Monthly Archives: April 2019

Shasta’s Celebration of Learning brings students and families together

By Matthew Goncalves and Kalysta Frost

Staff Writers

Dramatic music starts playing as Video Production teacher Vincent Nelson and Expeditions Dean Monica Hanson charge at each other from across the gym. Wielding swords and dressed in their finest furs, they lead the charge as students run behind them with smoke bombs to throw at their opponents. The battle starts, the two swords clashing and smoke bombs flying at opponents as the crowd cheers.

Staff Writers Melissa Domingo and Amanda Yon put together this video of Shasta’s Celebration of Learning. 

The battle set the tone for a spirited awards ceremony which kicked off the Celebration of Learning at Summit Shasta High School on April 25. Parents and students came together to showcase their hard work and Expeditions projects that they completed over the course of the 2018-19 school year.

The awards ceremony allowed for Expeditions teachers to award students for certain traits and talents. Videos made by Video Production and robots made by the Robotics class were showcased.

After the awards ceremony, Independent Study students then presented to interested parents about their year in the class and what they studied.

Parents who roamed around the quad were also able to watch and join in on the Health and Fitness class as they did a variety of exercises and stretches.

People going to C3 were treated to good food and drinks as students of the Cooking Fundamentals and Advanced Cooking classes were there making food and drink samples for visitors to come and try. The food samples came with a quick presentation about the origin or the significance of how the food was made.

Video Game Programming presented their games in arcade style. Creative Writing as Performance ran a Poetry Slam.

Many other classes at the event had open rooms to showcase presentations about their unique topics. Click here to see a newsletter with more information about the event.

You can view videos and articles about all of Shasta’s Expeditions courses through this interactive feature.

See below for a slideshow of the Celebration of Learning highlights:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Staff Writers Jenny Hu, Sophia Lim, Jordan Singh and Sophia Woehl put together this slideshow.

Billie Eilish’s “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go” blows away expectations

By Nick Reed

Arts Editor

Billie Eilish, to me, has always seemed somewhat of a boring, non-offensive indie singer. She writes songs for a demographic that I’m not in, and, thusly, is someone I’ve never taken particularly seriously.

Leaving the “Don’t Smile At Me” era of her career, I wasn’t particularly interested in what she would do next. That was until I heard her new single, “When the Party’s Over.”

Now, I am a lover of sad songs, and I can learn to love many a sad pop song. This is no normal sad pop song. “When the Party’s Over” is this bare bones, nearly a cappella ballad, where Eilish finds herself crooning over faint choral humming. The song feels patient and measured, as if Eilish isn’t rushing to any ending, almost reminiscent of late ’90s emo works such as “Love Letter Typewriter” by Mineral.

Moreover, the lyrics detail a story of running away from your problems, trying to fill up the void left by someone you love leaving you in the dust by partying and forcing your mind to other places.

The song has such an in-the-moment feel, characterized when Eilish says of her song, “I feel like that’s such a sentence. It’s like, ‘I’ll call you when the party’s over,’ you’re on the phone with someone and you can’t hear them, they can’t hear you, it’s loud, they’re mad at you for some reason.” 

This song changed my perception of her quite a bit. Her fake quirkiness and the accusations of being an industry plant mattered a lot less. After all, what did any of this matter if the music was good?

My anticipation went from nonexistent to very high. My expectations were still low, however. With a pop artist so early in their career, a miss was much more possible than a hit. This, however, was not the case.

Next came the song “You Should See Me In a Crown,” the opposite of the mellow cuts I’d been expecting of her up to that point. With spastic, grinding high hats and dentist drill effects, Eilish’s vocals shook with vibrato as she sang. The beat almost seems like something out of an underground hip hop project, akin to Death Grips or H099or9.

Eilish had not only proven herself more than capable twice at this point, but also displayed musical versatility, one of my biggest problems with her work up to this point. It seemed the stage was set for her album premiere.

I remember when her album dropped; I was in North Carolina doing my college tours. I was sitting in my hotel room and was shuffling through my usual artists, when I noticed her new album had been released. My expectations going in were high. I started the album at the intro, laid back in my hotel bed and let it all come.

I can say now, without a doubt, this album blew my expectations out of the water. I expected a lot, and yet I was blown away. This album is beyond incredible, and, dare I say, might be the best pop album of the year.

On this record, Eilish has crafted an ingenious, forward-moving, creative, inspired, experimental pop album. It’s almost amazing this came from a mainstream pop star and not the underground.

I find myself most astounded by the fact that Eilish sings in the same tenor, style and volume throughout the whole album, and not once does this delivery fall flat. The production and the vocal effects all contribute, but her singing style does not waver. This is not a bad thing; it’s simply a testament to the skill of her as a vocalist and her brother as a producer.

I must take a second to appreciate the production from Finneas O’connell. His beats — those shuttering high hats, the deep sub bass — all beyond ingenious. The playing with the vocals is something to be reckoned with as well, as the vocal effects add massive amounts of character to her voice and the substance behind her lyrics.

There are several tracks to highlight on this record. There are the obvious and aforementioned “When the Party’s Over” and “You Should See Me in a Crown.” Beyond that, tracks like “Bad Guy,” “Xanny,” “Wish You Were Gay,” “8,” and “Listen Before I Go” are my personal favorites.

Her song “Bad Guy” features a deep sub bass with a set of ever-increasing snaps that slowly feel as they’re surrounding you while Eilish delivers lines including “[I’m the] might seduce your dad type.”

On the other hand, “Xanny” feels like a bare bones, singer songwriter experience as it opens — singing about lifeless, drug addicted zombies — before suddenly an explosive bass effect attacks everything within the song, leading everything (vocals included) to vibrate and tingle with abrasive noise. This is all interspersed with quiet, personal piano bits, Eilish’s voice fluttering over these portions with a beauty akin to a Disney song. This loud soft dynamic doesn’t sound far off from the alternative rock of the ’90s and the ending sounds straight out of “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Cover Band.”

Eilish continues this singer songwriter vibe with “Wish You Were Gay,” her voice laying a ballad over a strummed guitar and trap backing crafting an intoxicating sound straight out of a summer jam. Although one of the more pop sensible songs on the tracklist, it is one of the catchiest and doesn’t miss a beat in comparison with the rest of the album.

“8” is one of the strangest songs on the album, featuring (honestly somewhat terrifying) baby voice vocals over a singer songwriter type trap beat. This is one of Eilish’s strongest vocal tracks on the album, featuring goosebump inducing shaking, highs and lows and that aforementioned baby voice.

However, my personal favorite song on the track is “Listen Before I Go.” An isolated, heartbreaking piano ballad is interrupted by vocal effects or bombastic production. There is nothing to draw away from the words Eilish is trying to say, and those words are heart-wrenching. She sings solemnly about her friends she will miss, her loves lost and continually refers to leaving. This is an obvious suicide note and a terrifying way to leave off an emotional rollercoaster of an album.

This album was beyond impressing for me. I completely underestimated what Eilish was capable of. She is no stereotypical pop star.

I know it might be difficult to take her seriously given the way she has come up and the prejudices some might have, but I urge all to give this album a shot. I believe they will find a wonderful and downright amazing pop experience here.

Featured image (at the top of this post): Billie Eilish performs live in Los Angeles in a 2017 concert. PHOTO CREDIT: Justin Higuchi

Intro to Robotics allows students to view the world of engineering

By Lyanna Cruzat

Staff Writers

Intro to Robotics is a class about building robots in a hardware aspect and learning how to code the robots to perform certain tasks. They use the EV3 Lego robot to learn the different parts of any kind of robot. They use sensors and motors that are programmed and coded to follow certain tasks.

Intro to Robotics teaches the parts of a robot through an application using it as a driverless car. The purpose is to learn engineering skills in an engineering environment.

When asked what impact she hopes to have on her students, Intro to Robotics teacher Sherri Taylor said, “I hope the students walk out of this class with a feeling of self-accomplishment with all the hard work they put in and having new relationships with the people they worked with in class. I also expect that what would happen is that students will either reinforce the idea that they were already gonna be engineers and this class helped seal the deal, and there will be other students that did not realize they were gonna be engineers but would have a self-discovery moment through this class.”

See below for a video about this course:

Cooking Fundamentals teaches students the basics of cooking

By Kalysta Frost

Staff Writer

Cooking Fundamentals is dedicated to teaching students the fundamentals of cooking so that they have the skills to cook for themselves. The class teaches students basic knife skills and more.

Brooke Hein, the Cooking Fundamentals teacher, said, “Cooking Fundamentals is designed for students who maybe have some experience in the kitchen or no experience in the kitchen and they’re looking for … an intro to the skills, the techniques and the knowledge to start making meals of their own and to start experimenting in the kitchen.”

Shasta junior Jayson Allison said, “I was actually able to compare different cultures and the way that they prepare their food and even in small regions of it … there was one project where I was able to crate pasta from different places and compare the sauces they use; even though they were really similar, they had some fundamental differences that it became very different from thickness and things of that sort.”

See below for a video about the Cooking Fundamentals course:

Introduction to Psychology explores human behavior

By Katie Scribner and Amanda Yon

Staff Writers

The Introduction to Psychology Expeditions course is a college-level course that has students explore why people behave the way that they do. The course is taught by Tatyana Rikhter. Students get an overall understanding of human psychology and the reasons people behave the way they do.

In this course, students learn about the human brain, human behavior and the stages of a person’s development. The students learn complex material that they can use every day outside of class to help them know more about themselves and the people around them.

When asked about what she’s learned, Shasta senior Alexandra Velasco said, “I’ve learned a lot in this class, especially about the brain and about why people act in the way they do; and it’s very engaging; and it’s very interesting. Every day you learn something new.”

When the course teacher, Mrs. Rikhter, was asked why people would want to take this class, she responded by saying, “I think there’s a few reasons. No. 1, it’s a very challenging class; if you are a student that’s interested in doing college-level work, then this is the class for you.”

See below for a video about the Introduction to Psychology course:

Course shows students the basics of programming

By Jenny Hu

Staff Writer

The Expeditions course Intro to Programming teaches students how to program with JavaScript, HTML and CSS with a focus on web development. For the first three Expeditions rounds, students focus on web development, and, in the last round, they do a fun and competitive A.I. game.

Intro to Programming teacher Matthew Hesby said students “gain a lot of skills around being self-directed, looking things up, learning things on their own, asking for help and dealing with being frustrated and struggling with learning something that’s new to a lot of them.”

Mr. Hesby also added, “Students should take Intro to Programming if they have even a little bit of interest in programming. But they should also go into it knowing that it’s a class where there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.” This course is a UC-approved course; it is designed for sophomores and up.

When asked whether this course would be challenging for students, Shasta sophomore Vincent Chu said, “This course challenges your mind to think of creative ways to solve a test or programming … If you don’t work enough in class, the workload can be quite heavy. However, it is mostly how you use the class time.”

See below for a video about the Intro to Programming course:

Advanced journalism course will continue building students’ media skills

By Evelyn Archibald

Staff Writer

Summit Shasta is wrapping up its first year offering Multimedia Political Journalism as an Expeditions course, and student journalists are ready to continue. While the intro class won’t have the opportunity to be taught at Shasta next year, students can choose to take Advanced Multimedia Political Journalism as an independent study course.

The AMPJ course will use the skills journalism students developed this year – interviewing, reporting, photography, editing articles and video – and build on them in a more self-directed curriculum. Because it is an independent study, students will lead themselves and their peers in the class, taking more responsibility on deadlines and finding stories, going off campus and working in specialized beats such as politics or sports. 

“It’s a really cool opportunity to have at Shasta, especially since we don’t have a normal school newspaper. It’s useful to have that resource, to write and have the freedom to express yourself,” Shasta sophomore Albert Chang-Yoo said about the journalism course.

The class is mainly geared toward students who have taken MPJ already; however, if you haven’t taken that course but are interested in journalism, photojournalism, working in an independent study and current events, you can still apply! 

Rising sophomores and seniors are the target grades, as it is a full-day independent study. If you are interested, have an English teacher, history teacher or Expeditions teacher fill out this form and email the course instructor, Elizabeth DeOrnellas, at for more information about the required paperwork. 

Although AMPJ is a form of independent study, students will submit projects through the platform and receive grades based on cognitive skills and focus areas. The course is UC-approved and a VPA credit. For more information, see Shasta freshman Evelyn Archibald who will be the Shasta Editor-in-Chief next year! She can be reached at

See below for a video about the Advanced Multimedia Political Journalism course:

Featured image (at the top of this post): Shasta freshman Melissa Domingo practices her photography skills. 

« Older Entries