Juniors Olivia Ko (center) and Euree Kim stand near their chalk drawings during fourth period in Advanced Placement Environmental Sciences teacher Wesley Fairall’s class between the 80s and 100s buildings on Tuesday, Nov. 14, when the network outage first hit districtwide. While the class usually works digitally, Fairall adjusted to the lack of internet access with the activity.
Juniors Olivia Ko (center) and Euree Kim stand near their chalk drawings during fourth period in Advanced Placement Environmental Sciences teacher Wesley Fairall’s class between the 80s and 100s buildings on Tuesday, Nov. 14, when the network outage first hit districtwide. While the class usually works digitally, Fairall adjusted to the lack of internet access with the activity.
Image used with permission from Craig Weinreich

A LOOK BACK: The Accolade reflects on how last November’s network outage — confirmed on Friday, Jan. 12, as a ransomware attack — impacted the SH campus

As a result of the Tuesday-Thursday, Nov. 14-16, network outage, many students and staff were forced to revert back to traditional, pen and paper types of learning; some were willing to share their hotspots from their own cell phone data plans to access digital assignments like a Google Doc or Google Form. 

In a Friday, Jan. 12, email from Fullerton Joint Union High School District [FJUHSD] superintendent Steve McLaughlin, he confirmed that “a sophisticated ransomware hack … [that resulted in] a limited amount of data in their network [had been] accessed without authorization.”

The Accolade has been waiting for such a confirmation of the network outage’s cause to bring our readers the following vignettes from students and teachers reminiscing about that week in November before Thanksgiving break.

Science teacher Andrew Colomac (right) helps his fourth period Honors Chemistry students check their answers from the printed worksheets they completed, which was the adjustment Colomac made as students were unable to access them on Google Classroom because of the second day of the network outage on Wednesday, Nov. 15. (Image used with permission from Craig Weinreich)
TEACHERS USE QUICK THINKING TO ADJUST LESSON PLANS

No Chrome. 

No Google Classroom. 

No GoGuardian.

When arriving on campus the week of Nov. 14, teachers were faced with the announcement from principal Craig Weinreich that a district internet outage would leave them directing their classes without some of these crucial applications.

“I had to go back to the way I did it for the first 10 or 15 years of my teaching,” science teacher Andrew Colomac said.

Teachers such as Colomac were not worried, though, when first notified about the problem as they understood that internet difficulties occur every so often throughout the school year. 

“There’s always a little frustration when technology’s not working,” the Advanced Placement [AP] and Honors Chemistry teacher said. “I’d say we’re all the same that way, whether you’re at work or at home, we get really dependent on our internet.” 

Google Classroom, a communication tool used by teachers to post assignments and directions digitally for their students, was completely inaccessible unless faculty and students used their own hotspots from their phone service’s data plans. 

Another science teacher, Monet Favreau, who uses the application to post warm-up activities and reminders, said she had to change her lesson plans and test schedules. 

“We were going to have an exam on Friday, but due to changing lessons and due to using [online] exams, I changed the unit to having a larger exam after [Thanksgiving] break and having a small quiz on Friday,” Favreau said.

Students such as sophomore Ritchie Sanchez had no problems with her biology teacher’s changes.

“I was relieved because it gave me more time to study,” said Sanchez, who is in Favreau’s third period biology class. 

This was not the only effect of the internet struggles, however. 

GoGuardian is an application commonly used by many teachers to guide and monitor their students’ website usage during class time and was also inaccessible during this period. 

Social science teacher Robert Bradburn said although he regularly uses GoGuardian, he ironically didn’t need it during those outage days. 

“I use GoGuardian to remind students that working hard will be rewarded,” Bradburn said. “[Students] may not understand why it’s good, but I know that when they learn to work hard at school, later they will be glad.”

Colomac said the recent internet outage allowed him to realize his dependence on the internet and further plans to make learning resources available on his local hard drive so he can access it even without the internet.

“It reminds you how dependent we get on all of these things and how frustrating it could be when it goes out,” the chemistry teacher said. “Going forward, I’ll make sure that I have files accessible in class and not just through the cloud.”

Computer science teacher Sonya Joyce said she had a tough time trying to find alternatives for her coding lessons on the first day of the shutdown, especially because her AP Computer Science Principles and Coding and Gaming classes require internet access.

“Even if I wanted to get a worksheet, I couldn’t get a worksheet,” Joyce said. “I need the internet to be able to get to worksheets, and so I had no access to anything.”

Nonetheless, the teacher said she found a solution to her problems and was well-prepared for the rest of the week.

“Because I had an idea that it wouldn’t be up right away, I had time to come up with some alternative, what they call unplugged lesson plans that [don’t] involve technology so that I could be ready for the week,” Joyce said. “Now I’m prepared because I have all my unplugged lessons on a flash drive, and you don’t need the Internet to be able to access the flash drive.”

– Journalism 1 students, freshmen Kyuwon Han and Ellen Hwang, contributed to this story.

Science teacher Andrew Colomac (right) helps his fourth period Honors Chemistry students check their answers from the printed worksheets they completed, which was the adjustment Colomac made as students were unable to access them on Google Classroom because of the second day of the network outage on Wednesday, Nov. 15. (Image used with permission from Craig Weinreich)
VIDEO PRODUCTION UNABLE TO LIVESTREAM TUESDAY, NOV. 14, BOARD MEETING
Trustee+Joanne+Fawley%2C+who+represents+the+Sunny+Hills+community%2C+makes+a+comment+about+the+internet+difficulties+that+she+and+her+fellow+board+members+faced+during+the+Tuesday%2C+Nov.+14%2C+meeting+at+the+district+office.+Those+attending+the+meeting+had+to+rely+on+their+own+smart+devices+to+access+the+internet.+%28Source%3A+A+screenshot+from+the+Tuesday%2C+Nov.+14%2C+Fullerton+Joint+Union+High+School+District+board+meeting%29
Trustee Joanne Fawley, who represents the Sunny Hills community, makes a comment about the internet difficulties that she and her fellow board members faced during the Tuesday, Nov. 14, meeting at the district office. Those attending the meeting had to rely on their own smart devices to access the internet. (Source: A screenshot from the Tuesday, Nov. 14, Fullerton Joint Union High School District board meeting)

A network outage that started during school hours, causing a change in lesson plans for many teachers.

But the problem continued for some teachers after school as well.

Regional Occupation Program teacher Daniel Flores’ video production team was ready as usual to livestream the Tuesday, Nov. 14, FJUHSD board meeting.

“I think we were scared that we were going to [try to] livestream it,” said senior Mel Tenkoff, video production’s director of livestreams. “But we got the news that we’re going to go record, and it was fine because I learned that it was going to be exactly the same.”

The recording was eventually posted on YouTube on Wednesday, Dec. 20, a day before winter break for students.

“I think we were still looking forward to it as nothing really was out of the ordinary for us,” said Flores, who learned that the team would be recording ahead of time by FJUHSD director of technology, Weston Baughn. “I would say our students were very prepared for the internet outage, [especially] with Mel’s leadership, we didn’t run into any problems.”

Senior Nathan Veloz, who was there that night to help, agreed that everything went smoothly after the announcement. 

“We just utilized what we were given and what we were told to do,” Veloz said.

Though online attendees may have missed the contents of November’s meeting, the board members covered various topics ranging from student recognition to what the district has been doing this year for education services.

At the beginning of the meeting, trustee Joanne Fawley — then serving as board president — briefly touched on the internet issues that district personnel and students faced.

“If you see us fussing with our phones or computers, we’re having some internet issues, so we’re trying to hotspot things,” Fawley said. “I think we all know how that goes.” 

– Journalism 1 student, freshman Lauren Kang, contributed to this story.

TUESDAY, NOV. 14, YEARBOOK PRODUCTION CANCELED
The+Helios+staff+worked+on+its+yearbook+designs+remotely+on+the+Herff+Jones+eDesign+website+instead+of+collaborating+in+person+on+Tuesday%2C+Nov.+14.
The Helios staff worked on its yearbook designs remotely on the Herff Jones eDesign website instead of collaborating in person on Tuesday, Nov. 14. (Photo by Alexxa Berumen)

Tuesday production nights in Helios adviser Lindsay Safe’s room are a weekly ritual for the yearbook staff. 

With periods only an hour long, this extra time after school gives Safe’s editors and staffers a chance outside of class to work side by side and to receive feedback from each other and her.

However, because of the first day of the network outage on Tuesday, Nov. 14, Safe decided to cancel the in-person production.

Instead, she decided to go back to remote working, which is what yearbook students had to do during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

I heard that the internet was likely to be out all day, but I was still hopeful that it would be back by the end of the school day,” Helios editor-in-chief senior Tiffany Elnitiarta said. “I went to my adviser’s room, and since the internet was still out, we decided it would be best to cancel and communicate with our staff at home.” 

Without access to the internet, the cloud-based software that yearbook students use was inaccessible as well. That meant the staff could not retrieve their work on campus since their program and content are completed online. 

Staffers were able to access the applications needed for designing layouts from home using their own personal devices that can connect to the internet. 

“We can access our yearbook from any computer,” Safe said. “So we don’t technically need to be at school to make a yearbook.”

Although the technical difficulties put a brief pause on the production of this school year’s yearbook, Safe and yearbook students said they made the best of the situation by keeping in contact with each other and offering any help they could. 

For future internet outages, Elnitiarta said she and her editors will be more prepared by using personal hotspots to avoid canceling a future Tuesday yearbook production night. 

Suffice to say, the yearbook staff still met their deadline.

– Journalism 1 student, freshman Emily Lee, contributed to this story.

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About the Contributors
Alexxa Berumen, Spotlight Editor
Junior Alexxa Berumen returns for her second year on staff as the special sections editor after dedicating her sophomore year to her feature editor position. She hopes to expand the topics the publication focuses on during her year of working in the spotlight section. Berumen has earned several Best of SNO awards starting her freshman year, as well as 2 honorable mentions for stories written in the 2022-2023 school year. Outside of The Accolade, she enjoys volunteering, reading and listening to music.
Seowon Han, Spotlight Editor & Business Manager
After an exciting year as a part of The Accolade staff, junior Seowon Han returns as a spotlight editor and business manager. Han served as a cub reporter her freshman year in Journalism 1 and joined The Accolade as a copy editor the following year. She experienced writing for every section and covered a range of topics. This year, Han looks forward to maintaining her section with fresh and relevant themes and stories to keep the readers informed with accurate news. Outside of The Accolade, Han is involved with several clubs on campus as a cabinet member and plays the flute as part of the Symphonic Band. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to and playing music.
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