hearing. I mean he could look out his hospital window, and he could see the towers smoking and on fire. You know, when they collapsed, he was a first hand witness to that kind of a thing. So it was interesting to hear from his perspective.

Norma Beckwith, history teacher

Audio recording of interview on Sept. 10, 2021 with Norma Beckwith, social studies teacher at Orangewood High School, on what she remembers about the 2001 attacks on the twin towers. Beckwith recalls disbelief.

DIAZ: What were you doing on the day the twin towers were hit?

NORMA BECKWITH: Getting ready to go to work, to teach at Clement Middle School.

DIAZ: What was your reaction when you found out?

BECKWITH: Disbelief initially. You know, when the first plane hit, it was like “What is going on?” But when the second one hit, I  knew we were under attack. And then fear. Fear.

DIAZ: Do you know someone that was affected physically by the attack?

BECKWITH: No, surprisingly on the West coast I knew absolutely no one. I mean, I knew of people, friends who knew people, but I was not impacted personally — my family, my friends — but, just am forever saddened about 3,000 plus lives that were lost.

DIAZ: Right, a tragedy, right.

PACHECO: Do you believe in any conspiracies?

BECKWITH: I absolutely do not believe in conspiracy theories. We were attacked by the terrorists, Al Queda. There is no conspiracy. They’re out to ruin our way of life.

Louise Gonzales, math teacher

Audio recording of interview on Sept. 10, 2021 with Louise Gonzales, mathematics teacher at Orangewood High School, on what she remembers about the 2001 attacks on the twin towers. Gonzales recalls shock.

DIAZ: What were you doing on the day the twin towers were hit?

LOUISE GONZALES: I had just gotten to my classroom, getting ready to teach for the day.

DIAZ: And what was your reaction when you found out?

GONZALES: Shock. Shock. I didn’t really know what was going on.

DIAZ: What went through your head?

GONZALES: I just…shock. Like, “What’s going on?”

DIAZ: Do you know of someone who was affected physically by the attack?


PACHECO: Do you believe in any conspiracies about the attack, like the government, or…?


PACHECO: You just believe it was a terrorist attack?


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Departing Redlands East Valley teachers reflect on their career

Originally published in La Plaza Press


As the end of the school year approaches, students and teachers are increasingly closer to emerging from a stressful year into a needed summer break. However, for some teachers, the end of the school year represents more than a sigh of relief, and possesses greater personal significance. For some, it represents the end of a long career, an era filled with many refining and fulfilling moments. While, for others, it represents the beginning of a new journey, promising both the thrill of opportunity and uncertainty. This year, many Redlands East Valley High School teachers have decided to retire or advance their career through new positions separate from the school. What are some of their final thoughts and what will they do next in this new chapter of their life?

Wendy McClung

Wendy Mcclung smiles outside of her classroom in the D-wing. (ISAAC MEJIA/ La Plaza Photo)

With an empathetic nature and passion for mental health, Wendy Mcclung, the mental health careers and mind matters teacher will be leaving REV to work in an administrative position.

She will be moving to the district office at CRYROP where she will be “in charge of their online program.”

Although Mcclung is excited for  “a chance to exercise [her] leadership skills and to grow as a teacher professionally,” she will miss her students dearly.

“They are why I do what I do, ” said Mcclung. I get to watch them grow and get to know them and watch them succeed and help them through struggles. You don’t get that one-on-one with them anymore.”

Mcclung’s genuine concern for her students’ well-being is a special gift: a gift that is not required, but one that she still possesses.  As she leaves the classroom, Mcclung says, “Once a wildcat, always a wildcat. It was great to be here.”

Jody Bradberry

As she starts to clear her classroom of the posters on the wall, Jody Bradberry poses for a picture. (ISAAC MEJIA/ La Plaza Photo)

One of REV’s most experienced English teachers, with a true heart for reading, Jody Bradberry is retiring this year.  

Looking back on her career, Bradberry is happy and feels a sense of accomplishment. “There are too many good memories; I’ve had a great career,” she said.

Bradberry is ready for retirement and will miss the interaction with her students the most: “It was all about the kids” she further said.

After school ends, Bradberry’s plans are short and simple: “I’m going to walk, do yoga, and read.” Even though she is retiring, her love for reading will continue to endure.

Michael Broguiere

Michael Broguiere smiles in front of the whiteboard in his classroom that is located in the English Building. (ISAAC MEJIA/ La Plaza Photo)

After 36 years of teaching math, Micheal Broguiere, a sincere and genuine teacher, decided to retire this year. From his long career, Broguiere is nostalgic of the many comical and lighthearted memories that he experienced.

While teaching high school, Broguire told one of his classes that he wanted to buy a Vitamix Blender. In an attempt to help their teacher purchase a new blender, the class created a jar that they would pass around each day to collect change and raise funds for the blender. In the spirit of fellowship, Broguiere hosted a smoothie day for his class. “We were making smoothies all day,” he said. “It was an atmosphere of fun and good times.”

Broguiere was able to establish a sense of community among his students. This aspect of his teaching style will be missed as he heads into retirement; however, his retirement plans are not yet set in stone. “I may get a part-time job,” Broguiere said, but he has no intention of getting one this year.

When asked what he was looking forward to the most about retirement, he said, “You know, just not having to get up and be a slave to a clock. Just knowing that I’m somewhere that I’m not usually at this time of year.” The freedom to live spontaneously is within Broguiere’s grasp.

Fleury Laycook

Fleury Laycook stands in front of two of her personally crafted landscape paintings. (ISAAC MEJIA/ La Plaza Photo)

The very compassionate and artistic Fleury Laycook chose to make the 2020-2021 school year her last year before retiring from her position as an English teacher at REV. Students will remember Laycook as one of the most sympathetic teachers on campus.

After 32 years of teaching a variety of subjects and thousands of students, Laycook reminisced of years of memories and shared multiple “stand out times” which included her position as the newspaper advisor and a participant in Mock Trial. “We won the Southern California LA Times High School Newspaper of the year award,” she said. “Another one I think was pretty cool was going to the state championships when I was working with Mock Trial.”

With such a creative mind, Laycook plans to focus on her hobbies of painting, writing poetry, and photography. “I’m going to have a lot of fun painting and other creative stuff,” she said. Laycook will be retiring into a life where happiness will fill her days through her hobbies.

One painting by Fleury Laycook that displays her dog amidst the Orange Groves in Redlands. (ISAAC MEJIA/ La Plaza Photo)

Vanessa Aranda

Vanessa Aranda, adored for her relatable character and joyful presence on campus, will not be working at REV next year; instead, she has accepted a position at Orangewood High School where she will carry out her 19th year teaching a variety of social studies subjects, in addition to English Learner support, and Digital Journalism.  

Vanessa Aranda smiles inside of her Digital Journalism Classroom next to a sign with an inspirational quote from Nelson Mandela. (MIA ARANDA/ La Plaza Photo)

Throughout her career,  Aranda has always prioritized the voice of her students and became recognized on campus as an intentional teacher capable of making her students feel acknowledged and appreciated. This special aspect of her character can be seen as she reflects on one of her fondest memories as the Rock Painting Club’s advisor.

One day when her room was crowded with club members, “one of [her] students wrote on a portable whiteboard sign, “EVERYONE IS WELCOME. We will find space for you if you think it’s crowded” and propped it outside.  

She said, “Throughout the week, I would keep that sign up in my room, because I just loved how inclusive it was. It kinda symbolized exactly how I wanted my students to always feel in my class: welcomed and that it’s a space for them.”

Aranda’s time at REV embodies what it means to be a teacher that not only has a heart for teaching, but a heart for students as well. She will be remembered for going beyond the expected duties of her job to create an environment where students feel valued.

Shannon Nicholas

Shannon Nicholas smiles for a picture outside of her classroom. (ISAAC MEJIA/ La Plaza Photo)

Shannon Nicholas is the third English teacher that will be leaving REV this year. After teaching for 15 years, officially reaching the halfway-point, Nicholas has accepted an administrative position at St. Anne School in Laguna Niguel.

“So I will be moving to the beach,” she said.

Although Nicolas admits the move is somewhat frightening, because she will be working at a kindergarten through eighth grade school instead of a high school, she is still holding on to the thrill of the unknown and has a positive mindset. “I am very excited, she said. It is a new opportunity and a new adventure.”

While at REV, Nicholas has taught a variety of subjects which enabled her to teach the same students multiple times.

She said, “It was awesome, because I was able to build a greater relationship, and if you don’t have that, school’s boring. If  you don’t like your teacher, and you don’t get along, students will lack motivation. It’s part of teaching.”

Nicholas understands the value of a healthy student-teacher relationship, and she will allow her knowledge and understanding to lead her to success in this next stage of her life.

Ramon Cardenas

Ramon  Cardenas smiles outside the walls of the choir room. (ISAAC MEJIA/ La Plaza Photo)

A powerful voice and prominent figure in the music department, Choir Director Ramon Cardenas is moving across the country to Tallahassee, Florida where he will be attending Florida State University.

Although uprooting to the East Coast is a dramatic life change, Cardenas is excited to have the opportunity to advance his education and earn his doctorate to teach at the college level.

As he reflects on his time spent at REV, Cardenas’ most memorable moments as a teacher were spent on retreats with his students. “We always had really good times there. Everybody was always just funny and silly, just cool to see people get involved outside of class,” he said.  

Even though distance learning extinguished almost all of the music department’s performances this year, Cardenas was able to experience one last “Hoorah” moment before last year’s shutdown. He said, “the choir concert we had right before the shutdown was the best concert that the choirs had.”

Cardenas will remain a well-liked teacher in the music department. 

Laura Brown

Laura Brown smiles at her desk. (ISAAC MEJIA/ La Plaza Photo)

REV’s English department is losing yet another teacher, Laura Brown. With a strong desire to teach her students how to speak and write intellectually, Brown has decided to retire at the end of the school year.

From her career, Brown believes the best thing about teaching is the wisdom she gained from her students along the way. “They’ve taught me so many crucial things–not about grammar–but about compassion and humanity and life,” she said.  

Although teachers are labeled as the educator, they themselves are constantly learning and their perspective on life is constantly developing. While working as a third grade elementary teacher, Brown remembers when she was humorously enlightened by one of her students.

“A very bright student named Wesley raised his hand and asked about the ellipsis. I didn’t know what that was, so I said, “Wesley, tell us what you know about the ellipsis?” He said, “That’s when you end a period with dot, dot, dot.’”

Although Brown is retiring, this is not the end of her journey. “I’m looking forward to new adventures with my family,” she said. “My husband and I will live in Utah during the spring and summer and in Florida during the fall and winter.” Brown’s grandchildren live in those two states, and throughout her retirement, she will be surrounded by her loved ones.

It’s no lie that teaching high school students is difficult. However, after speaking with each one of these wonderful teachers, it is evident that the struggles and stress are worth it. These teachers taught with passion and sincerity to help the young kids in their community. To be a teacher, you have to be sympathetic, patient, prepared, and always have the highest expectations for your students. All the teachers mentioned encompass these traits, allowing the students at REV to receive the best education possible and create some of the most endearing memories. REV is losing an amazing group of people, but from all at REV, the hope is that each of these teachers’ futures will be filled with happiness and opportunity. From parents, to students, to administration, the gratitude from so many people extends to these teachers. There is no doubt that they will be missed on campus.

Unfortunately, Rhonda Fouch was not available to interview; however, she will be retiring this year as well.

Theatre arts teacher Kaitlyn Daniels will no longer be working at REV next year as well.

Season 1, Episode 8, Part 1: Always Face the Ocean


Today’s episode is a part of a three part series that is all about the Redlands East Valley Wildcats’ girls’ athletic director, Rhonda Fouch (she/her) who also goes by Fouch and Coach Fouch. Mrs. Fouch has been working on impacting the lives of young people for 40 years, and is retiring this school year. Learn more about Fouch’s connection with the ocean, how long and how she ended up in Redlands, and what made her choose her occupation of Girls’ Athletic Director. This episode’s intro and outro song is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole.

Redlands students reveal what helped them persevere through the distance learning school year

Originally published in La Plaza Press


Distance learning has been a struggle for many students of the Redlands Unified School District. However, this unprecedented year has not extinguished them from learning new hobbies, and spending quality time with pets and family. This collection of photos shows who and what possessions have provided students with a sense of permanence during the rapidly changing school year.

Mia, a 12-year-old dog, enjoys running around fields and parks. Despite Mia’s age, her owner Isabella Verjat, a junior at Redlands High School, still takes her for regular walks. (Courtesy of Isabella Verjat)

Paul McClure, Redlands High School junior, presents the yoyo that he practices with. McClure was inspired to learn how to yoyo after finding an old one in his house. (Courtesy of Paul McClure)

Valentine Edwards, a junior at Redlands East Valley High School, shares a picture of their cat, Duchess. (Courtesy of Valentine Edwards)

Redlands High School junior Sophia Feduska shows off an apple and raspberry pie she baked. During quarantine, baking quickly became one of her pastimes. (Courtesy of Sophia Feduska)

Kai, a one-year-old dog, enjoys hanging out with his owner, Redlands East Valley High School junior Abigail Gates. (Courtesy of Abigail Gates)

“My longboard helped me through the online learning school year, because it allowed me to focus on something besides my schooling,” said Redlands East Valley High School sophomore Aileen Corpus. She further said that “the community I have become a part of through my longboard is just amazing.” (Courtesy of Aileen Corpus)

Tyler Ardnt, a junior at Redlands East Valley High School, shows off his dog Grizzly, a two year-old husky-malamute, sitting comfortably in a cardboard box. (Courtesy of Tyler Ardnt)

Josie Burdick, a fifth grader attending Crafton Elementary School, reads books to help her get through distance learning. She enjoys reading adventure books, along with historical books to relax after a long day of learning online. (Courtesy of Josie Burdick)

“My dogs Hank and Ollie helped me stay loved,” said Redlands East Valley High School freshman Lily Shaw. (Courtesy of Lily Shaw)

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.”

Politics for Us provides growth and a new vision for Inland Empire femmes

Originally published in La Plaza Press


This is the official logo for Politics For Us, an organization run by Young Femmes. (Courtesy of Jazui Mejia)

One undeniable truth is that students have been nothing but loud as they uncover serious gaps in their social and political education. As racial incidents become devastatingly more frequent in schools, time and care are placed into building a sense of community and a mutual support system among high school students of color, making it a true definitive characteristic of this generation. 

Although it is natural to believe that the classes of 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024 are the first classes of people to become pioneers of change, it is not the case. Meet Alejandra Davila, a Peruvian-born San Bernardino native that graduated from Cajon High School and Pomona College with a degree in Political Science and Gender/Women’s Studies. 

She describes how during her studies, the idea of a political education program for femme-identifying students came to fruition: an idea that would eventually become the Young San Bernardino Queens in Politics (now Politics For Us): 

“I developed the idea for the Young Queens in Politics program my junior year in college after taking two courses titled 'Women and Public Policy' and 'Voices and Stories in the Latinx Community.' They were the first courses I had taken that positioned the contributions of women
and people of color at the center of the curriculum. 

"Throughout the entirety of those courses, I was continuously shocked by how little I knew about historic and powerful women. I began questioning why the Civil Rights Movement, United Farm Workers Movement, and Women’s Liberation Movement had been summarized to a bullet point in my high school history classes. I wondered how empowered I would have felt if I had learned about the change-makers that had made my presence in educational and political spaces possible.

"Last spring, I enrolled in Professor Ochoa’s course 'Chicanxs/Latinxs and Education.' The class completely changed the way I viewed the education system and pedagogical strategies. Ira Shor’s book Education is Politics served as a point of inspiration for the program. Shor argues that there is no such thing as 'apolitical' classrooms with 'unbiased' teachers and 'neutral' curriculums; rather, classrooms and curriculums are inherently political. Shor posits that an empowering education is student-centered. 

"With these ideas in mind, I decided that I wanted to create a learning experience for young femme-identifying students in San Bernardino. With the mentorship of San Bernardino community organizers and educators, I founded the Young Queens in Politics program, space where young femme-identifying students could step into their power, raise their voice, and strengthen their sense of self. 

"The original program structure was a two-week afterschool program, the first one held at San Bernardino High School, and the second one held at Cajon High School. The first week of the program focused on the basics of the U.S. political system, the merits of civic engagement, and the current state of women in politics. The second week, students met with city council candidates and state representatives and asked their representatives questions about policy issues they were passionate about. Guidance on the college application process was also provided, and Claremont College Admissions Officers spoke to students.”  
- Alejandra Davila

Despite current global hardships, the program has grown tremendously and became a space that exceeded Davila’s previous vision. Davila and her planning committee which includes four radical women of color each equipped with a unique role and talents are responsible for the program’s growth. They work together to elicit powerful initiatives for the collective. 

One member of the committee is Kenia Garcia-Ramos, a sophomore at Pomona College studying both Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies. Based on the roles within the Social Change Ecosystem, Garcia-Ramos describes themselves as caregivers, storytellers, and guides.

Adriana Vazquez is a senior at Cajon High School who specializes in the role of a caregiver, a weaver, and a guide. Taelen Cobb, a senior at Pomona High School and a gifted storyteller boasts the additional talents of caregiver and healer. Lastly, Jazui Mejia, a sophomore at Redlands High School with a passion for being a visionary, builder and disruptor of all systems that do not serve an empowering purpose. 


Now, what exactly does the program’s growth look like?  Davila explains, “My two main goals were to create a very safe, empowering space to discuss “taboo” topics with femme-identifying students and to supplement their education with college resources. What Politics For Us is now, whether in-person or virtual, is a collective space where femme-identifying students can come and find their political voice, community and be somewhere where they can feel safe enough to learn about politics and education through a completely different lens. 

Young Queens in Politics was trying to replicate my education at Pomona which was just learning from the top to the bottom and saying “Let’s talk about laws, policies, structure, and theory’ whereas Politics For Us is much more localized and it’s more grounded in community, so more ‘Let’s talk about Black and Brown authors, let’s talk about social movements, let’s talk about what’s happening on the ground now.’”

Impact on Committee

For the Planning Committee, the complete shift in focus is something that has made a significant impact in their lives. Vazquez shares, “I think Young Queens was the first space where I definitely learned about what community was outside of school. I definitely consider that space to be where I realized what community is. Going into Politics For Us now, learning and establishing the sense of community as the center of our curriculum and what we’re trying to do, I love it even more, and it just makes me realize that I want this sense of community in college. When I’m writing my college applications and essays, I definitely had to talk about community a lot, as well as both Young Queens and Politics for Us.”

Cobb remembers the particular meeting day that turned everything around for the program, she reflects, “When we discussed the ongoing election, I only had feelings of helplessness, thinking we couldn’t do anything to change the way that our democracy was going. Then we began exploring what we need to look at locally. And these are, this is how these policies are just how these policies affect those how we feel about it. Then I was like, okay, like, now I can really add from a personal point of view, like, Oh, yeah, this is what’s going on here.” 

Cobb, similar to Vazquez, was inspired to write about this collective in her college applications, particularly as a way to resist the expectations placed on Black students in regards to writing about Black trauma:

“This collective has really helped me think when I’m doing my writing for college and realize that I don’t have to talk about trauma. A lot of colleges made it a point to talk about the Black Lives Matter movement during the presidential debate. I said ‘why are you debating about Black Lives?’ At the end of the day, that is so trauma-inducing. I’m tired of having to write about it even though everything that I am has been a Black person in America, but I don’t want to write about the trauma that comes along with that.” 

Garcia-Ramos feels that the program has made what is oftentimes inaccessible political education more widely available. “It’s taught me a lot about how to bring these ideas in a promoted classroom is selectively gate-kept. How we can really bring these topics that are so often just theorized about, into the lives of the people that we’re actually talking about. I think that we’ve been learning how we want community spaces to operate and how we really want to actually realize these things. Everything about this program is how education should be.”

Advice for Newcomers

The beauty of this collective is the connection and care between each individual. For this reason, if any young, Inland Empire, femme-identifying high school student is reading this and is thinking of joining in on the experience when the program opens up to the community in the coming months, the Planning Committee offers some words of wisdom. 

Davila makes sure to clarify misconceptions. “I’ve heard students say things like, ‘I just don’t have time for this, I don’t have time for another class’, but this is not a class. It’s not structured like your typical high school class, the ‘I’ll talk to you and you have to read all this stuff.’ It’s very much where we can all bring our experiences together and have more of a conversation. We reflect, we journal, we do a cool reading. That is what this looks like, because it’s more centered on the connection.”

In addition, Vazquez dives into the fear of being in a completely new space: “Advice I would give if you’re scared to come because you feel like you’re going to be the loner, or you’re just scared to come alone, tell your friends about it! If they’re your friends, and they’re supportive of you, and what you want to do, then let them know. If they say ‘okay, yeah, I’ll join you’, then there you go, you’re definitely not coming all on your own. If you can’t find friends to come and join you then don’t worry. You’re not going to be alone, because you have us, we’re here to support you. And we’re here to welcome you. We’re not here to lecture you and force you to learn. This is for you, hence the name Politics for Us.” 

To those that wish to break away from the mold created by schools, Garcia-Ramos suggests, “If you’ve ever felt frustrated with the way that your education has gone, if you’ve ever felt like you have been a loss of agency with your learning process or your education is not what you would want it to be, then I would say you should give this program a shot. If you ever want a space to, visualize, and imagine and disrupt and be emotional and talk, just like say whatever is on your mind about anything.”

Cobb keeps it simple and real: “We’re really not focused on pushing our opinions on others. It’s really like a round table sharing our opinions. It’s never like, ‘Oh, you think that? That’s weird.’ I would tell them to definitely join, come to meetings, and if they’re not feeling us, there’s no need to come back. If they are though, I’d encourage them to keep coming back, because we’re gonna have different topics and really expand on them.”

Each discussion, each reading, and every minute of both simple and authentic unity is being tailored by this team of young femmes, for young femmes. Every week, the Politics For Us (PFU) Planning committee comes together to work actively on a curriculum for when the program opens up. For more information on how to become a part of this space, follow @politicsforus_ on Instagram or reach out to Alejandra Davila at

East Valley student wins televised talent competition for singing

Originally published in La Plaza Press


Through the pandemic, motivation has been hard to find. With the determination of certain organizations, some children have luckily escaped this fate and have been able to keep up with hobbies throughout this worldwide lockdown.

Redlands East Valley High School junior Sarah Urbieta has been an instrumentally talented student since the age of eight. Urbieta began her talented music journey by playing the piano, but her piano teacher soon opened her eyes to another musical instrument: her voice. This natural talent surprised everyone in her family as well. With the encouragement of both her family and her teacher, she enrolled in singing lessons. From now on, singing would  be a part of Urbieta’s life forever. 

Even with a worldwide pandemic, Sarah Urbieta maintains the motivation to work hard towards her life dream: to become a well known singer. (Courtesy of Sarah Urbieta)

On top of her singing lessons, Urbieta has joined multiple extracurriculars both inside and out of school. Her music knowledge has only grown as she has taken on both violin and bass in her school’s orchestra program. Outside of music Urbieta takes multiple Advanced Placement and Honors classes, is involved in French club, and plans to try out for REV’s volleyball team once she is safely allowed to. 

Despite this intense workload, Urbieta decided to enter Despierta America’s voice talent competition: Mi Hijo Es Un Artista. Urbieta’s mother approached her with the idea one day after school and, even though the studio was finished with the audition process, Urbieta sent her video audition in hoping she would still be accepted as a contestant.  

“Even if I didn’t win it would be a great opportunity for us. Get my face out there,” said Urbieta.

Despierta America not only accepted Urbietas audition but the studio contacted her saying that they loved her video! The team complimented Urbieta’s passion for music as well as her unique singing style. She was now a contestant and had to send in a second video of her signing. At this point in the competition the contestants would usually visit the Univision studio in Miami to be interviewed and further audition but Covid 19 concerns made it impossible. Her second virtual audition process went smoothly so the Urbieta family continued to wait.

On Oct.16, 2020, Sarah Urbieta and her parents appeared on screen, tensely waiting for the outcome of the contest. After compliments on the winners voice talent and unique sound, a Despierta America spokesperson announced that Urbieta had won the competition. She and her family were ecstatic and relieved that Urbieta had finally won. 

“It was just one of the best things ever, you know? Where you fought so hard for something and you are finally able to get a win,” Urbieta said. 

Along with her win Urbieta was awarded 1,000 dollars to help her progress in her music career. The station also congratulated her on her win, saying she stood out from her competitors. After the competition, the studio’s team has visited her three times to congratulate, interview her, and to do a Holiday Special Thanksgiving designed to encourage those struggling during the current pandemic crisis. Despierta America’s support gave Urbieta a confidence boost and confirmation that all of her hard work had paid off.

Urbieta has not had any major doubts about her music career because she has always been able to keep things in a positive perspective. The support of her family has really helped not only to maintain her hard working mindset, but also to forward her career in general. Her two young siblings are dragged around with Urbieta to auditions, festivals, and private events all because they are too young to be left alone in the house. The undeniable support of the family is what motivates Urbieta everyday to move forward and succeed in her dream. No matter the situation, time, or place, her family is right behind her ready to catch her falls and celebrate her victories. 

“If it makes you happy, you have to keep doing it no matter what,” said Urbieta.

She misses the energy felt when live on stage before the pandemic, such as her performance at the Mariachi Festival. 

Urbieta truly believes these words and fully intends to continue her music career, using this recent win as a springboard into future projects. This competition has given her national publicity and she is frequently asked to do private events digitally. 

Urbieta perseveres because she wants to pursue her music as a career and thanks to her hard work, vocal talent, and success with Diespierta America, her future is looking exceptionally bright.

“During my live performances I’m really just able to express myself and really just feel connected to the music and the audience. It’s something that has been hard to adjust to because for me it was kind of like therapy in a way. So I’ve had to adjust my mindset a bit and really just learn how I can still express myself and still interact with my audience. I just can’t wait for the moment I’m able to feel and experience that again!” Urbieta explains. 

To see more performances by Sarah Angel, search her Instagram handle @sarahangelmusica.

Redland’s Barton House Playschool opens its door for educational use


Even though the pandemic restraints many people from attending an in person school, Barton House Playschool makes themselves available. During these unprecedented times, the preschool is currently open as they uphold regulations to protect the students and workers while school is in session.

While many K-12 schools are currently closed, many preschools are still available to offer childcare for essential workers.

This establishment believes in a “play, discovery and curiosity” way of learning. On their website, they state that they “strive to provide an environment that encourages curiosity and discovery through play.”

Monica Strout, a mother of a BH Playschool student, said, “My daughter is so happy each day that she goes and is loved by all staff.” 

Barton House is one of the only public preschools, in Redlands, open throughout the time of COVID-19. They strive to make kids happy through this hard time. (KENDRA BURDICK/ Ethic News Photo)

They strive to make a safe environment for everyone due to COVID-19. They take precautions such as monitoring the children from being too close to each other, wiping down objects used in their play yard and making sure that all staff wears masks while on the campus. Though, the children wear masks while indoors, except at their snack time. 

Tina Stephens, assistant principal and former ten-year teacher at Barton House Playschool, said, “They do not have to wear them [masks] while playing outside, so they can get a good deep breath while running in the play yard.” 

Parents are asked to provide their children with a mask and an additional backup mask in case of a need for a change.he school does provide a disposable mask for a necessity; they hold quite the supply.

The teachers work with the children that have medical exceptions to attempt them to be comfortable with their masks; however, they are never disciplined or shamed about. But, there are not any exceptions with not being able to wear a mask.

Along with wearing masks, the teachers and other staff members do daily health checks before entering the school. Yet, staff members are not required to take a routinely COVID test.

There have been a total of three cases of COVID-19 at the preschool. After these cases were confirmed, the class was closed while students and teachers were quarantined for 14 days. Aside from this, there was no report of any students or other staff members getting COVID-19 in the school.  

Another guideline put in place is concerning if a parent catches COVID-19. The preschool asks that the child be quarantined for ten days from the date of the parent’s positive test.  If the child has any symptoms, the staff recommends the child to receive treatment; however, they cannot require it. 

Barton House Playschool makes all of these precautions and takes certain measures to keep the kids safe though the pandemic. All the teachers are holding the goal to give their students the opportunity to obtain an in-person education.

Redlands East Valley alumni offer advice they wish they had known before going into college


Waiting in anticipation for a college acceptance letter to choosing how to take the Advanced Placement exams, many seniors can feel overwhelmed as the end of the school year nears. Former members of Redlands East Valley class of 2020 offer advice to help current seniors enjoy their final moments as a senior and prepare for their transition from high school to college.  

 At REV, Jackson Houser was involved in many activities such as key club, interact club, and California Scholastic Federation. He was vice president of the National Honor Society and played varsity swim, and currently attends UC Irvine and is pursuing a major in psychological sciences.

Houser shares how he was fortunate enough to have the chance to live in the dorms at the university safely with the new modifications created due to COVID-19. Through this, he has been able to gain many new friends. 

Although the academics have been more demanding, he truly enjoys his classes and finds himself not minding the hours he spent on schoolwork.

“My advice to the current seniors is to ensure you enjoy and cherish your time at college, as it will truly be the best years of your life. There will be some difficulties along the way, so always make sure to take care of yourself first and foremost,” said Houser.

Elizabeth Amezquita attends Cal State University, Fullerton while taking her prerequisites to apply for the nursing program. Before attending CSUF, Amezquita played for REV girls soccer team throughout her whole high school career and was a link crew leader during her junior and senior years. 

Due to the pandemic, CSUF implemented programs to help students cope with online-learning through having monthly check-ins to provide people to talk to. 

Additionally, Amezquita tells how professors are being considerate and understanding of the difficulties of remote learning while making assignments. She shares there no need to be afraid to contact professors as they are willing to help any way they can.

Jacob Herrera posing at University of Southern California. Herrera is currently attending USC and believes the mindset of many college students is to work and have a good time, without worries of people’s opinion (Photo credit to Jacob Herrera).

 “Set aside time to focus on studying. Preferably, this time should be within a time that it would be reasonable to email professors if help is needed,” said Amezquita, “Finally, it’s not bad to not know what you want to study. Many of my classmates came into Fullerton with a major in mind and in the course of a few months, they ended up switching majors to something they had no idea they would like to pursue. You are young. Don’t be afraid to explore before you commit!”  

Another student at REV, Jacob Herrera, played an active role in its music program. He was a drum major of the marching band, student conductor and participated in the wind ensemble, jazz band and various other festival groups. 

Along with his contributions to the music program, he was the president of the philosophy club, a member of the math club and a captain of the track and field team.

Herrera is majoring in philosophy and physics with a minor in musical studies for trumpet performance at the University of Southern California.

He reflects how different USC is from high school, from the social environment to the learning environment. Outward appearances and hesitation to be oneself to appeal to peers is not an issue he believes. Collaborations, learning centers, teacher assistants and other avenues are also available to help students. 

“Focus on your needs in your college experience. Do what you like and find something that interests you. It’s so easy to get lost in outside expectations or distractions. Even if taking a semester off is what you need, do it! There’s nothing that should limit you from being you,” said Herrera.

Attending Cal State Poly Pomona, Kimberly Maldonado, a former member of the associated student body, Advancement Via Individual Determination program, math club and pride club, is majoring in civil engineering.

Living on the college campus, Maldonado enjoys the opportunity to be around people with similar experiences and views.

“Stay on top of your school but remember to breathe and be patient with yourself and that [you’ve] got this,” said Maldonado.

Redlands East Valley’s Christian Club impacts students’ mornings

Originally published in La Plaza Press


Christian Club has met for the last fourteen years at Redlands East Valley and existed at Redlands High School before REV was built. (ISAAC MEJIA/ La Plaza photo) 

Due to the current online school year, many clubs across the Redlands Unified School District have halted their activity. However, despite the many obstacles that distance learning presents, Redlands East Valley High School Christian Club remains one of the few clubs that still meets virtually. 

Christian Club is a Christian-based club with a mission to help students grow deeper in their relationship with God and other people of faith. The club welcomes all people to join and be a part of their experience as they dive into the Bible’s messages.  

Zoe Armida, vice president of Christian Club, said the club “is supposed to be a safe place for all followers and a place to help strengthen our belief and our love for God.” 

So how exactly does the club help students strengthen their faith in God?  During distance learning, the club meets every Wednesday from 8:00-8:30 a.m. Typically, members listen to youth pastors from different “Bible-based” Redlands Churches and are taught different sections of the Bible. They pray for each other and worship together. Scott Washburn, the club’s advisor, even plays the guitar and sings along with the students. The club offers a sense of community and does not force students to do anything they are not comfortable with. 

For many students, waking up everyday to sit at the front of a computer screen for six hours is stressful  and overwhelming. The club offers students the opportunity to start the day by equipping themselves spiritually. 

Washburn says, “Being a born-again Christian in high school is so important. There is so much stress just being a high schooler period. I don’t know how people do it without Jesus. His yolk is easy and His burden is light, and the peace of God that only the Holy Spirit can give transcends all understanding during these crazy times in everyone’s life [and] will put your heart at rest.”

The club aims to positively impact students’ mornings and provide them with any needed encouragement. It surrounds students with other people that have a heart for God and reassures them that there are other people in their school community that share similar beliefs. 

Karla Whitman, Christian Club Secretary, said, “It is great to see people who love God as much as I do, and are willing to spend their mornings coming to Christian Club. It is also great to hear God’s word during the middle of the week as it is the pinnacle of the week and usually the day I need the most motivation.” 

She further said, “It just makes my weeks going to Christian Club, because I know that the people there love and honor God, and I find that just so special. It is awesome that we are creating a community at school (even digitally) where we can feel comfortable to worship God and fellowship with other believers.”

The club does not require a lot from students. It is not an obligation or another responsibility that will add onto their growing plate; instead, the club offers the chance to help lift off that heavy burden students are carrying.

Students interested in joining Christian Club will not be met with judgment. Students are allowed to open up with students and engage to their liking. If students are interested in joining the club, they can email the club’s president, Miriam at at or can go to the club’s Instagram @ The zoom meeting information is listed in their bio.

Amanda Gorman inspires teens to overcome stereotypes about disabilities


Amanda Gorman: a poet, activist and inspiration. Overcoming speech and auditory processing challenges are very challenging, but Gorman didn’t let that stop her. 

A digital drawing depicting Amanda Gorman speaking at the 2021 Inauguration. At the Inauguration, she recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” and became the youngest poet to speak at an inauguration (MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News art).

Nowadays, stereotypes are very common. People with disabilities are often underestimated or believed to be a burden or even be less successful than the average person. Gorman is living proof that disabilities do not determine your success.

Gorman was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder in kindergarten. Auditory processing disorders make it difficult to understand what people are saying. She also has speech articulation issues. According to Understood, a non-profit program dedicated to helping children who learn differently, this disorder makes it difficult for her to pronounce particular words and sounds. 

Although she battles these challenges, Gorman has been invited to speak at high-profile events. During the 2021 Inauguration, as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in, Gorman recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” as the whole world watched. 

Zoie Wilson, a freshman at Redlands East Valley, said, “I thought Amanda Gorman’s poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’ was breathtaking. She addresses multiple topics that are very relevant to our country right now including economic, social and political issues. She also discusses racial injustice and black power.” 

Gorman’s uprising followed briefly after her poetry. Gorman has gained over 300,000 followers on Twitter and over 2,000,000 followers on Instagram after reading at the Inauguration. She also has had the opportunity to be featured on various television shows such as The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Daily Show, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, The Late Late Show with James Corden and a few others.

During the pre-show of the Super Bowl LV, Gorman entertained an audience of tens of millions of people. Gorman gave a new poem presentation of her poem “Chorus of the Captains.” Not only was her pre-recorded performance fantastic, but she is the only poet to ever perform at the Super Bowl.

Riley Hoekstra, a sophomore at Citrus Valley High School, says, “I feel that Amanda Gorman is one of the people many teens will look up to. At age 22, she is the youngest person to speak at the Inauguration and the only poet to perform at the Super Bowl. She has shown that disabilities don’t stop her and overcoming stereotypes as a teenager is possible.”

The inspiration of Amanda Gorman will last forever. Three of her works: Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem, The Hill We Climb and The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country are being published as books this year. Redlands-owned bookstore, The Frugal Frigate, is taking preorders of “The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country” for $15.99.

Redlands teachers recall memories from the Rodney King video 30 years later

Originally published in La Plaza Press


30 years ago today, KTLA aired a candid video of a Black man, named Rodney King, being brutally beat by four Los Angeles police officers. This eye opening video proved to Americans that racism remained persistent in this country as a year later it yielded a not guilty verdict on the charge of assault prompting the eruption of riots into the streets of Los Angeles and surrounding cities. 

Redlands teachers Duan Kellum, Jamie Ochoa and Kendra Taylor-Watson look back on experiences on how the Rodney King video affected themselves and society.

Redlands East Valley teacher Duan Kellum was a senior at California State University, Northridge in Los Angeles in 1991 when he witnessed the Rodney King video on the news. 

“My roommates and I saw the video on the news and we were not shocked by the beating,” said Kellum. “We were surprised that it was caught on film. ‘Finally’ we all said.”

The video of Rodney King was recorded from across the street by a neighbor named George Holliday. Holliday recently bought a Sony video camera about a month before, and after being awoken from the commotion in the middle of the night, recorded the beating from his apartment balcony following the high speed chase between King and the police. Later, Holliday sent the video to local news station, KTLA, who aired it on March 4. 

LA Police Chief Daryl Gates announced on March 7 that the officers involved, Laurence Powell, Stacey Koon, Timothy Wind and Theodore Briseno, would be prosecuted. The video was viewed by the grand jury which indicted the four officers within a week of Gates’ announcement.

The video also became monumental in highlighting the magnitude of police brutality against African Americans in the United States, as before then, ample acts of discrimination and racism weren’t readily exposed to the public compared to today’s access to modern technology and social media platforms. 

Over a year after the initial release of the video, Powell, Koon, Wind and Briseno were acquitted of charges of using excessive force on April 29, 1992. This provoked an outburst of riots in the LA area between April and May, known as the 1992 LA Riots. Resentment against the jury’s verdict fueled rioters to engage in looting, arson, and assault in local communities. 

Redlands High School teacher Jamie Ochoa had moved back to California from the Philippines in 1991 to discover the well-known video of Rodney King that was being displayed on various news channels. As an 11-year-old, she couldn’t quite understand the severity of the event. 

“There was chaos happening near me, tension, but I was so young, I could not understand,” Ochoa said. “It seemed cruel and unusual, hateful and filled with anger. My 10-year-old heart couldn’t take it.” 

“It was an odd feeling, seeing this violence happen on TV–real people, not actors–and it did not make sense,” said Ochoa. 

Citrus Valley High School teacher Kendra Taylor-Watson was living in Crenshaw in South LA when the riots transpired. 

Taylor-Watson was able to first-hand witness the severity and impact of looting and the riots in Crenshaw. 

“People were running with TV’s, couches, some even had food. I later saw others taking chairs and heavy metal equipment to break windows of local business. Glass shattering and mobs of people rushing into clothing stores, furniture stores, shoe stores you name it and it had been broken into,” said Taylor-Watson. “All up and down Crenshaw Blvd. Cars were pulled on the side of the road while the looters packed their cars with stolen items.”

LA Mayor Tom Bradley declared a state of emergency and about 4,000 national troops were sent to Los Angeles to help quell the riots. 

Altogether, the riots lasted approximately one week. 

According to the Insurance Information Institute, the riots yielded 775 million dollars in insured losses, about 1.4 billion dollars today. 

Taylor-Watson said, “The elderly especially suffered because they had to travel further to a grocery store, bank and other significant establishments that people take for granted until they are gone.”

The riots also intensified tensions between African Americans and Korean Americans in LA, as shortly after the Rodney King video, 15-year-old African American Latasha Harlins was shot by Korean American store owner Soon Ja Du on March, 16, 1991. Du had mistook Harlins for attempting to steal a bottle of orange juice leading to Du killing her on the spot. 

According to the United States Department of Justice, Community Relations Services collaborated with law enforcement and African American, Korean American and Latino leaders to curtail racial tensions as well as to cease violence and destruction in the city during the riots. 

Taylor-Watson said, “The community was forever changed after the not guilty verdict of the policemen that beat Rodney King.”

New Redlands East Valley art and sculpture teacher leads students to freely express and improve their artistic abilities


Learning to adjust from in-person teachings to remote teaching is a challenge for many teachers. Taylor Hammond finds himself joining Redlands East Valley during the 2020-2021 school year and adjusting to the new school and teaching virtual in a subject that typically requires materials provided in a classroom. 

Hammond received his education from Cal State Fullerton, gaining a degree in Studio Art. Furthermore, he got his credential and M.Ed. through National University, while simultaneously raising kids and working. Yet, he never prepared for a situation like this. 

Hammond describes the “whirlwind ride” of distance learning and opens up about the challenges of adjusting his curriculum as the days go by, rather than planning out his curriculum during the summer like most teachers.

“Passing out supply bags didn’t work out, and so many cameras made me feel a bit like a zoo animal on a live video feed!” said Hammond, “But, we have some really talented and empathetic students. I will never forget the kids who care enough to show their face and say good morning, they should be our next student leaders!“  

While helping younger generations develop their art skills, Hammond is quite artistic himself, theatrically, musically and visually. He had played previously in shows as a lead singer and guitarist of a rock band and Coach Bolton in High School Musical. In his free time, he enjoys showing his artworks to galleries in Downtown Los Angeles. He is also fond of writing poetry and fiction.

A photo of Hammond and his family at an outing. His family shares a love for the arts (Photo credit to Taylor Hammond).

“Art is a window to the world within us, and the world outside us. I love seeing how student’s unique personalities and interests influence their visual expression,” said Hammond, “We live in a material world that doesn’t seem to care about our feelings, but art requires us to bring our feelings both to creating and experiencing it. In a dull, anesthetic world, aesthetic experiences remind us to be grateful for the moment and to feel fully alive.”

Along with creating art, he loves spending time with his family, from playing video games with his son to seeing theatre productions with his wife and daughter. 

The family of four commonly share a love of the arts. After graduating high school, his daughter plans to learn more about costume designs and his 12-year-old son is currently a digital artist. Meanwhile, in their town of Nuevo, Hammond, him and his wife, a theatre teacher, have created the Nuevo Arts Council to support the arts in their communities.  

Hammond cites becoming a father had, ultimately, inspired him to become a teacher.

 “I had pictured myself as either a Hollywood big shot or hopeless Bohemian until thankfully, I met my wife at college. Once we decided we were having a family, I started thinking more about the big picture of preparing the way for the next generation,” said Hammond.

After working various positions in education full-time for over 13 years, being a substitute solidified his decision as he enjoyed helping kids grow in their skills.

His classes have seemingly impacted his students. Melody Kamgar, a junior at Redlands East Valley, shared how she improved as an artist with his “encouraging, optimistic and passionate self.”

 “My favorite thing has got to be the assignments he assigns because usually he just gives us an art style and really gives us the freedom to draw something we like,” said Kamgar.

Hammond is grateful to have the opportunity to give back through teaching and a member of the Wildcat family. He shares how he felt like an awkward and lonely child, yet music and art teachers connected him with his talents. 

 “Teaching helps me be the person I needed when I was young,” said Hammond. “I think many of us struggle with guilt over having privilege; I don’t see how guilt helps anyone. Just spread that privilege around to others through a life of service, and no guilt necessary.” 

COVID impacts each class differently: Grade-based reflections on a socially distanced school year


From a global pandemic that has popularized masks and coined the term “socially-distanced,” all the way to a presidential election that left the country forever changed, 2020 and 2021 have proven themselves to impact almost every aspect of life. 

Socially, young children have been learning the basics of sharing and making friends from behind a computer screen, while teenagers deal with the overwhelming presence of social media in their lives now consumed by technology. Student athletes are missing out on multiple seasons of sports, altering their athletic futures and scholarship opportunities. Performing arts students have not been able to perform in a play in front of an audience in school theaters since last March. Ask around, and almost everyone can find a way their lives have been changed this year. The question remains: does one grade, generation or group have it worse than another, or have some even benefited from these unique experiences? 

Dylan Watson, a freshman at Redlands East Valley, ended her eighth grade year in middle school through distance learning and was on track to begin her first year in high school. However, 2020 had different plans for her and the rest of the incoming class of 2024. 

“I feel that the worst part is not being able to meet new people and the learning aspect in my opinion isn’t the best,” says Watson, “But the best part is that I can sleep in for an extra hour because if we were in person, then we would start at 7:30.” 

She adds,“I think that next year, being a sophomore, I’m going to feel like I’m in the same position as the incoming freshman. I’m not going to know my way around the campus, so I won’t know where everything is.” 

This idea of having two full classes of “freshman-like” students on campus in the 2021 school year is one that seems to be one of the biggest impacts of distance learning on the 2024 and incoming 2025 classes. Although one is academically a year ahead, they are both entering into a school that they haven’t yet spent a day on campus. 

Watson says, “We still hopefully have three other years left, while for seniors this is their last time to make everlasting memories with the people in the class of 21′ before they step foot into their next chapter.”

Brooklyn Rios, a sophomore at REV, says she feels the positives of distance learning for her have been in “comfy clothes and sleeping in,” but the drawbacks are the amount of “homework and staring at a screen for so long every day.” 

Rios also speaks on the impacts that this year has had on her socially, saying, “I have not been able to interact with people in the classroom, at lunch or during passing periods. I feel when I see people now, it is always really awkward in evaluating the situation and it’s difficult not to hug someone you haven’t seen in forever because you are unsure how strict or instruct they are about COVID.”

Rios is a part of the graduating class of 2023, meaning she will be entering into what is arguably the most challenging year of high school next school year. If in-person instruction occurs in August 2021, this will mean that Rios and the other students in her grade will have only been on campus for a little over one semester before they enter into their junior year of high school. 

Rios says, “I feel like understanding topics that carry over from this year to next year will be difficult. I feel like learning has been very difficult and applying this knowledge next year will be arduous.”

Along with sharing her own experiences, she shares her opinion on the other grade levels. She says, “The class of 2021 definitely got the short end of the stick. They missed half of their junior year and most likely all of senior year. They won’t have a normal prom, grad-night or graduation. I think it sucks for them because senior year is such a big deal and they won’t have senior nights for their sports, final performances, paper toss day and so much more.”

 As more and more of the traditional senior year milestones pass by, uncelebrated this year, she also discusses a common topic: the comparison between the class of 2020 to the class of 2021.

“Last year’s class of 2020 got so many accommodations because everyone felt really bad about them not getting to finish senior year; however, class of 2021 got more stress with school and they are not getting as much sympathy as class of 2020 got. People kind of forgot that they have it really hard too.”

Several members of this year’s Redlands East Valley senior class pictured at the annual senior sunrise. The class of 2021 has attempted to organize as many of the traditional senior events as possible given this year’s unique circumstances and the senior sunrise is one that was able to be done outdoors. (Ethic News/ Photo credit to Jack Tetrault) 

Ashley Gonalez, a sophomore at Citrus Valley High School, says that “this year has impacted my social life a ton. I began to text people less and stopped talking to a lot of people. But I think it helped me realize more about myself and get closer with the people I still socialized with.” 

Ali Sirk-Bun, currently a junior at REV, brings light to some of the major impacts that this school year has made outside of the academic factors. 

Sirk-Bun says that the best parts of this school year for her have been the “new improvements regarding addressing awareness of human equality” at school and within the district. 

After racially-charged incidents occurred at the end of first semester at REV this year, new initiatives towards progress on campus have been started with organizations such as the Wildcats for Change. 

“Since I am a junior, I will try to be as spirited, hard-working and have as much fun as possible next year to make up for lost memories this year,” said Sirk-Bun, “the seniors this year have it worse. It’s their last year at school and instead of going to dances, creating memories with friends and carrying out their last year; they’re trapped behind a computer as their last year of high-school.” 

As the days of what will be the last semester of high school for the class 2021 tick by and distance learning continues, Elijan Park, a senior at REV, reflects on the impacts of the past few months of school for him and his graduating class. 

“I think seniors definitely have it worse this year. The last year of high school is normally filled with events but since it is distanced learning we are unable to enjoy our last year.”

Park also discusses how challenging the college application process has been for him this year due to the circumstances. He says, “I think the worst part of this school year was trying to navigate college applications and other questions I may have virtually. It would have been much easier in person.”

With no clear end to the pandemic to pin-point, the class of 2021 has also begun to consider the possible reality of their first year in college being altered. Park says “I think my next school year will be a lot easier if things stay the same since I already am accustomed to online learning so if it has to continue next year I think I will be well prepared. But I think transitioning into in person learning may be the difficult part if that happens.”

Reflecting on Susan B. Anthony’s impact on her birthday


We know president’s day, Valentine’s Day, but did we know this weekend was also Susan B. Anthony’s birthday? 

Digital art depicting the 19th amendment Women’s Rights flag. The flag was originally created in 1919 and every time a state ratified the 19th amendment, a new star would be sewn onto the flag. (Josie Burdick/Ethic Art)

Susan Brownell Anthony was a woman who had a lasting impact on the structure of our country. Anthony was mostly known for her work protesting and fighting for women’s rights. Along with this, she supported anti slavery by helping slaves escape and debating for their freedom. This was just the start of what she accomplished.

Born on Feb. 15, 1820, this weekend marks what would have been Susan B. Anthony’s 200th birthday.

She was born into a quaker family in Massachusetts, which shaped her perspective on life. Anthony was reared in the Quaker tradition and her was home pervaded by a tone of independence and moral zeal. 

Growing up, she was constantly titled to be a precocious child for the fact that she learned to read and write at the age of three. At this age she had learned that a lot of people didn’t believe that all people were made with equality, so along with her parents, devoted her life to helping solve this problem.

“There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers.”– Susan B. Anthony 

Anthony had seven brothers and sisters, many of whom became activists for justice and emancipation of slaves, according to “History Live, Videos, and Articles.” When they moved to Rochester, New York in 1845, the Anthonys fought for anti-slavery activist and helped escaped slave Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison, who would later join Anthony in the fight for women’s rights.

The Anthonys were also part of the temperance movement, which attempted to cease the production and sale of alcohol in the United States.When Susan B. Anthony was denied a chance to speak at a temperance convention because of her gender, she was inspired to shift her focus to the fight for women’s rights. 

Anthony started to take matters into her own hands and voted in the presidential election illegally, according to the “Women’s History Education” website. She was then arrested and tried (unsuccessfully) to fight the charges. She ended up being fined $100—a fine she never paid.

Susan, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, decided to travel around the country delivering speeches in favor of women’s suffrage. Anthony soon became a pioneer in the women’s suffrage movement in the United States and president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, which she founded with Stanton. 

The two created and produced The Revolution, a weekly publication newspaper that lobbied for women’s rights under the American Equal Rights Association (AERA). 1906, Susan was found to be dead. She once said she wished “to live another century and see the fruition of all the work for women.” Many were pleased to have greeted her wish.

The nineteenth amendment was known as the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment” and sometimes the “Elizabeth Cady Stanton Amendment” to honor their work on behalf of women’s rights.On July 2, 1979, she became the first woman to be featured on a circulating coin from the U.S. mint. 

Susan B. Anthony never married and devoted her life to the cause of women’s equality. She once said in one of her protests:

“I declare to you that woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand.” -Susan B. Anthony

Research with Redlands East Valley’s librarian reveals a creative rider with a zest for life

Your lives will be consumed by information. You have access to it in ways no other generation has. I urge you to be careful consumers of information. Just because it’s ‘out there on the internet’ doesn’t mean it’s the truth. Also, be so careful what information you give away. Your privacy is something that our forefathers fought for…”

Korrie Krohne, Redlands East Valley High School teacher librarian


Walk up the steps from the quad to the media center at Redlands East Valley High School and you will be given a hearty greeting by Korrie Krohne, teacher librarian. If it’s during Banned Books week, a teacher librarian’s favorite time of year, she’ll get you thinking about your first amendment rights with student-created art focused on once-forbidden reads. This self-described “book recommender,” won’t just encourage you to find your passion in the pages of books, but guide you on how to find reliable information in the cyber world. Ethic News had the opportunity to research a little into her world beyond REV, and found an extraordinary life-long educator with a passion for not just reading, but riding motorcycles, creating things, and eccentric names for her pets.

Erica Bauer: What is your position or title?

Korrie Krohne: My title is Teacher Librarian (She/her). I have a degree in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University. Just as I finished my program, they changed the title of my degree to Information Science–thus reflecting how librarianship has shifted from “book-learning” to information gathering. Librarians are very aware of the shift of how people access information. When public libraries were created in the United States in the early years of our country, our founding fathers felt that if we were going to have a nation governed “by the people” and “for the people” we had better make sure that we had an educated electorate. That is how important libraries were to our founding fathers. I wonder what they would think of information gathering now?!

“The Chalkboard Wall I am standing next to is a new feature in the library renovation. Here’s a link to the page I made about the renovation process… ” said Korrie Khrone of this 2020 photo. (Photo courtesy of Korrie Krohne)

Bauer: What are some of the classes you teach or main responsibilities with this position? 

Krohne: I am lucky enough to teach lots of classes all over the school. I collaborate with teachers in all subject areas to teach research, including source evaluation. This, I think, is the most important thing I do. I hope that when students finish a session with me, each will have a better understanding of how to tell what a credible source is, and to understand the importance of making sure that you have a credible source, and not just for your schoolwork, for your everyday-life research as well. And yes, I do read as much as I can get my hands on. I like to read widely so that I can be a better “book recommender.” I also teach educational technology, how to use programs like WeVideo, so that students can create new stories for projects in which they present their information.

Bauer: Would you be willing to share a little about your family and/or pets? 

Krohne’s one-year old German Shepard, Loki. (Photo courtesy of Korrie Krohne)

Khrohne: I love animals. I currently have a one-year-old black German Shepherd named Loki. He’s mostly a good boy. We also have 2 cats: Marauder and Her Royal Highness Bill, Queen of the Universe (yes, she’s a female cat, and yes this is her whole name). She really does rule the house. She’s in charge of us all. But in my lifetime, I have had horses, chickens, and many other cats and dogs, and frogs. My oldest child is an Entomology major at UCR, that’s studying bugs. What he thinks is a pet, I don’t exactly agree are pets. He has some Madagascar hissing cockroaches and a Bird Eater spider, it’s a baby now but eventually will be about the size of a dinner plate. I am banking on the fact that by the time the spider gets that big, my kid will be living on his own–or Tiny (yeah, that’s her name) needs to move out! I don’t go in his room much. 

Bauer: What led you to the position you are in today? Please feel free to include educational background and previous jobs. 

Khrone: I have taught in the Redlands Unified School District for about 27 years. I started as an English Teacher at Redlands High School. When REV opened, I came over here to start the new school. While a teacher here at REV, I went to a part time contract for a while since my kids were babies, so I only taught until lunch time. When my kids were old enough to start school, I wanted to come back to REV full time, but Citrus Valley High School was just opening, and there was no full time spot here at REV. So, I taught at CVHS for a couple of years. While I was there, a book changed my life. The book was The Alchemist by Paul Coelho. (It’s part of the Sophomore curriculum, now). I was reading the book with a book group. One of the things that this allegory says is that the universe aligns for those who follow their personal legend. I guess that means following what is true and right for you. We began to discuss what our personal legends might be, and all I could say is, “I don’t know! I am a mom, and a teacher. I haven’t thought beyond right now!” My friend, the former REVHS librarian, Rebecca Johnston, said, “I know what it is! I am retiring; you should go back to school and get your degree and take over for me!” I laughed when she said that, but I couldn’t sleep that night. I went to talk to her, then applied to San Jose State University’s Library and Information Science program. It was the best thing I could have done! Librarians are my people; their love of First Amendment rights, and books and support of patrons!

Bauer: Where did you grow up? Have you traveled to any interesting places?  

Krohne: I was born in Napa Valley, CA. When I was just a year old, we moved to Honolulu, HI. We spent a lot of time at the beach there. When I was 6 we moved back to Napa Valley. I lived there until I finished 7th grade. At that time, my Dad went back to school to become a dentist so we moved to Loma Linda where he attended the Loma Linda University School of Dentistry. I have lived in Loma Linda since that time. I have traveled to England and Scotland. Someday, I would love to go to Italy.

Bauer: Did you have any mentors or role models growing up? How did they influence you? 

Krohne: My dad is one of the most intelligent people I know. He inspired me to always do my best. I did have a 10th grade English Teacher who made me feel like I was a good writer. And Rebecca Johnston, the previous REV librarian, who saw that I could do this job and changed the course of my life!

Bauer: Do you have skills, interests or hobbies beyond the workday that you would like to share? 

Krohne: I love creating things. It’s one of the reasons that I have included a maker space, which we are calling “The Lab,” in the library remodel. I have a minor in art but am especially drawn to working with fabrics. I am a weaver — I own 2 looms — and a quilter. I married a sculptor. My husband is the artist who created our wildcat bronze that is in front of the theater. So my favorite thing is any time I am creating things. 

Bauer: What do you enjoy doing most with family and friends? How about when you have time to yourself?

Korrie Krohne next to her husband’s motorcycle. Long rides on the back of her husband’s motorcycle in open areas are one of her favorite things to do. (Photo courtesy of Korrie Krohne)

Krohne: I love going on motorcycle rides with my husband. He does the “driving”; I hang on. I love riding because I have to be totally “there” in order to stay on the bike, so nothing intrudes on the experience. We did a ride through Utah and Colorado; that was my favorite. I hate riding where there are lots of people. We like doing Joshua Tree for local rides. It makes me feel strong that I can ride a 420 mile day, then do the same then next for several days in a row. We have a BMW touring bike and a Harley Davidson Dyna. When I have time to myself, I do love to read. I also like to quilt. 

Bauer: What is something others may not understand or know about who you or what you do? 

Khrohne: People don’t realize that as their librarian, I am here to support them in what they are interested in. Whether it is a personal passion they want to know more about, or a class project or a research paper, I am excited to help them to find the information they need and help them to learn new skills.

Bauer: What advice would you like to share with students today? 

Krohne: Your lives will be consumed by information. You have access to it in ways no other generation has. I urge you to be careful consumers of information. Just because it’s “out there on the internet” doesn’t mean it’s the truth. Also, be so careful what information you give away. Your privacy is something that our forefathers fought for; don’t give your personal information and data away to companies just because they ask for it. You guys have no idea how your data is being used, and it frightens me a bit.

Nest and Den: Citrus Valley teachers share distance learning experiences, PART 1

Created by EMILY WALOS


What would a normal marching band season look like?

Due to the Covid pandemic Citrus Valley’s marching band will not be participating in any competitions for the 2020-21 school year.

What are some of the differences between your athletic and academic students?

Currently, students of the Redlands Unified School District must take a semester long government class during their senior year of high school in order receive their diploma.

How where students able to receive their instruments this year?

Many classes and clubs on the Citrus Valley campus have practiced grab-and-go experiences, where the advisors/teachers would have the necessities needed by the student and would place the items into the trunk or backseat of the students car. All staff, students and drivers where required to wear face masks and practice social distancing guidelines at all times. Clubs and classes that conducted these include Link Crew, the various theater courses, and several others.

Has your ability to encourage student growth been hindered in any way during the pandemic?

To help resolve the distance disconnect and produce the most natural/effective learning environment for students, the RUSD has made it mandatory for all students to have their camera on and be present in virtual classes. If students are present to class however, fail to abide by this rule teachers are to mark the student as a separate attendance category, called the G category which results in a call home to the parents just as it would an absence.

How has technology affected your teaching methods?

Students in Citrus Valley’s various music programs (including several levels of band, orchestra, piano and choirs) have shifted in a direction of learning music theory as well as composing music.

Have you seen an increase in the lack of motivation in your students?

Citrus Valley’s administration has encouraged staff to be understanding of students struggles and more lenient with circumstances.

Have you seen your students overcome technological boundaries and produce an unexpected result?

The RUSD has aided students through the switch to online learning by providing chromebooks for all students who apply for one as well as issuing out hotspots for students that do not have access to the internet or have unstable wi-fi. Students may apply for a chromebook or hotspot at any time by emailing Dr. Peter Lock, the head of the Academic Case Carrier Program and student welfare, at

What is the basketball schedule?

According to The California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section website, the status of CIF season 2 sports, which include badminton, baseball, basketball, competitive sport cheer, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming/diving, tennis and track and field are currently still underdetermination for competition in the CIF Southern Section Spring Sports Championships. However, they are scheduled to be resume their practice schedules in the beginning of March.

How are your teaching struggles as an arts teacher different from core teachers?

Currently Mr. Miners and Citrus Valley’s theater arts teacher Elena Villa are working to bring band and theater together in the school’s spring honor production of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars presented as a radio play directed by guest artist Ron Milts.

Circus Smirkus alumni Alyson Mattei leads Redlands Gymnastics Club


At the age of 12, Alyson Mattei wanted to develop her love for gymnastics, and found herself traveling with Circus Smirkus, the only traveling youth circus in the United States. Mattei is a gymnastics coach and a gym lead at Redlands Gymnastics Club. She works with kids ranging from ages of eighteen months to eighteen years old. She coaches the competitive team from level one to level diamond. Mattei’s job as a gym lead is to make sure that the gym is running smoothly, that everything is clean and organized due to COVID-19 and coaches and gymnasts are safe. 

Alyson Mattei in 2013 playing Dorothy in Smirkus Circus’s performance of “The Wizard of Oz ” called Oz Incorporated. Mattei was sitting in a cloud swing and going around in a circle to make the tornado at the beginning of the show. (Photo credit to Robert Sanson)

Born in Pasadena and raised in Southern California, she has moved numerous times and now lives in Highland. She comes from a large Italian family. Her immediate family consists of her mother, Lisa Mattei, her father, George Mattei and her older sister, Amanda Mattei. 

She enjoys spending time with her family in her free time and has a close relationship with them. They love to hike, fish and travel together. A few of her favorite places she has ever visited are Alaska, Tennessee, Jamaica and the Caribbean. 

During her youth, Mattei was a gymnast for seven years before she quit to do other sports. During her time in gymnastics, she competed on the Aerials Gymnastics team which she now coaches alongside some of her former teammates. Mattei says, “My personal struggle with COVID-19 was being unable to coach. My job is one of my biggest joys, and not seeing my gymnasts for a few months was difficult. COVID-19 changed how we taught gymnastics.” She and all the other coaches had to adapt to teaching smaller classes as to social distance properly and space out classes much more in order to have time to clean equipment.

  When she’s not spending time with family, Mattei enjoys listening to music and podcasts to relax and is also currently studying biology and forensic science. Growing up, she met her two biggest mentors at Circus Smirkus. They were her tour counselor, Dani Kehlmann and her artistic director, Troy Wunderle. During her five years with the circus, she learned many life lessons. She says, “They taught me respect for others’ opinions, patience, how to be a good role model, humility and so much more. I would not be who I am today without their many lessons.” To this day Mattei still loves to walk her tight rope in her own time.

She says that others may not know that she is a very caring person and “[tends] to fill the needs of others before [her] own.” She believes that is why she might love coaching so much, as sharing her knowledge and skills with others makes her feel rewarded when they succeed.

Advice that Mattei wants to share with young athletes is “to set a goal and work hard to achieve it. You will have good days and bad days but always keep yourself open to learning new things. Most importantly, respect those helping you reach your goals whether it is your coaches or teammates. They are there to help you achieve your goals.”

Winter holidays celebrated around the world


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. 

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 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.

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

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 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.

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/ Ethic News art)

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, such as “Confucianism,” which “puts 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.


A traditional Jewish menorah is used during Hanukkah where the candles are lit each night. The art also features the Star of David, another meaningful symbol in the Jewish culture. (ARIANA GHALAMBOR/ Ethic News art)

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. 

Featured Art: Diversifying your narrative means to educate oneself on the different cultural and religious celebrations around the world. (ARIANA GHALAMBOR/ Ethic News art) 

Wildcat senior Maddie Lee plans for military path after graduation


As a large majority of high school seniors across the country are in the midst of cramming to determine the universities they want to apply to and rushing to submit their college applications on time, at times it can be easy to overlook the rest of these young adults who are taking equally challenging and exciting paths towards their future. 

Maddie Lee, a high school senior at Redlands East Valley is a perfect example of a student taking a unique path after graduating as she is entering the military.

Her journey to get to this decision may have been paved by the sacrifices of her family, as according to Lee, her “family is full of military veterans and active-duty members so they were kind of an inspiration as I am in a way following in their footsteps.”

Her path, so far, has been an interesting one. Her main interest in the career has been due to her ability “to do anything that a man could do in a [male] dominated career.” 

With this, she has dedicated her time to exercise to ensure she can fulfill all the physical requirements that come with this career, as Lee says, “I played a high school sport keep me in shape as well as extracurricular activities outside of school like jiujitsu.”

She is one of the growing numbers of women in the military, which, according to a 2011 study by the Pew Research Center, has been growing since 1973. Lee commented on the role that gender plays in this field and states, “I would say any female in the military…” would be her role models “… because I know I am able to do anything that a man could do in a man dominated career.”

Although Lee now is set on her goal to join the military, she has not always known what she wanted her future to consist of. “I’ve always had a few ideas in my head but it wasn’t until my sophomore and junior year that I narrowed down what I wanted to do with the Army,” says Lee. 

Not only has Lee realized that joining the military is her dream job, but also that it is best for her for a variety of other reasons. “With this job I am able to do what I love without having to pay for schooling,” says Lee. With this opportunity, Lee has a chance to fulfill her dreams and also not have to worry about the expense of schooling. 

 Maddie Lee poses for her senior portraits. As she looks towards finishing her senior year and graduation, she plans on pursuing a career in the military. (Photo Credit to Gina Lee) 

Facebook “Adopt a Redlands Senior” group recognizes high school seniors with gifts

Originally published in La Plaza Press


No Homecoming or Prom. No school rallies. No fall Friday night football games. No concerts, plays, or sporting events. No painting student parking spots. No college acceptance celebration days. No paper toss. No end-of-the-year trip to an amusement park. It may be possible that seniors not experience an in-person graduation this year.

Class of 2021 high school seniors are facing the inevitable loss of their last year of high school. For them, this year is supposed to be remembered as a once-in-a-lifetime experience to cherish moments with friends and classmates before they all take on different paths following graduation. However, given the different circumstances imposed by the pandemic, seniors are forced to trudge through the year via distance learning without the in-person connections formed or developed with friends and teachers. 

Redlands High School senior Linda Estrada said, “It impacts mental health because it is stressful to try to teach yourself a lesson you didn’t comprehend in class and when it comes up to that quiz or test you feel uneasy because you don’t know if you taught yourself the correct way to do it.”

To incite positivity for these high school seniors, Marci Atkins, mother of a senior at Redlands High School, started a Facebook group titled Adopt a Redlands Senior. This event is open to any seniors enrolled in RHS, Redlands East Valley, Citrus Valley, Orangewood, the Grove, and Redlands eAcademy. Parents of the class of 2021 seniors are encouraged to post about their seniors where they tell the group about them along with a photo. Anyone else is welcome to read their post and comment if they would like to “adopt” them. By doing so, they commit to compiling a goodie basket or gift bag to deliver to their adopted senior’s house. 

With more than 200 people in the group, seniors have received overwhelming support through the delivery of gifts from people they didn’t even know. 

“I was surprised and very thankful,” said CV senior Destiny Shaughnessy, who received a blanket, car freshener, candle, bracelet and some candy in her gift bag.

“I think this helps seniors because they have worked hard and struggled to get to graduation,” said CV senior Azul Amaro. “Every senior/student has obstacles not just in school but in life as well and I think that with a small/big gift it can make a senior’s day, week, or month better.”

Amaro received a gift basket with a large assortment of items: a sketchbook, some sketching pencils, some fuzzy blue socks, a mermaid reef candle, a 2021 magnetic calendar, a blue glittery scrunchie, some candy and a bath bomb.

Estrada said, “It gave me a boost of confidence knowing people see what we are going through as seniors.”

Redlands High School senior Laura Estrada with a gift basket on Nov. 14. Estrada received a makeup palette, gift cards to Starbucks and Taco Bell, some scrunchies, face masks, and nail polishes from Sergio Vazquez, parent of a Citrus Valley high school senior. (Courtesy of Laura Estrada)

Anyone wanting to adopt a senior can find all the information through Marci Atkin’s FaceBook group “Adopt a Redlands Senior.” Even small gestures, such as flowers, balloons, or a card, truly brighten up seniors’ days. All people are encouraged to participate and appreciated greatly for making this year’s seniors feel special given these unique circumstances. 

Citrus Valley’s Robert Rooney shares experiences to improve student understanding in science


Student engagement and participation acts as a motivation for teachers to determine the most effective way of learning. In what seems as one of the most difficult departments to thrive in, students often find themselves lost and confused under the many, many concepts of science. Robert Rooney has found it best to share his own experiences to convey an understanding of the concepts and applications of his teachings.

Science Department Chair Robert Rooney teaches chemistry, physics and AP Physics 2 at Citrus Valley High school. Apart from his teaching credentials, Rooney says he is the academic leader of the Science Department, representing “the department at County, District and School Site level meetings.” He also manages the department budget.

However, Rooney isn’t the only one in his family that works in the field of science. His wife, Shannon Rooney, teaches honors biology and AP Biology in the room next to his. They have been teaching at the school since it opened in 2009.

Their daughters, Janelle and Megan, also share a rich history in the community. Janelle graduated from CVHS in 2017 and was a state-ranked shot putter in the track program. She is currently working as the shift lead at Starbucks for the United States Navy Reserve and is actively working towards finishing her college degree to become an elementary teacher. Megan graduated from CVHS in 2013 and has a degree in biochemistry from the University of California, San Diego She is presently working as an outdoor manager for an adventure company in Utah.

Rooney has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of California, Riverside in ‘87, and a Masters in Zoology from Arizona State University in ‘89. He worked as a quality control lab technician, but has always loved teaching. 

Rooney grew up in Rainbow, California, on a 41-acre ranch.

“I love the outdoors,” Rooney said, “[I] travel regularly to hiking destinations [in] Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming and many places in California.”

Growing up Rooney had influences in his life. Rooney said, “Dr. Bill Mayhew at UCR was my academic mentor,” and “blended science with a love of the outdoors.” Additionally, Rooney grew up watching his father “teach at California State University in Long Beach.”

On the other hand, 20 years as a volunteer firefighter has helped him “develop resilience and strength in the face of adversities,” Rooney said when asked if any major influence has shaped him into who he is today.

Beyond his workdays, Rooney “shoots competitive Sporting Clays,” and finds joy in competing in sports that are “more accepting of a sore back and cranky knees.”

Nevertheless, distance learning has been proven difficult for many teachers alike, and has prompted many of them to change their lifestyle or methods of teaching to meet the needs of their students. When asked what challenges he had to overcome as a teacher, Rooney said, “Mountain living! We have been evacuated for seventeen days this semester and have lost power for as many as four days at a time. I always have a Plan B. And a Plan C. And a Plan D…”

“There is no substitute for laboratory experiences when teaching science,” Rooney said, “Simulation software is better than nothing, but it always does exactly what it is programmed to do. The best learning comes when a lab does not work as expected.”

Above all, Rooney encourages his students to “check their preconceptions at the door and work toward their goals,” regardless of the drastic change in learning.

Life-long Redlands resident Diane Escudero shares memories


Some people have lived in the same place for most of their lives such as Diane Michelle Escudero. Born on June 27, 1957, Escudero has lived in Redlands since she was a child. 

“I’ve lived in Redlands since I was three years old, we all moved here to Redlands and I was raised here,” says Escudero. 

Escudero has many memories of growing up in Redlands and living out her childhood here. “My fondest memories are the orange groves all over Redlands. I just loved the smell of oranges and smudge pots. The smudge pots were lit up in the groves early in the morning to keep the oranges from freezing,” says Escudero. 

Many friends and family members lived in Redlands with her. Many of her memories from her childhood were with her friends. “I remember having a lot of friends,” she says, “we would play out in the street, we would play baseball [and] ride our bikes through the neighborhood. We would always go to Sylvan Park, they used to have a pool there, it was called the Sylvan Plunge. Every weekend we would go out there to swim.”

Diane Escudero celebrating at her son’s, Eric Escudero, wedding. Escudero has been living in Redlands since 1957. (Photo credit to Diana Escudero)

Escudero had numerous pets through her years which she loved very much. “I think my coolest pet was my monkey when I was about 12 years old. [My father] knew I wanted a monkey or a pony so I think a monkey was easier. I named him Coco, we kept him for about a week then he had to go back to wherever my dad got him.” She also had dogs, cats, birds and reptiles. Along with growing up in Redlands, she received an education from the Redlands Unified School District, ranging from Cram Elementary, Lugonia Elementary and Clement Middle School to Redlands High School. 

“I would get bus sick all the time on the bus going to and from school, they would give me a barf bag every time I would get off and on the bus,” says Escudero. 

Escudero was always very focused on her studies and even managed to graduate mid-term. “I graduated in January and then I went to college at [San Bernardino] Valley College and I was still high school age, still 17,” she says. 

After high school, Escudero also attended Crafton Hills College to become a preschool teacher and eventually obtain her Medical Assistant certificate. 

Escudero was a very active member of her community and took every opportunity to volunteer and help those in need. “I volunteered with the YMCA, and worked with something called Family Services. They gave out food and clothing to families in need, so I volunteered doing this and also after school activities.” Additionally, she was also featured in a newspaper for speaking out against domestic violence as a young adult at City Hall. 

Escudero has had an amazing experience living and growing up in Redlands, California and plans on passing her experiences and wisdom down to all her family members. 

Culinary arts teacher, Chanel Taitt, perseveres through distance learning


A carrot cake topped with pineapple made by Chanel Taitt during class time. This delicious dish is just one of many that Taitt has shown to her students (Photo credit to Chanel Taitt).

Chanel Taitt, the culinary arts teacher at Citrus Valley High school, has always had a special passion for cooking. She shares memories of baking in the kitchen with her mother at the age of just three. However, Taitt only realized that she wanted to pursue a career in culinary arts as a senior in high school. Taitt was accepted into the culinary arts program at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island. 

Taitt explains that pursuing a career that she loves is one of her greatest life accomplishments. “I chose to go the ‘traditional’ route and earn my Bachelor’s degree in Sociology instead,” Taitt  said, “Two months after graduating from college, I enrolled into culinary arts school to take a chance on my passion.”

However, Taitt did not decide on teaching culinary arts right away. Before teaching, she has worked in restaurants, casual dining, catering and hospital kitchens as a chef and cook. She also has experience as an educator, personal chef, pastry cook, corrections cook, ice cream maker, bread baker and small business owner. Taitt said, “I have career experience outside of culinary arts, but I was always in the kitchen cooking or baking something.”

Unfortunately, there can be plenty of difficulties when it comes to culinary arts and distance learning. 

“Due to liability, we cannot send ingredients home to students, so I am also seeking out donations from outside organizations,” she said.

Even with these challenges, she wants the kids to find farmer’s markets and other places where they can find in-season ingredients. She will also be holding seasonal cooking competitions to help inspire the kids to get in the kitchen.

Dakota Wilder, a junior at CVHS, said, “She has made the class fun and exciting despite being in distance learning and I enjoy her class.” 

One of Taitt’s favorite parts of teaching culinary arts is seeing the confidence her students gain through the year.

“The independence and self-esteem boost from something they made and/or shared with a loved one. One year, I shared some toffee I had made with some students, but it was not part of the curriculum so one student asked me to show him how to make it. Instead, I instructed him through making it; he later shared that his Father was coming home from prison and he wanted to show him what he’d learned,” Taitt said. 

Taitt shares one of the more challenging elements of teaching culinary arts. She said, “Students don’t realize there is more to the subject than cooking. It’s science and there is math! Chefs and cooks work with weight, volume, portions and money.” 

Even with these difficulties, she hopes her students will walk away from this class with some self-sufficiency. Taitt believes that even if they do not end up going to college for culinary arts, knowing how to cook for oneself is a great step towards growing independent. 

Taitt said, “Many students want to learn how to cook for themselves and this is great self-sufficiency, so whatever cooking we can accomplish while in distance learning is great. As a young adult, you should be growing less dependent on others, cooking for yourself demonstrates some degree of self- sufficiency. Let me help you grow.”

Students for Change combat hate and discrimination


Students For Change meets to discuss issues of inequality and oppression on a weekly basis. A contributor to the group’s rapid growth is the widespread advocacy of the aforementioned social justice movement. This club provides an outlet for students to discuss social issues that are not only affecting the other side of the country, but their home towns and school as well. Having started in the 2020-21 school year, Students For Change has already made significant waves in the Redlands Unified School District.

Daniel Waters, a senior at Redlands East Valley, says, “Not many people know what their gender identity and sexuality even mean. I know firsthand that my cousin does not feel safe about telling most people who they really are. I wanted to join Wildcats for Change to help stop the hate and discrimination against people like them. I represent a group in football players/athletes that is hardly known for accepting others, but I want to change the trend and inspire other athletes to use their power to advocate for everyone. I hope that this program inspires everyone to be better to each other by promoting acceptance, education, and love. I hope that more teachers will take action to establish that everyone is welcome and that no one should be made to feel inferior. I hope that more students will take the initiative to unite in uplifting each other. I think that our potential is unlimited and I hope that moving forward, more schools will adopt a similar program.”

Among the students, Terriers for Justice represents the change needed in their schools to advance conversations surrounding discrimination. At Redlands High School, student Kiara Choi said, “Personally, I believe that this group will make it easier to talk about inequality at schools. This is not an average school club; controversial topics that many may find uncomfortable will be discussed, and I think that this is an amazing opportunity for Redlands schools to educate their students on the hardships of different cultures in America.” 

At RHS, teacher Lauren Holcombe stated, “I am incredibly honored to be one of the teachers to help lead this initiative. I have been so impressed by the maturity of the students in this group and their desire to work so hard to be leaders in both their school and their community to bring about positive changes when it comes to social injustice.”

Teacher Peter Cain, also from RHS, stated, “In my view, educators have a duty to listen to their students and make them feel they are all equal on campus and in their communities.”

More and more students have recognized the gross disparities within their school system, reflective of a much larger, grander issue within society. Schools in California recognize the statistical issue, which presents itself even within RUSD. An overarching issue unites a multitude of stakeholders within the Redlands community, as the school district recently banded together to create an initiative that aims to lessen the terrible impact of racism, systemic, structural and pervasive within the campuses. 

Inara Khankashi of Blackhawks for Change said, “The K-12 Education system should educate students on issues relating to diversity and equality within their communities, and encourage the youth to embrace antiracism as an integral part of maturity.”

Students for Change consists of multiple high schools: Redlands East Valley High School, Citrus Valley High School, Redlands High School and Redlands eAcademy. They have created a collective movement for change, fueling the desire for equality and development to ensure every student receives equal treatment and opportunities. Students within the region have decided that silence can no longer respond to the apparent injustices and instances of racism on school campuses.

Featured photo: The official logo for Wildcats 4 Change. While this logo is used to represent students from Redlands East Valley, they are also part of the collective movement of Students for Change. (Photo courtesy of Wildcats 4 Change)

Mic mishaps, WiFi issues, and Zoom benefits: students share distance learning reality

Originally published in La Plaza Press


If a historian were to one day indulge in the thickest textbook of them all, that being of the never-ending year 2020, a large portion of the content would probably be dedicated to the new dimension of distance learning and Zoom. 

The transition to distance learning was quite stressful for students having to attend multiple classes via Zoom every day while channeling their full attention to learning new content in front of a screen. Possible distractions arise at home, such as phone notifications, family members, or outside noise. For many students and teachers, Internet issues have also proven to be a struggle in learning. 

Redlands East Valley freshman Vincent Hernandez said, “When I was joining my class, I got kicked [out] more than four times because of my WiFi.” 

“One of my teachers got kicked out of their own class for like five minutes,” said REV senior Donecia Campos.

Without having the social aspect of school, it is understandable that students feel out of the loop or unengaged sometimes in class. Teachers have attempted to revive the social aspect of school by forming breakout rooms in their classes, a Zoom feature that enables the teacher to put their students in groups separate from the main Zoom meeting. These breakout rooms are generally used for discussion or collaboration for an assignment. However, oftentimes students feel the Zoom breakout rooms are too awkward when they’re with fellow peers they aren’t close with. 

“Some people in my breakout room were actually talking instead of being on mute the whole time and not getting any work done,” Citrus Valley freshman Aiyanah Johnson said. “That’s really relieving because breakout rooms can be very awkward.”

Amidst the difficulties of distance learning, it is somewhat alleviating to know that most teachers form a camaraderie with their students over common struggles. 

REV sophomore Faith Morales said, “I was drinking coffee in one of my classes and my teacher called me out saying she needs her coffee too in the mornings to keep her going.”

Alexander Marquis, a REV sophomore, said a common student phrase he hears is, “Teacher, you’re on mute.”

In particular, students notice that teachers struggle with forming connections with their students and getting them to participate through a screen. 

Citrus Valley High school freshman Joel Barbee said the most common phrase he has heard a teacher say in class during distance learning was “Please turn on your cameras, guys.”

“A funny moment from distance learning this year is that teachers are just as confused as the students. The mishaps are pretty funny,” said CV freshman Haley Bond.

For students, many funny class moments revolve around not realizing their microphones were on during class.

Barbee said, “I was on FaceTime with my friend and I forgot I had my mic on.” 

“I didn’t mute myself and I was screaming,” said REV junior Alex Miller.

Nonetheless, some students have been able to reap the benefits of having to do distance learning via Zoom. For example, a regular school day at Redlands East Valley, Citrus Valley, and Redlands High School would last from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., but distance learning prompted the schedule to be modified to 8:30 a.m. to 2:12 p.m. allowing for a later start time and slightly earlier end time.

REV freshman Lauren Amaro said, “I enjoy that I can wake up later than I usually would for school.”

Likewise, REV freshman Mia Uribe said, “You can go to school right when you wake up. You don’t have to wake up early.”

Redlands High School junior Isabelle Verjat said, “I like that I don’t have to put on shoes and can sit however I want to. I also enjoy that my dog is around me pretty much all day.”

In response to something she enjoys about distance learning, REV junior Ella Fletcher said, “Not having to waste travel time? Wait no, being able to have my pets around 24/7.”

“We can eat during class and wear our pajamas,” said REV junior Ali Sirk-Bun.

Redlands High School junior Paul McClure said, “I can make my own lunch. It has been really enjoyable to cook up a good meal every day.”

REV freshman Arron Gomez said, “I brought my computer to the kitchen and made nachos.”

Bailey Bohannnon, REV junior, said, “[I] can sleep in between classes and I could literally take a shower during lunch if I really wanted to.”

Digital artwork, made with the app ibisPaintX, depicts the realities of distance learning. (MIA ARANDA/ La Plaza art)

As students head into the winter season, the distance learning chapter continues.

Tips from Teens: How teenagers can become better drivers

Originally published in La Plaza Press


Driving can be a nerve-wracking experience for the developing, easily-distracted teenage mind. After all, there are many factors to keep in mind, such as when one is allowed to change lanes or observing the speed limit in specific areas. Aside from knowing the rules of the road, drivers must also have a keen sense of awareness of cars and pedestrians around them, always preparing for the unexpected. 

Photo made with Autodesk Sketchbook, a drawing and sketching app. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/ La Plaza art)

Students from Redlands, Citrus Valley, and Redlands East Valley High Schools shared their tips and experiences from driving in order to help other teens become more skilled and aware on the road.

“My advice is to create a solid base of rules and laws of driving, so you are less nervous when getting behind the wheel. In my experience, I thought I would be able to drive well after reading the driving handbook once and watching my parents drive, but now, a month away from my driving test, I have found myself forgetting very important rules while driving. It is very important to know what you are allowed and not allowed to do to prevent getting a ticket or causing a collision.” – Annabelle Su, RHS junior

“Have common sense, and just go with the flow.” –  Chase Dabbs, REV senior 

“I got my license before the lockdown, therefore when I was finally driving alone, no one was on the street or highway. Since everything began to open everything is more crowded and there’s a lot of people on the street. My biggest tip is to be as nosy as humanly possible. Watch everything and make sure you’re paying attention. There really is no way in telling what that random man in the car in front or next to you is going to do which is why it’s crazy important to be paying attention to everything. Attention is the one thing that is going to prevent you from being in an accident.” – Diana Garcia, RHS junior

“Practice your spatial awareness and your ability to judge distance and time your decisions. The more aware you are of what is going on around, the easier and more comfortable you will be driving. Also, your ability to judge the road ahead and make decisions on when to [brake], accelerate,  and switch lanes will help you become a better and safer driver. And, always make sure to look for pedestrians, especially at night or in dimly lit spaces!” – Tora Bruich, CV junior

“Don’t just be respondent to the road signs and rules, but also be courteous to other cars on the road (if someone is trying to merge, you are drifting lanes, you have your brights on, etc). Too often do people fail to realize their position among other cars, which causes the most aggravation and many accidents.” – Matt Marinkovich, REV senior 

“Driving can be tedious at first as there are many steps necessary in order to obtain your permit and license.  My advice is to not only know what to study for, but have enough experience driving where you can feel comfortable.  It is important to be conscientious about your surroundings and maintain a calm composure in order to make sure that you are as safe as you can be.  I know this is a weird piece of advice but make sure that you are not on your phones!  Be concentrated in order to minimize accident potential.” – Ben Bartlett, RHS junior

“It’s not as difficult or scary as it may seem. The most important thing is to drive as much as you can so you become more experienced. Everything will get easier the more you practice.” – Ethan Zander, CV senior

“You need to be confident in yourself.” – Robby Everhart, REV senior 

“My tip that I have for teenagers learning how to drive is to always look out for the other drivers, you can be the best driver, but you never know about the person in the car next to you.” – Lily Shergold, RHS senior

To become a better driver, students have suggested practicing more, always being aware of your surroundings, being courteous to other drivers and pedestrians, and believing in yourself. Driving is a privilege, so keep in mind that abiding by laws and exhibiting polite manners should always be practiced in order to prevent accidents and stay safe.

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.

East Valley senior starts business featuring handcrafted accessories

Originally published in La Plaza Press


Scrolling through Instagram, one might notice the array of accounts advertising their own handcrafted jewelry, clothes, candles and other delightful items. With the modern technology available to this generation, many small independent businesses are created from the painless act of starting an Instagram account. 

Redlands East Valley High School senior Madeleine Lee, commonly known as Maddie, started her own business, called Crafted By Maddie, in September as a hobby to break the monotony of quarantine. 

“I love wearing jewelry so I wanted to be able to design my own and create some for others,” said Lee. 

Her collection of accessories include keychains, bracelets, beaded bracelets, dog tags, rings, necklaces and earrings. 

Being a dog lover with two dogs at home, a golden retriever named Danner and a border collie mix named Happy, Lee was inspired to also start selling dog tags as part of her business. 

Examples of the types of accessories Crafted By Maddie sells. Check out her Instagram, @craftedbymaddie, to view more accessories and prices. (Courtesy of Maddie Lee) 

Lee describes the process of creating her accessories as quite simple. To create an accessory, she takes the metal blank for the desired product and starts stamping on top of the metal the message that the customer wants to be added. Lastly, Lee then bends the metal into the desired size. 

“My favorite accessory to make would be rings because each of them is so different and I enjoy seeing what people want to wear,” said Lee. 

Lee’s prices range from approximately ten to 20 dollars, depending on the type of accessory ordered. Oftentimes, there are bundles to order multiple accessories of one type for a flat price. Anything ordered does include a four dollar fee for shipping costs; however, customers in the Inland Empire are offered a free pickup option.

Her products generally take one to two days to be shipped, then three to four days to be mailed to the customer.

Richlyn Medina, Redlands High School freshmen, said, “Maddie is an old friend of mine from elementary school, so that’s how I heard of her jewelry line.”

“I think her business is a great way to support local companies, especially a young girl like her!” Medina said. “A lot of her stuff is customizable and she offers holiday jewelry as well. Her products are also very good quality and definitely affordable.”

At REV, Lee has been on the girls’ tennis team since her freshman year and is currently on varsity. Outside of school, she recently joined Jiu-Jitsu.

“To manage my time, I try to finish all my schoolwork during the week. That way on weekends, I am able to create more jewelry,” said Lee. 

REV junior Shireen Takkouch became close friends with Maddie from playing on the tennis team together. 

“People should definitely buy from Crafted By Maddie because of the variety and uniqueness. She can customize bracelets and rings with any personal quote,” said Takkouch. “For example, I wanted to put the name of the country I am from and it looks beautiful!”

Takkouch continues, “I believe people should support small businesses especially during these times, and with Maddie’s business, people can have fun with their style.”

Lee said, “Everyone has been so supportive, either from shouting out my page or buying from me. The support has been so great and I am so thankful for it.”

To purchase from Lee’s business, one can search for her Instagram handle, @craftedbymaddie. From there, she takes orders through direct messages. 

Students take action to help mental health on campus at Redlands East Valley


Every Thursday at lunch, a group of Redlands East Valley students meet virtually to discuss mental health issues and focus on personal wellbeing within adolescents. 

This year, the club is led by seniors Lizzy Wilson and Lauren Glaub, junior Joshua Masangcay, and sophomore Sabrina Schwendiman, along with Wendy McClung as the advisor. These cabinet members took an active role in the club due to their desire to spread awareness, increase involvement within our school and community for mental health, and promote change.

Wilson, the president of the club, stated “the Mental Health Club is a space to focus on how to better yourself and get through any struggles you may be having.”

The Mental Health Club meets weekly and touches on issues that students are currently facing and might impact students’ mental health such as distance learning. 

Learning online has been a new, different experience that may lead to an increase of stress and anxiety among students as they attempt to adjust to this new way of learning.

Masangcay, the secretary, offers some advice for students struggling with online learning.

Masangcay stated,  “It could help to set a schedule for a set timeframe that you work, so that you don’t feel a nagging sensation of not working when you’re supposed to, even if you don’t have work to do. And remember, we’re all going through the same thing right now! Reach out to others. It’s very comforting to talk to someone who can empathize with you, who knows how you feel.”

Along with offering advice to students struggling mentally, the Mental Health Club will be creating a website that would provide mental health support for REV and district students this year.

Glaub, the vice president, stated “The website is a place where students can come to find out what we are, resources, events coming up, where to find us, and all of our meeting information.”

Students interested in becoming a member of this club can join by joining the Google Classroom through the code K7W877T  in order to access the zoom link to the meetings on Thursdays.

 An infographic displaying statistics of adolescents and mental health.  (Miriam Yordanos / Ethic News)

Class at home: Redlands East Valley Spanish teachers share study tips

Originally posted in La Plaza Press


For many students, learning a foreign language can be difficult. However, learning in a distance learning environment makes things a lot harder for students. Because Spanish classes rely so much on in-person interaction, it becomes difficult to learn when you can’t interact with people as often. Teachers have been trying hard to help students in their journey, and have come up with a few ways to help their students who are struggling. 

A lot of teachers understand how difficult the class can be in this setting and try to make it easier for everyone to succeed in.  One of the best ways to learn a language is to speak it, which is hard to do in an online setting.

Redlands East Valley High School Spanish and French teacher Michael Celano said, “In online learning, when I ask a question to or for a response from the whole class, I often get nothing but silence, whereas when we’re all together in a classroom, I get plenty of response.”

Due to being in an online format, Celano believes that participation is crucial in improving language skills at home.

 “Nudge yourself to speak [and] participate as much as possible and don’t be shy about it,” Celano said. 

Photo made with Autodesk Sketchbook, a drawing and sketching app. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/ La Plaza art)

Although for some people, talking or showing their video isn’t a viable option with their Internet connection, there are still more ways to keep up in their class. Another way to learn is to listen to Spanish music, TV shows or movies.  

REV Spanish teacher Shara Loy said, “Más que oyen el idioma en contexto, más aprenderán. [The more they hear the language in context, the more they will learn.]”  

Loy believes this is an easy method to become better accustomed to the language. These media bring an interesting dynamic to learning, and can often be more fun than studying for long periods of time. 

One aspect of Spanish class a lot of people forget is that the teachers are there to help you, and are a lot more reliable than people assume. Every teacher wants the best for their students, as REV Spanish teacher Arlene Luna said, “…as teachers we understand how difficult this is because it has also been extremely difficult for us too.” 

Many teachers have after school office hours in which they help students with any difficulties with the Spanish language. While they are not a requirement, office hours with teachers can be very beneficial. 

During this pandemic, education remains as one of the most important aspects of our lives.  As difficult as learning a new language without much interaction can be, there are lots of methods people can use to learn regardless of their situation. Whether it’s studying with flashcards and notes, singing along to Spanish music, talking or texting with their friends in Spanish or relying on teachers, there are many methods and resources for people to use if the need arises. 

Celano said, “We all struggle when we try to learn a new skill, but with patience and perseverance, you will get better and better, so stick with it!”

East Valley’s new ASB Executive President plans for the upcoming school year


As the Redlands Unified School District decides to finish the 2019-2020 academic school year through distance learning and close its campus until the fall semester begins, the focus on making the best of the next school year becomes an issue of importance for almost every student and staff member. 

As seniors are unfortunately deprived of many significant events of their last year in high school, it does have the positive impact of encouraging the underclassmen to realize the true importance of these events and the lasting memories that they can create. 

Events like prom, pep rallies, spirit weeks, and graduation are planned by the schools Associated Student Body, or student government. They have the responsibility of making sure these events are memorable for all of their fellow classmates. 

Leading the charge for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year is executive president Jack Tetrault. On May 9, 2020 Tetrault sat down for a virtual interview and answered questions about himself, his new position, his plans for the future, and addressed many of the issues that the student body may have during this time of uncertainty. 

When asked what initially made him decide to continue particitating in ASB as he entered into high school, Tetrault stated that “I had previous ASB experience at my middle school and I loved being able to impact the lives of the student body in a positive way.  I wanted to continue being a leader and an influential part of making my peers have the most enjoyable high school experience possible.”

Since Tetrault will be entering into his senior year of high school and has had many years of experience in ASB there are quite a few accomplishments that he, along with the rest of the ASB, have made already.

Tetrault stated that “ASB has held countless events and activities that have been incredible and an overall positive experience for the school.”

He stated that “the event that I am most proud of it would definitely be our Genesis dance.  Being able to see all five RUSD high schools come together and bond over music and games was incredible. The feedback from the students was nothing but positive and it’s safe to say this will not be our last Genesis event.”

ASB is a program that has been a part of the high schools in the RUSD for years and therefore there are many leaders, teachers, and students that have come before the class of 2021 have worked to shape the program into what it is today. 

When asked who has influenced him, he stated that “it would be impossible to name them all as I have been fortunate enough to be blessed with supportive people who always keep me focused on my goals and aspirations.”

“To name a few off the top of my head I would of course say my parents. They have stuck by me every step of the way and have always supported me in my decisions.”

“Another is our ASB advisor Mr. Fashempour. His dedication to the student body is so inspirational and has always been a big part of my views on improving student life at REV.  Again these are just a few of the many people who helped shape the person I am.”

Tetrault has already had experience as class president for the class of 2021, but this new role as executive president of ASB is a significant shift in responsibilities that not all of the students are aware of.

Tetrault stated that “the main difference between an Executive Cabinet role and a Class Cabinet role is the focus of shifts from leading an individual class to leading the student body as a whole.”

“I have been so fortunate as to have been able to serve as the Class of 2021 president for the past three years, so I definitely think my experience there will carry over into my role as Executive President.  Obviously, it will be a step up from my past responsibilities but I am definitely looking forward to the challenge.”

As far as the upcoming school year is considered, Tetrault said that “ASB’s top priority coming into this year is improving our schools spirit.”

He stated that “I personally envy schools that are constantly on social media being praised for their packed student sections and over the top spirit weeks. I feel that REV has all the qualities and resources to become the staple of high school spirit, it’s just a matter of bringing everyone together and uniting for a common goal.”

The class of 2021 had to unfortunately see the class of 2020 miss out on important high school events and the rest of the student body lose the entire end of their school year.

This is a situation that no executive president has had to deal with before and when questioned on how this experience has influenced him, Tetrault stated that “I think the most important thing I took away from this unfortunate situation is valuing the limited amount of time we all have with each other.”

 He said “as with all high schools, there is sometimes arguments and distaste between students but I feel that if there’s one positive to take away here it’s that all this: school, friendships, sporting events, dances, rallies, could all be gone in the blink of an eye, so why not cherish the time we have left with each other, set aside our differences, and come together to make this next school year the year that 20 years from now you look back on as the time of your life.”

Wildcat high school seniors respond to sudden end of school year


Lorraine Booth: “It feels so surreal. Maybe I’m being melodramatic, but it feels like my four years were a waste. No prom, no graduation… It’s a series of unfortunate events.”

Joslynn Gomez: “That wasn’t very cash money of u covid-19.”

Analysse Marie Todd: “While school closing was very abrupt, and we weren’t quite prepared for it, we just need to stay positive and do what we need to do, we will be able to see our friends and family again. At this point that’s all that matters.”

Ethan Byrd: “idc.”

Ariana Wright: “No matter how hard the struggle may be, never lose hope, and never give up your faith in God.”

Featured photo: Redlands East Valley seniors fill the student section at a football game. (Photo credit to Lily Cao)