Golden Arrow The student news site of Woodbridge High School Mon, 01 Feb 2021 07:23:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Students Combat Isolation and Mental Illness Amid COVID-19 Mon, 01 Feb 2021 16:01:43 +0000 The psychological effects of COVID-19 are becoming increasingly apparent as the beginning of January marks nearly 10 months in quarantine. Anxiety for the future, academic stress and financial burdens pose serious threats to many students’ mental health and prolonged isolation from family, friends and teachers does little to assuage these feelings. 

“One of the challenges of being distanced is that it’s difficult to make connections with people and it’s harder to communicate. Both of those things impact social-emotional health and academic success,” counseling department chair Jennifer Carrington said. “Motivation is probably the number one factor I see students struggling with, just finding the internal motivation to learn independently, to set up Zoom meetings with their friends, to find the time to connect with people.”

According to a Center for Disease Control Household (CDC) Pulse Survey on Mental Health, in November, approximately 38.3% of Americans reported symptoms of anxiety in California alone. In places like Washington D.C, numbers are as high as 45.6%. Such chronic stress can cause chemical and physical changes in brain structure, inhibiting attention, concentration, memory and creativity. 

“With so many unknowns and a reduced ability to spend time with friends and loved ones due to quarantine, feelings of stress and sadness are understandably on the rise,” mental health specialist Megan Humphreys said. “I am very thankful for technology and that we have the opportunity to continue to connect with others. ”

Despite its perceived benefits, in many ways, technology is a double-edged sword.

“You become incredibly restless, your eyes hurt, you have to sit in your chair for the whole day and that’s exhausting,” junior and Associated Student Body (ASB) human relations commissioner Pantea Khanipourkakrodi said. “There’s also social media, and there is a positive side to it because you still get to communicate with your friends […] but it also reminds you there’s a lot you’re missing out on.” 

It is important for students to tread carefully on platforms like social media, which often breed feelings of overwhelming dependence some would classify as addiction. 

“Because [technology] is such a pervasive part of our lives right now, it is very difficult for students to recognize that it’s a problem because we have to be on it. Your technology is a tool. If that technology becomes an addiction in your life and you feel anxious when you’re not with it, that is an indicator that there might be a problem,” Carrington said. 

In order to support students’ mental health and wellness, ASB organized a mental health committee, taking greater responsibility in boosting morale on campus through positive affirmation campaigns and online check-in forms. 

“One of our goals in ASB is to be a safe haven on campus […] We love people, we would absolutely love to make a positive change in people’s days, months, mindsets. We are always open,” Khanipourkakrodi said. 

Despite the challenges this prolonged state of isolation continues to pose, one might hope that our generation emerges from this experience with a newfound perspective on life. 

“I think that students are aching to return to a normal way of life and have regular interactions with peers, and [I] believe that the pandemic may actually have a positive effect of valuing relationships and community in a deeper way,” Humphreys said. 

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Spreading Awareness, One Dance Step At A Time Mon, 01 Feb 2021 16:00:35 +0000 Started in October 2020, the dance team began a new project that aimed to raise awareness for vulnerable populations through the medium of dance. The team selected various causes, such as autism, mental health, Black Lives Matter (BLM), breast cancer and the LGBTQ+ community, and planned to film and showcase their performance at their annual winter show in December.

“I wanted to empower [the] team to use their beauty, talent, confidence [and] intelligence, to make a difference in a way that might speak to others. My hopes for assigning this project and allowing students to pick topics that are special to them, was that they feel empowered to make a difference and inspired to connect to their movement and performance in a way that will push their boundaries as a dancer and artist,” dance team director Hanne Schmidt said.

Dancing For: Mental Health

Hashimoto finds peace in dancing for mental health awareness (Corina Silverstein)

“I chose to be a part of the mental health awareness group because I wanted to bring awareness to detrimental effects of social media on our mental health today, as it is something I have seen some of my friends struggle with. Our group focused mainly on social media and body dysmorphia. Many teens struggle with this, especially dancers. We have the perfect image of a dancer’s body engraved into our minds because of what society labels as ideal dancer bodies. We hope to bring light to those struggling with this and remind people that every body type is a dancer body. Social media only shines light on the bright moments of one’s lives, making other users feel unvalued. Many teens struggle to achieve an unrealistic perfect body portrayed by social media, resulting in eating disorders and shattered images of themselves. We hope to encourage everyone to help others to reflect on their real self, realize their true values and be able to smile at themselves when they look in the mirror. [Our] choreography reflects the effort of dancers trying to rip away from this illusion of our in-screen reality… and ends with a group section where dancers unplug from these distorted images of themselves and connect again, feeling confident in their own skins. Personally, this experience has compelled me to reflect on my own mental health and the health of those around me. The lockdown has taken away our time together as a team, drastically changing our day-to-day lives as dancers.Hearing our state championships getting cancelled provoked mixed feelings of anger and frustration. Then came feelings of emptiness. Rehearsals over Zoom during the lockdown was far different from being together in person. Even now, we practice in smaller groups outside to stay safe, and our emotions are masked in. This project has allowed me to reflect on these uncertain times, and grasp a sense of gratitude for all the small blessings we encounter with the short time we are given together as a team,” senior Senna Hashimoto said. 

Dancing for: Autism

Member of dance team and HALO club, Signorino, continues to show support towards the special needs community (Corina Silverstein)

“I chose autism as I have been a part of the HALO Club for three years now and wanted to continue working with them and their cause. Being able to work with others [towards] a common goal to spread awareness on something that not many have acknowledged [much] on, [and it] has shown me [how] to be more vocal about the issues and topics I want to help change for the better. Dance has been proven to help kids with their motor skills and communication and I hope to show the joy and impact that dance can have through this project. Staff and students can always donate money through the HALO website as well as spread the word either locally or on social media,” senior Jasmine Signorino said.

Dancing For: Black Lives Matter

Thayer-Pham leaps to pursue further inclusion and justice for the Black Lives Matter movement through dance (Corina Silverstein )

“I am honored to be representing the BLM movement because it is something that is very prevalent and a cause that has affected me in an unexpected way. To illustrate, before BLM began, I was oblivious to the challenges that black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) individuals faced, things that someone who does not identify with BIPOC take for granted. BIPOC face racial insults, discrimination to immigrate/emigrate to different locations, forced cultural assimilation, unfair treatment from police officers, mass incarceration [and more]. During BLM, I attended a protest in our city of Irvine and became more informed about these issues from first and secondary sources. [Our] project is different from other forms of activism, such as social media posts, because we are able to express the emotional and physical side of each of our causes without explicitly saying our thoughts. By omitting spoken words, individuals who feel differently than the message conveyed, will be less defensive and hopefully more empathetic and open minded. Specifically, my fellow peers in the BLM group hope to educate the Woodbridge community in a welcoming way with a topic that has undoubtedly polarized us on a nationwide scale,” junior Samantha Thayer-Pham said.

Dancing for: Breast Cancer

Using dance as a way to communicate her family’s history and experience, Murphy dances for breast cancer awareness (Corina Silverstein)

“I chose [the] breast cancer [cause] because about 5 years ago, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was cured a couple of years after. Those years that my mom had breast cancer were really hard, so with this project I want to tell her story and share what she went through on her journey to being cured. I hope to shed a light on my mom’s journey through breast cancer and how she didn’t let it stop her from anything. Storytelling is a huge part of dance and I feel that so far in this project.  It has given me and my fellow group members an opportunity to create a dance around a person and a cause that we care for. I know from my experience [that] it can be a time where you feel very alone and helpless having to watch someone you love go through such a horrible sickness, so having someone there for you helps a lot. The women who are survivors from breast cancer are strong and their stories deserve to be told to spread awareness. I really hope the dance team continues to implement similar projects like this in future years so that our dancing can have a bigger impact in spreading awareness about important causes in our world today,” junior Abigail Murphy said. 

Dancing for: LGBTQ+

Wong dances for love and equality for all within the LGBTQ+ community (Corina Silverstein)

“My cause is LGBTQ+ rights and equality because it’s the golden rule that everyone should be treated as you wish to be treated. I want to raise awareness for those in the community because it’s important to feel comfortable in your own skin and to know that you have people constantly supporting you and your rights to love and happiness. Students and staff can show support by spreading awareness through posting on social media and signing petitions in support of the causes. Being aware of the circumstances of others and recognizing privilege is also a key landmark on the road to equality. So far [from this experience, I] have grown more connected with those in my group. I have also educated myself more on the history of LGBTQ+ rights because understanding where we came from is critical in portraying how lucky we are to be alive right now and how even though there’s a long road ahead on the path to equality, we’ve already made waves. Although our team understands that there have been many downfalls regarding our causes, we’re choosing to focus on the celebratory aspects because the shortcomings are already heavily represented in the media. We want to show appreciation for the victories that have already been accomplished in order to bring people together rather than separate them,” senior Mackenzie Wong said. 

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Speculating the Effects of a Historic Election Mon, 01 Feb 2021 16:00:19 +0000 The 2020 election has been a chaotic and historic moment for the country. Many people were glued to their televisions and computers for over a week waiting for the results to come to light. Now that the election has come to an end with President-elect Joe Biden winning the electoral college by 74 votes, Americans turn to speculate on the effects of this election.

One of the most pressing concerns for all of America is COVID-19 and how the future leaders of America plan to address it. 

The Biden-Harris website answers these concerns with a seven-point plan on how they will combat the virus once in office. This plan includes improving testing quality and accessibility. This would likely include producing more critical supplies of protective equipment, such as masks and face shields, providing clearer guidelines on how communities should handle the virus and planning for the vaccine. This would look a lot different than how the Trump administration has handled the virus so far. 

“Trump showed that he was not equipped to handle this situation correctly, especially through his own immaturity and hypocrisy. He was obviously more interested in keeping the economy afloat than keeping people alive,” junior and Woke club president Dorrin Sepehrdoust said. 

A lot of what the Biden administration can do hinges on control of the Senate. It would have been hard for Biden to carry out a lot of the things he promised in his campaign if the Senate was not led by a democratic majority. Before the final two seats were decided, the Democratic party held 48 seats in the senate and the Republican party held 50. This January, the Democratic party gained control of the senate by winning those last two seats. The Democratic party has not held control over the senate since 2008 so it will be interesting to see what the Biden administration is able to accomplish with the majority of the senate on their side. 

Assuming the Senate is agreeable with the Biden administration, the first order of business would likely be to undo some of the foreign affairs policies that Trump put in place. These would include re-entering the Paris Agreement, which is an agreement with the United Nations regarding climate change, and renewing membership to the World Health Organization. 

“This administration will probably be more environmentally conscious by putting more regulations on business than the Trump administration. Taxes will most likely go up on the wealthier in society as well as the corporate tax,” history and government teacher Chris Lepage said. 

This would be a shift that would affect many aspects of American lives on both a local and national level. 

“I am not sure if there will be any ‘major’ impacts concerning this election. Hopefully, less negativity in the media and a less divided country and more focus on our commonalities,” Lepage said. 

There has been a lot of antagonization from both sides of the political spectrum during these four years of Trump’s presidency. While some think the election will fix this problem, there are others who believe this election could only heighten the divide between both sides . 

“There were record numbers of votes for both sides, the modern partisan vote is deeper than ever,” senior and Civil Discourse club member Steven Kam said. 

Only time will tell what will happen as a result of this election and what effect it will have on the people of America. In these coming years, it will be interesting to see what changes come and how the country will progress as a whole.

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The Future of Concerts With COVID-19 Mon, 01 Feb 2021 16:00:09 +0000
Decoration of a big ornament with string lights near the K building (Maddy Cornelio)
More festive decorations posted on windows of the H building (Maddy Cornelio)

With the new stay at home orders, the arts had their concert cancelled, but they remain hopeful for a concert towards the end of the year. But the winter concerts aren’t over yet for some of the sections of the art department.

“We’re getting a bunch of takes recorded this week and next week, and basically each music group is doing chamber groups, and each group is recording one piece. If you remember that one WarriorTV episode where they had the rally band perform, where they had to cut and paste the different videos, that’s basically what it’s going to look like, but with orchestra music,” junior and member of the symphonic orchestra at Woodbridge High Daisy Bateman said.

Although a drive-thru style concert isn’t possible now, Rob Blaney, head of the choir department, plans on hosting one next year, and also reveals the origin of the idea.

“This was the brainchild of our Drama teacher, Mrs. Gaona. She attended an Elf on the Shelf drive-thru experience and wondered if we could do something similar here at WHS. While all of the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) teachers were excited about the event, I feel badly for Mrs. Gaona and all of the students who spent so many hours building and painting set pieces and decorations, and planning out the plot for the event. All of the VAPA teachers are friends and we love an opportunity to collaborate. I feel confident that you can expect a holiday drive-thru experience next December,” Blaney said. 

Blaney remains optimistic on using this year to really improve the skills of his students, teaching them about the scientific positives that go along with singing.

“My goal for the Vocal Music Department is the same every year… to grow! Choir offers so many performing and bonding experiences, that I think that every student on campus should take at least one year of choir. As a school district, Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) thinks that music is important. So much so that all IUSD elementary school students are required to take either choir or band. The science is clear… playing music and singing has been shown to increase motor control, listening and memory, and impacts our ability to plan. Our neuroplasticity, coordination, attention span, and alertness are also improved. Studies also show that people who sing on a regular basis are happier and healthier,” Blaney said. 

Mackenzie Wong, one of the dance team captains and a senior, hopes for an end of the year as close to COVID free as possible.

“I do have hope for a “normal” end of the year! Hopefully restrictions will let up as the vaccine becomes more widely distributed and we can begin to connect in the ways we used to. I’m looking forward to utilizing the PAC and finally getting to a stage where we don’t have to re-block the dances due to lack of space or worry about getting splinters. I’m excited to keep pushing forward to our goals and even if we don’t get a regular end-of-year, I want to continue creating awesome memories with my team and my friends,” said Wong.

In another effort to still keep the Christmas spirit up, the art department put up decorations around the front of the school, which are parts of the original sets for the concert. Each department hopes for a quick rollout of the vaccine, which was first distributed on Dec. 15th in Orange County, and lower cases, for a proper conclusion at the end of the year.

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Kindness in a Barren Wasteland Fri, 29 Jan 2021 18:37:41 +0000 Mental health took the forefront last year when people all across the globe were stuck at home, in which the “new normal” revealed systemic issues in the way we treat mental health. The past year exposed the need for more inclusive mental health resources and for mental illness to be removed from online trends.

Mental health programs in schools and communities need to see a vast improvement in the way they reach out to people in need of help and in the methods they use to help these people. According to an analysis by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of Americans under the age of 18 suffer from some type of mental disorder. This means that around 15 million children and teens across America could benefit from resources which deal with these mental illnesses. Many students lack the privilege of seeking help on their own and instead turn to their schools for support. 

Thus, it is integral that infrastructures of these school resources be equipped to handle the needs of students with mental health challenges. The American Institute for Research suggests that to meet the needs of students, schools should implement three tiers of support which would include positive mental health exercises for all students, preemptive harm prevention services for students who are at risk of developing problems and specific programs for those who already suffer from mental health issues. The mental health exercises that counselors would use as part of this program would range from meditation to lessons on other activities that a student could do in order to cope with their mental health problems. The counseling department at Woodbridge currently has multiple programs which address the mental health of students such as hope squad and wellness wednesday. If the department was to implement this approach of reaching out to students with different levels of support on top of what they are already doing, students would have a stronger system to turn to when they need resources to strive for improved mental health.

Furthermore, poor mental health has become increasingly glamorized and romanticized online. While normalizing mental health discussion is important, this social media trend has gone so far as to glamorize restrictive and sometimes deadly mental diseases. According to the Scientific American, some people may feign mental and physical illnesses in order to satisfy a need for attention or validation. Television shows like 13 Reasons Why portray mental illness in an unrealistic and glamorized manner. On TikTok, Tumblr and Instagram, it is easy to find accounts showing off self-harm and anxiety or depression prescription medicine with the search of a few keywords. Depression becomes an aesthetic complete with color stories and mood boards instead of truly demonstrating the harmful and insidious nature of these disorders and their effects on students. 

While opening the floor to mental health discussion is crucial to the ending of social stigmas, this aestheticization and trend-esque treatment to mental illnesses is detrimental. Not only does this behavior devalue illnesses like depression and anxiety, it also decreases how seriously society treats those with mental health issues. This glamorization invalidates the experiences of individuals afflicted with mental illness, while also creating a dangerous and toxic social ecosystem that can be debilitating to any given individual. 

Amidst the added stress this year during quarantine, Woodbridge High students find new ways to cope with their mental health. 

Senior Brooke Oh tries to distract herself with art projects and her hobby of baking to de-stress. 

“My advice for people struggling with their mental health would be to try talking to someone about their mental health and finding healthy ways to deal with stress and other mental health issues in ways that are stress-relieving and enjoyable,” Oh said. 

Senior Jewel Al Kurnas emphasizes maintaining a good morning routine to start the day right. 

“The best advice I can give for anyone who struggles with their mental health is to take social media/cell phone breaks every now and then, as I find social media and cell phones to be really toxic and damaging to our mental health at times,” Al Kurnas said. 

Senior Kyoka Ide found herself struggling a lot this year with college applications, adapting to the new learning environment at home and the traditional workload of schoolwork. 

“My friends who listened to my rants and struggles this year were probably my heroes. My mental health was honestly a wreck this year, but taking to others and taking breaks to spend time on things I like to do was really a helpful routine for me,” Ide said. 

Woodbridge High Mental Health Specialist Megan Humphreys advises students to seek help from the mental health team at school to allow yourself the opportunity to maintain a healthy mental well-being in an unprecedented year. 

“You are not alone. You are not hopeless. There is hope for us in our world, and there is hope for our mental health. When we forget about hope, we begin to spiral. When we reach out to others, we are telling ourselves that we do matter, we do have value and that we are worth it. We hold onto hope for ourselves and for our future.” Humphreys said. “For me, I try to get outside and go for a walk to clear my head everyday. I don’t always get to it, but it’s a goal I have for myself. I reach out to my support people (friends and family) all the time via phone calls and socially distanced outdoor visits. It helps me to be able to talk about my day, what I’m feeling and anything else going on. This is a way I stay accountable for my own mental health and find some refreshment in the midst of the struggles.”

During these trying times, it becomes increasingly important to remain anchored. As we proceed into the future, we must remember to normalize but not glamorize mental illnesses. Realistic positivity, not overt pessimism, is necessary for progress forward as we continue confronting stigmas and open the floor to further discussion of mental health.

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Review: Among Us Imposes Fleeting Enjoyment Wed, 13 Jan 2021 18:37:41 +0000 With an immeasurable success of brazen popularity through streamers and social media, Innersloth’s instantly classic Among Us, which released in 2018, offers a fun twist on the Mafia game concept. Although, the repetition of the gameplay and a distasteful online community bog down its overall longevity.

In Among Us, players are varying colored astronauts who are taken up into a space station, airship or base split into two roles: an imposter which seeks to murder all other players without getting caught and crewmates that attempt to sus out the imposters.

While a simplistic concept, Among Us varies its gameplay through small design choices, the most notable being tasks. There are various tasks to attend to around each map, existing as momentarily fun microgames, such as connecting the correct wires to one another, shooting incoming asteroids or downloading and transporting data.

This inserts players in a more complex role, as crewmates now have duties to fulfill in keeping the base running, while the imposter attempts to lie in order to successfully kill other players. If there is any suspicious behavior or the imposter manages to murder another player, players can call a meeting to discuss who they believe is the imposter.

Unfortunately, these text-based conversations are based on irrationality rather than merit, as players suspect seemingly random choices for the imposter. Players can either vote to send someone out of the space station to death, or skip the vote. If a person is voted out of the ship, they die and are revealed as either an imposter or crewmate.

Either way the cake is sliced, matches create enjoyable scenarios if only for a few playthroughs. That is until the repetition of the superficial gameplay settles in.

Although Among Us retains the fun factor for spaced out game sessions, playing the game in relatively consecutive intervals reveals the lack of varied content. Each game runs through the identical motions, and it is frustrating to see the same errors in player judgement in randomly voting on who the murderer is or the same, gimmicky minigames.

Further into repetition, there are several maps in the game, each of which offers different locations, layouts and mechanics, but the Skeld Map shows up disproportionately more than the other three. Combined with the lack of music in the game and Among Us rests as an increasingly stale experience.

Creating local matches with friends offers fun gafs, but in an uncertain world, finding eight to 10 friends to play with is difficult and any less loses the totality of the game’s design.

On the other hand, during online play with random individuals, not every server is subjugated to appropriate socialization. Players may join a game to find everything lollipops and rainbows, whereas many other servers are desecrated with vulgar language or inappropriate player names.

While this is the risk with many online games and the entire internet, there is still no guarantee that Among Us will provide users with an enjoyable experience due to the vulgar comments made by other players.

There are additionally in-app purchase options for cosmetics, though nothing too special. They are available merely for users who want to add a few more items to their appearance, unlike GACHA games, which are games that encourage gambling real world money in order to gain a chance of winning random, useful items.

Fortunately in Among Us, there is no potential over-spending on in-app purchases compared to other apps such as Mario Kart Tour.

Ultimately, Among Us is free on Android and IOS devices, so there is no harm in checking the game out. The game is also available for a $4.99 purchase on Steam, Nintendo Switch and an upcoming Xbox release.

A few matches every few days maximizes the potential elation the game offers. Adding in some cute character accessories, and Among Us can be a minuscule distraction from the stress of the everyday world.

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Genshin Impact: A Love Letter to Anime and Gaming Wed, 13 Jan 2021 16:00:02 +0000 On September 28th, a new challenger entered the gaming arena, accumulating more than 17 million downloads in its first week of launch. Genshin Impact, created by Chinese company miHoYo, is a free open world action role playing game (RPG) compatible on PC, mobile and PS4. In a future update, the game will be available on Nintendo Switch.

The storyline centers around a protagonist, or Traveler, who is separated from their sibling while world hopping, effectively leaving the protagonist stranded in lands that are foreign to them. Each region in the world is based on a real country, with Liyue taking inspiration from China and Mondstadt from Germany.

The game’s storyline and regions are incomplete, but additional content is added in every major patch.

What makes Genshin Impact so phenomenal are a multitude of factors, but one key factor in its success is the passion behind the project — that is, to say, what essentially makes Genshin Impact a love letter to anime and gaming influence. There is no shortage of homages to various works throughout the game, spanning from tributes to animations from the beginning cutscenes to the bright character designs influenced by anime culture.

For sophomore Aylani Tran, one of her favorite aspects of the game is the combat system.

“Most games make the main character overpowered…but in Genshin, if you attack the wrong monster, your whole party can die,” Tran said.

Genshin utilizes an elemental combat system, where elements can synergize to produce an additional effect, such as how hydro (water) and cryo (ice) can freeze an enemy. The concept of elemental magic is not one unique to Genshin, though— there are so many other instances in media such as fantasy anime, novels, and even boardtop games like Dungeon and Dragons. However, by honing the combat system on character skills, weapon diversity, stat-boosting gear, the elemental system adds another layer while still retaining a fairly straightforward concept. Playable characters can be earned through a gacha system, where players try to roll for their desired character by spending Primogems, a consumable in game currency.

The monsters and environment presented throughout the world take influence from other games and animes as well— ruin guards, for example, have a design similar to Studio Ghibli’s robots in the film Castle in the Sky.

Teacher Will Buckley recognizes various references and influences in the game.

“The game has clear Breath of the Wild inspirations, which aren’t a bad thing,” Mr. Buckley said.

When asked about his favorite aspect of the game, he also added that the storylines in Genshin were well built. Genshin Impact, in addition to main quests and subquests, offers collectable books of lore around the map which then can be read in order to gain more insight into the world of Teyvat. In addition, NPCs will sometimes offer dialogue that supplements lore.

Junior Anthony Chhil holds the storyline and the soundtrack of the game in high regard.

“All of the landscaping and development of the geography is just amazing,” Chhil said. “Combining the beautiful landscaping with excellent orchestra pieces really makes you just want to stand on a cliff and just admire the view while taking in the music.”

A huge part of Genshin Impact is the soundtrack. Composer Yu-Peng Chen collaborated with music director Zoe Cai to create the HOYO-MiX team. Together they developed the soundtrack with meticulous detail, even creating different themes in areas based on the time of the day. HOYO-MiX commissioned the London Philharmonic Orchestra to play the soundtrack.

What formulates the explosive success of Genshin Impact? There are many factors— audience satisfaction in various parts of the production being a major one. The love and passion in the Genshin Impact development team are also another important factor. Without the shared love of anime between players and dev team alike, Genshin Impact would not contain the charm it has today.

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Fighting Fire by Taking Action Sat, 09 Jan 2021 16:00:22 +0000 Recently‌ ‌Northern‌ ‌California,‌ ‌Oregon ‌and‌ ‌Washington‌ ‌state‌ ‌have‌ ‌been‌ affected ‌with‌ ‌forest‌ ‌fires‌ ‌that‌ ‌have‌ ‌affected‌ ‌thousands‌ ‌of‌ ‌acres‌ ‌of‌ ‌land‌ ‌and‌ ‌caused‌ ‌a loss‌ ‌of sense of security‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌people‌ ‌that‌ ‌were‌ ‌living‌ ‌in‌ ‌these‌ ‌areas.‌ ‌Living‌ ‌in‌ ‌California‌, ‌it’s common to be cautious when dealing with fire to avoid wildfires but sometimes ‌following‌ ‌Smokey‌ ‌The‌ ‌Bear´s‌ ‌advice‌ ‌is not ‌enough‌. ‌

More often than not wildfires are started by people rather than by nature. The most common causes of wildfires are campfires, dropping cigarettes, arson and burning debris according to National Geographic.

Whenever put in a situation where the possibility of starting a forest fire is present, extreme precautions must be taken, such as putting out any fires that are unattended, never throwing a cigarette bud out of a moving vehicle, using caution when dealing with any flammable liquids and following all local fire safety guidelines. It might be tempting to have a small campfire with friends even if local authorities warn against it, but it is important to take others into consideration with every decision we make. These extra steps taken to prevent a wildfire could mean saving multiple people from losing their houses or even their lives.

According to the Insurance Information in Institute, a broader look at forest fire trends would show that they have been rapidly growing in numbers according to the Insurance Information in Institute. A cause of this increase in forest fires and their size could be attributed to the effects of climate change. Climate change has increased air dryness and decreased moisture in the soil. This combination gives perfect conditions for wildfires to spread. Global warming is leading to these conditions year-round which means that “forest fire season” is getting longer and longer every year. The center for climate and energy solutions has even deemed climate change one of the key factors in increasing the risk and extent of wildfires in the Western United States¨. This should be an extra push for us to take bigger action towards climate change as a whole.

The way people have treated the planet is beginning to show its effects. The time to take action is now so it is important to get involved in any way possible by joining in on movements such as Fridays for Future which pushes towards clean energy, which would help lessen greenhouse gasses and therefore help the planet begin to heal. Although important, this fight towards ending climate change won’t immediately fix the problems that wildfires have caused. Below are some organizations that work towards dealing with the immediate problems that fires have caused to the communities they affect.


The‌ ‌Red‌ ‌Cross‌ ‌
The‌ ‌American‌ ‌Red‌ ‌Cross‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌ ‌reputable‌ ‌organization‌ ‌dedicated‌ ‌to‌ ‌helping‌ ‌those‌ ‌in‌ ‌need.‌ ‌In‌ ‌order‌ ‌to‌ ‌make‌ ‌a‌ ‌donation,‌ ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌visit‌ ‌the‌ ‌website‌ ‌at‌ ‌‌‌.‌ ‌From‌ ‌there‌ ‌you‌ ‌will‌ ‌see‌ ‌a‌ ‌drop-down‌ ‌tab‌ ‌labeled‌ ‌“I‌ ‌want‌ ‌to‌ ‌support”‌ ‌you‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌able‌ ‌to‌ ‌click‌ ‌and‌ ‌choose‌ ‌the‌ ‌option‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ ‌western‌ ‌wildfires.‌ ‌Once‌ ‌you‌ ‌have‌ ‌chosen‌ ‌the‌ ‌amount‌ ‌you‌ ‌would‌ ‌like‌ ‌to‌ ‌donate‌ ‌and‌ ‌have‌ ‌submitted‌ ‌the‌ ‌information‌ ‌for‌ ‌payment‌ ‌the‌ ‌process‌ ‌is‌ ‌complete‌. There‌ ‌are‌ ‌also‌ ‌other‌ ‌ways‌ ‌to‌ ‌donate‌ ‌such‌ ‌as‌ ‌by‌ ‌‌calling‌ ‌800-RED‌ ‌CROSS‌ ‌or‌ ‌‌texting‌ ‌ ‌the‌ ‌words‌ ‌WILDFIRES‌ ‌to‌ ‌90999‌ ‌to‌ ‌make‌ ‌a‌ ‌$10‌ ‌donation.‌ ‌The‌ ‌money‌ ‌you‌ ‌donate‌ ‌will‌ ‌be‌ ‌used‌ ‌for‌ ‌various‌ ‌relief‌ ‌projects‌ ‌such‌ ‌as‌ ‌sheltering‌ ‌families,‌ ‌serving‌ ‌meals,‌ ‌supporting‌ ‌emergency‌ ‌responders,‌ ‌providing‌ ‌medical‌ ‌care‌ ‌and‌ ‌much‌ ‌more.‌ ‌ ‌

Global‌ ‌Giving‌ ‌Relief‌ ‌Fund‌ ‌
Global‌ ‌Giving‌ ‌helps‌ ‌in‌ ‌assisting‌ ‌first‌ ‌responders‌ ‌and‌ ‌providing‌ ‌immediate‌ ‌relief‌ ‌to‌ ‌people‌ ‌in‌ ‌affected‌ ‌areas‌ ‌by‌ ‌way‌ ‌of‌ ‌shelter,‌ ‌food,‌ ‌water,‌ ‌medicine‌ ‌and‌ ‌other‌ materials ‌that‌ ‌survivors‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌fires‌ ‌might‌ ‌need.‌ ‌They‌ ‌work‌ ‌with‌ ‌local‌ ‌organizations‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌regions‌ ‌affected‌ ‌and‌ ‌then‌ ‌decide‌ ‌to‌ ‌use‌ ‌their‌ ‌funds‌ ‌where‌ ‌they‌ ‌are‌ ‌needed‌ ‌most.‌ ‌In‌ ‌this‌ ‌way,‌ ‌the‌ ‌communities‌ ‌in‌ ‌most‌ ‌desperate‌ ‌need‌ ‌of‌ ‌help‌ ‌will‌ ‌get‌ ‌it‌ ‌first‌ ‌through‌ ‌the‌ ‌help‌ ‌of‌ ‌this‌ ‌organization’s‌ ‌funding.‌ ‌To‌ ‌be‌ ‌a‌ ‌part‌ ‌of‌ ‌that‌ ‌funding‌ ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌visit‌ ‌their‌ ‌donation‌ ‌page‌ ‌at‌ ‌‌‌ ‌and‌ ‌choose‌ ‌the‌ ‌amount‌ ‌you‌ ‌would‌ ‌like‌ ‌to‌ ‌donate.‌ ‌They‌ ‌are‌ ‌working‌ ‌towards‌ ‌helping‌ ‌long‌ ‌term‌ ‌in‌ ‌order‌ ‌to‌ ‌rehabilitate‌ ‌areas‌ ‌affected‌ ‌deeply‌ ‌by‌ ‌the‌ ‌fires‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌future‌ ‌so‌ ‌donations‌ ‌will‌ ‌not‌ ‌only‌ ‌help‌ ‌immediately‌ ‌but‌ ‌will‌ ‌also‌ ‌be‌ ‌used‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ ‌communities‌ ‌down‌ ‌the‌ ‌line as they rebuild what the fires have damaged. ‌

Cal‌ ‌Fire‌ ‌Foundation‌ ‌
If‌ ‌you’re‌ ‌looking‌ ‌for‌ ‌a‌ ‌place‌ ‌to‌ ‌donate‌ ‌specifically‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌fire‌ ‌departments‌ ‌and‌ ‌first‌ ‌responders‌ ‌that‌ ‌work‌ ‌hard‌ ‌to‌ ‌fight‌ ‌wildfires‌ ‌the‌ ‌Cal‌ ‌Fire‌ ‌foundation‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌place‌ ‌to‌ ‌go.‌ ‌Go‌ ‌to‌ ‌their‌ ‌website‌ ‌at‌ ‌‌ ‌and‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌find‌ ‌the‌ ‌first‌ ‌thing‌ ‌you‌ ‌will‌ ‌see‌ ‌is‌ ‌a‌ ‌button‌ ‌labeled‌ ‌“donate‌ ‌today.¨‌ ‌These‌ ‌donations‌ ‌will‌ ‌go‌ ‌towards‌ ‌assisting‌ ‌firefighters‌ ‌and‌ ‌their‌ ‌families‌ ‌and‌ ‌will‌ ‌also‌ ‌be‌ ‌used‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ ‌with‌ ‌first‌ ‌response‌ ‌and‌ ‌funding‌ ‌aid‌ ‌to‌ ‌burn‌ ‌victims.‌ ‌This‌ ‌foundation‌ ‌helps‌ ‌the‌ ‌people‌ ‌who‌ ‌dedicate‌ ‌their‌ ‌lives‌ ‌to‌ ‌helping‌ ‌others.‌ ‌Firefighters‌ ‌risk‌ ‌everything‌ ‌to‌ ‌put‌ ‌these‌ ‌wildfires‌ ‌out‌ ‌so‌ ‌it is‌ ‌important‌ ‌that‌ ‌we‌ ‌remember‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ ‌them‌ ‌as‌ ‌they‌ ‌help‌ ‌us.‌

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Woodbridge High Welcomes Back Dr. Phil Roh Thu, 07 Jan 2021 14:00:00 +0000 English teacher Phil Roh returns to Woodbridge High this year after fifteen years.

Roh started his teaching career in 2000 during his sophomore year at University of California Irvine. Roh first worked at Woodbridge High as a football coach and left for San Francisco to work at a nonprofit writing center. Roh continued to work in Northern Calif. as he shifted through jobs until finally coming back to Orange County for graduate school. He then worked at Northwood High and in the city of Santa Ana before finally coming back to Woodbridge High this year.

Roh’s family motivated and encouraged Roh to pursue a Ph.D. During his course, Roh got to research and craft proposals, write and defend dissertations and studied for qualifying exams.

“The tricky thing with the Ph.D. is that the first half is made up almost entirely of the requisite coursework, so you’re in a traditional graduate school classroom setting with peers who make student life so much more interesting,” Roh said. “And more consistent. The second part is so much more difficult because it all centers around the dissertation. It gets very lonely and there’s not as much regular interaction with other human beings as there was in coursework to balance that out.”

Roh’s favorite memory in his teaching career is when he got to establish a transdisciplinary program called Forensics Core at Northwood High.

“We read books like Silence of the Lambs, drew up psychological profiles of serial killers. [We] learned how to determine time of death by examining maggots that grew on carcasses of dead chickens in the body farm my teaching partner created in the back of the school,” Roh said. “But the best thing about it was that we (students, teachers, administrators, community members) came together to take a risk and ultimately, the students benefited from the experience.”

Roh currently teaches Honors English 1 and World Literature at Woodbridge High. He also enjoys sharing works of literature by Marilynne Robinson.

“I am, at least in ivory-tower-academic terms, a contemporary Americanist, which is a fancy-pants way of saying that my research interests are centered around contemporary American literature,” Roh said. “I also attended UCI, which at the time, was a school known for its literary theory program […] With that, I feel like I’m at my best […]”

Senior Owen Lucas comments that Roh is one of his favorite teachers as he cares for all students.

“He makes class more than it actually is and really tries to have each and everyone of his students engage,” Lucas said.

Senior Nicholas Oshefsky describes Roh as an honest teacher and very well versed in English as he draws a lot of meaningful insights from texts read in class.

“Mr. Roh tries to create a community in our classroom despite the pandemic, this includes circle time where he encourages us to share about our lives,” Oshefsky said. “He is also very personable of himself and shares some of his experiences which I personally enjoy.”

Roh shares the positivity of his students and is happy to be back at Woodbridge.

“It’s like returning home,” Roh said.

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ASB Winter Wishes Wed, 06 Jan 2021 00:48:31 +0000 The Associated Student Body (ASB) organizes the annual Winter Wishes event at Woodbridge High to share the joy of giving during the holiday season.

“Every student on campus [can] ask for any gift they desire ranging from candies to fuzzy socks as long as it is within 3 dollars,” Winter Wishes planning committee leader and senior Brandon Yu said. “They are also allowed to ask for services from students such as singing Christmas carols or doing a dance number.”

Students request the small gifts and gestures through a Google Form they can find on Instagram for a limited time.

“I [received] last year for the first time and was excited to see it running again this year!” senior Ethan Winterstein said. “A small gift really lightened up the day.”

Small gifts and acts of kindness can bring students together.

“ASB tries to do things that serve the entire student body,” ASB adviser Lauren Prudhomme said. “With something like Winter Wishes, even students who don’t normally participate in traditional events can be a part of something.”

As ASB adviser, Prudhomme also oversees the finances and operational function of the program.

“The student outreach committee organizes all the responses by the type of gift they asked for and then they are organized by the store we get them from,” Yu said.

ASB seniors shop for the items and are reimbursed from the ASB general account, which includes spirit wear sales and donations.

Although the task is painstaking, the process can surely bring joy.

Yu’s favorite experience with the event resulted from a wish for a few ASB members to perform a rendition of the Mean Girls Jingle Bell Rock dance.

“The ASB junior boys all learned it and had a fun time doing so even though it was really embarrassing,” Yu said.

Experiences are not only reserved for ASB members.

“Last year we had a student wish to help with Winter Wishes,” Prudhomme said. “He got to be an ASB member for the day and helped distribute wishes to classrooms. That was a lot of fun!”

As for those on the receiving end, Winterstein looks to pass the favor forward this year, with the knowledge that a small action creates a large impact.

“I decided that I wanted to have ASB use the funds from my gift to donate to someone else,” Winterstein said. “People have been hit hard this year emotionally and financially and I know anything helps to bring joy to their day!”

ASB hopes to see positivity spread despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The little acts of kindness that ASB makes can have a chain reaction effect and spread positive vibes to an exponential number of students,” Yu said. “It’s always rewarding as a member of ASB to see students have a smile on their faces when they receive their gifts.”

A small gesture that brings us all one step closer to the new year.

“I hope that as people see the importance of this event as they pass through their years at Woodbridge, this number [of participants] will continue to only improve,” Yu said.

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