The road to Normalcy

the axe magazine online issue 12

28 April 2021



STATE TESTING by Will Borrevik


RAIN GARDENS by Naomi Saenger


COVID Stats • Prince Philip



Land Acknowledgement

Eugene School District 4j, South Eugene High School, and your Axe Magazine online would like to acknowledge that our institution sits on the homelands of the Kalapuya people.

In the Treaties of 1851 and 1854-1855, and the subsequent forced removals of many Indian people from western Oregon, some of the Kalapuya were moved to the Grand Ronde Reservation and some were moved to the Siletz Reservation. It is important to note that all of Lane County was an important trading and gathering area for camas and other resources.

During the Restoration Era, from 1977-1989, Lane County was designated at the Service Area for the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Indians, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, the Coquille Indian Tribe, and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians.

Eugene 4J District and South wish to acknowledge that descendants of the original and Service Area inhabitants of this land are still here today. They are thriving members of our schools and our communities. Countless members of other Tribes now also call our community and schools their home.

We wish to thank those original stewards of this land. We as outsiders on this land wish to remember that we need to take good care of this land and take good care of all members of our school district and community. Thank you for joining us.

Land acknowledgement courtesy of Brenda Brainard.

mission statement

The Axe is dedicated to the goals and ethics of journalism. As a student-run publication, our mission is to both inform the student body and spark discussion among the student body about the news within South Eugene High School and the wider community. We function under an open forum policy. We accept and may use in our publication the feedback and commentary of our readers. Email all inquiries:


Prince Philip

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II, died at the age of 99 on April 9 at Windsor Castle; cause of death was undisclosed. He leaves behind a legacy of public service and merit, including more than 22,000 solo public engagements and 5,000 speeches. His marriage to Queen Elizabeth II – a union that lasted more than 70 years until his death – made him the longest serving prince consort in the history of the British monarchy.

Aside from his achievements in the royal family, Prince Phillip was well known for his mischievous and sometimes overtly racist remarks. In one instance, he asked “to be returned to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels” upon reincarnation. His personally-planned funeral was held on April 17 at St. George’s Chapel on Windsor Castle grounds. The ceremony was limited to 30 people due to COVID-19 restrictions. -Bettina Wu

Prince Phillip in 1992. Photo by Allan Warren.


Ed. note: On Friday, April 30, Lane County will be upgraded to an "extreme" risk level, closing many indoor activities completely.

Lane County, along with 22 other counties, was moved from the “low risk” to the “high risk” classification on April 23, following a steady increase in cases since the beginning of April. The recent case average has been 65-70 cases per day, which in past weeks would have put Lane County in the “extreme risk” category; but due to new guidance released April 9, this case count now only puts it in the “high risk” category. This new classification restricts restaurants, gyms, retail stores and worship centers to 25 percent of their total occupancy. Oregon as a whole has had a 27 percent increase in cases since April 12, and as of last Thursday, April 22, the number of new cases per day was just above a thousand, which is the highest daily count since January. -Helen Evans

In memoriam

On Monday, April 19, five 4J students were involved in a car accident near South on Patterson Street. The accident resulted in one fatality, that of South senior Connor Truax. Truax was involved in South's choir program, and outside of school, he was an accomplished athlete in taekwando. He is, and will continue to be, missed by many in the South community. The Axe Magazine Online will continue coverage as details of the story emerge.

Correction: The original version of this brief incorrectly identified Truax as a student in South's Social Justice Leadership class. We apologize for the error.

Hybrid Learning

Ingredients are laid out on tables in the South cooking classroom in preparation for incoming students to make fried rice. Photo by Lina Nakagome.

International Foods during hybrid learning

As hybrid learning begins, South Eugene High School’s International Foods class experiences a new learning environment.

By Lina Nakagome

The first day back to my in-person cooking class was mellow. We explored the herb garden, and our teacher, Gregory Dunkin, pointed out the outdoor oven in which one could cook pizza. As a continuation of our previous (Zoom) lesson on hand washing and dishwashing, we got to explore the kitchens through the act of washing pots and pans.

Because we had extra time, Dunkin showed us a couple of videos — one of them was of an Asian man reacting to BBC Food’s egg fried rice video, and – judging by his reaction – the cook was not doing so well. Through this video, Dunkin explained the importance of culture and its relation to food. We should not, according to Dunkin, eat or recreate recipes from different regions of the world without respecting the culture. As an Asian person, I found this message to be welcoming and was glad that we would be learning authentic recipes and the background of these meals.

I had been looking forward to the International Foods class for quite some time. Although I had originally forecast for it in eighth grade, I was not enrolled until this term, the spring of my sophomore year. As an elementary school girl who always received handmade bento boxes for lunch each day from my mom, I have always loved cooking, and I could not wait to put that into practice – literally – through the new hybrid schedule.

On the second day of in-person class, we began the actual cooking. Because of social distancing, only one person was allowed to use the stove at a time. However, as long as we maintained six feet, we were allowed to share the same kitchen space with one other person who would be cooking on a countertop bunsen burner.

As fun and exciting as in-person classes are, there were some complications during Zoom sessions. Because the majority of class is in the kitchen lab, and Dunkin assists the in-person students with their cooking, it can be difficult for him to simultaneously speak to kids online. As a solution, Dunkin gives online students the same talk as the in-person students before they begin cooking; this includes fundamentals of that day's cooking – such as cutting techniques or how to use the stove – before setting up a camera toward the kitchen so that we can observe everyone else. However, because simply looking at other students cook while we sit at home is a bit boring, he also gave us the option to leave the Zoom session entirely. Those who are in the online part of the cohort also have an “online”module to see what assignments to do for the day and both cohorts make the same recipe each week. For fully online students who didn’t get the chance to cook at school at all, Dunkin posts the recipes on Canvas so that they can recreate them at home.

In addition to preparing meals, there are many educational articles and videos posted that focus on the week’s topic. For example, in the first two weeks that were online, we learned about how to clean dishes and wash our hands. One of our assignments included making a lyric poster out of a favorite song that you could sing along to while washing your hands to get the timing right, and we also watched a video of someone washing dishes to the "Attack on Titan" theme song. Since we are making fried rice this week, assignments included watching an NBC News video on the history of Chinese American food.

At first, I had some uncertainties about a both online and in-person cooking class. How are we going to eat with the coronavirus health procedures? What do I do during the online portion of class? However, as we began the journey down hybrid learning, along with the help and cooperation from both the school, teachers and students, I found that the International Foods class was a fun and almost-stress-free experience (stressful parts included burning the food or washing the dishes wrong). With the yummy smell of food and muffled chatter filling the air, school is almost beginning to feel normal again.

State Testing

4J grapples with how to conduct state testing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Will Borrevik

For the second year in a row, state testing will look a little different.

During a meeting on April 21 the 4J School Board finalized a plan to conduct shortened Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests on Wednesdays during May and June. Board members estimate that the tests will take around 2 hours and 20 minutes on average, far shorter than the usual length of 7 hours and 30 minutes.

However, some members of the 4J School Board wonder whether it’s a good idea to administer SBAC tests at all this year. The Oregon Department of Education requested a federal waiver to cancel all standardized tests for the 2020-2021 school year, but the US Department of Education only allowed a shortening of the tests, citing reasons such as a need to measure the gaps that have emerged during the last year between different groups of students, especially low income students and students of color.

At the April 21 meeting, School Board member Gordon Lafer disagreed with the reasoning from the department of education.

“Because [low income students and students of color] are the ones that are disproportionately affected by COVID and disproportionately likely to not be coming to school, we’re not going to measure that gap anyway,” Lafer said, “I think this points to the extent to which the testing industry is driven by profit motives that are unrelated to student’s best interests.”

"I don’t think we’re going to get any good data out of [standardized testing] this year"

School Board member Judy Newman

Other members of the Board had similar thoughts.

“I don’t know that it’s profit motivation, but I don’t think we’re going to get any good data out of the SBAC this year,” Board member Judy Newman replied. “It’s not going to accomplish whatever the Feds are trying to accomplish”

Despite their reservations, the Board agreed to move forward with the current model for state testing. Families will be given the choice to opt out, and students will not be penalized if they do not go into school on their testing day. The tests, normally a graduation requirement to be taken during Junior year, have been waived for the classes of 2021 and 2022.

“Essentially, the only students that would be tested are students whose families affirmatively choose to have them go to school on days that they wouldn’t normally be in school,” Lafer said.

More information on standardized testing this year can be found on the 4J website. An opt-out form is also available.


A thriving personal sidewalk rain garden. Rain gardens in Eugene can be publicly made, or you can make one yourself! Photo by Naomi Saenger

Powerful Plants Cleaning Our Mess

Newly installed city structures have a big purpose.

By Naomi Saenger

What’s the commotion happening on Willamette and 24th right now? The City of Eugene is installing rain gardens on Willamette Street this week to prevent flooding and to filter pollutants. When the heavy Eugene rains start to fall in the spring, streets can get flooded and it can be dangerous for cars and pedestrians. These rain gardens, and the 88 gardens that will be installed by the city over the next three to four years, aim to solve that problem among many others. All rain gardens in Eugene are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act.

“Vegetated stormwater facilities do a great job keeping heavy metals, hydrocarbons and other pollutants out of our public waterways,” City of Eugene Stormwater Program Analyst Fred Lockhart said. “With proper maintenance we can remove sediment that contains a lot of the polluted runoff.”

The pollutants and sediment are taken out of the water using specific types of plants and soil. Many of these plants are native to Eugene and are chosen for their ability to handle both the dryness of summer and partial immersion in water the rest of the year. The plants will add oxygen to the soil that does the work of filtering the water using microorganisms and mineral particles. Both well known plants like Oregon Grape and lesser known ones like Slough Sedge will be used.

The city also manages more than 500 privately owned rain gardens in Eugene. Any Eugenean is allowed and encouraged to build their own rain garden.

“We strongly encourage people to build rain gardens on private property to retain rainwater and recharge the aquifer instead of letting it enter the public system,” Lockhart said. “It's good for the environment and saves money.”

Rain gardens are one of the best ways to protect the environment and community water supply. They are low-maintenance, sustainable and can be a wonderful addition to your garden. Many rain gardens become a habitat for butterflies and birds, creating a beautiful space in one’s yard.

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