Online Stories

COVID Variant Shuts Down In-Person LumaCon

by Stella Schwappach

LumaCon, Petaluma’s annual comic convention, was moved online for the second consecutive year, this time due to rising rates of the omicron variant. Due to the January Sonoma County Health Order regulating event size, the LumaCon team chose to go virtual for the Saturday, Jan. 29 event.

The team running this year’s event took inspiration from previous events that worked well online, offering online panels, art tutorials, a gaming room held on Zoom and arts and crafts.

Petaluma High School librarian Shannon Britten said,“We played with the strength of the online format for this year. So the pieces that were online [last year] that worked well we used, and the pieces that didn’t really work as well, like interacting with artists, we're hoping to save for the spring.” Britten also worked on putting together craft kits for the online convention, which were available at the Sonoma County Library for pickup. “People were interacting with a lot of our social media posts showing us things that they had made with the take-and-make craft kits, and watching the different videos,” said Britten.

Should COVID-19 protocols allow, an in-person LumaCon will be held on April 30 at the Sonoma Marin Fairgrounds. Vendors, live action role playing, cosplay contests and a mobile library bus are already lined up for the in-person event.

Yay or Nay: Valentine’s Day Candy

by Maya Cramer

You walk out of your second grade classroom with a Valentine's Day mailbox full of

candy from your classmates. Is it filled with your favorites or the candy you despise the most?

Debating the best and the worst types of Valentine’s Day candy can be controversial, but the main candies that people hope for on Valentine’s Day include Fun Dip, Lindt Truffles, Hershey Kisses, a classic box of chocolates and Conversation Hearts.

In my opinion, the worst candy is surely the Conversation Heart. They can have a chalky taste and do not have much flavor. They were originally used for medicine in the 1800s, being repurposed into a candy in 1847. On the other hand, they have cute messages that are fitting for this holiday.

Fun Dip’s former name was Lik-M-Aid and it was invented around 1952. Lik-M-Aid did not include the candy stick, only sugary powder. The idea sprouted from drink powders that children would eat instead of mixing them with water. I think this candy ranks fourth place out of all five of the candies. It would be difficult to eat a lot of Fun Dip, but the idea is very unique and it is hard to find anything similar.

Lindt Chocolate Truffles are rich and creamy bite-sized chocolates. According to Lindt, during Christmas of 1969, the Swiss company came out with the Lindor truffles because they looked like ornaments. Consumers kept asking for more after the Christmas season, and they are now available all year round. These definitely should rank third place because they can be quite pricey for a small amount of chocolate, but I think the flavors are quite worth the splurge for Valentine’s Day.

Hershey Kisses come in second place and have been around for over a century. They are loved for also being bite-sized and for their unique shape. Many people theorize that the name stems from the chocolate machine making a kissing sound. I think these are the second best candy for this special day because they always come out with fun foil wrappers according to the season.

The most-loved candy of all is the classic box of chocolates. It is easy to share with family,

friends or your partner and can contain a variety of types of chocolate, including milk, dark and white chocolate. See’s Candy is very popular on the west coast and they have a lot of different chocolates to offer. When I think of Valentine’s Day, this is automatically what I think of, so it is the best Valentine’s Day candy.

When you walk down your local grocery store’s Valentine’s Day aisle this weekend, consider celebrating with the top three candies: boxes of chocolates, Hershey Kisses and Lindor truffles.

Secret to a Longer Life: A New Diet

by Stella Dowd

The false notion that meat is the best way to get protein has been sold to the public for decades by the meat industry. Advertisements heavily preach that eating beef and other animal byproducts will make you strong and athletic; however, recent studies show the opposite.

While it is true that meat contains adequate protein, that protein is actually derived from most animals’ plant-based diets. Switching to a plant-based diet containing protein-filled foods such as soy, nuts and lentils offer all of the health benefits of eating animals like turkey and pork without the negative side effects.

These downsides of meat have some severe effects on the body and are the catalyst for many diseases, especially in the heart. Because processed meats are high-cholesterol foods, they cause a buildup of plaque in the artery walls, blocking blood flow to the heart. This causes all kinds of health problems, including heart attacks and reduced blood flow. Reduced blood flow especially impacts athletic performance, causing exhaustion faster due to a lack of oxygen pumping through the body.

The positive effects of a plant-based diet go further than just physical health; it can also improve mental health. A study published in 2005 by Dr. Stephanie Kaza, who earned her doctorate in biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, suggests that cutting out meat intake is associated with feelings of serenity and lessened anger. The study claims that this occurs from the reduced intake of toxic pesticides and hormones.

All of the necessary nutrients and protein you need can be found in plants but switching to a strict plant-based diet immediately can be difficult. A first step can be to cut out meat intake and increase portions of vegetables on the plate to gradually move toward a healthier, longer life.

Why You Should Take Psychology

by David Cook

Throughout the first semester of my senior year, I have been writing a column inspired by psychological concepts and principles that I learned in Heather Archibald’s AP Psychology class. As class registration closes out, sophomores and juniors should certainly consider putting AP Psychology on their schedule next year.

“I love teaching AP Psychology because it’s one of those stand-alone classes that is fresh and new and you aren’t really going to get [the content] from anywhere else,” said Archibald. “Psychology is also absolutely relevant to life. What I really appreciate about the subject is that you really do see it everywhere around you and once you understand the concepts and sciences behind it, it just adds depth to life.”

Before enrolling in this class, I was interested in Psychology, but did not know exactly what if I wanted this interest to become a hobby or a passion. After just weeks of being a part of Mrs. Archibald’s class, I decided that I would apply to every college as a psychology major. We have learned about concepts such as perception, cognition, learning, social sciences and much more. What I love about the class is we get to learn about different aspects of psychology by both conducting experiments on others, but also being a part of the experiments. Taking psychology is a fun social science class to take, but more importantly, it will help you to better understand people’s behavior and the inner workings of the human mind.

Is it too Late to Start Playing a Sport in High School?

by Devin Ruy

Many high school students are reluctant to try out for or continue sports at the high school level. While some believe that sports will take away from academics or they will not be good enough to compete, it is almost guaranteed you will not suffer from any of them as long as the proper adjustments are made so everything can fit in your life, with the addition of sports.

If there is a hint of a feeling that it is too late to start playing sports in high school, your feelings are unfounded. I have played three new sports in high school, kept exceptional academics, and as a senior I have no regrets from playing any of them. In my high school career I have played a total of four sports total, including baseball, football, basketball, and lacrosse. Out of them, I have chosen and settled in with lacrosse as the final sport of my senior year, a sport I love and wish to continue at the collegiate level.

Sports are widely known as fun or something to do to occupy oneself, but what is often overlooked are the benefits and learning experiences those who participate in sports can receive. Although I have excelled at some sports more than others, I can safely say I have had valuable experiences with all of them, building myself in so many more ways than just athletically. Athletics have been a facet for me to practice and showcase my leadership skills since I first started, and through the years I have built those skills every practice and game, helping myself and others as much as possible. Leadership is an intricate part of sports, and is one of the most important and rewarding aspects of participating in athletics. Practicing and displaying leadership in sports has helped me become confident in my ability to lead in so many more ways than in just athletics, from utilizing it in the classroom to the workplace.

Everyone should try sports, and if one sport does not work for you, I urge you to try another. Athletics have become a huge part of my life, and have become something I put at the forefront of my life, which I would not change for the world.

New Baseball Coach Steps Up to the Plate

by Charlie Scott

Just as spring welcomes the new baseball season, the PHS baseball team welcomes Scott Osder as the new head coach.

Osder has 20 years of coaching experience to bring to the table. “I [was the]… head baseball coach at three different schools prior to my arrival at PHS,” Osder said. Osder coached at two southern California schools and at Tamalpais High School in Marin, where his team won the NCS D3 Section Title in 2014. He has also coached at both California State University, Northridge and San Francisco State.

Osder is excited to be back on the baseball field after two long years without games for both coaches and student athletes. He said, “Based on what I … have observed, I have confidence …(that) we will work hard everyday to learn and improve and have a successful season.”

Osder is convinced that the PHS team has a good chance to make it to the top of the league standings, and make a run in section playoffs. “We have talented, experienced, smart players,” Osder said. “They have a lot to learn about execution and competing at the highest level … but I am confident we will get there.”