The Trojan Tribune
by, about and for the students
Petaluma High School's Trojan Tribune joins you online!
The PHS Journalism staff proudly presents a collection of their COVID-based newsletters, entirely online. View our latest issue:
Issue 1 website exclusive
Teachers with young kids: Mr. Granados
Featureby Cameryn Schisler
With the COVID-19 pandemic still greatly affecting the United States, many schools have moved education away from the classroom and transferred to online learning, which has come with its own set of difficulties. Among those challenges are teachers who have young children at home, who are needing to find a balance between home-life and teacher-life.
Brian Granados, Petaluma High School history teacher, said, “Honestly, I do as much as I can as far as helping out with school. The reality is that their mother helps, they prefer to work with her.” His wife, who is a teacher at Mark West Elementary School, recently had their fourth child and is currently out on maternity leave, which gives her the opportunity to help their children at home. “I wanna say I appreciate all the effort of teachers to try to make the best out of this situation,” Granados said.
Teachers who teach from home with little kids face their own unique set of complications, but many teachers are finding ways to make it work.
Check out the Issue 1 tab (found in the upper left hand corner) for more online exclusives.
Some of our current favorite stories:
Insight from a student worker
Featureby Ellie Hall
COVID-19 has significantly changed the workplace for student workers, from highly demanding social distance and mask regulations to an increased caution and risk of contracting the virus.
Gunnar Lindgren, Petaluma High School senior, works at both Zumiez and Dillion Beach, where mask-wearing is strictly enforced. “At the beach, it’s a wide variety of people and you just don’t know who might be taking it seriously and who might not be,” Lindgren said. He also voiced concerns that taking money from strangers all day puts him at a higher risk of contact with the virus, and that people at the beach are generally less inclined to wear masks. At Zumiez, customers are politely asked to leave the store if they do not abide by the mask policies.
But not every teen is so fortunate to have a job. Former Redwood Empire Gymnastics employee Isabel Eskes has not been working since the closing of the gym back in March, when shelter-in-place protocols were enforced. Nothing has been revealed as to when she will be back, and she is now searching for another job. “It’s hard, because my experience was so specific to one thing,” Eskes said.
Whether or not students are working, the job environment has changed everywhere due to safety and health concerns. Some students, like Lindgren, feel that the benefits outweigh the risk.
Mental toll of distance learning
Editorialby David Cook and Stella Schwappach
Distance learning and quarantine have gone mainstream for Petaluma High School students in the past seven months, gradually becoming the new normal. But what changes, beyond the physical aspects of social distancing and required masks, has this mass quarantine caused among high school students who have been forced to adapt? From constant social stimulation to almost none, and from one chaotic environment to an unknown digital world, what has the impact been on the mental state of students?
The sudden change from typical pandemic-free life to quarantine in March forced people to adapt to this new reality. Going from a busy daily life to months upon months of no structure has proved itself to be challenging. Ava Staub, sophomore, went from a structured schedule filled with schoolwork and athletics to months of free time during which no one could leave the house.
“I felt like I had no purpose; the first two weeks of quarantine I didn't get out of my bed at all,” Staub said. “I didn't see anyone, talk to anyone, didn't get out of bed, didn't make food, I didn't really do anything because I didn't feel like there was a reason to.” Life completely flipped upside down in only a few weeks, leaving students such as Staub to try and learn to cope with the new normal of life. “[Things have] been better since ... I get to see one or two of my friends,” Staub said. “Especially since distance learning is more structured now, that’s helped a lot, and also just getting to see the people in my bubble.”
Students who did not struggle with their mental health before quarantine are now being introduced to the world of less than ideal mental health — but what about students who had these issues for months or years before this change? A PHS student, who wished to remain anonymous, has been struggling with depression for over two years. A few months into quarantine, they saw a therapist and were clinically diagnosed. Though the student had been struggling with this mental toll for a long time, they were able to live with it prior to quarantine because of the company of their friends, as it was concealed by their busy life. Once quarantine began, it was impossible to ignore the issue any longer.
“Most of my time was spent with me and my homework, and [my mind] could only wander to how I was feeling right then,” they said. “[It was] like I’d been thrown out into a wasteland and had to deal with it all on my own.” Now in quarantine, problems that they could normally drown under friends and a busy life have made themselves known. “I started to realize I don’t really feel any emotion… I could have a day where it’s one of those teenage moments… but I just didn’t feel happiness anymore,” they said.
No matter how teens have responded to this abrupt lifestyle change, it is still a traumatic event; therapist and Petaluma resident Dyer Manning has recommendations on how high schoolers should cope if they are experiencing any problems with their mental health. “There is so much focus on what we can’t do, so I try and work with people on what we can do… Whether it's making plans with friends or family, getting out of the house, extracurricular activities. I think getting out and having some normalcy, while trying to be safe [is important],” Manning said.
The impacts on mental health on those previously affected and newly struggling alike are evident; however, there are many ways to cope. If you are struggling, please do not hesitate to contact one of the services listed below:
24-hour Emergency Mental Health Hotline: (800) 746-8181
North Bay Suicide Prevention Hotline of Sonoma County: (855) 587-6373
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
Timeline of Trump's response to ongoing California wildfires
Politics Newsby Destry Schultz and Maya Walter
Over 3.6 million acres of land have been utterly destroyed by the almost 8,000 wildfires that have raged throughout California since the start of the year. The fires have been burning all over the state, and local authorities have been struggling to control the blazes in the midst of a worsening pandemic.
Responding to the natural disasters, President Donald Trump’s initial statement, taken directly from the official White House website, was one of support for California Governor Gavin Newsom: “Great to be here. Great to be with the Governor. We’ve been speaking a lot about the problem, and it’s a big problem, and it’ll get solved. We want to pay our love and respect, and we say, ‘God bless you,’ to those that were killed in this horrible fire because it’s a series of fires. You put them together, and it’s a big monster, Gavin.”
However, Trump’s additional remarks about California’s handling of the fires have sparked contention among local officials. During a rally on Sept. 12 in Minden, Nevada, Trump told his audience that the fires were caused by “forest management.” During an interview with ABC News the following day, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkely pushed back on Trump’s criticism, saying, “The President has said it's all about raking the forest, it's just a big and devastating lie.”
The president attended a meeting with California officials to discuss the devastating widespread fires. At the meeting, California’s Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said, “I think one area of mutual agreement and priority is vegetation management, but I think we want to work with you to really recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forests and actually work together with that science; that science is going to be key.”
However, Trump disagrees that climate change has anything to do with the increase in fires. In response to Crowfoot, Trump said, “It’ll start getting cooler,” and “Well, I don’t think science knows, actually.” From the beginning of his presidency, Trump has had doubts about climate change and is still skeptical of its role in the fires.
Even during the first round of presidential debates on Sept. 29, when moderator and Fox News anchor Chris Wallace questioned the president about the wildfires and their possible causes, his response remained the same. Trump continued to blame the state’s supposedly poor “forest management” for its inability to contain the current blazes. Trump has since announced he is leaving the state in charge of “cleaning the forest floors,” despite the fact that the majority of the burn areas are spreading from federally owned land.
It is important to keep in mind that the current wildfires are a constantly evolving threat, and at any point, the government and our response may have to change to accommodate the constantly evolving fires.
School Newsby Maddie Peachy
2020 has been a year full of unexpected twists, turns and surprises. For students, school is now online and on top of that, many events have been postponed. One of the biggest events that shocked students across the U.S. was the cancellation of the SAT and ACT tests.
For juniors and seniors preparing to apply to a four year college, the SAT and ACT are required standardized tests that measure college readiness, meant to predict future success. Many colleges use these tests to aid their decision when accepting students; they also help to gauge the amount and types of scholarships awarded among students. With COVID-19 still present, quarantine still in effect and no vaccine available, let alone approved, the gathering of large numbers of students to take the tests would be too dangerous.
College Board released the statement, “As schools continue to navigate uncertainties due to the coronavirus, the top priorities for College Board are the health and safety of students and educators….Test centers make individual decisions about whether to administer the SAT, and they may close before the administration, right up until test day.”
With many seniors unable to test, colleges across the country have been making SAT and ACT scores optional but not mandatory. The nine undergraduate schools in the University of California (UC) system are not allowing students to submit their scores. In fact, the UCs have decided to stop using SAT and ACT scores until 2024, stating that if there are no better tests presented to replace the SAT and ACT, they will completely drop the standardized test requirement. Many other colleges however, are replacing test scores with extra prompts or essays.
Your vote matters: but why?
Opinion by Stella Frances
Though plenty of Americans remain in agreement that Joe Biden is not an ideal presidential candidate, the pressing issue in the United States concerns his opponent. While it may, for any number of reasons, feel surreal to vote for Biden, a vote for anyone but him — including no vote at all — is a dangerous vote for Donald Trump.
America is the supposed “land of the free” with the promise of “liberty and justice for all,” but the country’s ongoing political battle between good and evil manifests itself into a very literal form as the 2020 election draws nearer; what was once a mere decision between the vote for a liberal or conservative president has morphed into a blatant display of one’s support for basic civil rights. Since the election of Trump in 2016, women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community living in America have been facing attacks both physical and psychological, leaving many in fear for their own lives. With their rights being stripped away left and right, the coming election proves that this is no longer a battle between the left and the right: this is now a war for equality and for human rights.
Petaluma High School senior Bailey Dyson will be 18 by the November election and advocates that voting is an imperative responsibility as an American citizen, especially at such a young age. “It is my duty to exercise my rights as a [U.S.] citizen and actively try to improve the country,” Dyson said. “This election is important because we are given the opportunity as citizens to set a new narrative for the country… [we are] capable of determining where the power should go.” After conducting political research and observations of her own out of concern for the current state of America, Dyson concluded, “I am voting for Biden… there needs to be a change.”
In addition to his numerous plans for gender and racial equality in America, Biden outlined what he calls a “Clean Energy Revolution” in response to climate change. He intends to “build on the Affordable Care Act by giving Americans more choice, reducing health care costs, and making our health care system less complex to navigate,” as well as ensure that all Americans have an equal opportunity to the right of an education. This is nothing less than the tip of the iceberg.
Trump threatens that “Biden’s America” will be one filled with cruelty and violence while just the opposite is true; this dystopia that Trump presents is the America that he has created and reveres.
Arturo Valenzuela, a senior advisor at Covington & Burling international law firm and political scientist who taught at Duke and Georgetown Universities who served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, theorized that “should Trump be reelected we will continue to see an erosion of some of the fundamental principles embodied in our Constitution that threaten our institutions and our democracy.” This petrifying thought alludes more toward a dictatorship than the democratic republic so solemnly promised upon America’s foundation.
Prove that you actually care about yourself and those around you by voting for Biden’s America. Vote not because you love Biden, but because you care about equality and civil rights. Vote to promote love and human decency over hate or cruelty. Vote to protect your future, to protect the future of your family and peers, to protect generations to come and to protect your planet. Your vote matters.