Monthly Archives: November 2018

San Francisco struggles to serve the homeless in the Bay Area

By Melissa Domingo and Mytrisha Sarmiento

Staff Writers

The Homeless Youth Alliance is built on a bigger focus on empathy and care and their vans roam the streets of the Bay Area with one goal in mind: hand out needed items to the homeless, including food, hygiene products and more. These volunteers listen to the stories people share and create lasting bonds.

At LifeMoves, families are given a chance to overcome the challenges of being homeless. The residence’s workers help families by sharing services and advice until they are able to get back on their feet. Goal making and commitment is a big focus at LifeMoves.

According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, the local homeless population has been slowly decreasing, but there were still nearly 7,500 homeless people in San Francisco according to a 2017 one-night count. Is the Bay Area doing a sufficient job at keeping these numbers at bay?

The main causes of homelessness are insufficient funds for housing, unemployment, poverty and low wages.

According to the California Association of Realtors, the median housing price in San Francisco in the first quarter of 2018 was around $1.6 million. To qualify for a house in San Francisco, the association estimates that the minimum annual income needed would be approximately $333,000. These numbers conflict with the average annual income of approximately $97,000, as stated by Business Insider.

There are many organizations in the Bay Area that are trying to help homeless people.

What is the Homeless Youth Alliance doing for the homeless?

The Homeless Youth Alliance is a mobile outreach van fighting for a good cause and trying to help end the cycle of homelessness.

As a mobile outreach service, the Homeless Youth Alliance hands out hygiene products, snacks and other basic supplies needed by homeless people. Other than handing out supplies to homeless people, the Homeless Youth Alliance supports people by providing emotional support.

Kenn Sutto, an outreach program manager for Homeless Youth Alliance, believes that the most rewarding thing about his job is the interactions with participants. Learning about people and their lives is what Mr. Sutto finds the most inspiring.

Mr. Sutto found that their approach was a little unique; he found that there is a lot of focus on empathy and having a good work environment.

When asked what interested him in working with an organization like the Homeless Youth Alliance, Mr. Sutto replied, “I personally have always been interested in the aspects of what poverty is like in our country.” He also shared that hanging out with the homeless not only educates him but is rewarding.

Collaboration between shelters and organizations was also mentioned by Mr. Sutto. The organization collaborates with many centers, such as therapy centers and LGBTQ+ centers.

The pacing of work at this organization could be described as “really fast” and “often super busy.” As Mr. Sutto put it: “It’s a generally pretty busy job.”

When asked about how the organization deals with people who are apprehensive to accept help, Mr. Sutto explained that some people aren’t ready to accept help. “We offer people [help] – if they’re not ready for it, it’s cool.”

Mr. Sutto also found that the main causes of homelessness are complex. “There’s never really one thing … Everyone’s story is important and different … Everyone ends up where they are for a reason … It’s different for a lot of people.”

What is LifeMoves doing for the homeless?

LifeMoves is trying to break the cycle of homelessness. At LifeMoves, homeless families are given the opportunity to get back on their feet with the help of interim housing and services.

This shelter is specifically for families who are homeless; they have services across San Mateo county and Santa Clara county, with 17 shelters in total. Though LifeMoves is only based in California, they plan on expanding and becoming nationwide. There are other shelters in the works; in the next year, there will be a shelter open to LGBTQ+ youth in San Jose. There will also be a parking lot for individuals and families who live in cars and RVs.

The residents and clients of LifeMoves have access to mental health services and financial literacy that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

When asked what the shelter is trying to achieve, Jocelyne Arriaga, a Children’s Service Coordinator, explained they are “trying to get residents that are homeless into permanent housing where they’re safe.”

Ms. Arriaga found that “trying to get clients and residents into permanent housing” was one of the most rewarding things about her job. “[Finding] housing where they can be financially stable” was one of the many things she found fulfilling about her job.

When asked what interested her about working in a shelter, Ms. Arriaga replied, “For me, I just enjoy helping other people … finding them childcare. That’s one of the reasons why.”

Kate Hannon, a case manager intern and a student at San Jose State University working on a master’s in social work, helps families get back on their feet by keeping the residents accountable and by helping residents create goals. They create goals such as searching for apartments and budgeting 50 percent of their income.

She said that as a case manager “you’re committed to their success in the program.”

Ms. Hannon said that residents have to follow a set of rules when residing in the shelter. Clients have to sign agreements; they also do chores. A sober environment is also a requirement. The families have to commit to the program as soon as they enter the shelter. 

Both Ms. Hannon and Ms. Arriaga mentioned the importance of collaboration between shelters and centers. “That’s pretty much how we thrive,” Ms. Arriaga said. They mentioned that food drives and centers help with sustaining the residents and that residents receive free counseling.

Ms. Arriaga and Ms. Hannon would like people to know there are volunteer opportunities. “People can help; it’s not just up to agencies like us … We can all do something.”

One of the volunteering opportunities available is being a camp adviser or camp director; these opportunities are available to high school students. There are also internship opportunities for college students.

LifeMoves is also in need of clothes for teenage children, girls especially. Clothing drives and such would be helpful for the teenagers in the shelter.

How aware are people about the homelessness problem?

When asked about the awareness of the homeless problem in the Bay Area, Ms. Arriaga answered by saying, “There’s definitely a lot of awareness.”

Mr. Sutto said that there is a lot of awareness of the homelessness epidemic.

“Everyone’s talking about it: if you’re on the BART, if you’re on the bus, or if you read the paper. Everyone’s always talking about homelessness. It’s like, everyone knows how housing is really expensive here and that most people have a hard time paying rent now. I think that everyone is concerned about it and everyone’s talking about it, and people are like ‘Woah! … This is a really big problem, we have folks living in the streets, what’s the solution here?’ So, I think there’s a lot of people talking about it, and I think a lot of people really care, it’s just kind of a question of how it’s gonna translate into results, you know?”

How can we improve the homelessness problem in the Bay Area?

Mr. Sutto found that there are a number of things people can do, such as voting for propositions and elected officials who aim to improve the situation and pushing for funding.

He mentioned, “It means a lot to say hello to someone and acknowledge their presence,” which could be done by simply talking to them and understanding their situation. He added, “If you have the time or the means to volunteer, that’s also really good.”

He said that, if for some reason there’s an altercation, think before calling the cops; think of other options. “At the end of the day, everyone living on the streets is a person,” he said, adding that “living on the street is criminalized; the homeless are often ticketed and arrested,” which often becomes a “never-ending cycle of law.”

Bringing more attention to the growing problem, contributing to different causes and providing simple solutions can help in gradually improving the conditions on the streets of San Francisco.

Economic development is important, but focusing solely on innovation causes ignorance in a problem that will continue to grow.

What are the factors that have contributed to this problem?

According to CITYLAB, the former mayor of San Francisco left a legacy of economic development, but his legacy of liberalism included “fraught compromises with the tech industry.”

Though the former mayor Ed Lee did plan to spend $300 million on the homeless before the 2017 winter, he passed away during the process of working toward improving conditions on the streets. The mayor who is currently in office, Landon Breed, took over this mission by making space in homeless shelters in order to create stable and safe living conditions. As stated by the San Francisco Chronicle, Mayor Breed is currently making efforts to decrease homeless rates in the Bay Area. 

CITYLAB article mentions that enforcing the tax exemption on tech companies such as Twitter and Facebook, in order to persuade them to grow their businesses in San Francisco, has greatly impacted the Bay Area. The Payroll Expense Tax Exclusion helped increase the number of jobs in San Francisco to over 600,000, growing by 25,000 a year during Mayor Lee’s tenure, and decrease unemployment to 3.6 percent. However, some argue that the amount of money that could have been collected from taxes might have benefited efforts to stop the growing rate of homelessness in the Bay Area.

There are a multitude of the causes for homelessness. Homelessness cannot be categorized as a whole; there are many factors that contribute to problem. Throughout the years, there has been more awareness about the growing epidemic.

As an ending thought, Mr. Sutto said, “Personally, I think that those who have the most in our society have a kind of responsibility to give back.”

Featured image (at the top of this post): “Our evening syringe exchange always includes lots of hugs.” PHOTO CREDIT: Homeless Youth Alliance Twitter account

Related:

Booming Silicon Valley confronts cold reality of homelessness

Youth writes about the ignored side of the homeless population

Teen uses voice to amend legislation

Clubs build community at Summit Shasta

By Sophia Woehl

Staff Writer

This year, Summit Public Schools: Shasta has over 30 clubs organized by students. Most students are involved in at least one of these clubs, which meet after school, during lunch or off campus.

Clubs at Summit Shasta are run by student leaders, who can create a club if enough students are interested, with the support of a teacher. In the beginning of September, a large club fair is set up at lunch, with club leaders trying to entice students to sign up for all kinds of groups.

Throughout the year, clubs meet, sometimes holding fundraisers to earn money for their activities. In these clubs, all grades interact and students make new connections through a common interest.

Clubs have been at Shasta from the very beginning because students have had extracurricular hobbies and activities that they wanted to share with their peers. Every year, clubs change based on the interest of the students and the number of club leaders who step up to organize a group.

Most students believe that clubs are enjoyable, but do clubs change Summit Shasta? Do they influence the community here?

See below for a look at what students and staff members think of clubs at Shasta: 

For an in-depth look at one student-led club, see below:

The Young Dreamer Network is an example of a club that brings students together and helps to build the community locally, as well as abroad.

Shasta senior Sabrina Robinson is the co-leader of the Young Dreamer Network at Summit Shasta. The Young Dreamer Network is an organization that sends students on service trips across the globe over the summer. Robinson is also involved in three other clubs: Service Club, Animal Awareness Club and Car Club.

Robinson and Shasta senior Kaitlyn Becker started the club last year after they went on a service trip to Guatemala the summer after sophomore year.

Sabrina Robinson headshot

Shasta senior Sabrina Robinson

“Kaitlyn and I signed ourselves up for a trip to Guatemala sophomore year and when we came back, we just knew that we wanted others to experience different cultures like we were able to,” Robinson said.  

Now, in its second year as a club at Summit Shasta, the Young Dreamer Network has over 40 students who attend the weekly meetings. Some of these students will volunteer on weekends and go on service trips over the summer.

As a club leader, and a member of many other clubs, Robinson has a strong opinion about how clubs impact the school community. She believes that clubs make a very positive change in the school.

“They really provide an outlet for students to develop their social skills, making a really positive impact on our community as a whole,” she said. “Being a part of so many clubs at Shasta actually really helped me transition into its unique community as a freshman.”

Many staff members and students also believe that clubs build connections between grade levels. Robinson said that she felt more connected to students because of the clubs.

“All the clubs that I’ve participated in over the years have helped me develop friendships across grade levels, making me feel more connected to the students at Shasta,” Robinson said.

She went on to say how the Young Dreamer Network impacts the community: “Volunteering helps build empathy and confidence, which our club members are showing in their everyday lives,” she said. “I know that as individuals in a community become stronger in character, the community will too.”

Overall, the clubs at Summit Shasta have made a difference in students’ personal lives, and their communities. Robinson said, “They provide a safe space for people to share their interests and ultimately help unite people from different grades who would have otherwise not known each other.”

***

If you are interested in learning more about specific clubs at Summit Shasta or if you want to get involved in a club, please email Shasta Assistant Director Ava Petrash at apetrash@summitps.org.

Below is a list of the clubs currently offered at Summit Shasta:

Service Club, Anime Club, Coding Club, Music Club, Shasta Science Society, TerraCycle Club, Fellowship Club, Animal Awareness Club, Amnesty International, Debate Club, Cultural Empowerment Club, D & D Club, Model U.N., Ambassador Club, Yearbook Club, Young Dreamer Network, Poly Club, Rats and Clowns United, Gaming Club, American Red Cross, Board Game Club, Musical Theater Club, Hogwarts Club, Library Club, FilAm Club, Film Club, Black Student Union, Gardening Club, Shasta Auto Club, SAT/ACT Prep, Baking Club and the Entrepreneurship Club

 

Summit Shasta gets students ready for college

By Kalysta Frost

Staff Writer

Summit Shasta’s mission is to prepare students for success in college.

Senior year can be a very tough year because of college applications and the college admissions process as a whole. One way Summit Shasta helps their students get ready for college is the College Readiness Expeditions course, which is mandatory for junior students.

College Readiness teachers Keith Brown and Amber Fields discussed what the College Readiness class at Summit Shasta looks like.

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College Readiness Expeditions teacher Keith Brown PHOTO CREDIT: Kalysta Frost

Mr. Brown explained, “The four projects that the students cover are number one: what students want to do with their life; number two: how colleges handle admissions; number three: financial aid; and number four: resumes and personal statements.”

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College Readiness Expeditions teacher Amber Fields PHOTO CREDIT: Kalysta Frost

Ms. Fields said a bit more about what students are learning: “Right now, we’re designing a life plan in order to help students think about future goals for themselves.”

She continued, “They are also learning how to be the most competitive component and being more confident in their beliefs.”

Shasta junior Julian Caneda-Santos and senior Parmvir Siryh shared their experience taking College Readiness.

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Shasta junior Julian Caneda-Santos PHOTO CREDIT: Kalysta Frost

Caneda-Santos shared, “It’s been helpful. Before this class, I didn’t know what to major in.” She added, “It’s helped me with knowing what the application will ask and knowing how to get financial aid.”

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Shasta senior Parmvir Siryh PHOTO CREDIT: Kalysta Frost

Siryh shared, “Yes, I have a much stronger base of understanding college. We had our college list done by the end of last year.”

Both College Readiness teachers said that during their classes students are generally doing more work than listening to lectures.

Ms. Fields explained, “This round is more focused on work for college. For round 1, there were definitely more lectures.

Mr. Brown shared why he thought this class is mandatory for junior students: “A whole year of prep for students can make applications easier.”

The College Readiness class has a lot of pros to it, but a class can’t be perfect.

Ms. Fields shared that she met a couple of senior students last year who said that the class didn’t completely help with their college process and that they needed more help with their applications.

Ms. Fields expressed, “The class is more focused on four-year universities. Not focusing on other options. Not being able to take it a step further.”

Caneda-Santos and Siryh explained more about how the mentor system at Shasta also helps with their college process.

Caneda-Santos said that she meets and talks with her mentor about college every two weeks.

Siryh shared, “We started talking about the college process during freshman year. It really started to pick up during junior year.” Siryh continued, “I talk about college with my mentor every day.”

Anu Pattabiraman

Shasta senior mentor Anu Pattabiraman PHOTO CREDIT: Kalysta Frost

Shasta senior mentor Anu Pattabiraman explained how she helps her students get ready for college. 

Ms. Pattabiraman said that her students had a different mentor during their freshman and sophomore year, but she believes that their past mentor also talked a little bit about college with them. She stated that she talked to them more seriously about college during junior year and that she talks to her senior mentees right now about college at least once a week.

Ms. Pattabiraman shared, “Last year we started talking about what majors they’re interested in and what college they want to go to.”

Ms. Pattabiraman also gave her mentees last year deadlines to sign up for the SAT. Ms. Pattabiraman said that this year she helps them figure out where they want to apply, as well as assisting them with recommendation letters and revising and brainstorming college essays.

When asked if he thought that if he went to a different high school that he would get as much help in preparing for college, Siryh answered, “Not at all, no way. It would be really hard to understand the college process. This school gets you understanding the SAT.”

When asked if she thought that her mentees would bring with them habits of success while they’re in college, Ms. Pattabiraman said, “I think every mentee is developing habits. They will develop habits once they get there and are independent.”

Summit Shasta builds community

By Matthew Goncalves, Ethaniel Jose Reyes, Massimo Sibillo and Jordan Singh

Staff Writers

Circles are when mentor groups gather around the middle of the classroom and talk about what is happening in each of their daily lives. Two people bring an artifact that means a lot to them every time there are Circles, in order to build a strengthened relationship. Circles are what mentor groups and Expeditions classes do to feel more connected with the people they are with and to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. Circles are also a way to support others and to focus on the successes and stresses of a student at Summit Public School: Shasta. 

At Summit Shasta, students interpret community through structures like Circles and mentor time. Mentor groups consist of about 30 students with one faculty mentor. They stay together throughout their four years at Shasta and do activities together every day, in order for the students to become closer with each other.

Newcomer Milagros Morris and two-year Shasta veteran teacher Michelle Mogannam talked about the way Shasta integrates a sense of community.

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Shasta mentor Milagros Morris PHOTO CREDIT: Ethaniel Reyes

Both were able to reflect on the effects of mentor groups and Circles for their own mentees. During her interview, Ms. Morris remarked personally about the issue, saying, “I think that the mentees are starting to get more comfortable and are getting out of their shells, but they’re still a little shy and still fool around in Circles during mentor time, but are slowly starting to take it more seriously. We mess around, and I refer to them as my kids.”

Ms. Morris also said that she has been teaching for 17 years and that she has never felt welcomed into such a strong community as Shasta.

Ms. Mogannam pointed out that Friday mentor time, as well as Circles, help bring about many interpersonal relationships and “a sense of belonging” within the mentor group. “It’s important for students to feel like they are part of something,” she added. Ms. Mogannam also believes that the collaborative group work Shasta projects impose are also important in building community.

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Summit freshman Zachary Smith PHOTO CREDIT: Ethaniel Reyes

Shasta freshman Zachary Smith said, “Community here is really good. Everybody’s all friends. There is no popularity pyramid and the school being relatively small helps there be more unity. People here are ‘real.’ My mentor group always talks, but they’re friendly and they’re becoming family.”

Shasta freshman Charles Cornelison said that one of the biggest integrations of community are the check-ins because they can give a sense of how people feel and “it’s a way to open up” within the mentor group. When Cornelison was asked about being accepted into the Shasta community, he said, “No one shows any signs of not accepting me, and community is a thing you can’t really force people to be with each other. It just happens.” 

Copy of Ethaniel Reyes interviewing a Summit Shasta freshman about community at shasta with Matthew Goncalves taking notes and Jordan Singh taking pictures.jpg

Shasta freshman Charles Cornelison PHOTO CREDIT: Jordan Singh

Smith also said that community at Shasta is very strong and argued that students can’t get that at other schools.

Other Shasta freshmen who were interviewed include Samuel Zhang, Xavier Margate and Gerious Heishan. While they all gave short answers, they were still able to reflect on Shasta’s community in a neutral, if not positive, light. For example, they all stated that some of the ways this school builds community is by having clubs and joining sports.

Ethaniel Reyes and Matthew Gonclaves interviewing Gerious Heishan.JPG

Shasta freshman Gerious Heishan PHOTO CREDIT: Jordan Singh

Ethaniel Reyes interviewing freshman Samuel Zhang with Jordan Singh taking photos and Matthew Goncalves taking notes.JPG

Shasta freshman Samuel Zhang PHOTO CREDIT: Ethaniel Reyes

The interviewees also included Shasta junior Nani Tafilele, Shasta juniors Kayla and Shayla Branner and Shasta senior Joseph Madrigal. They all were in agreement about the usefulness of different elements of Shasta and how those elements contribute to the school’s sense of community. 

The Branners both agreed about the helpfulness of Circle, a tradition at Shasta where students of a mentor group gather around a circle and have a check-in with one another as well as “talk about how [every student is] doing and any work we have.”

Nani Tafilele pointed out that 10-minute time, which is a daily gathering of the mentor groups for 10 minutes, is “like a lightweight break after lunch to hang out with your mentor group and your community.” Madrigal added on, saying that Circle “inspires the feeling of community at Shasta.”

The Branners, Madrigal and Nani Tafilele all agreed that the student body “should break boundaries and get to know each grade more.” Madrigal believes that it is the “only way things can get better” for Shasta’s community.

They also pointed out that there should be some sort of activity that makes the mentor groups interact with each other. According to Nani Tafilele, “We should get to know other mentor groups and other grades so we can think differently of [them].”

However, there were other students who felt negative toward Shasta’s integration of community, including Shasta senior Gabriel Marroquin and Shasta senior Sa’i Tafilele, Nani Tafilele’s sister. Both of these seniors expressed their feelings with the use of strong and profane language.

Sa’i Tafilele said she feels that teachers are always talking about how she is “loud and disruptive. Like, boi, I’m just trying to make your classroom fun.” She added that she does not feel accepted: “People always got something to say about me.”

Sa’i Tafilele also reflected that improving the community requires “[improving] the people,” since she believes that the entirety of the community revolves around the people and that people should be less judgmental. 

Shasta seniors Gabriel Marroquin and Sa’i Tafilele PHOTO CREDIT: Jordan Singh

Marroquin also felt the same way, saying that teachers always had something to say about him. “I feel like some of the teachers, they think, ‘Oh, Gabriel’s disruptive. Gabriel’s this. Gabriel’s that. Gabriel’s whatever.’ I am whatever!” he cried. “Accept me for who I am, period!” 

Marroquin believes that improving the community would require “having more group discussions, open discussions without judgment. And it should be with a group of students and a group of teachers, preferably the ones we dislike. So, we could give them our opinions and they could give us their opinions on what we do.”

Adding on to interview data, there was time for a survey to be created for the student body. It generated 141 responses, which is roughly one-fourth of the student body, but the majority of the responses were from freshmen, who formed 60 percent of respondents. 

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The range of survey data included a majority of freshman respondents.

One of the questions included asked students how strongly they feel that mentor groups help them feel like part of the community, judged on a scale between 1 and 5. The average number was 3.22, meaning that students felt neutral toward this idea.

Help

These survey results show how students feel about how well mentor groups bring others into the community.

Despite that, the survey data also showed that students slightly feel that their mentor group happens to value a sense of community. On a scale between 1 and 5, the average answer was 3.68.

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These survey results show how well students believe mentor groups value a sense of community.

It is clear to see that the student body has a slightly stronger belief that clubs help students feel like there are other people who share their same interests. According to the data on this question, the average answer was 3.81.

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These survey results reveal how students believe clubs enable them to build community around shared interests.

Overall, there is much variation between students as they ponder the thought of Shasta being a true community or not. Between mentor groups and particular teachers, certain different approaches result in varying student opinion. For comparison, many of the freshmen who were interviewed felt like they were accepted and that “everyone is friends,” while a few of the seniors felt like they are not accepted.

Shasta Dean of Culture and Instruction Adelaide Giornelli explained why she thought some freshmen and seniors might feel differently. “Seniors have been here for four years and freshmen have been here for one, leaving a larger amount of time for relationships to develop,” she said. “They’ve known each other for longer; there are longer times for relationships to develop – they could go wrong and may not be healed all the way.” She added: “As for the freshmen, they’re new.”

In retrospect, it seems as if students’ experience with community at Shasta is totally varied from person-to-person. Does that mean anything? It could mean that Shasta needs to improve their methods in implementing community in Shasta culture.

Ms. Giornelli described how Summit Shasta is relatively new and still building a community. She said, “When the seniors first came here, the school was only three years old.” She added: “Every single year we have been making improvements in the community, and, now that the freshmen are here, this school is six years old.” Ms. Giornelli feels that Summit Shasta has been doing a good job in improving community over the years.

Women feel the effects of discrimination in the workforce

By Lyanna Cruzat, Mariam Feleyeh, Sophia Lim and Alana Tutasi

Staff Writers

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Shasta history teacher Shanel Daines PHOTO CREDIT: Sophia Lim

A pregnancy, which is supposed to be filled with joy and happiness, turned into worry when a woman working in marketing software told her coworker she was terrified their company was going to fire her for going on maternity leave.

“I think the major men in the business were getting tired of the woman having to leave,” said Shanel Daines, a history teacher at Summit Shasta, as she depicted that incident with her former coworker. “She could have taken legal action for it.”

When women are pregnant, they have certain rights: one of those rights is maternity leave. That woman was given restrictions during her pregnancy. Because she was feeling ostracized by her company and her boss, that women spoke to the CEO of the company about her situation. She was able to keep her position and continued to work for the company for years afterward.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects the rights of pregnant employees. It is illegal not to hire or to fire a woman because she is pregnant. In fact, all forms of pregnancy discrimination are illegal. However, many companies refuse to acknowledge the rights of these women.

Stories like these are not uncommon in the workforce. Many women also face sexual harassment in the workforce simply because of their gender. According to NPR’s Two-way, an online survey launched in January by a nonprofit called Stop Street Harassment found that 38 percent of women reported being sexually harassed while at work. Ms. Daines, along with many others, believe that needs to be changed.

Another issue that women face is not being able to enter the workforce at all. For centuries, many women were not allowed to work outside of the home. They were forced to care for their families while men went out into the world. According to the National Women’s History Alliance, in 1920 the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor was established to protect women workers and to preserve their right to be able to work without the fear of abuse or unsafe situations. The department also helped them gain the right to work legally.

However, women didn’t start entering the workforce in large numbers until the 1960s. In 1963, the Equal Pay Act was signed by President Kennedy, which was an attempt to put an end to the wage gap between men and women. Nevertheless, women today are still on average paid about 20 percent less than men.

Shasta English teacher Laura Friday PHOTO CREDIT: Sophia Lim

That wage gap causes women to thoughtfully consider their family situation and being able to support themselves on one salary. “I do think it would be helpful to have the support of a man’s pay,” said Laura Friday, an English teacher at Summit Shasta.

While many women believe that living off of a man’s salary in addition to their own would be helpful, they do not feel that a man’s pay should be necessary in order to survive and flourish.

“I don’t think anyone needs a man’s help. I think that women don’t make as much because they don’t really get leadership roles. Most of the time men, primarily white men, dominate the leadership roles,” Ms. Friday said. 

Shasta science teacher Jaziel Salomon PHOTO CREDIT: Sophia Lim

Separations of men and women in the workforce are also a big concern. Jaziel Salomon, a science teacher at Summit Shasta, said he has noticed a substantial amount of segregation between men and women in the workforce. “Women are either pushed into not having a job at all or writing or working in English or history fields,” he said.

Today many women fight for equality and are voicing their opinions on what needs to be done. Teachers at Summit Shasta also have opinions on the change that needs to be made. Mr. Salomon said, “Women need to continue to take action when they are being harassed or assaulted, take legal action if necessary and being role models for other young women.”

Featured image (at the top of this post): This infographic provides some basic statistics on women’s positions in the workforce. GRAPHIC CREDIT: Mariam Feleyeh

The state of school lunches at Summit Shasta is #sad

By Albert Chang-Yoo

Staff Writer

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Marshmallow Mateys (above) is an off-brand version of Lucky Charms. PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo

Here at Summit Public School: Shasta, most people I know try to avoid the school lunch. Brunch usually consists of some kind of off-brand cereal. More often than not, it is hard to identify what is being served for lunch. If you start asking around about what people think of the school lunches, you won’t exactly get a positive response. I surveyed over 130 kids (close to one-fourth of the school), and the most common words to describe the school lunches ranged from “okay” to “gross” and “bad.” Some students described it as “cardboard”; others used more creative terms.

The school lunches at Shasta are premade in a facility 20 miles away.

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Food is pre-packaged and stored in a heater. PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo

The lunches arrive at Shasta every morning. The food is stored in our small kitchen and is watched over by Catherine Quan. Ms. Quan has no official job title, but she helps prepare and serve the food. She explained to me that the food is kept in an industrial fridge and two heaters. The fresh fruits are kept in bins on shelves near the entrance. However, there is a lack of actual kitchen materials. None of the food has to be cooked; there are no trays or plates to wash, and the room is more like a holding space for the pre-packaged meals.

How Shasta gets food

Shasta’s current food supplier is a San Carlos-based company called Lunchmaster. One look at the Lunchmaster website, and a consumer would see no problems. The LunchMaster site offers glowing photos of food, proclaiming that none of the foods they make is fried. More than 80 percent of the food is local. “We make fruits and vegetables appetizing for children,” one section reads.

Lunchmaster markets itself as a family-owned business. According to its website, its two “taste-testers”  are the general manager’s kids. The two founders are a wife / husband duo. Lunchmaster also employs two registered dietitians. All meals meet federal and state regulations and are “balanced meals” made “from scratch.” The company touts itself as healthy, tasty and down-to-earth.

In contrast, the student sentiment at Shasta tells a different story. 75 percent of students polled said that they weren’t satisfied with the current school lunches, the ones provided by Lunchmaster. Only 28 percent said they considered the school lunch to be healthy. Many described it as “processed” and “greasy,” even though the Lunchmaster website states that none of their food is fried (“Even our french fries are oven-baked!”).

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Shasta gets monthly menus from Lunchmaster. PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo

I interviewed Maria Canjura, the office manager at Shasta. She said that Summit Public Schools’ corporate branch makes the decisions on what supplier Shasta has. Summit has a contract with Lunchmaster and gets monthly menus from which they pick out the meals. All Summit schools in the Bay Area are supplied by Lunchmaster.

She thinks that the meals are healthy and that Lunchmaster tries to include healthy meals. As for why the kids don’t like eating the food, Ms. Canjura said: “You would have to ask the kids […] I would love to know why.”

What do kids think?

Well, according to the kids, the food just tastes bad. Shasta sophomore Ryan Hui buys school lunch every day and describes the meals sarcastically as “flavortown.” He said that he would like better quality food and bigger portions.

Another Shasta sophomore, Ethan Tran, said he doesn’t mind the portions, but he does want better quality. He would also like “less plastic packaging.” “They could be worse, but they could be a lot better,” Shasta sophomore Joseph Hernandez said. I asked students to rate the food out of 5, and 91.8 percent of those surveyed rated the food a 3 or less. Only three people (2.5 percent) gave the food a 5.

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Shasta sophomore Ryan Hui sarcastically refers to the food as “flavortown.” PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo

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Shasta sophomore Shawn House says that the food is simply “not good.” PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for what the teachers think, I also interviewed Laura Friday, the freshman English teacher. She said that health is the main problem for her: “The school tries to provide healthy options […] some students don’t accept the healthy foods.”

However, she does agree that “certain meals look better than others,” and she gets the sense that the food isn’t “particularly appetizing.” She thinks that the school is trying their best to make sure that all students get fed while also maintaining a budget. “We have to make compromises,” Ms. Friday said. “This is a national issue.”

Improving lunch by looking across the globe

School lunches are a national issue. Almost every other developed and wealthy country has better school lunches than America. In fact, only Canada, a country that seemingly passes the United States in every way, has worse school lunches. They ranked 37th out 41 in a UNICEF Report on access to nutritious food for kids, right below–that’s right–the good ol’ US of A.

In order to improve, we can look to international cases of great school lunches. France takes their school lunches especially seriously. At one high school, 850 students are fed every day for only $2.50 per meal. The chef that runs the kitchen feeds the students escargot and roast beef. A student described the food as “better than what I get at home.”

Another example we can look to is Japan. Only 5 percent of food is wasted in a school district in Northern Tokyo. Japan’s childhood obesity rate is one of the world’s lowest. So how does Japan do this? According to a Washington Post article, food is never frozen and its school lunches are “a source of national pride.” In Japan, meals are made from scratch.

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This is an example of a typical Japanese school lunch. PHOTO CREDIT: Wikipedia

School lunches in Japan usually consist of rice, vegetables, fish, or soups, quite unlike here in America, where us Shasta students have to deal with mysterious meat or cardboard. Plus, while there still is unhealthy food being served, it is in seriously limited amounts. “On a recent day at Umejima,” the article reads, “kids were served the Japanese version of fried chicken, known as karaage. Each child was allowed one nugget.” Japan’s government provides some minimal guidelines, but the task of regulating health mainly falls to the school nutritionist. That’s right–most schools in Japan have nutritionists. As for cost, it is all managed by local municipalities, while parents pay for ingredients. The cost for parents is $3 per meal, and they even have lesser payment choices for struggling families. So school lunches can be tasty, healthy and affordable.

Of course, we don’t live in Japan or France, we live in America. But contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of schools in the United States that provide healthy and tasty school lunches. Unfortunately, here at Shasta, kids still try to avoid the school lunch. Students eat better food at home, not at school. Kids at Shasta have inside jokes about how bad the food is. Suffice to say, the majority of the student body here at Shasta does not take “national pride” in our school lunches. But we can always change things.

The students surveyed had plenty of ideas on how to change things: letting some clubs cook and sell food, not having premade food, including more choices, getting more substantial meals and picking a better supplier. While there are definitely challenges in trying to implement these changes, something is better than nothing. According to the students, the school lunches are a whole load of nothing.  

 

Mentor groups build community at Summit Shasta

By Evelyn Archibald and Zachary Navarra

Staff Writers

Being a junior mentor, Hillary Odom has the unique opportunity to develop a closer connection with her students. Ms. Odom has used this connection to help her mentees in ways she never received from her high school teachers. She is currently helping one of her students look for cars; they are navigating together the different options available to young teens. This is something her school never helped her with, and she is glad to give the extra support to her mentee.

According to Adelaide Giornelli, a current freshman mentor and Dean of Students at Summit Shasta, “A mentor group is a randomly selected cross-section of the grade that meets together every day; the purpose is to give them one adult who they know they can go to.”  Mentor groups meet every day and stay together for all four years of high school. They spend time in and outside of school bonding through group activities, academics, and various other events.  A mentor is a randomly selected teacher who acts as the group leader through all four years of high school.

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This poster advertises Hillary Odom’s junior mentor group, the Odominators. PHOTO CREDIT: Zachary Navarra

Ms. Odom said the mentor system “builds a sense of a belonging and pride.” She explains that this is shown through “being able to share personal experiences as a group or more one-on-one.”  

The mentor groups at Shasta all are meant to essentially build and foster community within the groups, to make a safe space for the students in their school. Individual mentors and their mentees have personal goals for their groups in the years to come as well.

Shasta freshman Lyanna Cruzat spoke on the personal safety of mentor groups, saying, “Having a place where you feel safe, comfortable, just having a place where you don’t feel judged is something really important. Especially if that place is school.” Mentor groups allow students to have a safe space in school that they can go to.

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Shasta sophomore Albert Chang-Yoo discusses his mentor group, the French Fridays. PHOTO CREDIT: Evelyn Archibald

“It feels very informal. You can basically talk to them about anything. It’s a place where you can be more relaxed, yeah. I think Shasta does a good job bringing in that sense of community with your group,” Shasta sophomore Albert Chang-Yoo said.  The students in mentor groups are given the opportunity to get to know each other and become more comfortable with the school and students in it.

However, not all students feel this way.  When asked how his experience has been through the past three years Shasta junior Ben Judice said, “It’s a place you go; there is no real unity beyond that it’s a place you are in with other people.” While the mentor system strives for greater community, it isn’t perfect and does not satisfy the needs of all students.

Rachel Baumgold, a new teacher to Shasta and freshman co-mentor, commented on the different dynamics of teacher and mentor, saying the two roles are “conflicting.” “On the one hand you’re a teacher who kind of has to demand respect, but on the other hand for a mentoring relationship to be productive you need to see each other as individual human beings,” she added. 

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Shasta freshman Lyanna Cruzat says her mentor group makes her feel safe. PHOTO CREDIT: Evelyn Archibald

Ms. Baumgold said, “My goal would be to build relationships with students where both me and the student see each other as the individuals we are, beyond the roles that we carry in school.”

In comparison, more established teachers like freshman mentor Ms. Giornelli hope to “force students to connect with each other.” This is seen through mixing up friends groups and intentionally seating kids with students they don’t normally talk to. Another way of doing this has been through a group activity known as Circle. Ms. Giornelli believes this has been very helpful to the bonding and emotional connectedness of her mentees.

Summit Public Schools has used Circle as a very intentional structure that allows students to share their emotions and values in a way that fosters community. It attempts to teach students how to build authentic connections and resonate with people. This weekly event helps foster community within each mentor group.

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Members of the Morris-Baumgold freshman mentor group Lyanna Cruzat, Alyshni Ocampo and Mary Heishan attend the Shasta school rally. PHOTO CREDIT: Milagros Morris

However, it is “difficult to put into practice,” Ms. Baumgold said. “I think, in actual practice with teenagers, it takes a lot of work for the Circles to become productive in the way they’re supposed to be productive.”

Chang-Yoo said, “The Circles, well it kinda helps, but sometimes it feels like you’re being forced to bond.” The goal of Circle, at its core, is to bring students together. A mentor’s goal is to try to get their mentees to break out of their comfort zone and build relationships with students they might not normally talk to.

Circle isn’t the only way students come together and form community. Students form community through school field trips, holding potlucks, creating mentor T-shirts and out-of-school activities.

Mentors such as Ms. Giornelli, Ms. Odom and Ms. Baumgold all work toward strengthening their bond with students along with the students’ bond with each other. Summit Shasta works toward building a strong community through group activities and mentor guidance in the mentor group system.

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Mosaic-style art is displayed in Ms. Odom’s junior mentor room. PHOTO CREDIT: Zachary Navarra

Featured image (at the top of this post): Hillary Odom’s junior mentor group attends the annual school camping trip. PHOTO CREDIT: Hillary Odom