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Vol. 92, Issue 4: Feb. 10, 2022

Issue 4 Website Exclusives

Will We Return to Distance Learning?

Feature

by Aiden Griffin

As the COVID-19 omicron variant rapidly swept through Petaluma High and the community at large, students wondered if a return to distance learning was inevitable. However, it takes certain permissions from the state government to allow online learning, so the likelihood of such a move is low.

On March 13, 2020, California state governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to fund districts for students attending distance learning, which officially ended on June 30, 2021. Since the executive order is now over, school districts only get paid for students who attend in-person school.

Due to the rise in COVID cases worldwide, many teachers and students in major school districts across the country are protesting to shut down schools until the COVID health and safety protocols are reviewed and changed to keep students, teachers and other staff members healthy. One of the first districts to shut down was in Chicago, as the teachers voted to close the schools for five days due to a lack of COVID restrictions.

PHS principal Justin Mori said, “If COVID spread to a point where schools in the district could not be run safely, yes, we could use the emergency make-up days scheduled in the calendar.”

There is not a clear path for PHS to return to distance learning since the district would not receive any financial compensation for kids participating in online school. It will take the California government changing the restrictions on average daily attendance (ADA) to see a return to distance learning in the Petaluma City Schools community.

What Masks are Better?

Feature

by Emily Lara

Wearing masks is not a new concept; these past few years, it has become commonplace to see a variety of masks on the faces around us. Everyone has different opinions when it comes to wearing a certain type. Some prefer cloth masks over surgical, and some might prefer KN95 over both.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), different masks provide different levels of protection. The CDC states that loosely woven cloth masks provide the least amount of protection, in contrast to those that are layered and finely woven. Surgical masks and KN95 masks offer more protection than any type of cloth mask. Well-fitting NIOSH respirator masks offer the highest level of protection along with the KN95. The CDC recommends that you try to use surgical masks and KN95 masks more than cloth masks, since cloth masks can be quite exposing depending on what fabric they are made out of.

They recommend that regardless of whatever mask you choose to use, it should be a good fit, meaning that it fits close to your face without any gaps along the edges or around your nose. It should be comfortable enough for you to be able to wear properly.

After the CDC updated their guidelines to account for the omicron variant, many have been even more anxious regarding leaving their homes to shop and go to work. Many stores have started selling masks online during this time. Major companies such as Nordstrom, UnderArmour and Lululemon are just a few that sell masks online, as do many local shops and Etsy stores.

The War of The Eggs

Feature

by Destry Schultz

The shortages experienced by San Franciscans during the mid 1800s due to the California Gold Rush drove many to seek alternative means of getting food. The influx of people during this time and the skyrocketing food prices had led them to a chain of islands where sea birds nested, and made people desperate enough to kill for their eggs.

Prior to 1849, the city of San Francisco had consisted of a few tents and ramshackle one-story wood homes, with a total population of 800. However, the discovery of gold by James W. Marshall in the Sacramento River would start the California Gold Rush, triggering one of the fastest mass migration events in American history. The Rush transformed the Bay Area into a bustling metropolis of 20,000 citizens. Almost overnight, ships began to pack the port cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, while wagon trains crowded frontier towns along the Sierra Nevada. The people streaming into the city were often tired and hungry from long sea voyages and caravan trips. There was never enough livestock or agricultural products to sustain the rapid population growth and demand for eggs soon outgrew any other food, with the price of a single egg rising to $1.00, equivalent to $30.00 today.

Recognizing there was money to be made, people from the city began to scour the surrounding area for places to raise livestock. Some looked to the sea, and set their sights on an unusual spot. The Farallon Islands, lying some 30 miles off of the Northern California Coast, were little more than jagged hunks of rock rising from the ferocious swell of the Pacific Ocean. The tiny island chain played host to a variety of animals, but the hungry eyes of San Francisco fell on the population of Common Murres that nested on the mountain peaks. Soon, egg hunters were boating through turbulent water out to the islands and collecting seabird eggs that were twice the size of chicken ones, and perfectly edible.

The first poachers came back in 1849 with several thousand dollars worth of eggs on their boats. After seeing the success these egg poachers had, anyone who could charter a ride out began to flock to the islands. Taking advantage of the ungoverned territory and seeing the success of other egg poachers, a crew of 6 men sailed out to the Farallons in 1851 and declared the islands property of their “Pacific Egg Company.”

Bitter rivalry soon developed between the Pacific Egg Company and the other groups of people who wanted free access to the edible cargo. Groups sailing to the islands would ram other boats to spill their eggs, and men pushed and shoved each other on the slippery rocks of the islands. The tension boiled over from small acts of aggression to an all-out war by 1863. Boats shipping out eggs were hijacked by local pirates and their crews were left adrift on small rafts to make their own way back to the mainland. To fight back, all parties involved in the business began equipping their ships with guns and cannons, which eventually turned into a small-scale naval war over who had access to the precious eggs. On the islands themselves, egg poachers scrambled to get to the seabird nests before they were shot at by the Pacific Egg Company, who were now employing heavily-armed mercenaries to guard the islands. Seeing the chaos unfolding around the islands, and wanting to establish their own claim, the state government sent in armed marines of the Revenue Cutter Service, the contemporary version of the Coast Guard. These armed officers found themselves having to fend off near constant assaults by ravenous San Franciscans hoping to seize the islands. The height of the war saw one killed and five injured in an attempted naval invasion of the islands by Italian fishermen.

Fed up with the conflict over the islands, the Federal Government granted sole egging and enforcement rights to the Pacific Egg Company, which then proceeded to strip the island of so many eggs that the market crashed, leaving them bankrupt. Demanding the removal of the island’s foghorn and lighthouse for fear of scaring the remaining birds away, the company fell out of favor with the government, and was forcibly evicted in 1881. The enthusiasm for eggs had left its mark on Northern California, with residents of San Francisco pushing outwards into the neighboring land, fueling the growth of communities on the frontier. By the time the last of the egg poachers had left the islands for good, the farming community of Petaluma had become the primary supplier of San Francisco’s poultry, cementing itself as an economic powerhouse of the region for decades to come.

Check out the Issue 4 tab (found in the upper left hand corner) for more online exclusives.

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Phoenix Teen Clinic Reopens

Feature

by Stella Frances

Petaluma’s Phoenix Theater is more than a music venue and social hub — its teen health clinic offers free and confidential healthcare for youth ages 12-25.

The Phoenix teen clinic has been open for almost 20 years but was forced to close temporarily in March 2020 due to COVID-19. While it has not yet fully returned to its pre-pandemic operations, it will be open on Wednesdays from 3:30-5:50 p.m. as of Dec. 15.

Quinn Hyland, Sonoma Academy senior, works with Cheryl Negrin to ensure that the clinic offers the most personalized and hands-on service possible to its clients.

“Before the pandemic, it was very popular; there would be lines out the door of teens wanting to come to the clinic for a number of different services,” Hyland said. “We offered a multitude of services, including condoms and lube, birth control, emergency contraceptives (Plan B), IUDs, Pap smears and more. Now, [because of COVID,] we can’t offer services like the IUD and Pap smear, but hopefully we will get [back] to that point soon.”

In accordance with COVID precautions, the clinic admits no more than one patient at a time and cleans thoroughly before and after each person comes in, according to Hyland.

The clinic’s ultimate goal is to provide a safe space for local youth, and ensuring patient confidentiality is the driving component in this safety. “Ensuring confidentiality is easy for the most part, especially because there aren’t any dealings with payments or insurance,” said Hyland. Patients are asked to fill out a form with their desired services and personal health information, but that is the extent of their questioning. Hyland said, “We build a certain level of trust with our patients; they trust us and we trust them.”

The Phoenix’s clinic is a valuable asset to the town and teens of Petaluma, especially during the holiday season when school and other activities are on pause. It is vital to be able to reach out for help, particularly when it comes to sexual health. To utilize this resource, stop by the Phoenix Theater at 201Washington St. in downtown Petaluma on Wednesdays from 3:30-5:50 p.m., or reach out to them through Instagram direct message (@phoenixteenclinic) or by email (phoenixteenclinic@gmail.com).

Tuning in to Petaluma’s Music Scene: Meet Eject Button

Column

by Stella Frances

Petaluma’s music scene is far more intricate than meets the eye, and being a live music fan myself, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that some of Petaluma’s favorite bands consist of our very own Petaluma High students. Among the many talented acts, however, one band particularly stands out: the neoteric Eject Button.

Eject Button’s fast-paced drumming, compelling basslines and vocals, falling somewhere between the lines of blues, grunge and classic rock, make for a distinctively captivating sound. They draw large crowds at the Phoenix Theater despite only having played three shows and are on the lineup for the Theater’s annual Christmas show on December 1818, 2021, a respectable role for such a newly formed band.

Jack Collins, PHS junior and drummer of Eject Button, said that he started the band last summer with lead guitarist and vocalist Alex Fabian-Davies, senior at Carpe Diem High School. “We just [started] going to the Phoenix after school and jamming,” Collins said in regards to the band’s beginnings.

Collins said that Eject Button, if at all categorizable, falls under the umbrella of alternative rock. Their greatest influence is Jimi Hendrix, his work evident in their groovy, bass-heavy originals, which Collins hopes to begin recording soon.

Of course, a burning question remains: How did Eject Button get its name? As it turns out, there is no pivotal story so much as there was an offhanded suggestion from bassist and vocalist Harry Van der Meer, PHS senior, according to Collins.

In their essence, Eject Button is a talented group of local students who not only care about their music, but execute it in a way that their peers understand, relate to and seriously seem to enjoy.



Consumerism, fast fashion and trends, oh my!

Feature

by Sophia Paul

On an app where the allotted time per video averages 15 seconds, it is no wonder that TikTok has quickly become our fast-paced society’s favorite way to spend free time and connect with each other. With TikTok’s brisk nature, it is responsible for many short-lived trends.

In order for users to participate in the multitude of ever changing trends, they look to cheap alternatives such as Shein, Forever21, Romwe and more. It has even become a trend in itself to show clothing hauls on TikTok, which has contributed to overconsumption of clothing in our society.

Something many participants in these trends are not aware of is the one thing they all have in common: the fashion cycle. They start with an introduction to the trend where it is introduced by a fashion designer or popular influencer. Then, trends pick up traction as they become more popular. After a while, the trends hit their peak. When new trends emerge, older trends become outdated and forgotten, following the usual trend cycle.

In previous years, it took trends around 1-3 years to make their way around the fashion cycle. Now, it has been found that trends fully complete the cycle in as little as one to fourteen weeks. This has caused trends to quickly be left behind, leaving people with closets full of clothes that they are no longer wearing since the trend has lost popularity.

Some people who buy their way through the trend cycle end up donating their outdated clothes to local thrift stores, but according to calpirg.org, 83% of our discarded clothing still ends up in the landfill.

More recently we have seen the newest trends take inspiration from the late ‘90s and early 2000s, which can likely be credited to the revival of the Twilight fandom. After the entirety of the Twilight Saga was made available on Netflix, the hashtags #twilightoutfit and #twilightcore on TikTok collectively gained over 20 million views.

Some users predict that these trends are nearing the end of their short trip around the trend cycle; in the near future, expect to see the majority of the trendy clothing on a curbside in a box labeled “for free.”

Finals Affect on Mental Health

Opinion

by Remy Lakritz

As finals approach, staying up late, mental exhaustion and mental breakdowns become the norm for students across the nation. Finals are the most important tests of the year, and the way the tests are set up causes unnecessary stress.

Forcing students as young as eleven to take finals, where they are tested on their knowledge from the entire semester, places damaging stress on these students. Students stay up late to complete assignments and projects, and the lack of sleep can severely affect a student’s developing brain, mental health and overall performance on the finals. According to the Child Mind Institute, losing sleep can cause at-risk students to fall into a depressed state.

When finals come around, I dread tests and projects, as any student would. Personally, I fear them because I feel I have to be perfect in every class. I feel like if I don’t get at least a 90%, I performed poorly, which is clearly not the case. My perfectionism causes me to work for hours on projects that teachers will often only skim over.

These tests can often make or break someone’s future. Final exams are usually worth a large portion of a student's grade, so if a student fails, it will drop their grade significantly. When students work endlessly, they can experience something called academic burnout, which is “a negative emotional, physical and mental reaction to prolonged study that results in exhaustion, frustration, lack of motivation and reduced ability in school,” as said by uopeople.edu, which can make it extremely difficult to study. Students often experience this academic burnout at the end of the semester when it is imperative to be focused. If a student is unable to study, then their grade will be greatly affected.

Since the final semester grade is recorded on transcripts, and as such, is what is seen by colleges, finals have an almost unfair impact on students in their college applications and future studies.

Web Blocker

Opinion

by Destry Schultz

The systems used by social media companies to hook people's attention and keep them browsing has been effectively weaponized as a way to expose them to even more unhinged conspiracy theories and ideologies. Every person reading this has had their lives subtly influenced by the spread of QAnon and movements like it, whether they know it or not. Online spaces can effectively become echo chambers for those willing to spread false information to their flock of followers, meaning anything contrary to the established narrative is quickly shut down and ignored.

The online alt-right is comparable to an extremely contagious virus; no one is completely safe from it, and it can grow and infect dozens or even hundreds of people at a time. The online right has gotten very good at indoctrinating people through their anxiety. An example of this phenomenon playing out in real time is the sudden explosion in popularity of the anti-vaccine movement. The very real concerns many ordinary people had about the effectiveness of the COVID vaccine when it was being rolled out pushed them to try to seek information about it online, which then directly exposed them to blatantly false information competing with the genuine data at the top of the results page.

The internet has drastically changed since school districts across the country first rolled out Chromebooks and iPads for their students. The full impact of these changes has yet to be studied, but the undeniable fact is that prolonged exposure to the easily accessible sphere of misinformation online is immeasurably damaging to anyone’s psyche. Additionally, the web blockers put in place have thousands of holes and shortcomings, if Petaluma High School’s own system is anything to go by. The tale of an obscure site named Kiwifarms.net is just one of many examples.

Kiwifarms is a relatively obscure, innocuously-named internet forum that has come to represent the dark underworld of internet nazism in the past few months. The forum, which advertises itself as being pro-free speech with no restrictions, has attracted those who have been banned from other platforms for hate speech. The site has subsequently become nothing more than a megaphone for neo-nazi and alt-right propoganda. Currently, Kiwifarms is freely accessible from any district-owned Chromebook, PC and tablet.

Through the alt-right pipeline, users can be easily routed to sites like Kiwifarms without even looking for them through more innocent-looking forums and platforms. Even the version of YouTube presented by the district is not safe, as right-wing channels and news stations have been known to deliberately pay for adspaces to attract as much attention as possible.

To be fair, this-ever evolving ecosystem of hate and misinformation is impossible to keep up with, but the fact that sites like Kiwifarms remain up is proof that the blocker at PHS is outdated and ineffective at preventing the same radicalization that is present on the larger web. The best thing the district can do to show that it cares about the mental health of its students and faculty is to do more research on what exactly the alt-right pipeline is, how it functions and what sites need to be immediately restricted to prevent the indoctrination of Petaluma City Schools’ students.