During quarantine, students from Gabrielino High School are using creativity to expand their interests in old hobbies and to explore new ones.
At Gabrielino, many know rising senior Kelly Tran for her leadership roles in ASB and involvement in the choir. However, outside of school, Tran has been a songwriter since seventh grade and will be releasing an original song called “Fingerpaints,” which she wrote with her friend Claire Bailey, on various streaming platforms in September.
Tran notes that songwriting has always been an outlet to express her emotions.
’’[It’s] the perfect mixture: [I’m] able to put my thoughts and feelings to pen and turn them into something beautiful,” she said.
Although Tran acknowledges inconsistency is the most difficult part about songwriting, she feels that it is worth it to share her music with others and knowing it made an impact on them.
“Songwriting really taught me how to be an open person since you are sharing a part of your life story with other people,” Tran said. “I am more aware of who I am and what I feel.”
In addition, she shares that Julia Michaels and Lauv are songwriters she looks up to whereas her music is influenced by Lennon Stella, mxmtoon and NIKI.
Performances of Tran’s covers and original songs can be found on Instagram @kellymxsic and TikTok @yylleekk.
Claire and Clementine Co.
One girl. One cat. An infinite amount of smiles.
Incoming senior Claire Bailey has wanted to start an online business for years and recently found time to launch Claire and Clementine Co. With her cat, Clementine (Clemmie), Bailey created an Etsy shop where she sells hand-made stickers.
Her shop has various stickers ranging from fruits to plants to Jane Austen books to Harry Styles and much more.
To make stickers, Bailey uses an app called Procreate to draw her stickers. She would then print it out and cut it using a Cricut Maker.
“I think my favorite sticker [that I made] is the Hector plant in my Plant Friends Sticker Pack,” Bailey said. “The pack is inspired by all the real plants in my room and Hector is hands-down the cutest.”
From starting Claire and Clementine Co., Bailey learned how to effectively run a business’s Instagram account.
“My personal account is private, so the world of promoting myself and my product was all brand new to me,” she said.
Bailey has also learned how to properly track her finances on Google Sheets. She uses most of her profit to buy new craft supplies and sets aside a percentage to save up for a car every month.
More stickers can be found on @claireandclementine on Instagram and their Etsy shop, https://www.etsy.com/shop/ClaireandClementine?ref=shop_sugg.
As she scrolled through her “For You” page on TikTok, a video promoting Kode with Klossy caught incoming sophomore Vulena Xiong’s attention.
Xiong was inspired to learn coding after realizing the lack of people around her who had the ability to code. She also noticed the growing amount of women who have experience in coding which prompted her to apply for Kode with Klossy, a free coding camp for girls ages 13-18.
Due to the current pandemic, the camp was held virtually this summer on Mondays to Fridays from July 6-17. Xiong was taught by instructors through Google Slides on Zoom and breakout rooms where she would collaborate with a randomized group of girls to do a coding example from the directions given.
“I found many lessons difficult, and I was taught that it is okay to struggle,” Xiong said. “It is completely fine to not memorize everything and instead, google the syntax for a code.”
Her favorite part about the program was seeing a “Build Succeeded” message pop up every time she coded something correctly without any errors.
Overall, Xiong believes that the coding camp exceeded her expectations and felt empowered by working alongside other girls interested in the technology field.
“I think taking time to care for myself and de-stress through artwork has helped keep me sane while being stuck at home nearly 24/7,” rising senior Bernice Li said. “I hope sharing my work made someone’s day just a little better during these times.”
Last week, she finished her sketchbook which consists of art pieces made with different mediums ranging from but not limiting to pencil, pen, acrylic, watercolors and gouaches.
While Li designed various artworks, she is most fond of her painting of a Ramune bottle and the parody of “Girl with a Pearl Earring” which was made using acrylic and gouache.
Li notes that the best part about making the sketchbook was the freedom she had in creating anything she wanted. Although keeping herself motivated to finish this project was difficult, she is glad it allowed her to grow as an artist.
Aside from the sketchbook she recently completed, another art piece she is extremely proud of was one she worked on two summers ago in Macau, China. She sat on a small bench underneath a tree near her home and sketched the view across the street with a ballpoint pen.
Despite the humid weather and mosquitoes flying around, Li finished her product. That experience taught her to be patient with observational drawings and helped her realize her passion for drawing cityscapes.
Link to Li’s sketchbook tour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNSyMOabztk
When rising junior Alex Lai is not practicing for Speech and Debate, he enjoys taking a ton of pictures with an iPhone 8 Plus. His parents noticed Lai’s passion for photography, so they recently gave him a Canon EOS 200D DSLR Camera for his birthday.
To adjust with the transition from using an iPhone to a real camera, Lai practices taking pictures of landscapes and objects around his house with a Canon.
His favorite place to take pictures is Whittier Narrows. He notes that there are plenty of trees, power lines, birds, and giant lakes to photograph and especially enjoys capturing its sunset.
During quarantine, he has also been able to visit colleges like UC Irvine, UCLA and USC where he has taken pictures of buildings, landscapes and portraits of his family.
“The pictures I’m most proud of are the pictures I take of my friends and family,” Lai shared. “[When they are] in the picture, it reminds me of the times and memories we had together.”
Lai edits his photos with an app called Lightroom where he uses the auto edit feature. If he does not like the way it turns out, he toggles with the lighting to improve the colors of his pictures and photoshops minor mistakes.
His photography can be found on Instagram @manbopictures.
Incoming senior Alison Long was introduced to bullet journaling by her friends three years ago. Although she did not fully understand it at first, Long started watching bujo videos on YouTube and got familiar with its concept. She realized her passion for creating planners and has been journaling consistently ever since.
When Long first began bullet journaling, she looked on Pinterest to get inspiration for spreads from others. However, gradually, she developed her own style for layouts and found what worked best for her personally.
Long’s favorite part about having a bujo is the ability to turn a blank page into anything she desires.
“Whether it’s writing about my day, listing out tasks I need to complete or just making spreads about my favorite anime, book or anything, bullet journaling has allowed me to grow so much as a person,” she said.
Although errors were difficult to deal with in the beginning, she learned that it could easily be solved by ripping out the page, gluing pages together or working around it and moving on.
She recommends anyone to bullet journal and notes that consistency with journaling varies from person to person. For Long, there was a time when she skipped a month of bullet journaling but started again the following month.
“I don’t bullet journal because I have an obligation to, instead, I journal because it’s something I want to do,” Long shared.
Aside from bujo-ing, she is launching a business on Etsy where she is selling her arts and crafts.
“Up Past Bedtime” Podcast
Incoming juniors Ivan Curiel-Mejia, Vincent DeMarco, Thien Le, Karyme Peña and Kayla Tran are the five hosts of “Up Past Bedtime,” — a podcast that features late-night talks ranging from predominant topics like the high school experience to arbitrary conversations about bucket list adventures.
“The purpose of our podcast is to simply relate to our teenage audience,” Le said. “[We want] to provide insight into the crazy and hectic world of being a teenager.”
Before recording, the hosts usually join a call together to brainstorm topics that appeal to themselves and ones that would be interesting to other teens. Afterward, they audiotape their discussions using a Discord bot known as “Craig” on Friday nights in order to post their episodes on Spotify and Apple’s Podcasts over the weekends.
Although there are difficulties in producing a podcast such as scheduling and the struggle to maintain a balance between being serious and having fun, the positives outweigh the negatives.
Curiel-Mejia’s favorite part is interacting with their audience at the end of every episode. For DeMarco, he has gained confidence in speaking about his opinions online. Le enjoys expressing himself on a public platform and the momentary laughs he shares with his friends when recording. Peña looks forward to the end of episodes when she helps come up with humorous titles and brainstorming a description while Tran feels that this podcast gives her a chance to share her thoughts genuinely.
Above all, each host is grateful for the people who listen to their podcast and that their conversations can make their viewers’ days better.
Last year, incoming senior Tiffany Truong began journaling and has continued ever since. Truong was inspired by the multiple journaling posts on social media along with the aesthetics of it, so she decided to give it a try.
During her junior year, Truong used a journal to organize her tasks and responsibilities.
“Before having a journal, I’d forget simple things like a Mandarin quiz or to turn in a piece of homework, but since I have everything visually listed, I feel like my grades and mentality has improved,” Truong said.
Now, over the course of quarantine, Truong’s journal is scattered with daily summaries of what she did and checklists of things she wants to get done each day. It also consists of drawings and a mood calendar to keep track of how her month or day went.
Despite the frustration that comes with drawing crooked lines and miscalculating the amount of space she has in her journal, Truong still enjoys journaling because of the freedom it provides her.
“The best part of journaling is that the journal is all yours and no one could tell you how or what to write,” she shared.
She notes that the most difficult part is the ability to continue it. For Truong, there are days in which she skips journaling, but she would usually fill them in when she has time later on.
7EDU Impact Academy Ambassadors
Incoming seniors Cindy Chie and Joanna Ngo are spending their summers productively by working as ambassadors for 7EDU Impact Academy, an educational institution that offers test preparation and college tips for high school students.
As brand representatives, Chie and Ngo are in charge of promoting resources that 7EDU provides through social media. In doing so, they post original content in hopes that it will attract students’ interest in signing up for paid 7EDU classes.
Aside from learning to effectively design flyers, they also network with parents, fellow students, 7EDU’s social media manager and chief executive officer.
For Chie, connecting with others and expanding a company is extremely important as she intends to major in business administration in college.
Both Chie and Ngo work hard to expose the company to a larger audience. While Ngo acknowledges that recruiting people to join 7EDU events and classes can be difficult, she appreciates the chance to help guide other students in their journey towards higher education.
In addition, Ngo shares that her role in 7EDU has enabled her to be a better communicator as she maintains frequent contact with Chie and their manager for content ideas.
Baking Egg Tarts
Baking has been a longtime hobby for incoming senior Gia Truong. She has wanted to bake since she was a young child but was not old enough and did not have the proper materials to do so.
However, this summer, her sister bought an oven and tools such as a pan, measuring cups and spoons. From there, Truong decided to pick up her interest in baking.
One of her favorite desserts is an egg tart. She used to go to bakeries and buy them but realized that a price of $1.75 for a small egg tart was not worth it. This prompted Truong to search up a recipe online and to try to make it herself.
She adopted a recipe from a YouTube channel called “Room for Dessert.” For the tart, she used one cup of flour, one egg yolk, one-half cup each for powdered sugar, water and unsalted butter. As for the egg custard, she utilized one egg, one teaspoon of vanilla extract, one-fourth cup of milk, half a cup for both water and sugar.
Truong notes that her favorite part about making egg tarts is rolling and cutting the dough while the most challenging aspect is ensuring the dough is not soft when rolling it out, since she adds butter in it.
“From baking, I learned new things along the way and feel proud of what I make in the end,” Truong said.
Although Truong currently only bakes egg tarts, she will start learning how to bake more pastries soon.
Inspired by the flat lays of envelopes and letters that users post on social media, incoming senior Andrea Cerros’ hobby of pen palling began. Cerros utilizes a website called findteenpenpals.com to look for people with common interests to write to.
When it comes to creating, she uses legal size brown craft paper to make tri-fold letters, scrapbook paper for embellishments, a navy blue ink Zebra Sarasa Clip pen and dotted paper to write.
To go along with her letters, Cerros likes to include stickers, magazine cutouts, vintage memo pad pages and photos.
“My favorite thing about pen palling is going to the post office and actually mailing the letter,” Cerros said. “It has always seemed so cool to me that the letter I’ve just put so much effort into is going to be seen and received by another person.”
She shares that some benefits of pen palling include forming friendships and developing creativity when making letters.
In addition to pen palling personally, Cerros started Pen Pal club at Gabrielino last school year to share her passion with others. The main goal of the club was to allow her peers to meet other teenagers from another pen pal club in St. Louis, Missouri by sending letters to them.
Rising junior Katie Wong has been wearing jewelry since she was a young child. As Wong grew older, she learned that jewelry is an important aspect of fashion. Therefore, she started to make her own jewelry which turned into a small business on Etsy called CupidbyKatie.
When coming up with ideas for which jewelry pieces to design, Wong searches online for the type of accessories that are currently trending and looks on Pinterest for inspiration. She takes note of any ideas she comes up with and narrows her list of designs by taking the cost of needed materials and the type of jewelry her customers are looking for into consideration.
The different assortments in Wong’s business include anklets, necklaces and Huggie earrings. Her favorite accessories to make are custom wired necklaces. Although Wong initially felt that shaping a piece of wire into letters was a challenge, she eventually familiarized herself with it and enjoys making them.
She uses high-quality materials such as 24k gold plated charms, chains, clasps and much more. All of her supplies are bought from other Etsy shops.