Orangewood assembly announces graduation requirement reduction


JULIETA ROBLES, PAIGE SAILOR and LEON JUAREZ contributed to this article

Orangewood High School students received big news concerning graduation credit requirements today. 

An afternoon assembly notified seniors of the Redlands School Board’s passage of Emergency Resolution No. 25, which modifies the requirements for high school graduation. With this resolution, the Redlands Unified School District credit requirement for the 2023 and 2024 graduating classes changed from 225 to 200 by reducing 25 elective credits.

Seniors at Orangewood were called to an assembly today by Principal Carli Norris for the surprise announcement.

“They just called all the seniors up through the speakers and that was pretty much it,” says Orangewood senior Natalie Lopez.

Orangewood senior Kamren Shackles said that walking into the assembly, “it was like nothing really changed. Like you were walking into lunch or something.”

Orangewood High School senior Kamren Shackles learned that he would be graduating much sooner than expected due to Redlands School Board Resolution No. 25 reducing elective graduation credit requirements. “School really goes by fast when you’re at the end,” says Shackles. (Photo courtesy of Natalie Lopez)

At the assembly it was revealed that this resolution had passed and graduation requirements were dropped by 25 elective credits.

The resolution states, “This flexibility will reduce all RUSD High School Graduation Credits from the required 225 Credits to a required 200 credits, equating to a reduction of twenty-five (25) elective credits…”

Lopez says, “Everyone processed it differently, but like everyone was happy and shocked, cause everyone had different credits. And a lot of people graduated at that time.”

According to the resolution, the decision was made “due to the statewide emergency concerning the coronavirus (COVID-19).”

This resolution applies district-wide. High schools affected are Citrus Valley High School, Redlands High School, Redlands East Valley High School, Orangewood High School and eAcademy.

It additionally modifies graduation requirements for the Adult Education Program to 180, while it was previously 200.

The resolution states that “the Modified Graduation Course Requirements for the Adult Education program will be reduced from the required 200 credits to a required 180 credits, equating to a reduction of twenty (20) elective credits for the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years.”

At an Orangewood High School assembly on Feb. 23, 2023, seniors received transcripts showing the change in their graduation credit requirements before and after Emergency Resolution No. 25. The graduation credit requirement changes to 200 from 225 for high school students in the Redlands Unified School District for the classes of 2023 and 2024, current juniors and seniors. (Photos courtesy of Kamren Shackles)

With this resolution, students at Orangewood have been given an advantage. Many seniors at Orangewood have been put ahead on their graduation status and others will now be able to graduate within the 2022-23 school year. Select students are able to graduate earlier than expected or on time.

Some students were notified today that they would be graduating this grading block which ends on March 10.

Lopez, who just this morning was on track to graduate in June learned that she will be graduating this block.

“I’m sad because I’m leaving friends, but I’m ready to get out of here. It’s still exciting,” says Lopez.

Although Shackles was not expecting the announcement, he does not feel that it changes his plans or feel unprepared.

“It’s more like you’re being brought up to the plate earlier than you expected,” says Shackles, “So you gotta just think of your plan and solidify it more than you did before.”

This resolution also has impacts for juniors at Orangewood who want to go back to their comprehensive high schools.

For Orangewood students to return to their home schools at the beginning of their senior year, they have to have 60 or less credits left to complete. For some Orangewood juniors, this puts them on track to do that.

The current resolution is not one-size-fits-all, however, and may not help all students who were struggling.

The resolution specifies that “the prescribed course of study may not accommodate the needs of some students.”

Shackles says that at the assembly some students received transcripts stating that they would need to go to adult school.

“You’re kindof, I guess, not satisfied, but relieved,” says Shackles, “It’s like, ‘Okay, well at least I know. It’s not like in limbo if I’m going to graduate or if I’m not.’ So I think the assembly was definitely a good push for people to know where they’re going now.”

For Orangewood seniors starting their next steps sooner than expected, there are a range of emotions.

Shackles says, “For me, I know I would have liked it [comprehensive high school] more, but this is for the better. So I’m definitely not mad about where I’m at or where I’ve been taken to. And I hope it continues in a good way. So, no regrets.”

For Lopez, it feels like a flashback.

“I just remember being in middle school and elementary school and now I’m graduating this block,” says Lopez. “I remember being at REV with like all my friends, and then like out of nowhere I’m being sent to Orangewood and now I’m graduating early.”

The resolution states that it “shall become effective immediately upon its adoption and shall remain in effect until the end of the 2023-24 school year.”

“You gotta do life now though,” says Shackles. “Someone was like, ‘you ready to get out there and like do actual things?’ It’s like, no. But I’ll try. I’ll for sure try.”

News brief: Redlands Community Scholarship Foundation deadline approaches for seniors


The Redlands Scholarship Foundation application process is being offered at each Redlands Unified School District high school to give seniors the chance to earn money for their education.

The applications opened Friday, Jan. 30, at 6 a.m. The deadline to submit applications is Feb. 6.

Students may use scholarships towards community college, university and maybe even trade school.

The scholarship foundation was created as a memorial in 1966. On the RCSF website it states that  “inspired community members created the first scholarship  to honor Mr. Kenneth Hurlbert, Assistant Superintendent”.  

 According to RCSF website, they have been “supporting over 131 community, business,educational, and individual donors who desire to make a positive impact on students’ lives.” 

Seniors have a week to prepare their main essay and any additional essays for a chance to earn a scholarship at whichever high school the senior attends.

High schools in Redlands host hot cocoa competition


High Schools across Redlands competed in a hot cocoa competition. The competition tookplace on Dec. 9 between Citrus Valley High School, Redlands East Valley High School and Redlands High School. 

Citrus Valley High School, Redlands High School and Redlands East Valley High School each promoted the hot cocoa competition on their instagram accounts. (Instagram screenshots/ Ethic News media)

The competition was also named the “Mug-of-War” contest.

Kylie McCue, a Citrus Valley junior, said,”It was good. Participation was good and hopefully it will be an annual thing.”

At each high school, the student government representatives scanned identification cards, filled cups with water, and provided hot chocolate packets. Students had to come before school to have their cups filled. Citrus Valley also went out of their way to provide disposable cups to anyone who did not bring their own cup. 

The winner was announced at the end of lunch. The results were posted on Instagram announcing that RHS had won the competition by 45 cups with Citrus Valley coming in second and REV placing third.

Citrus Valley junior Riley Brossia said,”Even though we lost, I think it really rallied our school spirit.”

All three high schools posted the results of the “Mug-of-War” on their instagram accounts. Citrus Valley High School and Redlands East Valley High School congratulated Redlands High School for their win. (Instagram screenshot/ Ethic News media)

Overall the competition was a big success with Citrus Valley, REV and RHS all receiving high participation in the first “Mug-of-War” hot cocoa challenge. 

It was announced that this was going to be an annual tradition and this year was the first. 

Local swim team requests access to Citrus Valley High School pool from School Board


Amongst the chaos and politics of the Oct. 25 Redlands Unified School Board meeting, a local swim team named the Inland Empire Aquatics took to the podium to request pool access at Citrus Valley High School. The Inland Empire Aquatics Club has been adamant in requesting this pool access, with several student-athletes and parents speaking during public participation with the School Board, sharing their stories and reasons for request. 

Citrus Valley High School parent Karen Hitter says, “[IEAQ] started at a community pool in Highland, and then to Pacific high school, and finally we were at Indian Springs High School before we were pushed out by another San Bernardino High School.” 

According to community members that spoke at the board meeting, IEAQ is currently practicing at Indian Springs High School and does not have access to pools in Redlands schools. 

Several parents and students referenced a swimming pool access contract that they feel should be terminated.

According to Redlands resident Maria Figueroa’s comments, “Roughly 80% of Citrus Valley aquatics athletes come from clubs other than Redlands Swim Team.” 

Despite the fact that many Citrus Valley aquatic athletes are members at IEAQ, they feel that limited pool access for IEAQ prevents Citrus Valley athletes from pursuing their extracurriculars. 

Figueroa went on to express her disappointment with the School Board. She said, “This creates inequality with access to Citrus Valley and RST’s ability to serve Citrus Valley athletes.”

Hitter says, “We just want a fair opportunity to use or share the facility.” 

The IEAQ team carries more than 100 competitive swimming members per year but has had fewer members since COVID. Still, the club is still largely community-oriented. 

Citrus Valley student Jonah Martinez says, “I’ve been a member of this family for 6 years. We’ve all grown close together through COVID. Nothing had broken us apart and now thanks to the relevant and old contracts, exclusive clubs, and decisions made by the district and school board we are ultimately torn apart.”

According to supporters, because of restricted pool access, IEAQ is being broken up and prevented from possibly giving rise to many great swimming athletes. They state that requests have been denied multiple times and many are upset at what they feel is mistreatment. 

In a heartfelt conclusion, Martinez says, “This issue is beyond contracts, rights, and laws. I just want to be with my teammates and under the advice and direction of my coaches.”

Feature photo: An empty Citrus Valley High School swimming pool prior to the water polo match on Dec. 15, 2022. (DESTINY RAMOS/ Ethic News photo)

Correction: A statement in the original publishing of this article about a pool access contract was removed due to not being fully verified.

Q&A: Academic case carrier counselor helps students overcome challenges


Sophia Malsher-Lopez is an academic case carrier counselor in the Redlands Unified School District. Malsher-Lopez is known as Ms. Sophia by her students and visits different schools, including Citrus Valley High School. 

What is your position or title? 

Academic Case Carrier Counselor


she, her and hers

What are some of the main responsibilities with this position?

As a counselor, my main responsibilities are to ensure that students are successful academically and in their personal lives.  I help students with academic challenges, social challenges, mental health challenges, homelife challenges and help prepare them for life after high school. 

How long have you worked in education?

I have worked in education for seven years.

Have you held any jobs outside of education? 

Yes, I previously worked in the business sector and worked for a publishing company in the motorsport industry.  I dedicated nine years to Racer Media & Marketing and started out as an office manager and ended as an advertising manager

 What made you choose this job?  

My sister-in-law recognized I could be ideal material for becoming a counselor.  She encouraged me to apply for a position as a Career Coach so I did and loved the job within minutes!  I thought, “What have I been doing with my life?!”  I helped students with college and career readiness.  I immediately went back to school to get my Master’s degree in School Counseling. 

What is one of your favorite parts of your job?

My favorite part of being a counselor is working with students and helping them overcome barriers so they can be successful. Everyone deserves happiness and success and there can be many obstacles that get in the way of that, so I love to equip them with the tools necessary to both give the best of themselves and earn the best for themselves.   

What’s the hardest part of your job?

The hardest part of my job is to mentally shut off at the end of the working day.

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

Both my parents are hard workers yet endured very troubled times from their late teens through to their early 40s, a period where they went down potentially self-destructive avenues. They have shown me it is possible to overcome barriers and difficulties and find a way back to the right path – which undoubtedly contributes to my belief that the work I do can help nudge students in a direction that can lead to happiness and fulfillment. As for my parents, both have qualities that I admire and try to emulate:  my mother has the biggest heart I know and loves unconditionally, while my father is ambitious and never gives up.   

Is there an experience or event that had a major influence on who or where you are today?

I was never a studious person; I actually disliked school.  I knew I had to go to college because that was what my father wanted for his children.  He never wanted us to do physical work, he wanted us to build our brains and use them in the careers we chose.  It took me 12 years to get my Bachelor’s degree; it typically takes 4-6 years.  I learned to never give up and to just keep going even when you fail or it feels like a never ending journey.   

What advice would you give your teenage self?

Pay attention in school!

Which languages do you speak?

English and Spanish/Spanglish

Do you have skills, interests or hobbies that you would like to share?

I like to hike, travel and eat.  I am interested in history and love to learn about different cultures and ways of living. 

What do you enjoy doing most with family and friends?

I love to create memories by trying new things, going to new places or spending the holidays together.

What is a goal you have?  

Although school is not my thing, I plan to finish my doctoral program within two years.

Dual Enrollment program offers high school students college credit


The dual enrollment program offered in Redlands Unified School District high schools, which operates through Crafton Hills College, allows high school students to get college credit while also making high school credit.

Citrus Valley High School dual enrollment counselor Christina Rodriguez states, “I encourage high school juniors and seniors… to take the offered partnership and CCAP dual enrollment courses. UC and CSU colleges will weight the dual enrollment courses when considering admission to their campus. Simply put, dual enrollment makes college more affordable.”

According to the California Community Colleges website, dual enrollment offers college courses which are taught by college professors at students’ high school campuses. Each semester taken through dual enrollment will count for one year of high school credit. These courses help students get a head start on their higher education goals.

There are many different courses offered throughout the spring, summer, and fall terms. Some of the courses offered include American Sign Language, Introduction to Sociology, English Freshman Composition, Astronomy, and many more. 

Citrus Valley High School junior Danielle Diaz took the Intro to Sociology course at Crafton Hills College through the dual enrollment program last summer.

Diaz says, “It was interesting and I really learned a lot. I would definitely recommend the dual enrollment program as well as the intro to sociology course  to other students because it was an easy and beneficial way to gain credits.”

Citrus Valley junior Riley Houser, states “I took the medical terminology class through the dual enrollment program during ninth grade. It was interesting and I would recommend the program to other students.”

To enroll in dual enrollment, students must possess a weighted academic grade point average of  2.0 or more. There are three different types of dual enrollment available to students. These categories are listed as Partnership, College and Career Access Pathway, and Standard. 

Partnership dual enrollment consists of evening classes taught by Crafton Hills college professors on a high school campus. In recent years, partnership dual enrollment has moved from high school campuses to zoom instruction. 

CCAP dual enrollment is college courses offered during the school day. This type of dual enrollment is only offered to seniors. These courses will also count for high school graduation requirements. 

Lastly there is Standard dual enrollment which consists of courses not offered by Redlands Unified School district. This type of dual enrollment may also include fees that students will be responsible for such as textbook fees, registration fees, etc. 

According to the California Community Colleges website, to enroll in any of these types of dual enrollment, students must complete six steps. 

First: Complete an online college application.

Second: Complete the orientation by watching a video and answering the following questions.

Third: Submit Transcripts

Fourth: Meet with a counselor.

Fifth: Complete and submit a dual enrollment form

Sixth: Register for your desired college course.

The California Community Colleges website provides reasons for students to consider dual enrollment. Dual enrollment can provide students preparation and an introduction to college life and the opportunity to build skills that are needed in the workforce. 

Five years later, lack of health class requirement is still a touchy subject


Throughout the Redlands Unified School District, there has been the mystery of why the health class was taken out of the curriculum. The class was removed as a requirement five years ago.

Many students still do not know the reason behind the removal of this class.

In a written statement, Redlands School Board President Jim O’Neill explained that one reason was “the number of students who were using pay-for-summer school to get ahead and how this created an inequity for access to coursework in high school. More than 250+ incoming ninth-graders each year would pay $250 to take Health during the summer through the REP [Redlands Educational Partnership] foundation.”

Some students want the class back, thinking that it’s important to learn about what the health class teaches, while others think the health class made students uncomfortable or that having the class didn’t change anything.  

Conversation infographic created using (Ethic News infographic)

“I think that health class is important because someone might have a disease and it’s smart to be educated about that,” says REV sophomore Max Flores, “I believe that it’s a class that should be brought back because some people don’t know how to take care of themselves and how to do it properly.”

“It can stop teen pregnancies and diseases. You also learn about your body, how to keep yourself clean and how to take care of yourself before you involve yourself with someone else,” says REV sophomore Haylee Lyon. “Especially now with the internet, everything is mainstream. I mean it’s everywhere, on TikTok, Instagram. There’s stuff going around anywhere, so I guess sheltering our kids – there’s no point in it anymore.”

While some students are unsure of why this course was removed, REV Assistant Principal Ron Kroetz addresses some of the confusion and says that the class has value.  

“The health class is important. I think that it is important for our kids to know these things and to learn,” says Kroetz. “It can be a touchy subject for some parents and how they see the content, the lessons, and whether they feel it’s appropriate for their children. It’s tough cause every kid is different and everyone has a different upbringing, a different family unit and there are different standards and different families so it’s tough for a school district to say ‘this is the only way we’re going to do it.”  

O’Neill explains the transition of the health curriculum into another class.

“We presented a couple of opportunities,” says O’Neill. “The first was to remove Health as a course for the sake of the graduation requirement and move the health units into another course; at the time it was discussed as either Biology or 9th grade PE.”

In a related decision, sports were allowed to count for the second year of a physical education course for students.

“These two changes to policy and graduation requirements allowed students to have two more opportunities to take coursework that they were interested in rather than being required to take as a function of graduation requirements,” says O’Neill.

But there have been some challenges.

“For the PE teachers to teach the units, they must attend training and teach the most current version of health education,” says O’Neill. “The updated version includes updates to the laws on health and the new health framework. The Board has not adopted the new version and therefore the teachers have not been trained to teach the updated curriculum.”

Some students are still left with questions.

Joyce Harris, a freshman at REV, asks, “How will the people that skipped the class [be affected] because when they were meant to have the class, the transition didn’t take place, get the education of the health class?”

Opinion: Students need a better system to report inappropriate staff behavior


In eighth grade, the students in an honors science class were quietly finishing a water cycle worksheet as their ears catch the sound of a young man, watching a YouTube video on his phone. The piercing silence was perforated by this sudden blast of car noises, coming from the video the boy was watching. The teacher, frustrated by this mild act of defiance, grabs a chair nearby her desk, thrusts it above her head, and slams it onto the floor, creating a deafening roar. This was one of the first instances in which students suddenly realized that teachers needed to be held more accountable for their actions. From the perspective of the students in this classroom, this teacher received no consequence for their inappropriate behavior, and continued instruction the next day.

This event shaped much of the student body’s perception of this teacher. It was one of the first times in which students realized that as they get older, they must be treated as such, as with the increased responsibility of growing up, it also comes with a greater need for mutual respect. Across the district, many examples of teachers overstepping their boundaries have occurred either at the elementary, middle, or high schools. There are teachers who use their authority to silence discussions outside of what they believe to be true, not to mention the problematic power dynamics that exist in the intrapersonal relationships that the students have with their teachers. Any opinions shared by students are lambasted by these specific teachers, almost to the point of public mockery. While it is cruel and unhelpful to defame or otherwise degrade the character of these teachers on a public scale, this is illustrative of a greater trend at the Redlands Unified School District.

Currently, students have no official way to evaluate their courses, nor report teachers specifically for their inappropriate behavior. The only format for students to voice their concerns is through their assigned counselors, who have been known to, on numerous occasions, dismiss the concerns of the student and write it off as teenage angst and attitude.  It is crucially important, however, that the district establishes a secure line for students to evaluate their courses.

Not every poorly behaved teacher is acting in these extreme manners, though, as there are some who simply do not input grades regularly, give unstructured and unfocused lessons, and have personal issues that bleed into their teaching responsibilities. One major way for teachers to be evaluated is through standardized testing, whether it be at the district, state, or national level. This has its own problems though, as many students suffer from test anxiety, and others don’t pay attention to instruction, it is not fair for the quality of a teacher to be judged through the work their students complete.

Most major collegiate level institutions already have a system for evaluations of courses directly by the students, so why shouldn’t high schools? Many opponents of this idea have brought up the fact that college students are acting as customers of their school, but high school students are not, therefore they should not be permitted to review a service that they do not pay for. This equivalency is false as by federal law, all minors are required to receive some form of schooling. If they do not, the parents and/or legal guardians will be fined and in some extreme cases, the children are taken from their homes. If students are required to attend a school, would it not be more imperative that they are able to share their thoughts and concerns? Not all of these evaluations are needed for reasons as innocent as simply not doing their job very well, sometimes the behavior requires further measures to cease inappropriate personal conduct.

The SpriGeo system, buried under tabs and links on the district and school websites, has been recently put into place to address harassment concerns on campuses but it is not specifically designed for reporting of interactions and behaviors of teachers and other staff members. Many students feel that they still do not have a secure line to specifically address the issues that come up with campus staff.

The system further has problems lying in the fact that in the actual report filing program, it states that their grade should be listed, if known, and it suggests that students talk to an administrator, completely negating this premise of anonymity, not to mention how it asks for the person reporting the issue’s name. While optional, it may lead students to believe that the promise of anonymity is misleading. This ignorance of teacher harassment and misbehavior further isolates the student from putting a stop to the issue.

Teacher accountability is not limited to only the behavior that they exhibit in their instruction though, as it also extends to the personal relationships they share with students. RUSD has paid over 41 million dollars within the last five years in settlement money for sexual harrassment lawsuits alone. This number far exceeds any competing figures in other school districts. Unprofessional and off putting behavior could have been reported earlier, possibly even stopping some of these cases from ever occurring. If the school district decided to create and heavily publicize lines of help for these specific instances we would likely have a great deal fewer cases of this abuse. The SpriGeo system, while a step in the right direction, needs further improvement and clarification as to what types of reports it accepts.

The board of RUSD are elected to their offices by local citizens, to serve the adults of the community and their children, while providing the highest quality school environments they can, as it is crucial to the benefit of their education to give students a safe and secure place to learn. It is the campus staff and teacher’s job to keep their students safe and provide them with the highest possible level of quality in education, which also includes a good environment for students to work in. 

An image of the safety section of the RUSD 2025 plan. Other sections of this plan can be found at

The district pushes forward its ‘RUSD 2025’ plan, and while to the general populace, this is regarded as a step into the right direction, and even into the future, it makes very little substantive progress in regards to the safety of students. The 2025 plan does make mention of safety in Redlands schools, but frames every point made in regards to safety as an outside issue, as opposed to pointing the lens of misbehavior upon itself, which unfortunately is where most of the danger lies. Excellence in education may be the district slogan, but it certainly is not the district standard.

Correction: The last two paragraphs and image were accidentally omitted in the original publishing of this post at 8:30 pm on May 12, 2022. It was corrected at 9:13 pm on May 12, 2022.

Redlands Educational Partnership hosts basketball fundraiser with Harlem Wizards in Wildcat Gym


“A high-flying, slam dunking, rim-rattling basketball show is coming to town!” said the email sent to Redlands East Valley High School students the day before the Harlem Wizards basketball game.

In an effort to raise funds for the Redlands Education Partnership, REP hosted the Harlem Wizards for a fun and friendly game of basketball versus Redlands Unified School District staff on Friday, April 22 at the Wildcat Gym.

Both sides of the gym were packed with students, family, and staff members from the various Redlands schools including Franklin Elementary School, Crafton Elementary School, Kimberly Elementary School, Redlands High School and REV.

“It was fun for the kids,” said REV senior Arnie James Corpus. “[The Wizards] got the crowd going and I think people who came got a good show.”

Hailing from Fairfield, New Jersey, the Harlem Wizards, not to be confused with the Harlem Globetrotters despite both teams’ similar comical antics, was originally found by Howie Davis who had “a passion for the merger of sports and entertainment,” according to the Harlem Wizards website, and have five different team units: Broadway  Unit, Showtime Unit, Swoop Unit, Rocket Unit, and Assembly and Special Events Unit.

For the REP game, the crowd saw the Broadway Unit of the Harlem Wizards which included Eric “Broadway” Jones, Arnold “A-Train” Bernard, Devon “Livewire” Curry, Lloyd “Loonatik” Clinton and Leon “Space Jam” Sewell.

The players who played on behalf of the REP Rebounders were Redlands teachers, classified employees and administrators. The team captain was RUSD Superintendent Mauricio Arellano. Bill Berich, REV history teacher and recently retired head basketball coach, was the coach for the REP Rebounders.

“My favorite moments of the game were watching the staff and the Wizards play, but also, honestly and most important, was just seeing those faces in the crowd having a good time,” said Sabrina Thunderface Mercado, AP Secretary from Cope Middle School, who was the shortest player on the team at 4 feet and 11 inches. 

Mercado says she volunteered to play because she “thought it would be fun for my 19-year-old son to see his Mom out on the court playing ball with The Harlem Wizards. He loves basketball.” 

(MIA ARANDA/ Ethic News visual)

The referees of the game included Redlands East Valley High School’s new athletic director, Chad Blatchley. Brandon Ford, sociology and career foundations teacher and softball coach, Ted Ducey, badminton coach and earth science teacher and Ryan Parson, teacher, also represented REV. RHS Advanced Placement Teacher and Volleyball Coach Nathan Smith joined the high school teacher players.

“The game itself was a lot of fun and I hope it raised a lot of money,” said Smith, “I would play it again.”

Middle school staff players were Mercado, TeAnna Bermudez and Kiele Pratt from Cope and Matthew Villalva from Moore.

“Joining in on the fun, especially after the last few years we’ve had, where people couldn’t hang out with each other, students weren’t in school like normal. It was great to have some normalcy return to us all,” said Mercado.

Elementary schools staff players included Jennie Dyerly from Crafton, Jeff Stamners from Cram, and Natalie Wood from Judson and Brown, Carolyn Bradshaw from Kimberly, Scott Ferguson from Lugonia, John Smith from from McKinley, Damion Sinor from Mentone and Jeff Doolittle from Mission. Franklin Elementary had Rebecca Acosta, Erick Nowak, Katy Swift, Leah Timpe and Alexis Padilla participating in the game.

Numerous sponsors supported the game including Pacific Dermatology Institute, Redlands Police Officers Association, Redlands Community Hospital, Maupin Physical Advisors, Welsh Insurance Services, Neal and Joyce Waner, Holiday Inn Express, Trader Joe’s and Chick-fil-A.

As soon as one team got the lead, the other managed to tie the game again, but despite this pattern throughout the majority of the game, the Harlem Wizards left the Wildcat gym triumphant.
The Redlands Educational Partnership website  has more information on their programs and donations.

Before the game started, Jamel “The Voice” Thompson, brought by the Harlem Wizards, played music to hype up players and audience members. Thompson and Redlands East Valley High School announcer Kirk Escher watch the Harlem Wizards warmup. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/Ethic News photo)

Teachers from some of Redlands’ elementary schools took part in the game, and mascots from Cope middle school and Clement middle school stood in front of the crowd while watching the court. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/Ethic News photo)

The REP team is seen standing in a line while high-fiving their coach Bill Berich as he runs past them with his name being announced. Berich is retiring this year from being Redlands East Valley High School’s boys’ varsity basketball coach. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/Ethic News photo)

Both the REP Rebounders and the Harlem Wizards leave the Redlands East Valley High School basketball court while waving to the fans. The game ended with the Harlem Wizards magically winning. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/ Ethic News photo)

Chad Blatchley, one of the referees of the game and Redlands East Valley High School’s athletic director, watches the game as the bleachers are packed with families, students, and staff. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/Ethic News photo)

With the Harlem Wizards already having a lead of eight points, their player Devon “Livewire” Curry attempted a backwards half court shot, and when the ball fell in the hoop, the players and crowd alike erupted into cheers. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/Ethic News photo)

Both the REP Rebounders and the Harlem Wizards leave the Redlands East Valley High School basketball court while waving to the fans. The game ended with the Harlem Wizards magically winning. (AILEEN JANEE CORPUS/ Ethic News photo)

Celebrating Mother’s Day at Citrus Valley: Students express appreciation for their moms on campus


In honor of Mother’s Day on May 8, Citrus Valley High School students give appreciation to their mothers that work on campus. The following students responded to what they cherished about their mothers, what it is like to share a campus with their mother and if they had a message to say to their mothers.

Michelle Stover, chemistry teacher:

“I cherish her enthusiasm and care for her students.”

“It’s nice because I get snacks.”

“I love you mom.”

Michelle Stover is Citrus Valley’s General and Advanced Placement Chemistry teacher and her daughter Julianna is a sophomore at Citrus Valley. (Photo courtesy by Julianna Stover)

Kari Hill, Career Center Coordinator:

“I cherish how loving and helping she always is to me.”

“Having my mom on campus is the best because she can always give me advice where to go or what to do and help me with colleges.”

“A message I would like to give my mom would be thank you for everything you’ve done for me in the past 18 years. Now, I’m structuring a great future because of everything you’ve helped me understand and learn.”

– Ryan Hill, senior

Kari Hill is Citrus Valley’s Career Center Teacher/College-Career Counselor and her son is senior Ryan Hill. (Photo courtesy by Ryan Hill)

Kelly Teeter, counseling clerk:

“She’s really lovely, she takes care of me, she puts food on my plate, provides me with everything I need and she takes really good care of me.”

“For me, it’s nice because I’m diabetic so if something happens to me she’s there for me. She doesn’t have to worry so it’s nice for her too, and it’s just nice having her here.”

“Thank you, thank you for doing everything you do and thank you for being here.”

– Lucas Teeter, freshman

Kelly Teeter is a counseling clerk at Citrus Valley and her son is Citrus Valley freshman Lucas Teeter. (Photo courtesy by Lucas Teeter)

Maisie McCue, principal:

“I think that she is very empathetic and compassionate so she can help you through lots of stuff just because she’s able to relate.”

“It’s interesting but I’ve already had her on my campus for three years because she was my middle school principal also. But like, middle school was a little better than high school though. It’s still nice though, being able to see her every day at school.”

“Just that I love and appreciate you.”

– Kylie McCue, sophomore

Masie McCue is the principle of Citrus Valley, and her daughter is Citrus Valley sophomore Kylie McCue. (Photo courtesy by Kylie McCue)

Joan Snavely, telepresence paraprofessional aide:

“I cherish the fact that my mom is someone I can count on to be there for me.”

“Some people think having your mom on campus could be tiring, but its definitely made my high school experience easier. Whether it’s using her microwave for lunch or always having a classroom that I can feel safe in, she’s always been there for me.”

“Thanks for all the snacks during passing period, and bringing me a little bit of home while I’m in school.”

– Maggie Snavely, senior

Joan Snavely is the telepresence aide for Citrus Valley, and her daughter is Citrus Valley senior Maggie Snavely. (Photo courtesy by Maggie Snavely)

At Citrus Valley, these individuals take on the dual role of mother and staff member and this Mother’s Day their children’s appreciation for them does not go unnoticed.

Featured Photo: Ethic News thanks mothers everywhere. (Emily Walos/Ethic news image)

Citrus Valley hosts 2022 prom fashion show


Lights, Camera, Wonderland. 

On March 18 2022, Citrus Valley High School’s Associative Student Body put on their annual prom fashion show; however this year there was a twist. At the show, all information including the prom theme, date, ticket prices, and location were released.  

Citrus Valley’s prom theme was released by ASB senior secretary,  Miyah Lopez and social member, Bella Moreno, opening a banner that displayed “Ace: a Night of Wonder.” 

The theme is based off of the fictional story of Alice in Wonderland, specifically the characters the King and Queen of Hearts. 

Prom is scheduled to take place at Desert Willow Golf Course from 7-11 p.m. 

The fashion show itself contained seven groups, three couples and, a new addition to the show this year, four groups of three. 

The show began at the beginning of lunch in front of the E-building with the masters of ceremonies Senior Pep commissioner  Elise Kollar and Junior President Sydney Hageali gathering students around the runway. From there the first couple, senior model Ariana Nelson and senior model Landon Campos, were announced. 

After each couple or group made their way down the runway, they split at the end of the risers and each hit three poses. They then came back together and performed a handshake. Each handshake was unique, from twirls to dips to even money flying into the crowd. 

Trio senior model Sierra Alexi, senior model Wendy Gonzalez, and senior model Luchiano Swidan utilized real money during their handshake as the three of them threw a combined total of $100 in fives into the crowd. 

Students where able to grab and keep the money that was thrown into the crowd (BELLA ESPINOZA/Ethic News)

Alexi stated that, “I remember when we first threw money, it was unexpected because the whole crowd was just standing there stunned but then the realization and excitement kicked in and they started running to get the money.” 

The stage itself was ornately decorated in the theme “Deck of Cards,” as all four styles of playing cards were used. The runway was lined with cards as well as a black carpet to match the color theme of black, white, red, and gold. Cards were scattered over the windows that provided the backdrop to the runway, as well as on the poles that hung over and next to the stage. 

Balloons played a key factor in the show as three were placed on each side of the runway as well as a massive balloon arch in the theme colors that flew above the stage. 

During the reveal of the theme, single bouquets of balloons were brought out to be given to the audience. Hand decorated crowns were also brought out with the balloons. On the crowns the theme name was front and center, and students were able to wear them for the remainder of the school day. 

Clothing for the show was provided both by the sponsor Men’s Wearhouse, as well as personal items each model had at home. Men’s Wearhouse provided the show with six suits. Each boy that was provided a suit was able to choose from any of the selections that the store provided them. 

This year was the first year ASB utilized fully volunteered models. (BELLA ESPINOZA/Ethic News)

Steve Guiterrez, a senior that walked in the first ever boy trio, “They [Mens Wearhouse employees] treated us kindly even though it was completely sponsored by them, they treated us with respect and they made sure we were fitted and knew how to get dresses without their help.” 

Model include: Ariana Nelson, Landon Campos, Brody Moss, Madisen Habchi, Jakob Ibarra Garcia, Maddie Hernandez, Ryan Hill, Andrew Castillo, Jacob Weber, Emily Reyes, Chloe Cousineau,  Eddie Barajas, Aaron Roque, Peter Rodriguez, Steve Gutierrez Flores, Abby Gonzalez, Sierra Alexi, Luchiano Swidan, Emily Walos, Paige King, Miyah Lopez, Bella Moreno (BELLA ESPINOZA/Ethic News)

Redlands School District gives students free COVID tests as cases rise

As a result of the surge of COVID-19 cases, RUSD schools distributed these rapid antigen tests to students today. (BELLA ESPINOZA/Ethic News)  


The Redlands Unified School District distributed iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test at-home self-test kits for all RUSD students on Jan. 12. Each student was to receive a kit that contained two tests. 

Teachers and staff were given specific instructions as to how to distribute the tests and to give only one test kit per student. If a student was absent, teachers were to return their kit to the front office. 

Students were informed that there was only one test kit per student. Therefore if they lost or destroyed theirs, it would not be replaced. They were told to not self administer the test during school, but rather when they arrived home.  

Citrus Valley High School received their COVID test kits during second period. An announcement was made before teachers handed out one to each student.

Redlands High School students received their test kits during fourth period. 

Redlands East Valley High School students received their test during their English class. REV students got their tests during different periods.

Orangewood High School students received their COVID tests during their second period advisory class. 

On Jan. 12, an email was sent out to families of the RUSD by Redlands Schools Districts stating, “The test kits were provided for all students in the state of California by Governor Newsom and the California Department of Public Health.”

These tests would normally be $19.80 according to the iHealth website, but were provided for free to all RUSD students.   

Number of confirmed COVID cases in the Redlands Unified School District’s high schools in the last 14 days from Jan. 12, 2021. (Redlands Unified School District Covid Dashboard

Top 21 Ethic News articles of 2021


Over the course of 2021, Ethic published over 200 articles and multimedia pieces. These also include articles translated to Spanish. The most popular published in 2021, according to statistics of most views, are found below. 

Note that this list does not include Ethic articles published prior to 2021, that may have had more views.

Titles are listed in order from number 21 to the most viewed piece of 2021. Click each title to view the original piece. 

#21. Video: 50-Questions with Ethic–Wildcat executive president chats candidly 

Video created by Mauricio Pliego, Ella Fitzpatrick, and Issac Mejia, published Nov. 3, 2021 in Features. 

#20. Redlands Youth Council engages students in local government

Written by Mars Pliego, published Nov. 3, 2021 in News.

#19. Photos: Wildcat seniors gather for food and activities at Senior Fling

Written and photographed by Mia Aranda, published Aug. 24, 2021 in News.

#18. Winter holidays celebrated around the world

Written by Jasmine Rosales, Hannah Patrick, and Ariana Ghalambor, published Jan. 22, 2021 in Features.

#17. Teachers react to the new ‘grade freezing’

Written by Mauricio Pliego, published May, 5, 2021 in News.

#16. Opinion: Students take a stand for a change in school dress codes

Written by Jasmine Rosales, published Sept. 16, 2021 in Opinion.

#15. A mental health moment: Alan Watts’ views give a new meaning to life 

Written by Emerson Sutow, published May 28, 2021 in an editor’s column: A mental health moment. 

#14. Opinion: Toxic masculinity continues harmful and outdated stereotypes in modern society

Written by Makayla Naime and Allison Stockham, published Apr. 6, 2021 in Opinion.

#13. Shop local for Valentines Day: Gift ideas for that perfect someone from Redlands small businesses

Written by Emily Walos, published Feb. 12, 2021 in A&E.

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

Written by Miriam Yordanos, published Mar. 12, 2021 in Features. 

#11. Club and high school volleyball adapt to changing COVID guidelines

Written by Makayla Naime and Allison Stockham, published Feb. 22, 2021 in Sports.

#10. Student’s grades and learning are being affected by online school

Written by Emily Prinstein, published Feb. 9, 2021 in News

#9. Video: 50-Questions with Ethic–Wildcat athlete chats candidly

Video created by Mauricio Pliego, Ella Fitzpatrick, Daniela Mora, and Issac Mejia, published Dec. 6, 2021 in Features. 

#8. Video: Citrus Valley “Enchanted” homecoming information

Video created by Emily Walos and edited by Bella Espinoza, published Sep. 14, 2021 in A&E.

#7. Citrus Valley Homecoming prompts endearing proposals

Written by Destiny Ramos and Salvador Barerra, published Sep. 23, 2021 in Features.

#6. Homecoming Court tradition remains alive at Redlands East Valley High School

Written by Mia Aranda, published Oct. 7, 2021 in Features. 

#5. Photos: Wildcat creativity on ‘Anything but a backpack’ spirit day

Written by Mia Aranda, photos taken by Ava Larson, published Nov. 3, 2021 in Features.

#4. Amazon Rainforest’s deforestation affects wildlife and the environment

Written by Miyah Sanborn, published Feb. 17, 2021 in STEM.

#3. Video: Interview with Citrus Valley’s girls swim co-captains

Video recorded and edited by Emily Walos, published May 10, 2021 in Sports.

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

Written by Mia Aranda, published Sep. 27, 2021 in Features.

#1. Racial crisis in Redlands sparks backlash against the district

Written by Mauricio Pliego, published Feb. 2, 2021 in News. 

Blackhawks take victory over Wildcats football



The Redlands East Valley varsity football team faced off against Citrus Valley High School in Dodge Stadium on Friday, Oct. 8. A well-played game by the Wildcats, but the Blackhawks took the win with a final score of 7-57.

REV Analysis:

Redlands East Valley put up an admirable performance at the game. With the score aside, they showcased many great traits of the team. 

However, a few crucial flaws gave way to the landslide victory. These hiccups revolved around inconsistency.

Inconsistency with tackling was a huge part of the problem. Many times Wildcat defensive players were in the correct position but were unable to bring the opponent down. These occurrences resulted in Blackhawks gaining points and eventually touchdowns.

 Citrus Valley High School, wearing the white and black uniforms, kicked off to Redlands East Valley High School, wearing the red and black uniforms, on Oct. 8 during the third quarter of the game. This sight was a common occurrence due to Citrus Valley’s high score. (CRAIG MORRISON/ Ethic News photo)

Another area of improvement is speed. The Wildcats’ safeties and cornerbacks were simply not fast enough for the Blackhawks’ wide receivers. The Blackhawks’ receivers would gain a lead between their defenders and easily catch a throw for massive gains of yards.

On the positive side, the Wildcats displayed many noteworthy attributes during the game.

The Wildcats’ quarterback had great, fast and accurate throws. He was throwing the ball quickly after receiving it which really helped the Wildcats pick up some yards. 

The Wildcats’ offense also improved play variety. More passing plays were seen in this game compared to the previous one and even a fake punt was attempted.

In addition, the Wildcats’ defensive line was working hard this game. Kaden Khalloufi, linebacker for the Wildcats, was able to sack the quarterback in the middle of the third quarter.

All in all, the Wildcats have some areas that need improving but put up a great and entertaining game on Friday.

Citrus Valley Analysis:

Citrus Valley made their ultimate comeback on Friday, Oct. 8 as the varsity football team faced off Redlands East Valley. The Blackhawks put much hard work into this game, which clearly paid off with the win and score of 7-57. The varsity team had lost their previous two games to Centennial and Cajon high schools, with the winning teams leading by ten or more points.

One of Citrus Valley plays during the third quarter that resulted in another touchdown for the Blackhawks. (DESTINY RAMOS/ Ethic News photo)

The Blackhawks were off to a great start. Eight minutes into the game, player number four made the first touchdown of the night, which was the beginning of the Blackhawks’ touchdown streak. 

The Citrus Valley Spirit Crew attended the game and led students with chants such as “you have no field” and “we can’t hear you.” Although the chants were well unexpected, the Blackhawks did not disappoint their team. 

The first quarter ended with Blackhawks leading 0-14. 

The second quarter was consistent with two touchdowns and one field goal. Wildcat player number 23 had gotten REV’s first touchdown, but that would have been the only time the Blackhawks would allow the Wildcats to score that night. At second-and-27 in the game, player number 4 made a 20-yard touchdown pass. The score was 7-27, Blackhawks leading by halftime. 

The third and fourth quarters had the Blackhawks leading by more and more points. Great plays were made that eventually resulted in the high score and victory against REV. The Wildcats may not have gotten the best score, but they did fight hard and gave an entertaining game.

Spiritleaders Ashley Pham, Jenna Negrete and Malani Tauli cheer for their team after the final Blackhawk touchdown in the fourth quarter. (DESTINY RAMOS/Ethic News photo)

Video: Back on campus

Originally published in La Plaza Press


(MIA ARANDA/ La Plaza video)

After a prolonged period of time that students were adapting to distance learning, April 19 marked the day that high school students in the Redlands Unified School District were able to return to school if they opted to. However, things on campus didn’t look quite the same as they did prior to the pandemic. Students now have to wait in a line to get their temperature checked before entering the campus. Instead of daily bulletins through the intercom system, principals and staff give frequent reminders for everyone to wear their masks and to social distance. Signs on the floor indicating the correct direction to walk in the hallways were also implemented to steer students from greater exposure to each other. Although all procedures and directions have been executed for the safety and health of everyone on campus, in-person school isn’t what students are entirely used to.

Despite new hybrid schedule, some students are opting-out of in-person school


With the return from spring break, the question of what the last quarter of school will look like for Redlands Unified School District schools remains. 

Although neighboring districts and schools across the country have already returned to either hybrid or even in-person learning, RUSD has remained completely virtual up until this point. 

With a start date for the new hybrid schedule of April 19, the decision of whether or not to return has been made by students and their families. 

Image of Lilian Mohr’s desk, a senior at REV, where she attends school through zoom calls on the featured ipad. Mohr is just one of many students who opted to continue their learning virtually this year. (Lilian Mohr/ Ethic News Photo)

Some may be wondering why students would choose to remain virtual given all of the challenges of virtual learning and teaching that have occurred during the last year. 

Marin Mohr, a sophomore at Redlands East Valley, has opted to not return to in-person learning on April 19th. 

“I think that at this point I just want to finish out these classes on distance learning, because I haven’t even done these in-person yet. I don’t know how things will change once I get into the classroom, and I think I’ll just wait it out” says Mohr. 

Mohr says, “I know some people who just need to get back in the classroom and I understand that too though. I think just for me distance learning is the best choice.” 

For seniors, this is their last opportunity to return to high school before graduation, and yet a significant proportion of seniors are still opting to stay at home. 

Amelia Campos, a senior at REV, says “I am choosing not to go back to school because I think the transition from going online to in person is unnecessary. During class it is easy to get distracted, but when I am at home I tend to get more work done during the day.”

Campos highlights some of the advantages she feels comes with distance learning, saying “It helped because I focused on my work other than focusing on what goes on at school. It also relieved the “pressure” of having to find an outfit and getting up early in the morning.” 

With the return to school, there is a level of concern that the students who opt to remain at home will miss out on social interactions or school functions that can not be adapted virtually. 

Campos says “I don’t think I will miss out on anything. I stay connected to my friends through text messages or sending funny videos we find on social media. If I can get the same education at home and stay connected with my friends, I do not think I am missing out on anything.”

The safety of students and staff has been at the center of this return to in-person learning, with multiple safety measures put in place on campus, hopefully making the return feel safe for all who participate. 

Campos says “I just feel safer at home right now, but the safety precautions are nice to have. I do not think I would risk bringing covid home, but I can see why others would be more comfortable at school with everyone following protocols.”

Christina Vargas, also a senior at Redlands East Valley, says “Honestly I just don’t think the few possible benefits of returning to school at this point, with the year almost done anyways, is worth the risk and the hassle for me.” 

Redlands schools serve on-campus Grab and Go meals amidst pandemic

Originally published in La Plaza Press


The shift from hot breakfast and lunch meals to pre-packaged Grab and Go meals was one of the many changes that faced Redlands Unified School District students on April 19 when they returned to campus after more than a year of distance learning.

Redlands East Valley High School students and parents received an email from Assistant Principal Ronald Kroetz on April 14 with an attached document outlining new procedures to create a safe learning environment on campus.

In regards to lunch, the document states that the school “anticipates that there will be a minimal choice of meal options” and “if you are a picky eater you might want to bring your own lunch.”

While students were warned of a potential lack of variety, no other details to specify what the on campus grab and go meals would include were provided.

The on-campus Grab and Go lunches are prepackaged for students in a brown paper sack labeled “Locker Mates.” This allows for students to access their meal swiftly with minimal social interaction. (ISAAC MEJIA/ La Plaza photo)

Previously, students getting hot lunch from campus would get to choose their lunch items from a selection, then proceed to checkout to pay.

Now, prepackaged lunches at school come at no cost for students, which allows anyone to walk up to their school’s cafeteria to grab one, regardless of family income or free-lunch status.

According to Betty Crocker, director of Child Nutritional Services, Child Nutritional Services is “providing a unique service.”

Due to safety guidelines, Crocker said the type of food available for distribution is limited. 

Crocker states, “Due to COVID and safety requirements, all of the [meals] are a cold service with items individually wrapped.” 

This prepackaged lunch consists of a total of five items: one pack of Jack Links’s chicken tender bites, sunflower seeds, applesauce, Beans and Veggie crackers, and a dragon punch. In addition, students are given the option to take an additional milk, apple slices, and applesauce that are not included in the packaged sack. (ISAAC MEJIA/ La Plaza photo)

Some students attending high schools in Redlands expressed their dislike for their school lunches, due to both quality and quantity.

This is the case for Citrus Valley High School junior Janelle Gallegos.

Gallegos said, “They are gross and not fulfilling. I eat sunflower seeds everyday for lunch, because it’s the only good thing they serve.” 

Gallegos’s disapproval of quality of food is a common complaint shared by other students.

REV freshman Kris Garcia said, “Well, see the problem is that it is very little food, and the very little food that they have is very trash food.” 

Cia Anderson, a REV freshman, said, “It’s like prison lunch. Basically I was like telling my parents about it and they were like ‘yeah it’s like prison lunch.”’

For some students, school lunch may be the only meal that they receive all day. For student-athletes, it is generally the last meal they have before after-school practice or games.

Not all in-person students are upset with the current pre-packaged lunches.

REV sophomore Deacon Arne said, “I just really need to eat. I think it’s good.”

A second grab-and go meal option includes four food items and one beverage: hummus, one whole wheat tortilla, sunflower seeds, mixed-berry applesauce, and an orange, tangerine juice box. Unlike the previous lunch, this meal lacks a high protein food item.  (ISAAC MEJIA/ La Plaza photo)

It is not clear when the school will return to serving hot meals due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. For the time being, Grab and Go meals will continue for the remainder of this semester, and possibly the beginning of the next school year in August.

Crocker states that child nutritional services “[looks] forward to resuming our hot breakfast, lunch and after school meal programs when we emerge from the pandemic.”

Redlands Unified School District Child Nutrition Services is still offering their Curbside Grab & Go meals for no-cost. 

«This is where we provide all families bulk-style meals along with the individually wrapped meals, eggs, bagels, and strawberries,» said Crocker. 

These bags, containing a week’s worth of meals, are available to be picked up between 6 to 8 a.m. every Wednesday at either REV, Redlands High School, Mission Elementary School, Clement Middle School or Beattie Middle School.

Redlands Unified District announces sports will have a season


The Redlands Unified School District announced that sports have been cleared to return.

This is nearly a year after a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic instituted a mandatory quarantine in March 2020, sending schools across the country into distance learning and cutting the school year short, along with school events and sports.

Given the news, coaches are working hard to get their players back and in condition to play games. Tryout dates for the first week of March have already been announced. Prior to this announcement, many fall sports such as football, water polo, cross country and volleyball have been practicing and conditioning in hopes of being cleared to have a season. Football coaches across the county were expecting to hear the news as of March 1, so the early approval was exciting to many coaches.

Coach Richard Lunsford at Redlands East Valley High School said, “I was absolutely ecstatic. Mostly for the seniors, because they were freshmen when I took over the coaching job at REV, so we have been through this together over the last few years and they’re all like my children. I knew how much of an emotional toll the suspension of play had taken on them all and to see the joy and excitement they showed when it was announced they’d get a partial senior season was unbelievable.”

Lunsford also says that after football was approved, he “reached out and talked with each and every one of [the] seniors to make sure they were in for this one last ride together as a family.”

Dakota Sta Ana, a freshman at Citrus Valley High School, says, “With sports finally being back, it’s giving me hope that everything is getting better and giving me that small bit of normalcy that everyone needs.”

During a hard game against Redlands High School, Dakota attempts to score a point for her team. Water polo is among one of the many sports that schools are planning to continue (Photo credit to Charmaine Sta Ana).

Since they were the first sports to begin practicing back in the fall, many teams have already had their first game and meet back since the start of COVID-19. Spring sports such as softball, baseball, basketball, swimming and track and field have also started holding tryouts. 

Aidan Maldonado, a junior from CVHS, says, “Since sports like soccer have came back, I’ve felt that many people including myself are happy about it. Although a lot of us don’t like the restrictions, we’re still grateful for sports and the possibility of having actual league games in the near future.” 

Soccer girls awaiting instructions after conditioning. Practices are conducted with extreme caution and safety to reduce COVID-19 cases (Photo credit to Allen Thoe).

Coaches have taken safety precautions in order to hold practice and play games. Before practices, coaches take the temperature of each player and space warm ups at least six feet apart. Players will wear a mask to ensure the safety of others and still practice social distancing.

On and off the field, players will continue to practice with a mask for the majority of the time. Players are constantly encouraged to follow the hygiene protocol: to always wash and sanitize their hands before, throughout and after practice. 

“Sports practices have been really safe from a covid standpoint. The coach is very reasonable and fair with us choosing not to go to certain practices and he enforces the guidelines for our safety very strictly which I appreciate,” says Ariana Ghalambor, a senior at REV.

High intensity sports that include running, or even sports in the water may not require a mask as it can become a breathing hazard for some.

Sports like football or baseball will have players using their own gear to minimize the spread of germs. 

At games, the crowd may be noticeably smaller than before, as there will be a maximum of four spectators per player. Spectators will be required to wear a mask the entire game.

Since sports seasons started late, the seasons may be a bit shorter than normal. However, because they are shorter, teams can still participate in tournaments to make up for lost games. 

Redlands high schools to freeze grades for the remainder of the school year

Originally published in La Plaza Press


Redlands Unified School District Board Members approved a resolution on April 13 for high schools to freeze grades for the remainder of the school year. This resolution will be in effect starting April 19 when high schools transition to hybrid and in-person instruction.

Screenshot of Redlands Board Meeting via livestream on April 13. Board Vice President Ed O’Neil led the meeting by introducing each item.

Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Ken Wagner said of the resolution, “it would be a grade freeze with the ability of students to be able to improve grades thereafter but not go down at that point.” 

Wagner also reminded the Board that they had approved this similar suggestion in March of 2020 when the pandemic began, prompting the transition to distance learning. 

“Again, similar to what we did last year, this year is more based on the transition opportunity that creates a disruption eight weeks before the end of the school year,” Wagner said.

Visual representation, made through Canva, of grades being frozen for Redlands high schools starting April 19. Students’ grades are only able to improve if they continue to do schoolwork. (MIA ARANDA/ La Plaza photo)

Whether or not high school students choose to return to in-person instruction on April 19, the Board anticipates that this resolution will allow for less stress and greater flexibility for students as the end of the school year approaches. Vice President Jim O’Neil and Board Member Alex Vara both spoke out in favor of this resolution. 

“I think it’s a great thing. I hope our kids take advantage of that,” said O’Neil.

Vara said, “It’s a great idea, especially during this pandemic, we need to be flexible and we are definitely being flexible and we are ensuring that our students have the opportunity to graduate and move forward, because everybody is at a different level when it comes to distance learning and access.” 

The Board passed this resolution with no objections amongst its members. 

Redlands East Valley High School Assistant Principal, Ronald Kroetz, recognizes that the Board implemented this as a way to help students feel more comfortable if they are transitioning from distance learning to in-person instruction, 

Kroetz said, “Our goal is that we create a positive learning space where students can focus on improving grades, mastering content and getting involved in more hands-on learning.”

Redlands High School junior Alper Sharip said, “So I think that this could be a good idea, again this might bring some energy out of the students and everything, but you know during these hard times, we kind of need a boost like this. I think it can be helpful. It all just depends on what your teachers set the grade cap on. I think the grade cap should be at least a letter grade.”

There has not been an official set grade cap from the Board, however, it will most likely vary among teachers and how much they would like to implement as a grade cap. 

Sharip continues, “I think this does definitely help in-person learning and I know this is just going to be temporary, but it can encourage kids to come back to school to encourage some normalcy before we go back to full in-person next year.”

Editorial cartoon: Return back to school?

Originally published in La Plaza Press


The Redlands School Board voted on schedules for returning to in-person instruction for secondary schools on April 1. Middle school students will return to school on April 12 and high school students on April 19. Each student can choose whether they would like to opt for in-person instruction or continue with distance learning and may mark their decision on Aeries.

Redlands Unified School District presents a possible in-person schedule for high school students

Originally published in La Plaza Press


As spring break approaches, students of the Redlands Unified School District will decide whether they will return to school with appropriate safety measures or continue Distance Learning from the comfort of their homes. (ISAAC MEJIA and ALISSON BERMUDEZ/ La Plaza photo)

Redlands Unified School District staff and parents received an email on March 17 from the Superintendent Mauricio Arelleno. The email proposed an original in-person schedule for high schools within the district. This concerns Redlands East Valley High School, Redlands High School, Citrus Valley High school and Orangewood. 

The schedule is a hybrid between in-person and distance learning, and it would take effect on April 12, the second week after spring break ends. According to the email, an emergency special board meeting will occur on Tuesday, March 23 at 5 p.m. where the district will be “approving the plan as presented, approving the plan with modifications, or not approving the plan at all.” The meeting will be broadcasted and accessible via a link on the district website.

An excerpt from the email sent by Arelleno that explains the schedule above:

Secondary students who choose In-Person would attend school In-Person two (2) days a week (Group A on Monday and Tuesday; Group B on Thursday and Friday) and attend classes via Distance Learning on their Non-In-Person days (Group A on Thursday and Friday; Group B on Monday and Tuesday).  This schedule maintains four days of instructional continuity for all students, while providing the In-Person opportunity to those who so choose.  Families that choose to stay in the Distance Learning model will attend their classes during the afternoon Distance Learning sessions.

Wednesdays will be an asynchronous day for all students which will allow teachers and support staff time to plan and/or they may also provide office hours to support students.  An asynchronous day will permit time to thoroughly disinfect the campus beyond the daily routine. 

According to the email, parents will have until Sunday, March 21, 2021 to decide whether or not their students will be attending school in-person or if they will remain on Distance Learning. This gives families four days to decide how their children will end the 2020-2021 school year. Arellano made sure to address the fact that if families change their minds, they are able to make a preference request to the administration for consideration. If by March 21, you have not picked a preference, students will automatically be placed into Distance Learning by default. 

Although there is a plan for the new schedule to get students back in their seats in class, the question of how students will be separated into groups is still undetermined. There is a plan for a group A and a group B for both online and in-person classes but the organization of these students is still undetermined and will be discussed at the upcoming board meeting. For students who choose to return to in-person instruction, they should be expecting a new system that includes following proper protocol of distance learning, the use of health masks, and health screenings. Schools will be administering more detailed specifics regarding the Safety Plan which will outline the general outline of the reopening of the school plan.

This change will not only affect students, but teachers as well since they now will have to double plan for an in-person and online lesson and still put forth their best effort to cover as much curriculum as possible without overwhelming students. 

Eva Shinnerl, Redlands East Valley Advanced Placement Language and Literature teacher said, “Any system we choose will have advantages and disadvantages. Some students desperately need to be back on campus, and others prefer to stay home.  After a year of distance learning, I’m thrilled that some students can return.  If students get less time in each class during fourth quarter, that’s the necessary compromise we need to make to get students on campus.  Teachers don’t want to give up instructional time, but many students’ mental health needs will be better met if they’re able to come to school.” 

Students will only be receiving two days of instructional class time. This paves the way for more assigned homework and more stress as the school year is quickly coming to an end and finals/AP exams are right around the corner. 

Catherine Mikhailova, a junior at REV, said, “I think the new schedule will add extra confusion and be less efficient, because it cuts down on the time we actually spend in class.” 

Mary Groninger, a junior at REV said,  “I can see why they would want this schedule. They are integrating students back into school and are also reducing screen time. However, it is also reducing class time in general, which can be really harmful. The change couldn’t have come at a worse time. As AP students, we need as much instructional time with our teachers in order to prepare for our AP exams coming up.”

Advanced Placement students decide format of their exams by subject

Originally published in La Plaza Press


Advanced Placement review books are shown above on Feb. 28, 2021. AP students may better prepare for their exams this year knowing their format choice and possible test modifications. (MIA ARANDA/ La Plaza photo)

College Board has announced that each Advanced Placement student is able to choose the format of each of their exams this year: digital at home or paper at school. This has also prompted changes in exam format in which some AP exams may differ digitally than in person. 

Students taking any exams digitally are instructed to download College Board’s Lockdown Browser on their device in order to enhance the security of online testing during their exams. If students check out a Chromebook from school, the device already has the LockDown Browser installed. Thus, teachers are highly encouraging AP students to check out a school chromebook if they are taking any digital exams. 

A checked out school chromebook is shown on Feb. 28, 2021. Students are encouraged to check out a school chromebook if they are taking any Advanced Placement exams digitally as the chromebooks are already equipped with a lock-down browser.. (MIA ARANDA/ La Plaza photo)

In Redlands Unified School District, AP students completed a survey finalizing their exam format decisions. 

The following AP students explain their exam preferences based on subject groupings. 

Math exam perspective

Citrus Valley High School senior Jordyn Usher is taking AP Calculus BC. 

AP Calculus AB and BC will comprise 45 multiple choice questions and six free response questions. For the digital exam, these free response questions will be adapted to include answers that can easily be typed on the computer, therefore no creation of graphs will be necessary.

Usher said, “I would rather take this exam in person because it is completely math-based; typing out derivative and integrals on the computer would be very difficult, and I could annotate the important aspects of each question to help me correctly solve each problem.”

Science exam perspective

REV junior Jack Bartely is taking AP Environmental Science and AP Chemistry as his science courses this year.

The AP Chemistry exam will consist of 60 multiple choice questions both on paper or digitally for section one. For section two however, paper exams will include seven free response questions while digital exams will include 40 additional multiple choice questions and only three free response questions. 

 For the AP Chemistry exam, Bartely said, “Online because the online test this year will have more multiple choice questions and less essays.”

The AP Environmental Science exam will remain unchanged in test format for the digital and paper exams with its traditional 80 multiple choice questions and three free response questions. 

For the AP Environmental Science exam, Bartely said, “In person because I have been handwriting the essays in this class all year, and with in person tests we can change answers, but with online they are locked in once you move onto the next question.”

English exam perspective

REV junior Charlotte Baldes is taking AP Language and Composition. 

The AP Language and Composition and Literature and Composition exams will both include its typical multiple choice section, 45 questions for Language and 50 questions for Literature, and three free response questions. 

Baldes prefers the digital format for all of her exams this year. She said, “I also feel more comfortable and less pressured. I also find I type way faster than I write.”

History exam perspective

AP European History is often the first AP class that many sophomores take in high school. For this reason, it can be daunting for one to take their first AP exam without much experience on how testing was traditionally given. 

REV sophomore Emma Miller is taking AP European History as her first AP course. 

Asides from the 55 multiple choice questions and one Document Based Question essay, the digital AP European History and AP United States History exam differ from the paper exam in that the digital format requires two Short Answer Questions in place of the Long Answer Essay in the paper format. 

Miller said, “I would rather take it digitally because being thrust back into the school environment suddenly on top of taking a stressful test sounds very difficult. As much as returning to school is important, consistency throughout the school year and people’s safety takes priority in my opinion.”

AP exam testing will take place from May 3 to June 11. Students’ testing dates are determined by their decision to take the exam on paper or digitally.

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.”

Student’s grades and learning are being affected by online school


After a little over five months of online school, children all over the world have been negatively impacted by the lack of socialization, absence of in depth learning and failure to find positivity. During online classes, the grades of many students have seen a negative stride in comparison to previous grades. Many feel as if they are falling behind in reading and math due to the lack of interpersonal communication. 

“You aren’t in a classroom, [so] it’s really hard to focus with all the other noises,” said Emma Ainsworth, a senior at Citrus Valley High school.

Featured is a desk that is similar to one that many students face on a daily basis. Students have also been forced to face a difficult school year that can lead to loneliness and stress (Emily Prinstein/ Ethic Photo).

Many students have failed to turn in assignments due to the confusion on things such as due dates, where to turn in the assignment and even unclear instructions on how to complete them. Among the schools that have initiated online learning is Iowa State University, which notes that “without the routine structures of a traditional class, students may get lost or confused about course activities and deadlines.”

Teachers use different platforms for their students to turn in assignments, which can become confusing and overwhelming for their students. Many of these platforms are new to students such as Kami, Google Classroom, Edulastic and many others.

“Sometimes it can be confusing turning in many different assignments on all of the different platforms, and at times it causes me to forget to turn things in,” said Hayley Prinstein, a senior at CVHS.

During online school, many students also leave early from their classes while some do not show up at all. Students do this because they are unmotivated and believe their teachers won’t notice. 

Because of the lack of structure in distance learning, many students have resorted to cheating on tests and assignments. While their grades may show that they are doing well with online learning, it may be a different story at home. This greatly affects how students learn, and as they move onto further and higher learning they are not going to be prepared due to the way they have adapted during distance learning. 

Another issue that has arisen is the home life of some students. It is apparent that students need somewhere they can go to study and focus. While at home, some students struggle to find this place due to siblings, pets and other factors. 

In some cases, students may also not have access to all of the supplies they need such as not being able to access the internet. This causes significant disruptions to many student’s learning, and will only escalate further problems with assignments and tests. 

Overall, online learning has had its ups and downs for many students. While some schools hope to re-open their doors soon, students will have to make do with distance learning until then.

Racial crisis in Redlands sparks backlash against the district


A recent post on social media of actions by two students at Redlands East Valley High School led to a problematic week of final exams for students and administrators alike. Two female REV students, one a senior and one a sophomore, can be seen in a video posted on the platform TikTok making racial gestures towards a young Asian American influencer.

The video went viral and school and district administrators, such as REV Principal Robert Clarey and Superintendent Mauricio Arellano, were contacted by many people both in and outside the district.

Both the family and authorities were contacted over the situation and worked with the school to find a proper solution. However, this created a backlash, as some students believe that the school and administration have failed them more than once and would do so again. Several students claimed that they had been in similar situations of discrimination, but the administration only stood by.

Inara Khankashi, a sophomore from Citrus Valley High School, says that “at a school where the majority of students are people of color, it is unacceptable that acts of blatant racism just go by with no consequences.” 

Students expressed concerns about not only the incident itself but the district’s response to it. When the incident first was reported to the administration, an email was sent out that explained the school’s legal limitations to enforce any direct discipline due to the fact that the incident did not occur during school or on campus, although they did not condone the student’s behavior.

Victoria Lee, a sophomore at REV, says, “Although I understand that the school may have their hands tied as [her] actions took place off-campus, it upsets me that these two students haven’t been correctly disciplined nor grew from their actions.” 

Many students brought up the discussion leading up to the anti-racism resolution, which was created by a committee of Redlands students and staff members. It was passed by the Redlands School Board in October in response to members of the community calling out racism to be a health crisis.

Within the resolution, it states “Now, therefore, be it further resolved that the Redlands Unified School District Board of Education will implement and reinforce, with intent and fidelity, policies and practices that reflect a conscious effort to ensure racial equity, equity of access and service, cultural education, and diversity at all levels within our organization.”

Some adults, like Susan Broome, parent of two former students from RUSD, say, “I oppose the resolution because of its many false premises and assumptions, and ideological promotion.” 

Some students have expressed their disapproval and disappointment with the action that the district has taken towards the REV student in light of the recently-passed resolution.

Joleen Bakalova, a sophomore from CVHS and a contributor to the resolution, says, “The REV administration should have followed the guidance we outlined in the resolution against racism. After all, what good is a resolution if it is not implemented.” 

A post from the Wildcats for Change Instagram explaining the stance of the group and some students at REV. (Photo credit to Wildcats4change Instagram)

Wildcats for Change, a club at REV that looks to help fix social injustice at the high school and through the district, used Instagram to show support for groups being discriminated against.

In response to students call for action, the Redlands Unified School District incorporated small townhall-like meetings for students In December and January. These meetings were separated into two days each for the different high schools in the district. Each had small groups in breakout rooms on the video communication platform Zoom filled with student and teacher representatives from Students For Change, counselors, and other district members to answer any questions for the students.

Brooklynn Rios, a sophomore at REV who participated in the town-hall zoom sessions, says, “They spoke a lot about how they wanted to implement these changes to benefit the students and what standpoints we had about school and how it can be better.”

Featured Photo: An illustration depicting the feeling that many students have felt due to the past events, as some might feel muted and unimportant. (Mauricio Pliego / Ethic News Art)

Opinion: Endless hours of required school screen time does damage


Many studies have shown that too much screen time negatively affects minors’ brains. Due to distance learning and COVID-19 shut-downs, many kids have been spending a lot more time in front of a screen than they used to. In addition, much of this time is not by students’ choice, but as a requirement to be successful academically.

Before quarantine, the expectations for most classes was that cell phones were to be put away. Fast forward a few months and students are required to spend their entire school day in front of a screen. For Redlands Unified School District high school students, this is from 8:30 a.m. to 2:12 p.m., with scattered passing periods and a 30-minute lunch, five days a week.

Students with seventh period or who need extra support continue until 3 p.m. and those trying to stay involved with extra curricular club zoom meetings, often stay on longer. This does not yet include the many hours of studying and homework assigned that require using a screen.

Due to social distancing, screen time is the safest way to connect with friends and family through social media or online games, and so the screen time continues.

Poll: How many hours do you spend on the screen for school each day?

In a poll taken in October of 2020 of over 60 high school students of the Redlands Unified School District, more than half said they spend more than 9 hours a day on the screen for school purposes. One third of students said they spent seven to eight hours on the screen for school. The infographic representing the data was created using Piktochart. (Makayla Naime and Allison Stockham/ Ethic Media)

According to NewYork-Presbyterian, “Children who spent more than two hours a day on screen-time activities scored lower on language and thinking tests.” With online learning, it is almost impossible to spend less than two hours on screens, as classes usually take at least six hours, and homework and studying several more hours.

NewYork-Presbyterian also says that, “Some children with more than seven hours a day of screen time experienced thinning of the brain’s cortex.” The cortex is the part of the brain that is related to critical thinking and reasoning.

This dramatic increase in screen time is very clearly taking a negative toll on the mental health and possibly the brain development of students.

By staying socially distanced, washing our hands and wearing masks when going out, everyone can do their part in helping the spikes cease, flattening the curve, and so that hopefully students can return to school and work in person for everyone’s benefit.

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. 

Redlands passes resolution 12 to help achieve true equality for all


 Images of equality and exclusivity symbolizing love for anyone  (Mauricio Pliego / Ethic News)

During the last Redlands Unified School Board district meeting on Oct. 27, 2020, Resolution 12 was passed with the help and support of the NEXGEN Student Board. Resolution 12 covers the topic of making the schools in Redlands Unified District inclusive to all.

NEXGEN United, a Redlands Unified student operated community organization working for “racial equality and justice for all”, declared racism as “a public health crisis” as said by their instagram. In doing so they created a resolution to bring to the attention of the RUSD school board. This is significant because, due to the recent California Assembly Bill 331, school boards are encouraged to incorporate curriculum to raise awareness of the LGBTQ+ students, racial injustice, and all around inclusivity of students regardless of economic background, gender and/or sexual orientation. The school board will ensure this by implementing policies and practices, such as equity of access, services and cultural education. 

Some students on the NEXGEN board, such as Mauricio Pliego, a sophomore at Redlands East Valley, who “personally worked on the resolution” saw an “opportunity to create a more understanding and safer environment” for RUSD students. Inara Khankashi, a sophomore at Citrus Valley, and a NEXGEN member, is “extremely pleased it passed”. She said that “the District genuinely needs change and student representation, especially people of color ones, should assist in bringing out that change.” 

R-12 ensures that future Redlands students are informed and educated on racial, LGBTQ+ and other social issues. Through reinforcing policies, the district hopes that practices and RUSD student/member participation can bring them closer towards a safe and equal learning environment to lead to a brighter future.

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.

RUSD board members and parents take steps toward building a REV athletic stadium


On Oct. 13, Redlands Unified School District held their monthly board meeting to inform and update the community of issues in the RUSD, including the status of a Redlands East Valley sports stadium.  

The district has sent out a request for qualification and a proposal from architects for a stadium. They will soon be planning a rubric and grading the proposal from the architects. The proposal will be brought to the next board meeting for the board to deny or approve.

Paul Cullen, the interim assistant superintendent of business services, discussed in the board meeting how the district has $11 million in the district’s development funds. 

Yet, only $6 million would be possible to be used for a REV athletic facility due to the district’s needs to replace portables, start street improvements near a future middle school, and repair the swimming pools at the high schools.

 2 years ago, Redlands East Valley High School football team competed in a game in Redlands High School’s stadium. Over the past years, Redlands High School and Citrus Valley High School have been sharing their stadium with REV. (Photo credit to Shireen Takkouch)

Cullen advised against using the entire amount of $6 million for the stadium. 

Cullen said, “Should anything catastrophic happen, the district would need that $6 million for repairs,”

Superintendent Mauricio Arellano agreed with the idea of possibly using part of the fund for the stadium and introduced the possibility of using $2 million from an appraisal of the district’s 9.1 acres of land towards the stadium.

During the community input segment of the board meeting, Laura Mapes, along with Melissa Campos and Jill Green, announced a committee formed called the Coalition to Support the RUSD in the Completion of a REV Athletics Stadium. 

After hearing discussions in board meetings and being encouraged by local news outlets for a committee to be formed, these parents of RUSD took action. 

“We are very eager to help RUSD in any way necessary,” Mapes said. “We have connections with other entities, businesses, parents, teachers  and etcetera to ensure this stadium can be built under RUSD guidelines and supervision safely and expeditiously, so that it can be enjoyed by all in attendance.”

The committee plans to help supplement the completion of a stadium if needed through fundraising and asks the board to have the stadium to be on the agenda every monthly board meeting, a board member to be appointed to the committee, and to be able to work with the facilities.

At the next board meeting on Nov. 10, the board may vote on the proposal for a stadium for REV. 

News brief: Redlands area students adjust in light of recent power outages


A screen shot of communication sent out via various formats on the morning of Monday, Oct. 26 notifying families and staff within the Redlands Unified School District of a local power outage. (Ethic images)

Redlands Unified School District parents, staff and students were notified on Monday, Oct. 26 about the power outages that affected local areas and impacted the online learning experience for students and teachers. 

Southern California Edison customers in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino county experienced power outages. As many as 9,688 San Bernardino county customers were affected. The power outages throughout the counties occurred for two reasons: high winds and preventative measurements. According to the SCE website, “high winds can damage power lines.” As a safety precaution, they “shut off power in high fire risk areas as a result of extreme weather conditions.” The company restores power only after their crew inspects power lines and confirms that it is safe to do so. 

Many students in or around the San Bernardino county area were among those affected and encountered the darkness within their houses and apartments. Some students reported that the stores and fast food restaurants in their areas were closed down by 1 p.m. in the afternoon. Others reported the produce in their refrigerator getting hot and spoiled or rotten, while others said they couldn’t shower, charge any electronics or do homework because the power was out. Some even chose to move locations temporarily.

Additionally, many students throughout the district struggled to attend classes. Even after the power went back on, Cyrus Engelsman, a junior at Redlands East Valley High School, said that he still continued to struggle. “The power outage left my house without power or internet all day,” Engelsman said, “I was not able to go to any of my classes and missed out on a lot. When the power came back, some of our light bulbs ended up dead, which was very unexpected.” 

Teachers across the district had trouble using Zoom as well, as many of their students could not attend class as regularly scheduled. Jana Bailey, an Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) coordinator from REV says, “It didn’t really affect me, but it affected a handful of my students.”

Wendy McClung, a mental health teacher, said she had to change her lesson plans for the day to accommodate her students’ needs. “Although my home was not affected by the outage, many of my students were unable to attend class. I spent much of my day responding to emails and being mindful about slowing down my lesson so those who had missed the day could easily catch up.”

While some students and staff of the district dealt with the power outages, it was found in a small study with a sample of 15 students that 60% had been affected. Anneliese Reese, a freshman at REV in the unaffected 40%, said, “Yuh, was all good.” 

Modified sports practices begin for the fall season amid the pandemic

Originally published in La Plaza Press


Student-athletes and coaches have been anxiously awaiting the resumption of high school sports following the cancellation of the spring sports season. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is required that if sports teams practice in person, they wear a mask if possible, minimize the sharing of equipment, and maintain a distance of at least six feet apart when applicable.

Redlands Unified School District recently transitioned into phase one of returning to athletic participation on Oct. 1. Student-athletes must complete the online athletic clearance process and sign a pledge to try to limit the spread of COVID-19. As for coaches, they must also sign the pledge and are required to complete COVID-19 online training.

Guidelines for phase one of returning to athletic practices include the following: outdoor conditioning only, ten or less per conditioning group, no equipment usage, six feet social distancing with masks, no spectators or media, and masks must be worn unless conditioning with proper social distancing at nine feet.

As a result of high school sports seasons being pushed back to January, three seasons had to be condensed into two. Fall sports for this year include football, water polo, volleyball, cross country and cheer with each following differing guidelines.

For example, water polo may use the pool facilities, but each lane is limited to only one swimmer with each person in every other lane going in the opposite direction. 

In addition, cheer is prohibited from vocalizing chants and volleyball must conduct practice outdoors at this time. 

Redlands East Valley football team practices consist of bodyweight conditioning exercises, such as upper, lower and full-body movements, footwork and agility drills, plyometrics and sprints.

Redlands East Valley head football coach Richard Lunsford times his players as they do sprint intervals on Oct. 20. Coaches wear masks the entire time and athletes are advised to put theirs on when practice ends. (MIA ARANDA/ La Plaza photo)

“Being able to start these small group conditioning sessions has definitely given us a little ray of sunshine in the darkness that has lurked over us since this pandemic has begun,” said Richard Lunsford, head REV football coach. “I have high hopes for this upcoming season, but we will know much more in the weeks to come as the data continues to come in to health officials and we hopefully see the number of cases decrease.”

Prior to starting in-person practices, REV football engaged in virtual group workouts. Players now express their exhilaration to begin in-person training once again. 

Football player Noah Sorenson, REV senior, said, “I am obviously very excited to be beginning practice. The situation as you know isn’t ideal and being able to have fun and stay safe is an incredible undertaking for anyone.”

“These things aren’t easy but the steps we take now will allow us to go back to normal,” continues Sorenson. “Here at REV our practices consist of conditioning and only conditioning which for now is fine because many of us need the help, but I do hope soon we will be able to follow the footsteps of both the NFL and college football in having regular practices and games, of course while keeping social distancing in mind.”

Redlands East Valley football players engage in conditioning exercises during modified practices on Oct. 20. Athletes were distanced at least six feet apart from each other on the baselines of the basketball courts. (MIA ARANDA/ La Plaza photo)

Redlands East Valley head football coach Richard Lunsford concludes practice on Oct. 20 notifying players that they can’t break into individual groups for each position during practice until each player has been cleared. Lunsford encourages his players to remind their teammates to get their clearance cards in order to start practicing. (MIA ARANDA/ La Plaza photo)

REV junior Zachary Mendieta, a fellow teammate of Sorenson, said, “It’s definitely different than what we are all used to but I feel as if the transition went smoothly with how bad everyone just wanted to be back out on the field. I know that all of my teammates were so eager to be back to in-person practices that we just did anything that was told by administration.”

Mendieta recalls, “I even missed practices for a little head cold so I wouldn’t risk getting our sports shut down, and pre-COVID, I would always go for a little sickness like that.”

If a staff member or student does contract COVID-19, they are required to inform their school site so that RUSD Risk Management can determine the following steps. 

Until then, all coaches and athletes must abide by requisite protocols concerning the safety of everyone at practices. 

Lunsford closes football practice on Oct. 20 by reminding his players “you know the drill when you leave” followed by a collective response from his players: “masks on!”

New ways to volunteer in the community during COVID-19


With laws in effect urging people to maintain social distance in order to prevent high amounts of coronavirus cases, many organizations have temporarily discontinued their volunteer programs or no longer accept new volunteers. 

Volunteering has many benefits for students and the community. It helps individuals learn to problem solve, develop social skills, meet new people, and gain experience for a future career. According to the Help Guide, students partaking in the community “can also help protect [their] mental and physical health. It can reduce stress, combat depression, keep [them] mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose.”

Shannon Cockerill, a junior at Redlands East Valley, does over 100 hours of community service each year. 

Cockerill stated, “Sometimes, when you feel lost, helping someone else find their path leads you to your own.” 

 Below are 5 ways you can gain community service hours safely during this pandemic.

  1. Check in with seniors citizens

With the coronavirus outbreak, older adults and people who have pre-existing medical conditions are at higher risk of suffering from COVID-19. Many seniors have been  isolated in order to protect themselves from the virus.  Being isolated from members of the community and their loved ones can lead to loneliness and cause depression, anxiety and more. 

Contact local senior centers, nursing homes and retirement communities in the area to offer help by talking to senior members. 

  1. Tutor Students

Due to the new laws in place pertaining to COVID-19,  the district shifted from a traditional education experience to distance learning. Distance learning consists of 100% online learning for students and staff through the use of virtual class meetings and assignments. 

This new method of learning has led some students to struggle understanding new concepts. Riley Anthony, a senior at Redlands East Valley, provides a solution to this problem by creating the Distance Learning Exchange as a forum for students and parents to ask for free tutoring and students and parents to offer free tutoring. 

Anthony stated,  “I created this group to help student who need help but also create opportunities for community service that other students might need,”

Individuals interested in helping students with their academic needs, join the facebook group called Redlands/Mentone Distance Learning Exchange (DLE) for more information.

  1. Make care packages for homeless shelters

Due to how rapidly the virus is spreading, homeless individuals are very vulnerable to receiving the illness.  Along with the virus outbreak, many families have been affected by the wildfires spreading in California. Many are in shelters, as they have been forced to evacuate their homes. This creates a need for care packages for members residing in local homeless shelters. Some items to include in the care package are hand sanitizer, soap, shampoo, cleansing wipes, cold weather clothing, blankets and non-perishable snacks & bottled water.

  1. Create and donate homemade masks 

With state orders encouraging the use of masks for everyone and requiring them to be worn in public places, masks are essential to community members. Homemade masks can be easily made with any type of sewing material and sewing machines. Check out Deaconess to find many different organizations  in need of mask donations near you. 

  1. Donate goods you produced

Many students have found themselves starting small businesses as quarantine has left them more time to pursue entrepreneurship. If students donate the items they have created in their spare time, the hours spent producing the goods created can count toward volunteer hours.

Also, check out resources, such as VolunteerMatch, that notify individuals of upcoming volunteer opportunities near their location for more and new ways to give back to the community.

An infographic describing different ways for students to get involved with the community during a pandemic. (Miriam Yordanos / ETHIC NEWS)

Redlands Unified high schools transition to the norm of online communication for all their college events


With the constant adaptations faculty and students have made through this pandemic, the annual college activities hosted by Redlands Unified School District career centers have found a way. 

These events are all provided and curated by the RUSD career centers. The designated offices and administrators have strived to create a vast assortment of college aid even through these unforeseen times. And though there may not be the same face-to-face environment, this new online setting won’t interfere with career center coordinators and their mission to help their students get ready for college.

The Redlands East Valley career center during a normal school year, would have been filled with students listening to numerous college meetings and receiving guidance from Vanessa  Fairbanks and other staff. (Photo Credit ROP CRS Norma Nuno)

As a central hub for the arranged activities, the Google Doc constructed by the career centers gives vital information to students anywhere from freshmen to seniors. The access to students is divided upon different days and times where the links are accessible from the document. If you have joined your graduating class’s Google Classroom, there may also be alerts and reminders there. Some of the various happenings include online informational sessions with select colleges and universities, various workshops and events with the UC’s, and then there are the opportunities from the RUSD college partnerships which also offer on-the-spot-admissions. 

A portion of the 17 pages long document created by four teachers, Kari Hill Citrus Valley High School Career Center Teacher, Vanessa Fairbanks Redlands East Valley High School Career Center Teacher, Deborah Severo Orangewood High School Career Center Teacher, and Christa Padilla Redlands High School Career Center Teacher helps and directs students in the right direction when searching for college events.

As far as the informational meetings, most colleges and universities have chosen to use Zoom as their main platform.  An advantage to these meetings is whereas previously there would be one or two admission counselors as representatives leading the in-person meetings, many colleges have designated a majority of their admissions team to be on the Zoom at the same time. This allows for them to be answering questions in the designated Q and A section while the presentations are being conducted. These Zoom seminars allow for a different environment where one would usually have to miss a class period to attend the in-person versions, but are now offered after school in the comfort of your own home.

From eviction to mental health: high school students face difficult challenges in the midst of the Coronavirus


When it comes to the effects of the coronavirus and quarantine, people are quick to point out the obvious: boredom at home, not being able to go outside, and difficulty connecting with others, but there are more effects than just the obvious.

Living paycheck to paycheck is one of the lesser known, long-term effects of the pandemic. Those who live by waiting on the next paycheck work like a balancing act: trying to balance how much money is used on food, but also save for bills.

Destiny Gonzalez, a junior at Redlands East Valley High School, understands this struggle. “It is worrisome, because you don’t know if this check will last the time it needs to, ” Gonzalez said. “Sometimes you have to cut some necessities off just to make it to the next paycheck.” 

Photo made with Autodesk Sketchbook, a drawing and sketching app. (Aileen Janee Corpus / Ethic News)

For others, this was just another way of living, but it is now harder due to pay cuts and layovers. REV senior Celeste Chala also experiences the hardship of balancing money, “My mom gets really stressed out even more now because the rent is higher especially in a house, even if she is paying half the rent.”

REV sophomore Brooke Rowan and her family recognize the difficulty of adjusting to a lower budget, “As soon as we get [a check] we already know where the money is going, but we still seem to have a little bit of money to do some fun and cheap activities. Rowan and her family use their extra money “as vacations, trips to San Diego, [or] going to amusement parks.”

Losing one’s home, or commonly known as eviction, is another effect of the pandemic; it can bring extreme amounts of stress due to the fact that the tenant must leave at a certain date without accounting the amount of belongings in the home.

“It was the worst because the owner only gave us like a month to leave,” said REV sophomore Natalee Lopez, “and it was 10 years worth of stuff in the house”

Renters living under the threat of eviction experience poorer self-reported health outcomes, such as high blood pressure, according to authors of a 2017 study published in ScienceDirect.

“The [eviction] was stressful to [my mother’s friend],” said REV senior Celeste Chala, “it came to the point where [she was] so stressed out she had a seizure in Target. We were given a short amount of time and I believe that they expected us to pay some money up until move out day.”

Especially during this time of extreme changes, mental health can be greatly improved or deteriorated. Some students find ways to make use of the extra time at home by self-care and learning new skills.

“[I have m]ore time for mental stability,” said REV senior Gloria Bahena, “[and to] find peace within myself and develop new skills such as learning new languages.” Bahena believes that without quarantine, her mental health would have definitely been worse, but that too much of a good thing cannot always be good. 

Some students might feel drained after being on a computer for so long or not having enough face-to-face interaction with friends.

“Honestly, I am a very social person,” said REV freshman Haylee Lyon, “and without physical contact, it’s very hard to find a way to stay positive.”

Other students feel relieved from not having to deal with drama at school, such as REV junior Chloe Moore, who said “I’ve had a lot of free time to focus on my mental stability. I’m so much happier, and I don’t have to deal with drama at school.” 

Kaedyn Nelson a REV sophomore has been learning new skills and taking time to self-reflect. “I have started to learn how to drive, [and] I started dancing again,” said Nelson. “Distance learning has forced me to really sit down and pay attention, and get good grades. Yes, my freshman year was very bad: I was in and out of trouble, and I lost my phone for another year. During quarantine I was so stressed with the fact that I couldn’t go to school or see my friends or just go out anywhere, that I decided to make decisions to get me in trouble for the three months. After that I really focused on myself and what I could do better.”

Making sure that there is food on the table, moving out of a loved home, or taking care of one’s mental health are feats that anyone could be facing.

Rowan sees the light at the end of the tunnel, “I’m still sort of hopeful that we can get through this together as a whole.”

Opinion: RUSD’s distance learning schedule needs to change to block

Originally published in La Plaza Press


Textbooks and Zoom logo depict the long hours students and teachers spent online each school day doing rigorous work and planning. Students spend approximately six hours on their screens for online instruction, not including the time later taken to complete homework. (MIA ARANDA / La Plaza photo) 

The fourth quarter of the 2019-20 school year underwent the implementation of online learning and video communications via Zoom and Google Meet due to the severity of COVID-19 cases. With this experience, students and teachers expected improvement in learning for August of 2020, having more time to prepare. However, it was quickly distinguished by frustration, exhaustion, and confusion due to the long school day being online. 

Having to start the year with distance learning revealed that this school year would not be the same as last quarter. The last quarter of school was an undemanding academic period of time in consideration of the countless circumstances students could be facing. Students’ grades from the third quarter were only able to increase and attendance was still taken simply to check in on students to confirm their wellbeing. It is understandable that there should be more rigor now, but increasing hours online proved to be more exhausting and unhealthy than considered. 

Prior to the start of the school year on Aug. 13, staff members worked tirelessly to establish how they could efficiently make distance learning effective in regards to the various home situations every student may be experiencing. Nonetheless, teachers are facing the expected difficulties and complexities of giving quality instruction to students through Google Classroom and video sessions. Every day, teachers work overtime to figure out ways to accommodate this heavy schedule. 

At the moment, RUSD’s distance learning schedule is the same for each weekday: one 50 minute class period and five 45-minute class periods separated by five-minute passing periods and a thirty-minute lunch break. This schedule does not adequately account for the excessive amount of time teachers and students are spending staring at their screens and sitting each day nor permit enough break time to use the restroom or perform any movement to stretch before the next class. 

Redlands High School sophomore Kayleen Lim said, “Five-minute ‘passing’ periods are not enough to smoothly transition our minds from one period to the next. I’ve even heard teachers say this with their own mouths. The teachers know the schedule is really inadequate.”

A block schedule should be implemented in exchange for this current schedule. With a block schedule, students would have three classes each day for four days each week in which each class consists of one hour periods or blocks. The other day would essentially be a checkup day with twenty-minute class periods for teachers to answer any questions or go over anything quickly preceding a twenty-minute screen time break before the next class. 

With one hour blocks, teachers would be presented with the opportunity to provide instruction in the first half of class and then assign independent, screen-free classwork for the student to do offline in the second half of class. 

The primary goal of executing a block schedule is to reduce the amount of time students and teachers are spending on the computer. According to Aaptiv, an online health and fitness magazine, excessive time spent staring at a screen can cause eye strain, sleep disorders, headaches, depression, and an increased risk of obesity.

Yucaipa High School applied block as their distance learning schedule this school year. Each day, school starts at 9 a.m., and students are finished with online instruction at 12:30 p.m.

Redlands East Valley junior Jamil Mouri said, “I believe that the distance learning format that is currently being employed by our school is ineffective because it does not permit teachers with enough time to finish lessons, testing is much harder due to the shorter class periods, and students are spending roughly 6 hrs in front of a screen, not including the amount of time [they have] to spend on homework.”

“Overall, schools should employ a block schedule at some point in the week whether it be on Wednesday and Thursday or Thursday and Friday. In my opinion, Thursday and Friday would work the best because teachers then are able to test the students for longer periods,” continues Mouri. “The block would allow for students to get the help they need and ask questions instead of being forced to suffer in silence due to the time restraint over six periods a day.”

Dr. Michelle Stover, Chemistry and AP Chemistry teacher at Citrus Valley High School said, “Yes, I do believe the current DL schedule can be improved to ensure the well being of students and teachers. A five-minute break is not sufficient to transition from one class to another, to take a break to go to the restroom, or to simply unwind after a 45-minute lesson.” 

“Being a science teacher, block schedule works really well for a lab, activity, demo or just to have time to transition from screen to real-time with students having hand-on applications, such as being on their own, researching or doing work online, with or without teacher supervision,” said Stover. “It depends on the student because some work better alone or some work well with the teacher’s assistance. It should be teacher discretion as long as the content is reached and deadlines are met by the students. Another, a block schedule will limit the daily attendance and video recording a teacher has to do on top of all the other juggling around teaching technology and content among others.” 

On the other hand, others would prefer to have all of their classes each day, but with extended passing period breaks. 

RHS sophomore Emma Wuysang said, “The only thing I would like to have changed is the spacing between classes and a longer lunchtime. I feel like block scheduling could be helpful but I would rather take all of my classes.”

However, having more time during breaks and lunch would result in a lengthier school day unless some of the student support time is sacrificed. This doesn’t communicate the reality that having such a long school day has already created problems, therefore, increasing the length of a school day makes the issue worse and is not an ideal choice. 

RUSD has decided to change the current distance schedule to permit more time during passing period but neglects the notion of changing to block or allowing more time during lunch. The new schedule results in the school day is lengthened by twelve minutes.

This was the new schedule for Citrus Valley, Redlands East Valley, and Redlands High School effective starting Aug. 31.

The revised schedule includes eight-minute passing periods instead of five, which will alleviate stress with a longer break to use the restroom or get a quick snack. Oftentimes, when classes accidentally run late, even by a mere two minutes, students and teachers feel pressured to log into their next class with no break time available to ensure they are on time. Thanks to these longer passing periods, even if a class period does run a bit late, students and teachers won’t feel as much pressure to have to log into their next class right away. 

However, this revised schedule takes away time from the student support window after school. Student support is pivotal in providing extra help for students who need it, especially now when students aren’t able to be on campus. Before, the student support period was one hour long, but it now spans forty minutes. 

Reduce time online.

Easier to absorb information in chunks.

Shorter school day.

Realistic breaks give time to move, rest eyes, and use the restroom. 

Unlimited lunchtime accounts for family responsibilities.

Sometimes less is more. 

Redlands student shares about her newest released socially conscious song, “Dear America,”

Originally published in La Plaza Press


“But we will fight for our rights

Till the day that we die

Dear America

Let me be free”

These lyrics are taken from, “Dear America,” the newest song released by Amira Marshall, a sixteen-year-old junior at Redlands High School.

Known artistically as Amira Monet, her music is available on all streaming platforms. 

Marshall attends Redlands High School as a junior. At school, she is a part of wind ensemble and is also athletically involved in varsity golf, JV basketball, and track and field. These activities help her to keep more focused during the school year, although it can be a struggle to make time for music then. 

“Making music can be draining at times. It takes a lot of time and energy to write and produce a song I’m satisfied with,” said Marshall. “During the year school consumes most of my time, but I try to make music whenever or wherever I can. 

Marshall’s passion for music has always existed and recalls that her first exposure to music was in elementary school when she joined band there. As she got older, she became interested in producing music that would allow her the freedom to write. 

“I started out using my iPhone and GarageBand to make my very first songs,” Marshall said. “I always kept my interest in producing music a secret because it’s a very personal thing for me and I don’t always love to share my work.” 

In 2018, Marshall released her first song, called “Read,” which she recounts was about middle school drama. 

“I didn’t expect such a positive response to the song, because it was really just for fun, but it inspired me to go on to make a song called ‘Sorry’ which I released later that year.”

Rapper Mac Miller serves as Marshall’s greatest inspiration in continuing her music. She recognizes and admires his talent as an artist who created masterpieces and is especially fond of his albums, “Swimming” and “GO:OD AM.”

Marshall said, “I loved how Miller used a variety of instruments and sounds to create his songs. He was so versatile with his music, he could create a modern hip hop track but also tie in nostalgic jazz sounds.” 

Marshall continues, “An important saying I live by is ‘Keep your eyes to the sky never glued to your shoes [by Mac Miller].’”

When she was first starting out, Marshall first began creating songs with her phone and a pair of Apple earbuds. Through her years of improvement, she has purchased more advanced equipment. 

“Today I use my computer, music software called Ableton, a microphone from Apogee, the Komplete Kontrol M32 from Native Instruments, and a basic pair of mixing headphones,” Marshall said. She adds, “However equipment is not everything, anyone can start out with what they already have.”

Amira Marshall’s current home studio is shown as of Sept. 7. Marshall uses the Komplete Kontrol M32 from Native Instruments which serves as a micro keyboard controller, a microphone from Apogee, the music software Ableton, and a pair of mixing headphones to produce her music. (Courtesy of Amira Marshall)

As she starts the process of creating a new song, Marshall first makes a beat that matches the mood she wants to achieve. Secondly, she composes lyrics for the message that she wants to send or for the idea she has. Then, she revises and works on the beat and after the beat is finalized, she generally collaborates with her good friend Grace Sanchez to get some feedback on the lyrics. 

After the lyrics are established, she will record in her at-home studio setup and assemble everything together, which is the step that is typically the quickest to complete. Once the song is mixed and complete, Marshall will then send it to streaming services. 

“It may sound pretty quick and simple, but it can be a long and tiring experience, but it’s the best feeling when I hear the final result,” Marshall said.

Marshall’s newest song, “Dear America,” was released on July 15. 

Originally, she did not have intentions to create this song thinking there was no need to and that it wouldn’t have much of an impact. 

“However, it was not until some people I knew began to politicize the Black Lives Matter movement,” Marshall said. “I was so angered and saddened that anyone could think such a thing. I wrote Dear America so people could see that the movement is about systemic oppression, white supremacy, and racism, not politics.”

Writing “Dear America,” came fairly naturally for Marshall due to the unjust instances of police brutality prevalent in America, such as the killing of Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. In total, writing “Dear America” took Marshall about four weeks to finish.

Amira Marshall’s album cover for her song “Dear America,” is shown above. “Dear America,” was publicly released on July 15. (Courtesy of Amira Marshall)

The album cover was chosen to symbolize how much systemic oppression deeply affects the lives of people of color.

“In some places in America people of color are set up to fail. They are born into poverty and crime-ridden neighborhoods where getting involved in crime is easier. They go to schools that simply do not have enough resources for them to succeed. They live in places that are being over-policed. They have parents addicted to drugs or no parents at all. People of color have almost all of the odds against them and have to work so hard to succeed just because of their skin color. Even though blatant racism is not as prevalent today, it has infested all of our systems in America. From education to criminal justice, and in workplace environments. Most times it goes unnoticed because as Americans we are used to things being this way. There are too many instances of police abusing their power against people of color and walking away with few or most times no consequences. Systemic oppression has been almost normalized in America for generations. Overall, the album cover represents the magnitude of people affected by systemic oppression. It affects everyone of every age, even young children. It is important to realize this so that change can happen to create a better America for further generations.”

– Amira Marshall

“Black bodies, their children. Life cut short. By the blue man with the gun.”

This quote from “Dear America,” resonated most with Marshall, because she recognizes and values the life and family that Tamir Rice, Eric Gardener, and George Floyd had. 

“They were people with a life and family. They were not objects or chess pieces for a game, they were real people,” Marshall said. “Being a police officer is a choice, being Black is not.”

Through this song, Marshall hopes to convey the message that people of color have had a long stretch of mistreatment in a society that claims is already fair, therefore, change must be brought about immediately. 

“My main goal for this song was not to have it blow up or for it to be loved by all my friends and family,” said Marshall. 

“I want the person who thinks Blacks Lives Matter is political, to hear this song. I want the person who is a Trump supporter to hear this song. I want this song to resonate with someone who needs it. I want to open the minds of those who are closed-minded and help them see that this is a moral issue, not a political one. 

Marshall’s main goal as an artist is to bring people closer together. 

She is grateful for the continuous and overwhelming support her family and friends give her and her music.

“I am so grateful for my friends, they have always supported my music and always hype me up and promote my music through social media,” Marshall said. “I am very blessed that my friend has always supported me and music. I am so grateful to be surrounded by amazing individuals. Shoutout to Callie and Grace for being amazing and supportive friends.”

Although she has a passion and love for music, her true passion lies in medicine. Marshall aspires to attend college to become a doctor. 

“I think that medicine and biology are the best combinations of math, science, and English, and it is such a rewarding profession,” Marshall said. “I am not entirely set on a specialty I want to pursue, but right now I am planning to study Epidemiology.”

In terms of upcoming projects, Marshall does have projects currently in the making that will likely be released later this year if everything goes as planned. 

Marshall’s music is available on all streaming platforms, such as Apple Music, Youtube, and Amazon Music.

Redlands schools kick off school year with revamped distance learning program

By Ethic News staff

 As the Redlands Unified School District enters its sixth week of distance-learning for the 2020-21 school year, students, staff, parents and community members are adjusting to a new way of learning and educating.

Redlands East Valley history teacher and AVID advisor Cindy Gardner teaches from home with dual computers. In addition to modifying curriculum for remote learning, Gardner is also creating content for a new course she is teaching at REV, AP World History. (Photo courtesy of Cindy Gardner)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and state mandates, the district made the shift to starting the school year with 100% online learning for students and staff alike.

There are new specific schedules for each of the different levels within the district: elementary, middle, and high school.

Elementary students complete the school day by 1:30 pm. Elementary school online meetings scheduled for kindergarten through fifth grade specifically accommodate for extracurricular programs, such as the Coding Club.

Middle schools are operating on a rotating block schedule ending at 2:05 pm. Considerations to accommodate choir, the Associated Student Body, yearbook and sport electives were included.

High schools have a traditional six-period day that ends at 2:12 pm. The district has also added seventh period or support time where students can get help from their teachers after the school day is over.

New resources have also been made available such as information on the “Grab and Go” meal programs for families who may rely on school provided lunches. All of the specifics are outlined on the RUSD website.

Although not being allowed to have students on campus is unlike anything that the majority of teachers have experienced prior to March of 2020, many are working to make the necessary adjustments so that students can still receive a high quality education virtually.

Pamela Holcombe, an English teacher at Redlands East Valley, says “We do the best we can. My word for the year is grace. I need to show it to my students. Distractions are different at home than they are at school.” 

Featured above is history teacher and Redlands Teacher Association representative Brent William’s classroom on the Citrus Valley High School campus, modified with an extra chrome book for distance learning. Many teachers are using two computers to present content and monitor students in zoom or google meet sessions more efficiently. (Photos courtesy of Brent Williams)

Featured above is the teaching space of Citrus Valley High School teacher Danielle Kinder, designed specifically to accommodate teaching from home. Kinder teaches AP European History and finds creative ways to deliver rigorous content through the screen. (Photos courtesy of Danielle Kinder)

Diana Gamez, a Spanish teacher and AVID advisor at REV, shares her interactive bitmoji classroom she created for virtual learning. Bitmojis have become a popular and creative detail that teachers have been using in their lessons for organization and visual engagement. (Photo courtesy of Diana Gamez)

Rhonda Fouch, a physical education teacher and the girls athletic director at REV, says “[distance learning] is challenging, and there’s lots of computer screen time for kids and teachers.” 

Laura Brown, another English teacher at REV, says, “It’s a lot harder. I work so many more hours trying to anticipate what I need to show visually, things I do automatically in person. I need to prepare differently because most students are visual learners.” 

Chad Golob, a math teacher at REV, says “distance-learning is not as effective with the majority of my students . . .I’m pretty much sticking to the way I’ve always taught, as I don’t believe that more technology is necessarily a good thing.” 

Featured above is history teacher and Link Crew advisor, Becky Buyak’s, classroom on the Redlands East Valley High School campus, modified with an extra webcam for distance learning. Provided with the choice, some teachers are opting to work from their classrooms on campus with no students, and connect with their students who are at home. (Photo courtesy of Becky Buyak.)

The students are also working to get accustomed to a totally new way of learning and being taught material. For freshman, distance learning has been their introduction to high school.

“Distance learning is harder than normal school for me because it’s harder for me to focus, and sitting in front of a screen for a long period of time is not easy,” says Gianna Benash, a freshman at REV, “Also, the work being provided is hard to do because the teachers have a hard time explaining the work.”

Riley Simmons, a freshman at REV, says, “As an incoming freshman, a lot is new for me. It seems this year I’m having a lot more work than I used to.”

Issues of ensuring that the mental health of students and staff are accounted for during these stressful times have also come to light.

In regards to mental health, Aidyn Barbosa, a freshman at REV, says “Distance learning has made it worse. I’m not going to lie. I mean, I had bad mental health previously but this just made it a lot worse.” 

Dylan Clark, a freshman at REV, says distance learning has impacted his mental health “a bit, because I’m isolated from everyone. It just gets lonely sometimes.” 

Nevertheless, students are finding new ways to cope with the current situation and keeping themselves occupied from home. 

Riley Simmons, a freshman at REV, says that after school, “depending on the day of the week, I’m doing homework or going to soccer practice.” 

While some are taking the more traditional route in staying motivated and organized with new school workloads, others are taking a more unconventional approach.

 “Bang energy drinks help me stay awake during class,” says Will VanDyke, a sophomore at Citrus Valley High School. 

Ultimately, this school year has brought with it a lot of change and, in return, challenges. The members of RUSD continue to adjust and adapt, using a variety of communication tools to keep students and families updated on changes and announcements as they arise.

News brief: Redlands seniors to receive complimentary yearbooks


Superintendent of the Redlands Unified School District, Mauricio Arellano, released a statement on the evening of April 27 that recounts the steps that the district has taken to adjust to quarantine life as well as some exciting news for Redlands seniors. 

In this letter, Arellano said, “we continue to keep our students of the Senior Class of 2020 at the forefront of every discussion we have” and, following the reassurance that a formal graduation will take place once laws permit, he announced that all RUSD seniors will receive yearbooks for free.

According to Citrus Valley High School’s yearbook advisor, Jennifer Moon, the organization had to ensure that the printers could print enough copies, and those are currently being worked on.

Refunds for pre-orders and other details regarding senior activities will be communicated with families in the near future. 

Redlands students work to stay productive in their distance learning


As millions of high school students across the world enter into a new phase of education during the pandemic that is solely reliant on distant learning, obvious struggles begin to arise as organization flies out the window. Productivity seems more impossible than ever when students have now been given the option to do all their school work in their pajamas and in bed. 

Some students may thrive under a more loosely structured education. For example, those who personally decide to transition into homeschooling or online learning. However, any high schoolers that have been going to school five days a week and eight hours a day since they were five or six; struggle without the schedule and structure that attending school provides. 

Redlands Unified School district has been out of school since March 13 and began distance learning on April 13. This means that by this point, all students within the district  have had at least one week of attempting to find a way to learn from their homes. While some have had even longer, as many Advanced Placement courses began reviewing for their modified exams once spring break concluded. 

Now that the “trial period” of distance learning has been completed, many teachers and students have settled into a schedule and figured out what is going to work for them.

Skylar Watson, a junior at Redlands East Valley, is currently enrolled in three AP classes.

 She is taking a third year of a forgeign language, an honors math class, and an art elective.  Watson said that “forcing myself to wake up at a normal time in the morning, setting aside designated time for each class everyday and making sure I get outside at least once a day to give myself breaks in between my school work has kept me surprisingly productive during quarantine.” 

 Nonetheless, some students do not have their school work as organized as Watson. There is a great transition from simply a few hours of work a day to around five hours a day. 

It is extremely important to create an organizational system that works to log the classes a student will have throughout the week. For example students can make a poster, fill out an agenda,  a computer calendar system, and even a Post It schedule to log the classes they will need to attend throughout the week. Writing out all of the virtual classes and their scheduled times will take away some of the stress and risk that would come if all of that information was expected to be memorized. 

As far as completing the work that is assigned during these virtual lessons goes, dedicating specific time blocks throughout the day will help all of the work feel less daunting. If one hour work blocks are scheduled throughout the day and are complete with breaks for meals, outdoor exercise, or hobbies, the workload can get accomplished without too much stress. 

Other tips for finding success in the new world of distance learning include setting up the notifications of important applications such as the school email, google classroom, and Aeries. This way it is less likely that any important announcements or assignments will be missed. 

Students should also participate in the teachers’ dedicated office hours in the classes where they normally struggle to make sure they don’t get behind or confused on the work that is assigned. 

Staying productive during quarantine is not limited to only staying organized academically. It also involves keeping important aspects of students’ life healthy such as fitness, mental health, and relationships with friends and family. 

Making sure that students are able to find ways to still participate in the activities they loved before the pandemic is essential in making sure that their time is as enjoyable and tolerable as possible. 

Though this difficult situation has presented students with countless new challenges, high schoolers have proven to be resilient. They have still been able to be productive, organized, and make the best out of their situation. Through the use of organizational systems, notification set ups, and digital social interaction methods, students today have been able to continue getting their education in a new way. It is true that this situation is much different than any that these students have ever encountered in the past but the ways that they have overcome the current adversity should give everyone hope for the future.

Redlands Unified School District plans to hold the multi-school Genesis dance


(infographic courtesy of Citrus Valley website)

On February 28, students of all grades from Citrus Valley High School, eAcademy, Grove High School, Orangewood High School, Redlands East Valley High School, Redlands High School and RISE Program will attend a multi-school, multi-stage dance called Genesis held at the Yucaipa Performing Arts Center.

The dance will not only include multiple dance floors with several DJs, but also activities such as rock climbing, karaoke, arcade games, human foosball, caricatures and a chill lounge that are all fully included with the ticket purchase. 

Genesis’s doors will open at 7 p.m. however lines are expected and the dance will conclude at 11 p.m.

Before purchasing a ticket, students must turn in an additional waiver with the standard dance permission slips. This waiver allows students to participate in the rock climbing activities. 

The dress code for the dance is casual attire, however the school dress code still applies. Students are encouraged to dress warmly or in layers as the event has activities both indoors and outdoors. 

Students will be able to enter the dance by showing their student ID at the entrance as it will serve as their ticket. Re-entry to the dance once outside the doors will not be permitted.

This event that includes all of the RUSD schools is traditionally held once a year. However, it was not held the previous 2018-2019 school year, therefore this 2019-2020 school year is the dance’s comeback year.

A&E Brief: Elementary band students from local schools visit Citrus Valley High School


Elementary students practiced for their performance in the upcoming Christmas Parade at Citrus Valley High School on Nov. 22. These students will showcase all their hard work at the annual Redlands Christmas parade, which will take place on Dec. 7 in Downtown Redlands.

Citrus Valley band members worked with the elementary students to master their varied instruments through fun and interactive exercises. The elementary band practiced their marching on the Robert J. Hodges stadium track with the help of Citrus Valley’s marching band drumline.

After the long day of work, the kids were treated to a performance of the marching band’s current field show.

Devin Henderson, Musical Specialist Band Assistant, leads the Redlands Unified School elementary band practice at Citrus Valley High School on Nov. 22, 2019. The students were rehearsing for the annual Redlands Christmas parade performance. (Maggie Snavely/ Ethic Photo)

Devin Henderson, Musical Specialist Band Assistant, leads the Redlands Unified School elementary band practice at Citrus Valley High School on Nov. 22, 2019. (Maggie Snavely/ Ethic Photo)

Kaelyn Henderson, Musical Specialist Band Assistant, assists the Redlands Unified School elementary band practice at Citrus Valley High School on Nov. 22, 2019. (Maggie Snavely/ Ethic Photo)

Opinion: New College Board policies benefit Redlands high school students, but have room for improvement


During the 2019-2020 academic school year, the Redlands Unified School District has made several significant changes. Arguably some of the most beneficial of these changes came with the district’s agreement with the College Board organization.

SAT and PSAT pamphlets depicted by Redlands East Valley High School student advertise College Board exam. (Photo by Aaleyah Winslow and Alison Bradshaw/ Ethic Photo)

Redlands East Valley High School specifically, will be offering 20 AP courses and exams for students, ranging in topics anywhere from AP Computer Science Principles to AP US Government. The most impressive fact about the available AP courses on Redland’s campuses actually comes down to their price tag.

In past years, the average cost to take an AP exam was $25 if a student was enrolled in the course. This price, though it  might not seem outrageous to all, added up quickly for many students. To put this into perspective, some students take up to five or six AP courses per year.

Financial aid is also provided at the high schools within the district. According the Shana Delmocio, a guidance counselor at REV, “There are fee waivers that students could fill out and then have this year and every student enrolled in AP courses will only have to pay $5 per exam. Students not enrolled in the course will still have to pay the $94 if they would like to take the exam.” 

From the perspective of a junior in high school, this seems like an amazing opportunity to alleviate the financial stress that was previously related to taking an AP course. This reduced price equalized the playing field, allowing every student to have the same chance at getting the best education they possibly can in the four years they spend in high school. 

When questioned on her opinion of the price reductions, Skylar Watson, a junior at REV who is taking three AP courses this year, said “I think it is really amazing and inclusive that the district has made the cost of the tests more affordable because it is really important that every student has the opportunity to take every course that is accessible to them.”

Although there have been overall extremely positive changes made this year, there is one topic that seems to create some controversy. 

Delmonico said that RUSD has offered free PSAT exams in October for students in grades 8-11, and the SAT exams for seniors, since the 2017-21018 school year. The ability to take these exams for free can play a major role in students’ academic careers after high school, yielding many benefits. What doesn’t seem to be the most beneficial, though, is not allowing juniors to opt into taking the SAT during the October testing date. 

For many juniors in high school, they are beginning to think about life after high school, whether that entails attending college, entering the workforce, or joining the military. For many students the SAT is a large part in their college decision process, and if the RUSD is focused on providing the best possible academic environment to set up students success after they graduate, then providing multiple free SAT exams throughout all of junior and senior year is the first big step.

If a student is enrolled in RUSD from eighth grade on, they will take the PSAT for free four times but only get two free SAT exams. Although the PSAT does provide an opportunity for some students to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program, overall an additional free SAT seems much more beneficial to the majority of the students enrolled in the district.

According to the National Merit Scholarship organization, “Of the 1.6 million entrants, some 50,000 with the highest PSAT/NMSQT® Selection Index scores (calculated by doubling the sum of the Reading, Writing and Language, and Math Test scores) qualify for recognition in the National Merit® Scholarship Program.” Then, of those 50,000 students, only approximately 15,000 of those students become finalists. 

Currently, the National Merit Scholarship Program does not allow entrances into the program from students who are not juniors. The organization stated that “although some schools encourage their sophomores to take the PSAT/NMSQT for guidance purposes, these students must take the test again when they are juniors to enter the National Merit Scholarship Program if they are spending the usual four years of study in grades 9 through 12.”

When asked about her thoughts on the opportunity to take the SAT as junior twice instead of once,  Tejazvi Gopalan, a sophomore at REV said, “ I think it would be great to get some experience with the actual SAT test because then I would be able to take the whole test including the essay to get a better understanding of the test”.  She then said “ it would also help to be fully prepared going into senior year with one more SAT under your belt so that you can learn and improve.”

Students are more eager than ever to focus on their future and to prepare themselves for college or career. Therefore, students should be able to take the PSAT/NMSQT exam their sophomore year and have a chance to qualify for the program. Then junior year, the majority of students who did not qualify can then opt to take the SAT instead on the October testing date. The district could offer the opportunity for juniors to take the PSAT/NMSQT test again if they are interested.

If this new process of SAT and PSAT testing was put in place, it could satisfy the needs of a large population of high school students in the district. It would eliminate one additional preliminary SAT exam for students, giving them more opportunities to increase their score, which could have drastic effects on their college admissions experience. 

Ultimately, there are always going to be different perspectives and therefore conflicting opinions when it comes to these topics. There are thousands of high school students currently enrolled in  RUSD schools that spend months putting in hard work into AP level courses and studying hard for the SAT in order to have a brighter future. These students have strong opinions about their education system and the district should ensure that every student’s voice is heard when it comes to policies that directly affect them.

2020 Black Expo offers application guidance and on-the-spot admissions


Application season is rapidly approaching high school seniors and the time to start thinking about colleges and universities has come. A popular fair called Historical Black College and University Fair concluded in September but will be back in February. Students in California  prepare their personal statements, recommendations, and transcripts to hand out to different HBCUs. San Bernardino, Moreno Valley, Victor Valley, Fontana, and Rialto Unified School Districts all opened their schools to host the HBCU Fair. Students from these districts and surrounding districts, like Redlands Unified School District, who attended the fair in September also had the chance to apply for colleges and to get on the spot acceptance. 

If students were not able to attend this year’s HBCU Fair, another will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Feb. 1, 2020, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The admission fee is eight dollars plus sales tax. Students have the ability to purchase tickets online or at the event. Top HBCU universities such as Howard University, Morehouse College, Hampton University and many more will be attending.  Seniors are advised to dress professionally and to bring transcripts that include their Scholastic Aptitude Test or American College Test scores and teacher recommendations to apply for colleges or universities. Students who are not seniors in high school are also welcome to attend. The Black Expo gives opportunities for students to find out more information about colleges and universities in order to explore their options of going to an HBCU.

Students that attend the fair who have the appropriate Scholastic Aptitude Test or American College Testing scores and have acceptable grade point averages for that particular college will have an opportunity for acceptance to the school of their choice. The students will have the ability to join the seminars and workshops happening in the areas. Students still have a chance to visit over 50 universities or colleges nationwide.  For more updates and the opportunity to buy tickets for Feb.visit

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The National College Research Foundation official logo of the expo. Found at

The Black Expo event also offers a scholarship for those who choose to apply. The due date for this scholarship that pays for three to four years of college is January 13, 2020. The topic is “Why is a College Education Important to Me.” All entries must be typed, double spaced embedded in the email to (no attachments). The email subject must be “First Name/Last name/year/which expo/scholarship”. The winner will be contacted by email and phone three days prior. The winner will be presented at the Black Expo in Feb. All information and details about the scholarship and the expo can be found at