Grades Slipping?

By Joseph Kurtz

February 19, 2021

With the current COVID-19 pandemic and distance learning, it makes sense if your grades are slipping. Your grades are important and need to be maintained. This is why there are a lot of different ways to improve your grades, even in distance-learning. 

  Completing your work on time is a really easy way to improve your grade. Each time you forget an assignment and turn it in late you lose points. Although, the current school policy allows you to not lose points for late work as long as you turn it within 5 days after the assignment was due, you should still try to turn it in on time. If you have a busy life and have a hard time keeping track of these assignments, turn on your Google Classroom notifications or check your phone every few hours for new assignments. Also, check your email regularly for communication from your teacher. 

If not your assignments, you need to study for your tests in order to improve your grade. The idea of reading after a long day of staring at the screen sounds very boring, which is why channels like Crash Course and Vox were created. Crash Course states that “Crash Course is one of the best ways to educate yourself, your classmates, and your family on YouTube”. Those channels have lots of accurate study material for most subjects. Khan Academy and TED talks have great information for science and math. Khan Academy helps improve grades to the point where “studying for the SAT for 20 hours on Khan Academy’s free Official SAT Practice is associated with an average score gain of 115 points. That’s nearly double the average score gain compared to students who don’t use our free test prep”. Quizlet also helps with most subjects, especially because of its flashcards and practice test options. If you don’t want to look at the screen, crack open your textbooks. Read, make flashcards, take handwritten notes, and repeat until your grade improves. You could also try writing about your subject. For example, if you were learning about WWI write a letter from the perspective of a German soldier or if you’re learning about chemistry write a paragraph on how ammonia is made. 

You might not know this but your environment plays a big role when it comes to improving your grades. For example, if your daily life is busy (lucky you) but unorganized you will forget about that chemistry assignment. With that in mind, manage your day  and allow yourself at least two hours in the afternoon to do your homework. Now, make sure you sit down in a place where there isn’t much sound. Your brain can only focus on so many things at once. Your own room or your outside patio would work, if you can put your devices in a different area. This will allow you to be fully focused on your work. Lastly, consider chewing some gum and use blue ink when writing notes. This helps you remember the material better. 

     Last but not least, ask your teachers for help if needed. Utilizing resources such as office hours allows you to ask questions that will help you boost your GPA. It’s also a good idea to ask if any tests or quizzes are open notes. It may feel weird to ask your teachers for help but if you don’t understand something it’s necessary, plus teachers love when you come to them for help. Your teachers are certified to educate you and that means that any questions you have should be answered by your teacher. 

  Your education is key for future success. Whether you want to go to college or not, education will help you properly communicate your ideas to others. That’s why checking Google Classroom, turning in work on time, and studying is key to achieving a high GPA. Remember, your education is your freedom.  

Malibu Middle Mascot

By Chloe Loquet

February 5, 2021

Mascots play a huge role in what we view as the “school experience”. These symbols allow us to gain a greater sense of community and belonging. Mascots allow us to boost morale and school pep. Now that Malibu Middle School has officially separated fr/om Malibu High School, we have been left mascotless. The question is: if we are no longer the Sharks, then what will be our schools new mascot?

One of the largest questions that our school must answer is if our mascot will follow the trend set by the other three public schools in Malibu. Webster Elementary has Wally the Whale, Malibu Elementary has their Sea Lion, and Malibu High has Sharky Shark. Will we continue the wave of choosing a marine animal as our mascot? As Juan Cabrillo and Point Dume recently joined forces to form Malibu Elementary, they also had to choose a new mascot. The school made the decision that their new symbol had to be a native resident of our local marine biome. That poses the question: how important is it that our new mascot be a marine creature that lives in our geographic area or would this criteria overly restrict our options? One positive of following this same specification is that it ensures that our mascot has a deeper connection to our community. 

Another question being asked is, should the name of our next mascot begin with the letter ‘M’ so that our name follows alliteration? One popular candidate that has been brought up is a Marlin. Marlins, which are part of the swordfish family, are fierce looking fish with snouts that resemble sharp spears. This sea creature not only begins with the letter “M” but the blue marlin is a native to Malibu’s marine biome. Yet another prime candidate is the Manta Ray. Manta Rays are huge, almost alien-looking ocean creatures that have wing-like pectoral fins. Although these animals are not native to Malibu’s marine community, they are sea creatures that follow the alliteration criteria. Other strong candidates for the role include the Megalodons,  Mariners, the Manatees, the Makos, and the Urchins.  

Yet another major question is whether or not our mascot should tie into Malibu High School’s. We have the shark stickers on our cars, and loads of shark apparel. Having been viewed as the same school for so long, we have built our identity around the Malibu High Shark. Now that we have journeyed off as our own separate school, we must form a new identity for ourselves. We have to decide if we want to connect our new identity to the shark that we have come to love. 

Something interesting that we often forget is the history of Malibu Park Junior High. Malibu High School was not actually founded until 1992. In 1963, Malibu Park Junior High was established open to grades 7-9. The original school’s mascot was a spartan and they barred school colors of green and yellow. It was not until 1988 that the school began integrating higher grades and in 1992, the site became Malibu High School, home of the Sharks. Although Spartans are not sea dwellers, they do hold sentimental value in our community and hold deep roots at our school.

A great aspect of having to find a new school symbol is that we, as students and members of the community, have the opportunity to find a mascot that truly represents our school’s present day spirit. You have the opportunity to take part in a decision that could last for decades. You have the ability to select a symbol to represent our school that embodies the values and principles you view to be most important within our community. If you could choose, what icon would you pick to represent Malibu Middle School for years to come?

The Dramatic Effect of COVID-19 on Grades

By Davis Newman

February 4, 2021

During the past two school years, COVID-19 has completely changed the way students learn. Most students and teachers alike are facing the challenges that come with distance learning. Students are struggling to keep up with assignments and teachers are still learning to teach in an online environment, so it begs the question; how have student’s grades and achievements been affected by the global pandemic?

Comparison between the scores of students, before the pandemic, in the beginning of the pandemic, and currently in the pandemic has shown a major decrease of performance across the board. In mathematics During fall of 2020, students had a 5-10% lower score than students during the fall of 2019 according to calculations. According to a study by Dr. Megan Kuhfeld and Dr. Beth Tarasawa, discovered learning retention during summer was noticeably lower compared to before the pandemic, especially in math; and will continue to be so during the pandemic. English retention and scores have been significantly higher than math, and future math teachers may have to teach students who will not be fully prepared by the beginning of the year. 

Online learning is not equally challenging for all students. Students who were homeschooled prior to the pandemic find more success and teachers who received training for online school had a much smoother transition. To add on, a study from shows that the gap between high achieving and low-achieving students is widening, as well as the success gap between high and low-income students. In the case of high and low achieving students, is it shown that students who are frequently absent from class do exponentially worse than the attending students. For unmotivated students, it is much easier not to open a computer to skip class than leave a physical one. Furthermore, students who require in-person help during school have had a major decrease in school performance. Low-income students are doing much worse during this pandemic in comparison to high-income students. Low-Income students must cope without the resources a high-income student may have, and also must deal with the lack of parental support from a guardian who must deal with their own job or joblessness. For low-income students, this creates an incredibly unhealthy learning environment. 

The “COVID Generation” of students are facing learning circumstances never faced before, and as a result, the gap between successful and unsuccessful students grows, and the challenges for the low-income students grow. Although some students may find it less challenging than others, nearly all students are feeling the pressure and challenges that come from distance learning. A survey with 190 respondents at Malibu High School displayed that 30.5% of students reported having lower grades during distance learning compared to only 21.6 percent who claimed to have improved. Most students are finding trouble succeeding and test scores and projections for the future may be much worse compared to previous years. 


By Sophia Pilot

January 22, 2021

COVID-19 has altered many high school traditions, one being juniors taking the Scholastic Admission Test (SAT) or American College Testing (ACT) in their spring semester. With college on the horizon, many juniors are frustrated with the uncertainty of whether or not standardized tests will be administered because of the precautionary measures the pandemic requires.  

By now, juniors are familiar with the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) that is administered in October of every year, to help students prepare for the SAT. Additionally, If your score lands you in the 99th percentile among juniors taking the PSAT, you are eligible to earn scholarship money and national recognition. If the PSAT is canceled as a result of changes to county health protocols, there is still a chance for juniors to qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. Malibu High School’s College Counselor Mrs. Snyder assured students that by taking the SAT in June or August and completing an entry form online will allow students to be eligible.

A survey was conducted on Malibu High School’s junior Google Classroom page in order to gauge interest in taking the PSAT on January 26 at MHS. According to the 116 juniors who completed the survey, only 32 expressed interest in taking the test. Malibu High’s College Coordinator, Ms. Samsel will contact parents of the 32 students with test day specifics. Masks will be required and there will be around 10 students in each room to follow social distancing protocols. 

Some students are questioning whether the SAT is necessary given that many colleges are now test-optional or test-blind, meaning that the SAT scores are not mandatory. Colleges consider other factors to differentiate students such as personal statements, AP scores, and interviews. Some schools have not yet released their admissions requirements so it is important to consider taking the test. 

For the past several years Malibu High School administered the SAT to juniors in April, this year, however, MHS has not yet released any information regarding their plan. Mrs. Snyder explains the status of the test at MHS, “As of right now, we still plan on offering the SAT to juniors if they would like to take the SAT, given health and safety regulations from the school, district, and county offices. More information will be given to students and parents soon.” Malibu High School’s SAT is not listed on the College Board website, but there are other locations in LA and Ventura counties where the test is being administered. This is all subject to change with the unpredictability of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The College Board announced that the optional essay will be discontinued for SAT exams administered starting in June 2021. Additionally, SAT Subject Tests will be canceled in order to reduce the demands on students. The College Board is attempting to offer the SAT online, similar to the AP test, assuming technical difficulties are resolved. 

Another High School tradition for many students is the Advanced Placement (AP) exams. These exams are scheduled to be administered in their entirety, versus last year when they were given online in a condensed format. It will look different than last year’s shortened test, but students will still have the option to take the test online. More information will be released soon on the College Board’s AP Central website and announced to AP teachers, coordinators, and administrators.

The school district has been doing its best to keep these tests routine, but this may be another tradition that falls to the challenges of COVID-19.

Will School Sports Make a Comeback?

By Liam Moore

November 9, 2020

As the coronavirus quarantine approaches eight months, schools look to reopen and allow sports to start practicing on campus again. Although MHS is projected to reopen sometime next semester, multiple sports teams are looking to start practicing on campus before then. 

   Luckily, the California Interscholastic Federation, or CIF has announced on October 1st that their schedule for sports will not change. In July, CIF released a new schedule for all sports teams, which moved some sports to different seasons. This was done to help reduce the amount of “overlap” between different sports seasons. As of October 1st, this schedule will not change stating “They remain in place since they were announced on July 20 and will continue to remain in place as we begin October, approach November, and move forward in preparation for the launch of our Fall Sports season in mid-December.” Seeing that CIF has made monthly updates on the state of sports being reopened, we can expect to see another update for November soon.

   Now, as fall gets closer, many fall sports athletes at MHS are eager to get back to practicing on campus. Fortunately, it seems that some sports are getting the “ok” to start practicing on campus. For example, the baseball team has also started practicing on campus, using the baseball field and weight room. Both boys and girls volleyball are going to have their first on campus practice November 6th on the football field. Although volleyball is  not able to practice in the gym, it is certainly a step towards practicing indoors. All players are required to wear masks and attempt to maintain six feet distance.

  Although we are making progress towards practicing on campus and indoors, it seems that many other schools have already begun practicing indoors. At least for volleyball, multiple schools in our league such as Nordoff have been allowed to practice in their gym, presumably with masks and social distancing.

   Hopefully, as the number of covid cases per day drops in California and a safe vaccine is created, all athletes will be able to return to practicing on campus and in the gym.

Locked Out of the Darkroom

By Colin Murphy

October 27, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic effect on the schooling system across the United States. With students not being allowed to enter the classroom, distance learning has become the new normal. 

For students, it can be difficult but the same goes for teachers. The amount of stress placed on them is much tougher; they have to completely change the way they normally teach and now they have to entertain students while they’re in their home.  

This past week, I took a look at Malibu High School’s photo class and had a common goal on learning how the class is functioning with distance learning measures in place. I spoke to Ms. Carla Bowman-Smith, the photo teacher at Malibu High School. She said,  “The main thing that has changed [with distance learning] is that we haven’t been able to shoot film and use the darkroom. Also, I like to have a few projects going on at once, so that students who finish early have other options to work on. The way it is now, the entire class works on one project.” 

This can most definitely cause a problem for students because photography is about learning new techniques and different styles but if students are held back with the rest of their class, they won’t learn as much throughout the semester. 

I then asked Ms.Bowman-Smith what her goals for students are. She replied with “My main goal, during distant and when at school,  is that students enjoy my classes! But also that hopefully in my classes, students can relax a little and create, and be a period in their day that they can forget about all the stuff going on around us right now.” With that being said, Ms.Bowman still expects students to join her virtual meetings every day with their full attention and plan to learn more. 

I spoke to a student who has never taken a photo class at Malibu High, and a student who has. Both had very similar experiences in Ms.Bowman’s classes and very positive feelings about the way this school year is going. 

Triston Harvey, a senior and a third year photography student here at Malibu High School said “Online classes have been good, honestly discussions have been much more active then they were in person, more people share their reactions and opinions on their peers’ work.”.

Leo Alexander, a junior at Malibu High School is a first-year photography student who followed up with Triston’s statements saying, “For photo one since class does not go very into depth, Bowman will preview the project, explain how to do it. Then we are given time to go and shoot. But at the end of class, we reconvene and talk about one another’s work.” 

By reviewing each other’s work, students get to understand what people like to see and what techniques they are progressing with. By learning which techniques they do better, the photographers learn their style and learn what specifically to look for when going out to shoot. 

Leo also took art class last year at Malibu High, so I asked him how he felt about photo and art classes being online instead of in person. He replied with a very in-depth yet inspiring statement about how being in a classroom is more applicable for learning, but being at home can “expand the possibilities of creativity in mine and other students’ projects.”

Photo class at Malibu High is functioning mostly to the best of its ability and Ms.Carla Bowman-Smith is doing a wonderful job with distance learning. Both Triston and Leo said she is a great teacher who is doing her best at running the class smoothly.    

Online classes at Malibu High School have been stressful for both students and teachers but after about the second week, the majority of students began progressing in their classes and learning the necessary skills to succeed. With classes like photography and the arts still occurring, even though distance learning is in effect, students get to follow their passions and be creative while at home.

Photo by Leo Alexander

Meet Malibu High’s Newest Teacher

By Davis Newman

October 19, 2020

This year, here at Malibu High, we have a brand new chemistry teacher, Ms. Lipetz. With over 17 years of SMMUSD chemistry experience and a year in Canada, Ms. Lipetz is looking to be a promising teacher. She will be adapting to both a new school environment and a global pandemic at the same time, teaching in unpredictable circumstances.

   Lipetz says she is up to the challenge, and even says she can find some benefits in the new online environment, saying it is easier to support her students through Zoom. Ms. Lipetz is proud of the students and staff working so hard in and out of school to make this a comfortable environment for her. Ms. Lipetz says that although it is difficult to adjust to this online style, it teaches us technological learning, which she believes is what will be the main educational tool in the future.

   Although Lipetz likes her new learning environment, she says she will have a difficult time getting to know her students like she usually would in and out of class in a physical school. Furthermore, Ms. Lipetz says that she will not be able to do all of the labs in the physical way she would like, especially since she cannot send her students home with acids and bunsen burners. Ms. Lipetz also has to cut out some of the content she would love to teach.

   Ms. Lipetz plans to teach in the same style she usually would, where the students are very self-directed, but since chemistry is hard to learn alone and she can’t be as hands-on as she would like, she will have to experiment with her teaching style. It is also strange teaching without paper or labs, but Ms. Lipetz has some ideas for simulation regarding the labs.

   Ms. Lipetz is optimistic despite the challenges of these uncertain times and has high hopes for her future teaching here. She is open to feedback and is adjusting as much as we are. Ms. Lipetz is very happy with the students and faculty which have been very helpful, friendly and accommodating to her new teaching home.

Distance Learning From a Student’s Perspective

By Liam Moore

October 5, 2020

As we all know, school has been online because of the pandemic. Last year, students were able to experience online learning, most likely for the first time. Last year’s online learning was a struggle for both students and teachers because of AP tests and no real prior experience with online learning.

    However, this year, both students and teachers are more experienced with distance learning, but has that affected the difficulty of learning in general? Personally, and I feel I can say this for the majority of students, online learning is not comparable to being in an actual classroom. For me, I feel that I get distracted easier and it’s harder to learn when I stare at a screen all day. When the teacher’s voice and lesson is all on a screen, it feels like I’m watching a less structured Khan Academy video for an hour.

   Teachers have it equally as hard because they too are experiencing online learning for the first time and it’s hard to balance the amount of work they give us. It’s harder and takes longer for teachers to communicate with each other and balance the workloads from different classes.

    Even though the days are two hours shorter than what we would normally have, I feel like I have even more homework. Anyone who takes AP Chemistry knows about the lengthy homework load which is overwhelming for just one class; add five other classes and it feels like there’s no escape from the homework.

    I think part of the reason why homework takes so long is because everything is always on a screen. When I try to do homework after five hours on Zoom, my eyes feel like they’ve been in a chlorinated pool for too long and staring at a screen all the time feels more draining than being in a class. Even though I get more sleep now, compared to during normal school, I still feel equally as tired and more unmotivated to do schoolwork.

    I don’t only speak for myself but for many others as well. Senior Ava Arlidge says “Being on a screen for four plus hours for school and then four plus more hours for homework gives me headaches.”

   Junior Buddy Mulder says “I don’t like the new zoom schedule and I want to go back to normal school.”

    However, there are positives to the distance learning schedule. Arlidge said, “I like that the days are shorter and it’s nice not being in the same class everyday”. Similarly, Mulder said that “Waking up later is nice,” which is definitely one of the biggest upsides to distance learning for me. Also, the alternating classes each day makes it easier to do homework for different classes. For example, having periods one, three, and five on a Monday means that the homework for those classes are due on Wednesday rather than Tuesday.

    In my opinion, distance learning is not comparable to in-person learning. Learning from a screen makes it harder to learn and it can be a literal pain. However, distance learning has allowed for more sleep and the school days are shorter. Hopefully, normal school is able to return as soon as possible.

What’s Happening With MHS Spring and Winter Sports?

By Liam Moore

September 14, 2020

   As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, many of our school sports have been rearranged by the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF). Any rumors that there will be no sports until spring or that there are no winter sports are incorrect.

   On July 20th, CIF released their new schedule – which can be reached at or on Malibu High School’s website – for all sports during this new school year. Many sports now have new seasons, for example, boys volleyball is now in the fall, when it used to be in the spring. 

   CIF has done this “primarily to help with the spacing between particular sports and the overlap of certain sports between seasons”. In short, the seasons were moved around to accommodate for the coronavirus outbreak. There have been no updates since July 20, and with the ever-changing number of coronavirus cases, there may be more changes to the schedule.

   There have been no official announcements by either the school or CIF that sports are postponed until spring. There is a low probability that sports will be canceled this semester, seeing that many private organizations in Southern California are allowing people and student-athletes to use their facilities for training. 

   Additionally, the Pepperdine Women’s Beach Volleyball Team has recently started practicing at Zuma, with nets and balls, despite volleyball being prohibited on LA county beaches. This has led to the assumption that MHS will allow students to start practicing on school grounds soon, but it is still too soon to say. 

   With sports seasons moved around, there was a possibility that multi-sport athletes would have trouble playing their regular sports. However, no students have spoken out about this issue with concern.

  In fact, this schedule change has allowed some athletes to play both of their preferred sports. Jared Hughes, a senior baseball player said, “That’s so hype” when he heard that boys volleyball was in the fall, allowing him to play both sports.