Los Al seniors: What’s next?

Los Al’s Journalism seniors decided to shoot the breeze about their high school experience


Los Al Griffin Gazette/Instagram

The seniors of the 2023 Journalism class received special honors for their work this year.

Jason Khan and Sean Macdonald

LOS ALAMITOS, CA — Sean Macdonald, a senior staff writer for the Griffin Gazette, started out the discussion by asking the rest of the seniors about their most impactful memories during their high school years.

Michael Warren, a staff writer and editor, remembered an eccentric character, dubbed “Chicken-Man,” who came to Los Alamitos High School and Oak Middle School dressed as a chicken.

Warren also recounted a bomb scare that took place on Feb. 13, 2020. However, Warren noted that this memory seemed faded because of what happened a month later: the beginning of the COVID-19 quarantine.

The seniors recalled how their naivete led them to believe that the quarantine would simply be a fun two-week break from school.

It became two years.

Prior to the quarantine, staff writer Jonas Corliss recounted joining in a “horrible” chant in his French class celebrating their supposed two-week break. Corliss later mentioned how, as a sophomore during the pandemic, due to the lack of interaction caused by remote learning, he was able to obtain a C in his French class without ever volunteering to speak.

Adalie Landa, one of the Griffin Gazette’s Editors-In-Chief, remembered casual discussions held in her freshman journalism class about the state of the pandemic before the quarantine; she noted that she turned out to be asymptomatic prior to the pandemic. Only as a Junior did Landa began to realize the profound effects that the pandemic had on her sophomore year.

Staff writer Rommel Salazar then wondered how different life would have been for him and his senior class if the pandemic had not shut everything down.

Warren brought up how different his social circle became, and Alicia Tan, another staff writer and editor, mentioned how people’s responses to different societal events, such as the Black Lives Matter protests during the pandemic, clued her in to what their character truly was.

Sofia Youngs, the Griffin Gazette’s other Editor-In-Chief, said that her academic life became a lot easier during the pandemic, as she was able to finish all her classwork within a few hours at the beginning of each week, leaving more time for watching Netflix.

Warren, Corliss, and Salazar, in contrast, mentioned how they did not enjoy the online school experience. They highlighted how much of a motivator in-person school is, as it forces one “to get out of bed.”

Corliss also mentioned how COVID helped him appreciate the true value of social interaction.

Tan enjoyed the increase in quality time she got to spend with her family, and she also experienced a boost in mental health from attending therapy.

Listening to this conversation, sophomore Jason Khan then asked the seniors what they would be glad to leave behind from their high school experience.

Youngs mentioned that she takes great joy in no longer having to take any math classes, as she believes her major does not utilize any subjects in STEM.

Moreover, Youngs will not miss the “hot-shots” in the high school community who will move on to college and realize that they are comparatively unimportant when there is “a 40,000 undergraduate” enrollment.

Corliss noted that his lack of class choice will not severely distress him in college as he thought it would; he will be able to take more classes that he is passionate about rather than ones he is forced to take.

Salazar, contrariwise, posited that forced classes help people discover their passions; in Salazar’s case, he was able to realize that he is inclined toward visual arts and Spanish culture.

Tan stated that she will not miss the classroom culture of AP classes at Los Al. She believes most of the people in AP classes are not truly passionate about the subject, as opposed to college. She also highlighted that, unfortunately, there is a large number of people in AP classes who cheat, which gave her an even greater disdain for these classes.

Landa mentioned how the change in scenery and people that comes with adulthood will be greatly refreshing, as most of the senior class will disseminate from the Los Al community and go off on their own.

This reminded Warren of something his English teacher, Mrs. Franzen, once told him.

“If you speak to five people from high school in five years, that’s a lot,” he said. Warren was frightened and enlightened by this thought, and Landa concluded that it is imperative to make close friends in middle school to stick with throughout high school.

Youngs echoed Landa’s sentiment of close friendships and shared how she will now have to drive to Arizona any time she wants to meet up with one of her closest friends. She will not let this stop her from seeing her friend, but their physical distance will place a difficult burden on their relationship.

Corliss and Salazar realized that they will be leaving behind the people they are not incredibly close with and that high school greatly improved their social skills. Macdonald then inquired about how well-known the seniors want their post-high school plans to be.

For Youngs, this was an easy question: She wants all the people who underestimated her debate and journalism skills, due to a multitude of reasons, to realize how wrong they were to do so.

Warren believes that he has somewhat figured out his career path as an English teacher; however, he knows that these plans are not guaranteed.

“I think I have it figured out, but a lot of people say that, and a lot of people don’t,” Warren said.

Tan, without mentioning her major, did mention to many people what college she will attend, as her pride from this will allow her to emphasize to the teachers who were racist or sexist toward her in the past how wrong they were.

Landa chooses to keep her future plans to herself.

I feel like, if I say it out in the world, I’m afraid that I might find something else… I don’t want to let go of the things that I love right now,

— Adalie Landa

Salazar mentioned how he is comfortable with relaying his future plans of going to community college, though he believes these plans are not incredibly bragworthy.

This sparked a response from the others about the community college stigma that has developed in high school communities.

Aleina Tu’ufuli contributed that she does not know what she wants to do with her life after high school as of yet, but she is okay with that. Corliss stated that he wants to be a music journalist, even though the “monetary aspect” is rather iffy.

The discussion concluded with an inquiry into what advice the seniors wish to give to their underclassmen.

Warren mentioned that it is imperative to get one’s college application done as soon as possible. Tu’ufuli believes that freshmen should take as much of the high school experience in as possible.

“Be okay with losing friends and making friends… [High school] goes by so quickly,” she said.

Corliss says that it is necessary to shift one’s efforts when certain classes do not work out. Salazar believes one should only take the AP courses for classes that they genuinely enjoy, and this resonated with Tan greatly.

“Do not base your worth on what school you get into, and do not base anyone else’s worth on what school they get into,” she said.

Put yourself in an environment that [will] support you… high school’s a time to discover who you are so that… in your lifetime, you’re set up to do what you want to do.

— Michael Warren

Los Al Journalism will miss our seniors very much, and we wish them all the best in their future aspirations.