// The piece below creates a timeline of events which had an impact on the Acalanes community in either a local or national regard. Blueprint’s staff believes that these events are what helped shape 2022. Blueprint recommends to view this piece on a computer to allow the best viewing experience.
At the start of 2022, Blueprint put a spotlight on climate change, with its volume 82 issue 5 cover story focused around climate change and the environment in the local community.
Written by Catherine Lomond, Marisa Guerra Echeverria, Lyanne Wang, and Erin Hambidge, the story highlights the efforts that local communities are making to combat climate change.
“It was definitely a process, we started maybe three months prior and the story kind of corrected itself as we worked our way through it,” Print Editor-in-Chief Erin Hambidge said.
The story highlighted different organizations in and around Lafayette that are dedicated to helping the environment and prevent climate change. The story also discussed what different school systems within Acalanes are doing to help bring awareness to the rise of climate change.
The Acalanes Climate Alliance and Environment clubs were specifically highlighted in the article for their work on climate change and environmental issues.
While climate change is an issue that never goes away, the story took a long time to get to print.
“It felt like it was almost never the right time to publish it so we ended up pushing it back a couple of issues. I mean climate change isn’t going away so I think it stayed relevant,” Hambidge said.
Feb. 22: Volume 82 Issue 6 Cover Story: Piecing Together Restorative Justice
Blueprint’s volume 82 issue 6 cover story focusing on the ideas of restorative justice.
Restorative justice is an idea that promotes healing between offenders and their victims, rather than just simply punishing wrongdoers. And while the restorative justice idea is a positive one, it is not incredibly popular yet, so sources for the piece were hard to come by for the writers of the article.
“We interviewed the founder of the ideal, like the guy who created the idea … we [interviewed] the person who founded the concept of restorative justice in our story,” Print Feature Editor Ben Brekke said.
Written by Ben Brekke, Zach Snyder, Griffin Ruebner and Saylen Cardoni, the story mainly focuses on how restorative justice can be implemented at both Acalanes and other places in the community.
The story also discusses how the national justice system can be improved with some of the ideas about restorative justice. Their interview with Howard Zehr, one of the founders of modern restorative justice, was one of the foundational parts of the story.
Zehr mainly focused his studies on that of the prison system, these ideas gave the Blueprint writers thoughts on how to create a better environment at Acalanes.
“The fundamental idea is still the same, I think that the world as a whole can still benefit from the ideas of restorative justice because a lot of our crime systems right now are definitely not following the ideas of restorative justice and I think a lot of people can benefit from restorative justice,” Brekke said.
On Feb. 24, Russia launched a large-scale invasion of its southern neighbor Ukraine. In March, Blueprint put out an article to inform the Acalanes community about the events as well as putting a local angle on the whole situation.
Written by Shrida Pandey, Zack Lara and August Walker, and edited by Zach Synder and Marisa Guerra Echeverria, the story tackles the tough subject of a current war while also trying to create a positive outlook.
“Our main approach was, as we do typically, was to get student perspectives, and we made sure to try and interview students who were both Russian and Ukrainian. We wanted to see their perspectives on the whole situation and how that’s impacting their experience at Acalanes,” Print Managing Editor Zach Snyder said.
By varying the different perspectives, writers were able to create balance within the story. Beyond this, writers and editors encountered several difficulties when writing the piece.
“We had to make sure there wasn’t any editorializing, I think that was something that we definitely looked for a lot. And we made sure to get in contact with a very good pool of sources just so we were able to tell a complete story and get everyone’s perspective,” Snyder said.
Overall, the piece was significant to not only Blueprint, but the local community as a whole.
“As an organization we thought it would be important to report on it and just shed some light on to inform people that haven’t heard much about it,” Snyder said.
April: Return of the Special Olympics Post COVID-19
Online news section editor, Reid Aldrich, wrote an article in Blueprint’s print magazine in April 2022, covering the return of the Special Olympics. The piece focused on COVID-19’s effect on the event, the excitement surrounding its return, and the planning process that was put into the creation of the event.
Aldrich originally chose to write the piece to highlight voices that are not always heard.
“I thought that it was really important to elevate voices that don’t really get to talk for themselves,” Aldrich said.
Despite the simple conversations he had with students, he was truly impacted by what they had to share.
“Learning from the students and what they enjoyed about it stood out. Although it wasn’t the most extravagant interview—it was pretty simple, but you got to really see their passion for the Olympics and being able to compete,” Aldrich said.
Throughout the writing process, Aldrich and his co-writer ran into one issue. While the angles were easy to conduct, interviews were more difficult to get.
“The angles were pretty easy, it was more of the interviews that were the problem where you couldn’t really get student interviews until the event which happened after the third draft,” Aldrich said.
Despite this obstacle, Aldrich’s main takeaway ended up being from those interviews.
“The biggest thing I got was just seeing the passion from all the students for being able to exercise and have fun,” Aldrich said.
Aldrich wanted the article to encourage readers to recognize the students a part of the special education program as a part of the Acalanes community just as anyone else is.
“I wanted to just have them be recognized and get people to see the Special Olympics as almost part of Acalanes, not a separate thing that is different from all sports. I think it was important to see that it is a part of Acalanes,” Aldrich said.
In May, Juliet Becker wrote an online piece covering Blueprint recognition and awards from the Dean S. Lesher Foundation. Every year, the Dean S. Lesher Foundation awards Blueprint and its staff for their significant accomplishments. Becker covered a few of the 36 awards Blueprint won this past year.
Becker initially wanted to write the piece to celebrate her classmates and their accomplishments.
“I wanted to write the piece because I was just really proud of all my peers who won awards. It is always fun to see what Blueprint has accomplished and I was just really excited to see how happy my peers were with all of their accomplishments,” Becker said.
Becker highlighted the accomplishments of a few students. One of these being Marisa Guerra Echeverria, who won the Lesher Foundation’s Student Editor of the Year award.
“It was a pretty brief article. It was really just a celebration but I really wanted to highlight the special winners so, I know that Marisa won the Lesher Foundation’s Student Editor of the Year award. Everyone was really proud of her,” Becker said.
During the interview process, Becker found it intriguing to learn about her peers’ creative processes.
“I thought it was really interesting to talk to my peers about their process with all of their work because I didn’t know maybe a lot about Gabi’s or about what Marisa had done but, it was really interesting to hear about what they had done to get all these accomplishments,” Becker said.
Becker’s main highlight while writing this piece was being able to celebrate with her peers.
“Marisa’s interview was really interesting … I was really proud of her as her peer and of what she accomplished, so it was really awesome to talk to her about that because it was fun to celebrate with her,” Becker said.
June: Blueprint’s Literary Magazine, the Azure, Comes Out
Last spring, Azure Editor-in-Chief, Juliana Upp, created Blueprint’s literature magazine, Azure, alongside Ella Alpert. The Azure features a collection of works from Blueprint artists and writers, as well as the work of those who submitted art to a Lafayette Partners in Education (LPIE) competition.
“The other way we get art is through project LPIE which is where kids can submit—they have 12 categories—kids can submit their own artwork to be judged for a prize in an LPIE competition and so then they give us all of their submissions,” Azure Editor in Chief and senior Juliana Upp said.
Creating the magazine takes far longer than a normal Blueprint issue. Upp and Alpert started the planning process in December of 2021 to have a complete product ready by early May.
“We started planning in December and that just meant reaching out to LPIE people and planning how we were going to do the book and then we wanted to get an idea of the theme we wanted to go for and the general creative vision,” Upp said.
Upp found it gratifying to see all her hard work become a complete product.
“It was just really cool to see the work that I had done in print—we spent so long just creating and trying to put together product and then when the book arrived, it was just really cool to see something that I had spent so much time on become real and tangible,” Upp said.
Meanwhile, she found it especially touching to see the product’s affect on the artists it featured. “When the artists got to see their work, they were really happy and so it was really cool. That was also something I got out of it. Just to make people happy and see their work in print too because I know how it made me feel,” Upp said.
July: Overturning of Roe V. Wade
Following a longstanding debate over the constitutionality of abortion, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling of Roe v. Wade, nearly fifty years after its original case, by a 6-3 decision.
Shortly following the new ruling, head section editor Griffin Ruebner and staff writer Cole Ruebner covered the ways in which the decision would affect the Lafayette community.
“The Roe v Wade case had just been overturned and it was sending shockwaves through the country. This event was going to have an impact, not just nationwide, but in individual communities as well,” Griffin Ruebner said.
While the story outlined the ways in which the overturning of Roe v. Wade would impact the local community, the issue remained relevant nationwide, so the writers expanded their reach to interview sources outside of Lafayette.
“We got an interview on Zoom with a lady in New York who created one of the first ever abortion clinics in America,” Griffin Ruebner said.
Since the main views reflected in the article were the views shared by many people in the local community, the writers struggled to find interviews to provide a differing view to the article.
“We included a note at the bottom that said to email Blueprint if you had views that opposed what was written in the article. We wanted to make sure that people who felt one way or another had their voices heard, but we made sure that our writing itself had no bias and we tried to let the interviewees tell the story,” Griffin Ruebner said.
The writers worked on the story to help continue the discussion about the topic of abortion.
“I really believed that it was something that we had to cover and something that deserved attention, something that people needed to be aware of,” Ruebner.
August: Acalanes Leadership Hosts Welcome Back Rally
Acalanes Leadership organized a Welcome Back Rally, on Aug. 19, to celebrate the start to a new school year and acclimate students to the Acalanes community.
Blueprint staff writer, Hanna Wisniewska, filmed the activities and the reactions of students at the rally.
“I felt that it was cool to show what [Leadership] planned and it was exciting for all of the students to have something to look forward to at the beginning of the year when nobody was ready to be back,” Wisniewska said.
Despite the recent return to school after summer break, Wisniewska noticed that energy levels remained high throughout the rally.
“A lot of people were very excited about the rally, everyone had a lot of spirit and they cheered for their sections,” Wisniweska said.
Through interviews, the videographer found that many students shared favorite moments from the rally.
“A lot of people liked the fire dancer and the students singing were really cool,” Wisniweska said.
Apart from memorializing the rally, Wisniweska saw the video as an opportunity to continue to diversify the Blueprint newspaper.
“I think that my video was one of the first videos online since last year. There were a lot of old videos when I was looking at it before, so I was glad to bring that back and revive the Blueprint YouTube,” Wisniewska said.
September: Volume 83 Issue 1 Cover: NCS Probation
After altercations at sports contests during the 2021-2022 school year, the North Coast Section (NCS) placed Acalanes athletics on a strict probation, establishing a code of conduct to follow at all sports events.
As the focus for Issue one, Head Liason Editor Saylen Cardoni, Print News Editor Melina Nath, Print Sports Editor Henry Hagel, and Online Feature Editor Lulu Levy collaborated on the cover story to provide the school with background on the probation.
“I think there wasn’t very much information put out to the students in the community about our NCS probation, so I wanted to interview people about it and make sure that the correct message was put out,” Levy said.
Because of the sensitive nature of the article, the writers heeded strict guidelines for keeping the story from singling out a specific reason for the probation.
“I think one of the things that we went through was not to talk about the incidents that we went through that led to probation and try and stray away from blaming people. We had to follow a very ethical process of making sure that we talked about the probation from different angles,” Levy said.
The writers contacted sources from around the community to achieve a complete story on the actions leading to Acalanes’ probation.
“We definitely wanted to reach out to other schools that might have been involved. We wanted to reach out to staff from all the schools, to parents in the communities for their opinions, and students as well,” Levy said.
Instead of providing solely facts on the probation, the story encouraged students to learn from the incident.
“One thing that we talked about was how we can move forward from this and how we can change as a community and grow from this experience. We wanted to make a main part of the story how we can move forward from this in a positive way,” Levy said.
October: Volume 83 Issue 2: Acalanes Navigates a Mascot Change
As rumors about a mascot shift began to circulate Acalanes at the start of the 2022-2023 school year, Blueprint jumped at the chance to discuss the possibility of a mascot rebranding from the Don to a Megalodon shark.
Writers on this story, Print Managing Editor Zach Snyder, along with Head Section Editors Marisa Guerra Echeverria and Griffin Ruebner, spoke with various administrators to understand the steps needed to begin the rebranding process.
“We had discussions with admin, teachers, administrators, and it was just an idea or conversation that they wanted to talk about to circulate in a sort of grassroots movement for change… From there, we interviewed people on how they feel about a mascot change, what a potential one would look like, how admin would go about it, and ideas that people had,” Guerra Echeverria said.
A Megalodon is a prehistoric shark that was considered one of the largest apex predators ever to exist. In an attempt to limit the complications of a total mascot change, Acalanes administrators came up with the Megalo-dons as a clever tie to include the word “Don.” “I thought that Megalodons was a very interesting choice, but I like the themes of it, and that was really interesting to hear from other people about. It was really creative too,” Guerra Echeverria said.
For some writers, working on this story held personal importance. In October 2021, Blueprint’s Volume 82 Issue 2 focused on different aspects of Latine Heritage Month, including a piece by Guerra Echeverria discussing the meaning of a Don and its negative connotations.
“I think the Megalodons story was interesting because it felt like my story last year had some impact in some circles. I thought that was really cool to see. I wanted to continue to follow the story and see where it goes. Once I start something, I want to finish it, so I want to continue getting involved,” Guerra Echeverria said.
November: Acalanes School Board Election Race
On Nov. 8, Lamorinda community members voted to fill three open seats for the Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) Governing Board. As a result of COVID-19 school protocols and other influences, there was a larger number of candidates running than in previous elections.
Head Section Editor Marisa Guerra Echeverria and Staff Writer Robin Parmelee wrote this piece to provide information on the candidates and allow voters to consider their platforms. The article consisted of profiles of the seven Governing Board candidates in alphabetic order, each including detailed research and interviews.
“[We] wanted everyone to be informed on who these candidates were and what they represented. I hope it helped at least someone to make an educated vote and become more connected with our community,” Parmelee said.
The development of this article was extensive as the writers diligently researched and vetted the candidates’ platforms.
“The process was tough; unfortunately, some of the candidates were very hard to reach or refused interviews, so we had to keep extending our deadline. We also worked very hard to remain impartial and proofread everything, even with a lawyer, to make sure nothing could be construed as biased,” Parmelee said.
Guerra Echeverria and Parmelee also wrote Lafayette School District Governing Board (LAFSD) Election Approaches for Blueprint Online, which included candidate profiles for the six LAFSD candidates running to fill three open Board seats.
Parmelee were particularly engaged in the process as the election’s outcome was directly relevant to students. In addition, delving more deeply into the political process in writing this piece expanded Parmelee’s interest in politics.
“I wanted to write this article because I have always been really interested in politics, especially locally, and it gave me an opportunity to reflect and give back to the community,” Parmelee said.
December: Volume 83 Issue 3: Facing the Fentanyl Crisis
Amidst a national crisis over the rise in usage of the synthetic opioid drug fentanyl, Blueprint’s Volume 83 Issue 4 cover highlighted healthcare workers’ continued efforts to raise awareness of the lethal dangers of fentanyl, especially among teenagers.
Print News Editor Melina Nath, in collaboration with Staff Writers Hayley Chelemedos and Sophie Chinn, worked on this piece, accumulating interviews ranging from Acalanes staff to physicians and a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official.
“From the very beginning, we knew our sourcing had to be strong, we wanted to talk to a variety of healthcare professionals, doctors, and behavioral health organizers, and we also spoke with the DEA, which was a very important interview. Overall, we wanted to make sure we had high-quality sourcing for the story because, as I said, this is a very important topic that people in the Lamorinda community need to know about,” Nath said.
Fentanyl-related overdoses have staggeringly increased in recent years. In 2020, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nationally, synthetic opioid-involved deaths increased by 56 percent from 2019 to 2020. The article aimed to illustrate the immediate danger to the community and the need for increased education on the subject.
“I would say my biggest takeaway from writing this was honestly how dangerous fentanyl was because going into the story, I knew that it was a problem, but once you start seeing the statistics of how many drug-related overdoses relate to synthetic opioids like fentanyl, it just makes you realize how dangerous fentanyl is,” Nath said.
Gabi Gruber and Helen O’Neal, Online Editors-in-Chief
Kiran Foster, Online Sports Editor
Jemma Teran, Online Arts Editor
Lulu Levy, Online Feature Editor
Reid Aldrich, Online News Editor
Page layout and formatting by:
Gabi Gruber and Helen O’Neal, Online Editors-in-Chief
Featured Image Graphic by:
Gabi Gruber, Online Editor-in-Chief
Cover Video by:
Gabi Gruber, Online Editor-in-Chief
Climate Change Cover: Freschtta Warres, Former Head Cartoonist
Restorative Justice Cover: Sabrina Agazzi, Former Graphics Manager
Ukraine Graphic: Gabi Gruber, Online Editor-in-Chief
Special Olympics Photos: Arlyne Noguera, Former Online Graphics Manager
Azure Graphics: Ella Alpert, Former Managing Editor
Earth Graphic: Emma Uffelman, Head Photographer
Rally Photo: Hanna Wisniewska, Staff Writer
Rally Photo: Justin Rosenblatt, Graphics
Rally Video: Hanna Wisniewska, Staff Writer
NCS Cover: Mara Korzeniowska, Graphics Manager
Mascot Change Cover: Nastia Grits, Head Cartoonist
Voting Graphic: Brady Wall, Graphics
Fentanyl Cover: Mara Korzeniowska, Graphics Manager