Coronavirus: How students are questioning KIS’s safety

How is KIS reacting to the coronavirus outbreak?

December 31st, 2019 marked the official beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in China. Only weeks later, the deadly virus had entered South Korea. 

For those who don’t know already, the coronavirus is a virus which targets mainly the respiratory tract. It is a part of a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The uproar of concern in the status quo is caused by the fact that coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans, and is quickly becoming a global epidemic. Currently, there is no known cure. 

The virus has, naturally, sparked great worry amongst the KIS community. Students have begun to wear masks in school on a daily basis, and many teachers have installed hand sanitizers and wipes in their rooms. One sophomore described how wherever he went—school, subway stations, or academies—he saw a majority of Koreans with their faces covered and heads down. 

“It’s almost like an apocalypse,” he said. “I hope this blows over soon.” 

The outbreak of the coronavirus has caused many students and parents to wonder if school would close down. Some students have jokingly referred to the prospect of no school, remarking that they hoped such an event would occur to avoid schoolwork. Others, however, have expressed more grave perspectives on the matter.

“I really feel like school should be shut down,” one worried junior remarked. “The coronavirus isn’t a joke. It’s a really dangerous virus. I don’t feel safe coming to school right now.” 

“I’m not just worried for myself, but also for my family,” said another student. “What if I contract the virus at school and unknowingly bring it back home? What then?” 

To try to quell these concerns, the school has enacted measures to keep the coronavirus out of KIS. For one, they have installed heat sensors at the B3 and HS first floor entrances which alert supervisors when someone with a body temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius enters the school. 

“This is to make sure that people with the symptoms of coronavirus don’t enter the school and potentially spread it,” said one supervisor. 

Another measure that the school has taken is to lower the standard degree of a fever from 38 degrees to 37.5 degrees Celsius. 

But even with all these preparations, students still feel uneasy.

“The school can’t afford to shut down, but can afford these fancy new machines? That just doesn’t make sense,” said a sophomore. 

Another student suggested online school. “We can just have school online. That’s what technology is for, isn’t it?” she said. “Sometimes people with corona don’t even show the regular symptoms. We’re just coming into school every day with the blind faith that we’ll be fine.” 

When asked if she felt as though the school was doing all they could to ensure her safety, she responded, “If they really wanted to keep us safe, they’d close school until this virus goes away, not make school a place where disaster is just waiting to happen.” 

When students feel as though their health and livelihoods are threatened, that is when the school must go above and beyond to allay those fears. 

— Lauren Cho (’22)

Reality Check, Mr. President

It’s high time that the president learns that he is not above the law. 

On September 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry into the president. This decision was backed by resounding support from the House Democrats, with over 95 percent of them being openly supportive of the investigation. 

The impeachment inquiry stems from two main reasons. The first is the shocking news that Trump had talked to the president of Ukraine about investigating Joe Biden, the former vice president and his political opponent for the 2020 elections, although there is no evidence of wrongdoing by him. In addition, he has withheld nearly $400 million in military aid from Ukraine just days before the transaction was to take place in order to focus on the investigation. 

The longtime accusations that he had conspired with the Russians to sabotage the 2016 elections didn’t help, either. This isn’t the first time that the president has thought that he is above the law. A comprehensive investigation paper named the Mueller Report (after the lead investigator, Robert Mueller), which was released a few months ago, outlines the illegal actions Trump and the Russian government took to uncover harmful information about Hillary Clinton through the emails of government information she sent via her private email address. Although the report seemed damning enough, Trump managed to squeeze his way out of an impeachment. The anger of the nation continued to fester under the surface. 

But now it’s erupting with full force. 

What’s frankly hilarious is that the president thinks that he can run away from this situation and cover it up with flamboyant, inflammatory remarks and tweets, like he has always done. In a letter to the House Democratic leaders, the White House said that the inquiry had “violated precedent and denied President Trump’s due process rights in such an egregious way that neither he nor the executive branch would willingly provide testimony or documents,” according to the New York Times. It went so far as to announce that “it would not cooperate with what it called an illegitimate effort ‘to overturn the results of the 2016 election’”. To add the cherry on top of this fabulous sundae of distractions, Trump mocked the democrats by calling the house a “kangaroo court”. 

What he doesn’t know is that the world is now mocking him. There’s nothing he can do; this week, House Democrats plan to hold their first public hearings in their impeachment inquiry into Trump for his communications with Ukraine. 

Reality check, Mr. President.

– Lauren Cho (’22)

Image: The New York Times

The New Fast & Furious: Worth the Watch?

As the new Fast & Furious movie, Hobbs & Shaw, hit movie theaters, fans wonder if the film was worth the wait.

The answer is not really. 

A disappointed, resigned, reluctant not really, coming from both personal experience and a recap of the movie’s reviews of others. 

But first, some context. 

The Fast and Furious series is a popular American movie franchise focused on action-heavy plots that revolve mainly around heists, covert spies, and illegal activities. Its newest movie (the seventh, to be exact), Hobbs & Shaw, was released on July 13 in the United States and on August 15 in Korea. Some fans were beyond excited to see what the new movie had in store; others were less expectant, as the Fast and Furious series had been rumored to be declining in quality ever since the third movie, Tokyo Drift. 

It seems as if the rumors did hold a measure of truth to them. To start off with a bit of the personal aspect of this article, my experience of the seventh movie of Fast and Furious was nothing short of a let-down. The movie is—in one word—cliché. From the very beginning, when the characters are introduced—Hobbs the rugged philosopher and Shaw the slick man in a suit—it’s obvious that this movie is going to go down the path of the many stereotypical ones in its genre before it. 

The cliché then became overwhelmingly apparent when the overall plot and the two characters’ motives were revealed. Shaw’s sister, Hattie, is discovered to carry a deadly virus that an evil scientist (surprise, surprise!) wants to use for equally-as-evil purposes. By the way, that scientist is Russian and his name is Brixton Lore (and this is where I heaved a weary sigh in the middle of the dark theater).

But Hobbs and Shaw absolutely cannot work together, and they decide that themselves. But then the sister is kidnapped (how convenient), and the two decide that it is imperative that they do work together in order to save her. 

Describing the rest of the movie would result in spoiling it for those reading this article, so I’ll refrain from it. But one note would be that the climax is just as cliché as the scenes building up to them. And the resolution is an absolute forehead-slapper. 

A number of articles written on Hobbs & Shaw seem to share my sentiments towards the movie. One article from The Guardian states, “Sometimes there is pleasure to be found in brainless action, but the extended video game-style finale left me furious and fatigued.” Another from the Atlantic describes the movie as, “an exhausting 135 minutes, and it feels longer, meandering from set piece to set piece and location to location without much purpose.” You get the gist. 
Maybe the movie will appeal to those who love watching the stereotypical action, heist-filled movies. In that case, Hobbs & Shaw is the one for you. But for those expecting an action movie with a compelling and novel plotline should stay out of theaters until the hype driven only by the tagline, “Fast & Furious presents,” has passed.

-Lauren Cho ’22

2019 Course Registration—In the Eyes of Concerned Freshmen

As the 2019 course registration rolls around, worried freshmen express their concerns with the current registration process.

It’s that time of the year. As the first month of the second semester comes to a close, students face numerous meetings with their counselors, hold discussions with parents and friends, and pore over class and elective descriptions as they struggle to determine—you guessed it—their course registrations.

But a certain year of students might have it the hardest. As a freshman, I found myself surrounded by new courses and electives and a plethora of unfamiliar information. Right now, freshmen are only one semester into their high school lives, and already they have to make choices that may set their academic paths for the remaining 3 years of high school.

Thankfully, the freshmen aren’t alone in this process—their counselors, teachers, and even parents are all there to inform and support them and their course choices. Discussions and meetings with these people are very important, especially when regarding not just the courses students wish to take next year, but also in years after.

Still, there are some parts of the course registration process which prove to be challenging to freshmen. To figure out exactly which ones, I interviewed four KIS freshmen, each of whom expressed his/her thoughts on course registration.

How was the process of course registration for you? Describe your overall experience.

“Overall, the process did not have many problems. We visited our counselors, got information from them and our teachers about the potential courses we could sign up for, and there was even that day when our advisories went to see all the different electives and their descriptions. With all this information, the registration process was made a lot easier.”

“In my opinion, the course registration here at KIS was a pretty smooth process. It was a slow, informative selection process which gave us students lots of information at our disposal.”

Why did you decide to choose the courses you did?

“I chose one of my electives because I was looking at my high school future and wanted to take all 4 years of [it] to show commitment… and the other I chose because I genuinely enjoy it and I want to invest all 4 years of my high school life into [it].”

“I had most of my courses planned out for a specific path so it wasn’t super hard. It was hard deciding what electives I wanted to take because there were so many interesting courses available. I chose the courses which I found fun and also would allow me to delve into newer and more challenging things.”

“I personally chose [class] as it gave me a chance to continue enjoying my hobbies and build my already existing experience. The thought of learning a much broader scope of [topic] captivated my urge to take the class.”

What were some of the hardships you faced during the registration process?

“Honestly, although the counselors did give us some information about the courses and how to register, there weren’t a lot of clear instructions for what to do when you want to take certain courses or omit others. They gave vague ideas, but weren’t really specific.”

“Some parts of the process were confusing, such as how I would be able to appeal to take certain courses, or what courses to select on your PowerSchool when PowerSchool has all these limitations and standardizations. Also, I had a hard time choosing only two electives to take, when I wished I could’ve taken multiple.”

And finally, if you could change or add anything to the current course registration process, what would it be?

“Well, aside from the electives I already picked, I also wished that I could take economics or computer-aided design… There’s a bunch of really interesting elective options, but KIS doesn’t really give us a lot of opportunities to try them.”

“If I could change anything, I would change the amount of APs that someone could take during their sophomore year.”

“I would make it so that students could have more individual time to discuss with their counselors. We didn’t really have individual meetings—just large group ones, which were kinda rushed and didn’t allow us to ask all the questions we wanted, because of time constraints.”

After interviewing these freshmen and learning their thoughts on the course registration process, it is clear: although counselors and teachers are doing their part in informing students about the potential courses they could take, there seem to be two main sources of frustration with the current process.

With so many diverse courses offered, it is so tempting to take all. Especially as an underclassman with so many required courses to take, the number of electives gets very limited. The second is the general sense of confusion in the overall process.

Realistically, it’s going to be hard to try and solve the first issue. Changing (a.k.a. increasing) the number of electives a student can take to satisfy their desire for expanded horizons will prove to be very challenging. 

But the second issue is an issue that can be solved. 

Perhaps an increased number of autonomous block and contact time check-ups with counselors could help. But that has, historically, been proven to be an unpopular use of time. Instead, individually scheduling appointments with their counselors and teachers during lunch, autonomous block, or after school can be an excellent way to flush out the confusion.

Course registration for the freshmen—with their lack of experience, knowledge, and the lack of confidence needed to make clear course choices—is a little overwhelming, to say the least.

But it doesn’t have to be. 

– Lauren Cho (’22)

Featured Image: Lake Howell High School

The Cost of Death

An Argentine submarine that was lost in the Atlantic Ocean one year ago, along with 44 crew members, has been found—but many are devastated to hear that the government does not have the technological means to recover it.

One year ago, an Argentine submarine was lost 430 kilometers off the coast of Argentina. The ocean-mapping company Ocean Infinity found the submarine sunk deep under the sea a year later, on November 16, 2018. This discovery of what was believed to be lost forever has led to a re-ignition of discussion and controversy regarding the submarine—and more importantly, of the government’s recent announcement of its inability to retrieve it.

The submarine, named the San Juan, malfunctioned during particularly stormy weather while at sea. It consequently exploded, taking 44 sailors with it as it spiraled down into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. At the time, many fingers were pointed at the Argentine government and its inadequate military maintenance as to the cause of the tragedy. After the government supposed the sailors that were aboard the San Juan were dead, their grieved and outraged families admonished the carelessness of the government in the management of their military equipment, causing the international community to condemn it as well. However, after one year, the glaring spotlight of blame on the government had somewhat abated.

The recent discovery has brought it back full force.

When the sunken submarine was discovered only a few days ago, the Argentine government announced that there was no way that, with the current technology that the government possessed, that the submarine could be retrieved. This caused a torrent of protests concerning the government’s role to provide sufficient closure of the incident to its citizens, especially to the families who had lost their loved ones in the accident. Yolanda Mendiola, a mother of one of the missing sailors, Leandro Cisneros, expressed her frustration and anger at the government’s announcement. “They are going to show us the photos… We are destroyed here,” she said. “If we don’t see it [the submarine], we can’t have closure.”

The families have demanded numerous actions from the government, including an independent investigation focusing on salvaging the remains of the San Juan. These demands were only intensified when an anonymous naval officer leaked that: “Raising the submarine to the surface is not impossible, but it is a very complex operation, and therefore very expensive.” Many people are starting to question whether the government was right in declaring a situation hopeless so early into the re-invigorated investigation. Thankfully, officials stated that they would release a report next week regarding more of the technical details of what happened to the submarine and its 44 passengers.

Regardless of whether the submarine will be recovered or not, the discovery has had its emotional toll on the grieving families. Contrary to those who still feel an emptiness in their hearts that, they claim, can only be filled by seeing the remains of the sunken submarine with their own eyes, there are those who believe that the discovery of the San Juan nearly 830 meters underneath the sea has finalized the deaths of their loved ones and has brought closure enough. María Itatí Leguizamón, the 33-year-old wife of a radio operator who was aboard the San Juan, said, “There was a part of me that kept holding on to the hope that he could still be alive. But now I know for sure and I can mourn.”

All eyes are on the families and the Argentine government as they struggle to find a compromise between a clash of overwhelming emotions and practicality. But no matter what the outcome, the fate of the San Juan and its 44 sailors will haunt the international community for decades to come as a reminder of the suddenness and unpredictability of death, all contingent upon a single malfunctioning wire.

– Lauren Cho (’22)

Featured Image: Getty Images

Democracy in Peril

The divisions only deepen as the tug-a-war between parties continues to escalate, with democracy as the dangerously fraying rope.

October 7th, 2018 will go down in political history as a blazing warning underlined in red. It was the day when former United States Circuit Judge, Brett Kavanaugh, was finally sworn into the US Supreme Court after a long battle against accusations of sexual assault stemming from three women. Christine Blasey Ford was the first and main accuser.

 

Ford, an American professor in psychology at Palo Alto University, claimed that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her at a party when they were teenagers. Ford recounted an intoxicated Kavanaugh and some of his friends forcing her into a bedroom, pinning her down, and attempting to remove her clothes one summer night. “I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.” Terrified, Ford stated that she made her escape when Kavanaugh slipped and fell, and had steered clear of the man afterward.

Until now.

When Kavanaugh announced his nomination as a Supreme Court justice nominee in July, Ford wrote a letter to the Washington Post and her congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, about the incident. Ford begged for her identity not to be revealed, as she was afraid of the consequences and public backlash. Eventually, Eshoo and Ford decided to take the matter to Senator Dianne Feinstein, who later revealed to the public (without revealing Ford’s name) that she was withholding a Kavanaugh-related document. As the media started to track Ford down, Ford decided to go public, causing the matter to spiral into a national issue. And at the peak of all the tension, September 27th, Ford walked into Capitol Hill, raised her right hand, and gave her testimony on how Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago.

In the eyes of the feminist, men and women who had lived and endured the trauma of sexual assault were holding their breath on October 7th, hoping for Ford’s victory in the vicious battle between her and Kavanaugh. Millions were devastated and outraged when Kavanaugh was sworn in as one of the justices of the Supreme Court as the result of the closest vote in the last 137 years: 50 to 48.  

This extremely close margin stemmed from nearly all members of the Senate voting along their party lines—Republican or Democratic. Their motivation? Securing power for their own party in both the Supreme Court in the form of a swing vote and also gaining a slim majority in the Senate. President Trump was exultant that his favored nominee was now a justice—and mocked Ford’s testimony and the voices of her supporters as “phony stuff”. By treating her courageous decision to represent her rights as a woman and the rights of all the other sexual abuse victims in the country to walk into court and testify as a joke, Trump provided the entire nation a wall of hollow laughter and derision to hide behind and deny any blame or wrongdoing. And this cowardly behavior only stirred up more conflict and increased polarisation between parties, as Democrats continued to rally the anger of their liberal and victimized citizens to their side.

The #MeToo movement has been a trending hashtag for many months now. It has exploded into a huge movement for the voices of sexual harassment victims to be heard, as well as an enormous form of courage for those who had previously been afraid of the negative social backlash of telling their stories. It has become a beacon of hope for all victimized citizens in the country.

But Kavanaugh’s nomination became a major obstruction on this path to justice.

The election had placed the country smack in the middle of a tug-of-war between parties for increased political power, pulling and yanking and casting aside people’s worries, doubts, and rights in exchange for the influence both sides so coveted. The victims of sexual abuse were slighted, their testimonies either ignored outright or placed in a glaring spotlight, only to guilt-trip politicians into supporting their party. Citizens were reduced to mere trophies or to nothing at all.

The resulting anger and disappointment were evident on Sunday. Many citizens felt betrayed, their faith in the leaders of their country challenged at the core as their voices were not heard—as there were no ears to listen. Screams of “Shame!” resonated as demonstrators were restrained by the police from mobbing Capitol Hill when the news of Kavanaugh’s nomination was released. “This is a stain on American history,” one woman shouted. “Do you understand that?”

But while Ford became a figure for the support of for the voices of the abused and oppressed, Kavanaugh became a representative for many resentful men—their resent stemming from “smearing,” or cases of women falsely accusing men of sexual assault to cause their fall from power. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell claimed that the real victim is Kavanaugh, suffering “the weaponization of unsubstantiated smears.” Many others also rallied to the same cry on Capitol Hill, clashing with the shouts of Ford’s supporters and creating a discordant sound of chaos and conflict.

In the case of Ford vs. Kavanaugh, it is impossible to truly discern which side is telling the truth. Obtaining evidence for a case like this is extremely difficult. However, the absolute truth should not matter in this situation. The saying “innocent until guilty” has been used over and over by Kavanaugh supporters in order to prove his qualifications as a Supreme Court justice. But the fact that three allegations of this weight were pressed against him, and the fact that one became a nation-wide controversy, should be enough to bar Kavanaugh from becoming a representative of the nation’s values of justice and inclusivity.  

The people instilled their trust into certain individuals in the form of political power with the expectation that they would gain, in return, a platform of reasonable discourse and action regarding their fears and concerns. Yet this has become a situation where the greed for political power has caused these fears and concerns. New York senator and Democratic leader Chuck Schumer expressed these sentiments powerfully: “When the history of the Senate is written, this chapter will be a flashing red warning light of what to avoid.”

By a margin of 2 votes, Kavanaugh managed to slip his way into the position of justice—but whether he managed to slip his way into people’s hearts, the nation is not quite sure. This uncertainty will prove to be poisonous to the U.S. unless the power-blinded politicians of today set their priorities straight once more. And this will not happen without a strong public voice to guide them.

Kavanaugh’s nomination was a failure and a disappointment to democracy. Let’s make sure history does not repeat itself.

– Lauren Cho (’22)

Featured Image: CNN/Clare Foran

Threats Against Idlib—And Humanity

The Syrian Civil War is reaching its breaking point in Idlib. That breaking point will determine whether the United States is still the symbol of peace and freedom, or a fraud.

Idlib Governorate. The last remaining rebel stronghold in war-ridden Syria and a continuous target of conflict and attack from the Syrian regime. But also a place that 2.9 million people call home.

The Syrian Civil War, a 6-year long, bloody conflict between the Syrian Arab Republic and the Syrian rebels, has been a fierce fight for political freedom and a new government. In 2011, a peaceful uprising from rebels wishing for increased independence from the Syrian government and a less corrupt government came in the form of a demonstration in Homs. But these minor demonstrations, as they were met with an unchanging regime, rapidly turned into massive protests. And the government was quick to respond with brutal shows of violence.

Soon, these peaceful protests had dissolved into a full-blown war. On June 12, 2012, the United Nations officially declared Syria to be in a state of civil war. A meaningful and nonviolent means of reform had been crushed by water cannons, tear gas, live fire, and the blindness of ignorance and greed.

The main ally of the Assad regime is Russia, who aided them in supply and also in actual conflict against the rebels, as maintaining the regime in Syria was key to their interests in the country. Meanwhile, the United States cautiously backed the rebels, providing them with military training and supplies, but rarely aiding them in conflict. However, the United States did launch occasional air-strikes against the Syrian regime, as part of their campaign against ISIS and the war against terrorism.

And now, it has all boiled down to Idlib, the city housing the last rebel stronghold opposing the oppressive regime.

The United States had warned Syria and its Russian allies—the first warning from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on September 1st, and the second warning from President of the United States Donald Trump, on September 4th—not to “recklessly attack” the city. The concern was the humanitarian issues that come with such a strike. The assault would endanger hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians living in the area and could displace as much as 700,000 Syrians. But only hours after the warning from President Trump, Russian planes struck western Idlib.

Earlier this year in July, the Syrian government and the rebels had come to a reconciliation agreement stating that the refugees would hand over their military hardware at the moment, as well as all their weaponry once ISIS was removed from southern Syria. Those who did not want to participate in this agreement was to be allowed to relocate to Idlib. Idlib was supposed to be a relatively safe haven. Yet the current debris of demolished buildings and civilian casualties say otherwise.

Secretary Pompeo said that the attack on Idlib was something that Syria and Russia had “agreed not to permit,” and that it should be viewed as an “escalation of an already dangerous conflict.” There are concerns that this perilous situation will escalate even further, with the possibility that the Syrian government will use chemical weapons against the rebels in Idlib.

But even after these warnings, Russia is still on the offensive. Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia, told the Western nations not to “play with fire”, implying that Russia will not back down from this fight anytime soon.

A regime that destroys its own innocent civilians in the pursuit of complete dominance. A government indulged in its own corruption, sacrificing its people for extended power. A civil war that annihilates both buildings and dreams of a freer country alike, spreading authoritarianism under the cover of the word, “republic”. Conflict upon conflict, chaos upon chaos, placing yet another mark of radical violence onto history’s already marred face, and increasing doubt that any room for peace is left.

At this rate, not much will be left at all.  

Amid the rubble and dead bodies, there will still be people whose hearts remain unscarred and whose minds remain untwisted from the violent hatred they have experienced first-hand. There will still be people that will advocate for peace rather than combat. But, as the death rate continues to rise and people continue to lose their homes, these numbers will soon dwindle to an alarming few.

If this conflict continues to displace and harm mass amounts of innocent civilians, it must be stopped. And against the rising opposition, it is the duty of the United States, as a democratic country, to protect the lives and rights of these civilians until the fighting has come to an end.

– Lauren Cho (’22)

Featured Image: Abdurrazzak Sekirdy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images