Editorial: Bell Schedule

Published: The Talon TALONNovember2013, see                                                                                           pbell schedule editorialage 7. November 2013.

About: As Clayton Valley converted to a charter school in 2012, students were still adjusting to the brand new class schedule. While many were in support of the change, there were still some students, including myself, that thought the schedule wasn’t perfect.

Imagine an exhausted student who spent the whole night doing his homework. He arrives to school with only minutes before the bell rings. At his locker, he grabs his books and walks to his first class. He takes his seat as the bell rings and suddenly realizes it’s a block day; the class periods are out of order at Clayton Valley Charter High School.

The bell schedule on block days leaves the students in confusion. The Wednesday
schedule contains classes 2, 3, and 1 leaving Thursday with classes 5, 4, and 6. One would think it would be easier to have those class periods in numerical order. Matthew Mullins, a junior at CV, admits that the current block day schedules are “confusing to understand” and that it has taken him some time to get used to them.
So why do we even have block days? Block days are deemed necessary by some
teachers, as they do not agree with a six period day, five days a week. Some teachers like to have a block period so students can accomplish more work during the class while others enjoy teaching in long periods to make sure students fully understand the curriculum.

Erika Morales, a senior at CV, supports the block day schedule because she likes “the order of [her] classes” on those days and that the school has an earlier release time.
Another important aspect of the current block day schedule is its order. The 2, 3, 1, schedule allows students with an open first to go home at the end of the day similarly to students with an open sixth on 5, 4, 6 days. Child psychology students also have the schedule tailored to their needs as they must have their class in the middle of the day on both Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Despite these reasons, the school week at CVCHS would be much easier with
six period days throughout the week. Students would most likely have all the proper class materials as they would be bringing them every day. This schedule would work for all students who have an open first or sixth period as well as those participating in the child psychology courses. Mrs. Dana Tarantino, a math teacher at Clayton Valley, adds that many things were changed in the past year to improve test scores. She believes that “the change from the previous block schedule [to having more six period days in the school week] had a big part in increasing our test scores.”
The idea of a six period day schedule five days a week at CVCHS has many potential benefits and should be considered by the administration. A consistent schedule would eliminate the confusion on block days for incoming students as well as returning students who have not gotten used to it.


Editorial: Gun Control

Published: The Talon TALONDecemberr2013, see page 7. December  2013. gun control editorial

About: In December of 2013, our class final was to write an editorial on gun control in California. Our adviser announced that the best editorial would then be chosen to be put into the newspaper. My editorial was selected and published.

With an estimated 283 million guns in civilian hands, the United States experiences over ten thousand gun homicides annually, leaving the country ranked fairly high in this category worldwide. However, California has some of the strictest gun laws amongst the states and has experienced a 56% decrease in gunfire killings since 1993. The current gun laws that are in place in the state of California have proven to be successful, so why not continue with the regulations and continue to lower the statistic?

Many gun owners stand in the way of dropping such rates as gun control laws are quite frequently equated to stripping away American citizens’ 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. But gun owners are still treated equally as citizens and they can still own their guns as long as they meet the proper requirements to do so.

As a result of many mass shootings in the past year, namely the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, legislators have taken action more than ever before in the state of California to regulate gun laws. Subsequently, three key issues that were brought up by American citizens after the shooting were the improvement of background checks, limiting the sales of military-style weaponry, and the ability to confiscate guns from criminals or the mentally-ill. These topics have been discussed more than ever before, and the precautions that are being taken towards initiating them have created controversy amongst gun rights advocates.

One of the biggest worries that gun owners have is concerning background checks and required information to obtain a gun. Starting January 1st, 2014, “the California Department of Justice will retain information on long-gun purchases, data it had formerly been compelled to destroy within five days”. One might think that this shouldn’t be too much of an issue for law abiding gun owners. However, Nancy Stewart, a 55 year-old from Grass Valley, says otherwise,
stating, “My ultimate concern is if someone knocks on my door and says you’ve got three guns, we need two of them.” Many gun owners find the retention of such personal information by the government to be invasive, but it can be very helpful in order to ensure the safety of others in the future.

Steve Lindley, director of the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Firearms, says, “If you do become prohibited, we are going to come confiscate your firearms. But only people who have done something in their life – committed a felony, committed a violent misdemeanor, they are a fugitive from justice or they have been deemed mentally ill and a danger to themselves or others.” As this information will prevent people deemed unlawful to own a gun from owning one, it will also help police officers to understand and prepare for the suspects they are investigating.

Gun control advocates are not asking all citizens to merely give up their firearms as it is obvious that gunfire is not the only cause of death that burdens people around the world. But they are campaigning for legislations that will push gun owners to question if owning multiple guns is necessary. About eighty eight out of every one hundred people in America own a gun of some sort. And death by gunfire rates would most likely be lower if firearms were not so easily accessible.

I completely understand a person’s desire to be able to defend themselves if ever put into such a situation. But what I don’t understand is why there were no established requirements for gun ownership in the past and why it has taken tragic events for legislators and citizens alike to make the realizations that are necessary. The idea that puzzles me the most however, is why gun owners are so opposed to making communities a safer place for themselves and those who do not own fire arms by providing in depth background information. I agree that all American citizens should be able to maintain their 2nd Amendment rights, but I cannot see how taking precautions against life threatening devices strips away the rights of the American people.

California’s gun control regulations have produced extremely successful results by cutting gunfire killings by nearly half over the past two decades. Yet there are still thousands of gunfire homicides in the state of California every year. Gun control laws are necessary no matter how much responsibility gun owners vow to take. Moreover, extreme measures must continue to be considered in order to prevent senseless deaths in the United States.

 News: Common Core


Published: The Talon TALONFebruaryr2014see page 1. February 2014.

common core story About: The new common core testing was about to be initiated at the time I wrote this story. As a junior, the only ones who must participate in the testing, I was interested in discovering more about the curriculum. Also, I interviewed our school’s executive director Dave Linzey and it was my first of a more professional nature.

Common Core testing is not only happening here at CVCHS, but all across the nation for the first time in history. The 2013-2014 school year is being nicknamed the “pilot year” for this new version of in depth standardized testing which will be replacing the annual STAR testing in California. So what is Common Core?

According to the mission statement of, “The Common Core state standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.” These tests are based upon the new state standards in which California implemented back in 2010.
Mr. David Linzey, Clayton Valley’s executive director, says that “for the past 15 years, every state has had its own state standards. [But now] all states will have the same curriculum”. This will make it easier on students who move throughout the school year as all states will be teaching the same material at the same time.

As the STAR test is phased out for grades K through 12, high school juniors will continue to take the standardized test as a placement test for all state colleges.
The Common Core test will be completely based on critical thinking versus the standard multiple choice questions comprised of statistics and dates. This critical thinking may seem intimidating to students who haven’t participated in it yet, but it is expected to be easier for many students. It will allow students to explain their answers and display the skills that were not recognized by the STAR test.

Even though the change of curriculum and testing is supposed to make the information learned in schools more applicable to students’ lives, some are still indifferent over the switch. Matthew Mullins, a junior, says, “I prefer the STAR test because it’s what I’ve done my whole life and I’m used to it…I don’t want to change my way of testing.”

Despite the drastic change in curriculum around the nation, Linzey believes that “it is the single most important change in public education in over two decades. This is a move to make us [as a country] more competitive at an international level”.

Common Core still has some time to be fully initiated over the next few years, making this year’s “pilot year” truly experimental. Only time will tell how schools across America, including Clayton Valley, will be impacted.



Published: The Talon TALONApril2014, see page 3. April every 15 minutes story2014.

About: This was a story that I pursued because it affected me directly. I was planning to take the AP Spanish test and when I realized the conflict with the Every 15 Minutes demonstration, I immediately knew I wanted to write about it.

On May 6th, two significant events will be occurring on the Clayton Valley campus – as long as circumstances remain the same. One of those events is the Every 15 Minutes simulation, which takes place every two years and involves juniors and seniors. The presentation demonstrates the severe consequences of being under the influence and driving.

Also on this date will be the AP testing of several subjects including Spanish Language, Computer Science, and Art History. Other subjects will be doing their testing up until May 16th. Both events are set to take place on campus, which has caused contention between students and the administration.

Students taking the AP test are now put in somewhat of a predicament as they are experiencing several disadvantages in the situation. AP students will not be able to participate in the large demonstration of the Every 15 Minutes program and will miss their only opportunity to do so in high school. And because the event occurs on campus, students who are testing will have to work through the chaotic program. It’s also a regular school day, so AP test takers will be impacted by the sounds of sirens, heartbeat recordings, and lockers slamming.

Samantha Dumalig, a junior at Clayton Valley, said, “Personally, I have a hard time focusing on tests and I think being at school would be disruptive.”

For obvious reasons, students who have paid $100 for the AP test do not want to risk any possible chance of not passing the test. Many students have the hopes of there being a change in the circumstances, but as of right now, the administration has not announced any adjustment to the schedule.

The other problem in the situation is that students will be missing out on Every 15 Minutes. “I’m really disappointed that I won’t be able to see something that I’ve waited to see,” says Samantha, as the demonstration only occurs every other year. Samantha, along with many other AP students, believes that while she understands the complications of the scheduling conflict, it is not fair that hardworking students are losing out on this special opportunity and reward.

Hopefully, students will be able to pass their tests and not feel bad about missing the Every 15 Minutes program.

Feature: Summer Traveling

Published: The Talon TALONMay2014, see page 3. Maysummer story.JPG 2014.

About: This was a story I had written as the school year was coming to a close. I took the time to interview a large group of students, and then report on their unusual vacations they would be taking in the summer. Unfortunately, there was an editing mistake and the story was not published under my name.

Summer is the season that gives students of all ages their freedom. Friends to see, beaches to visit, roller coasters to ride; kids across the country will be seeking their own summer time adventures, leaving school and stress behind.

Traveling is a huge part of many summer plans. Whether it is a local trip or an international journey, students will take the summer as an opportunity to experience life outside of their hometown. Many students at Clayton Valley are planning to travel overseas to visit family and experience cultures firsthand.

Senior Jordan Tate will be spending three weeks in Spain this summer, visiting family and hitting all of the tourist hot spots. “I am looking forward to spending time with my family and taking in the Spanish culture,” he says, along with visiting the beach and watching the World Cup games.

Sana Nawid, a junior, will also be taking an international trip after school finishes. She is visiting Paris, France and Rome, Italy for two weeks with her family. Sana is looking forward to visiting cultural monuments and learning the histories of the two European countries.

Sophomore Alina Weigelt is headed to Mexico this coming June and plans to snorkel and surf during her vacation. “I am excited to take a break from school and just relax,” said Weigelt. Alina says she is also excited for her trip because she has not left the Bay Area in almost two years.

Another interesting vacation is being taken by Matthew Mullins, a junior, who boards the Disney Dream Cruise ship in June. The cruise liner will takes its passengers from Florida to the Mediterranean. “I am most excited to experience new cultures and new foods,” says Matthew. He describes the cruise trip as a good way for his family to bond.

As the school year comes to a close, long awaited vacations have students eager for summer break to start. Although not everyone is traveling, summertime will give CV students a much need break. So plan something fun for your summer vacation whether you are here, or on the other side of the world. Who knows what adventures may await you!

Editorial: college costs


Published: The Talon TALONOctober2014, see page 7. Octobecollege editorialr 2014.

About: As a senior this year, the cost of college quickly because a major concern for me. I did some research and wrote an editorial about the affordability of college and how its inaccessible to so many American teens.

Since the beginning of your high school career, you’ve probably never stopped dreaming of the day you would graduate. With all the hard work you have accomplished, you deserve all of the freedoms you get as you approach young adulthood. As one chapter ends, another one must begin, right?

Like 65.9% of American teens according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you might decide to go to college and receive a secondary education. But before you can make that decision, can
you even really afford it?

A record from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education says that over the past 30 years, the cost of college tuition in the United States has increased by more than 400%.
So if all young people are encouraged to attend college by parents, teachers, and other adult leaders, how do they pay for it?

The simple answer is that they can’t. But the federal government can, at least for the time being. In America, the amount of student debt has surpassed that of all credit card debt at $829 billion.
Essentially, college is not affordable because of student loans, and one of the only sufficient ways young Americans can pay for college is student loans. Although financial aid assists students, it will follow them throughout their lives until it is paid off.

So the sensible thing for colleges to do would be to consider the student and lower tuition costs. But colleges and universities across the United States are only thinking about the same thing that you are, and that’s the money. While they are businesses that look to maintain their practices and provide students with an education, they are also interested in making a profit off of their attendees.

The future of the world relies in the hands of the young people, but the young people don’t have access to what they need in order to handle such a responsibility.

 Feature: Attitude of gratitude


Published: The Talon TALONNovember2014, see page 1gratitude story. November 2014.

About: This story was written for our publication before Thanksgiving. We wanted to have a story dedicated to charity work during the holiday season, so my angle was  continuing that kind of service after the holidays.

In the United States, Americans celebrate the traditional holiday of Thanksgiving in order to “give thanks” and show gratitude for the privileges they have received in the past year. Yet with the hustle and bustle of today’s modern world, does anyone actually sit down and take the time to realize all of the things they have to be grateful for?

With the distractions of work, technology, and expectations constantly surrounding the average person, it seems as if the definition of “Thanksgiving” has lost its meaning. Subsequently, now is the time to remember the importance of being thankful, not only to recognize the holiday season, but to instill an attitude of gratitude within our society.

As students prepare to take a weeklong vacation from school, they should consider the different options they have in order to give back this ThanksgivingThere are opportunities all around the Bay Area for people to serve others and they should be taken advantage of.

Food banks, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters are always deserving of volunteers and donations. But they tend to be overwhelmed with help during the holiday season. Here are some other ways to serve in appreciation.

Students along with the assistance of their families, friends, or group organizations can adopt a family in need. By doing this, they can provide a Thanksgiving dinner to someone who may not be able to afford it as well as other items such as clothes and gifts.

Another opportunity is through the U.S. Military. Students can recognize not only troops who are currently stationed away from home, but also veterans in the local area. Care packages are always needed overseas and those in veterans’ hospitals will always appreciate a visit. Service can be done in small ways as well.

CVCHS seniors Ana Chena Dávila and Naame Kelete are running a book drive through “Books for Barrios” from December 1st to the 12th. All students are encouraged to donate books in good condition so they can be sent to children in the Phillipines.

With Thanksgiving vastly approaching, students will have the opportunity to serve others in honor of their individual appreciation. However, everyone should take the time to realize that gratitude is more than just doing service during the holiday season.

Thankfulness can be, and should be, exhibited year round, not just during a particular time. Remember that the recognition of appreciation is not just for Thanksgiving, but should be a daily occurrence.