Monthly Archives: September 2019

Summit Shasta supports students after threat

By Albert Chang-Yoo and Melissa Domingo

Staff Editors

On Wednesday night, the Shasta administration was informed of an Instagram post that contained threats of violence against students. The owner of the account, a Shasta student, later claimed that the post was a joke. However, the administration took steps to ensure student safety on campus.

Throughout the school day on Thursday, staff made sure that students were comfortable on school grounds. Teachers and administrators were outside, interacting with students during breaks and lunch, as well as before and after school. Shasta’s student counselor was available to talk to students throughout the day. In addition, a Daly City police officer was on campus during breaks to maintain a calm environment. 

In an email sent to students and parents, the director of Summit Shasta, Wren Maletsky, stated, “We want to be as clear as possible that threats of violence and fear are not only unacceptable at Shasta, they are a crime. Every student has a right to an education free from fear and safe from harm [original emphasis].” The email was later followed by another email, confirming that the matter of the threat had been resolved and that students were safe to stay on campus.

How did the administration respond?

Adelaide Giornelli, Shasta Dean of Culture and Instruction, explained the precautionary measures taken during this time: “I think it was multi-stepped: I became aware of it when teachers and students and families all separately reached out to me. I believe I got the first text after 10 p.m. So, my first move was to call the Daly City Police Department and report what I had heard. They informed me at that time; they had already been working on the case for an hour; I think because someone had reported it directly to them earlier.” 

Ms. Giornelli then said that she drafted an email that was sent directly to students and families, informing them of what had occurred and the steps that they were taking to ensure student safety.  She also emailed teachers and mentors, suggesting what they could say to their mentees and students about the incident. 

Ms. Giornelli also explained that the problem had to be directly communicated because “we didn’t want things to be going through a rumor mill.” In addition, she wanted to make students aware of the police presence at school: “We have students who are members of communities where the police do not make them feel safe because of the relationship between police and communities of color in America at large right now. We wanted to make sure all students knew that so that was not a surprise.” 

When reflecting on the short amount of time it took for members of the school to notify the authorities, Ms. Giornelli said, “Shasta is my home. I think in a lot of ways the student body here and the community here feels like a family, and it’s been powerful for me to see how many students, parents, and community members were, like, immediately willing to step up, reach out and inform us of what was happening.”

How did the students respond?

There were a range of emotions felt by Summit Shasta students. Some, like Shasta sophomore Theodore Gim, found it to be another mundane day: “Like, it was any other day, ‘cause nothing happened,” he explained. Matthew Lam, another Shasta sophomore, shared the same sentiments. He said, “I was actually OK because, like, the school contacted us and was, like, letting us know; they gave us information before I got to school, so that was good.”

However, some students also experienced feelings of nerves and shock, such as Shasta freshman Jayden DuYee. He said, “I came to school as if it was a regular day, but definitely a little bit more aware and tense about the situation. I definitely knew something was gonna happen, whether it was an act of danger, or just an act of safety; but, to be honest, it’s just extremely nerve-racking that something like this could come up to our school.” Shasta senior Shayla Branner also said, “I was asking my peers what happened, and then they just gave me a summary. After I checked in with Ms. Dayon, and she ran down everything and I was really in shock.”

Shasta junior Aaron Susantin felt irritation toward the situation: “Once I heard the context, my feelings turned less from fear to more irritation.” He also mentioned the transparency between the faculty and families: “But I do appreciate that there was a rather swift response to this … I think that making the information known to us was good.”

Shasta students appreciated the precautionary measures that were taken during this time. Shasta freshman Evangelina Gutierrez said, “I think they did a good job because, like, they said that they were gonna have the teachers out and police officers during lunch, so, like, if anything did happen, they would all be there to, like, react as quick as they could.” 

Lam also mentioned that mentors “gave a presentation before we started mentor SDL [Self-Directed Learning], talking about the incident; again, they were just giving [students] more information.” 

Susantin also said, “I saw some cops. I remember my mentor, during our mentor block, talking about it, giving us context. He then offered some support, some various support such as counseling, and he stated that teachers would be outside if anyone wanted to talk to them.”

Shasta senior Kayla Branner said, “I think the school did what they could, like, with the cops; I felt safe that the cops were here. I liked how the teachers showed that they were here for us; they all sat with us outside …  I liked how they had the doors opened, just in case, you know, anybody didn’t feel safe. I like how they gave us the option to talk to somebody if we didn’t feel safe around the cops, too. So, yeah, I think the school did good and contacted our parents, so that was good.”

How did the mentors respond?

Many of the teachers also expressed shock and sadness over what occurred. Elizabeth Casey, senior mentor and English teacher, said her feelings moved “from disappointed to distraught.” Gene Lee, junior mentor and science teacher, said, “I guess this is the world that we live in now … it was probably just a bad joke that went wrong.” Avi Vigdorchik, co-mentor with Mr. Lee and also a science teacher, said, “I hope it doesn’t affect anyone in the long run. And I hope that this helps people think about their choices of why they say things and what sorts of actions they want to engage it.”

Some mentors communicated frustration, feeling upset with the situation. “I was annoyed by the fact that someone thought it was funny, that somebody thought it was a joke,” Kelley Nugent, junior mentor, explained. “That’s not something you take lightly in this climate, of what’s going on today in our world.”  

Other mentors also said they felt a need to help support students. English teacher and junior mentor Laura Friday said that teachers were going to continue to support students: “I’ve been like checking in with, like small groups of kids, and just telling them that, like, I’m here for them. And I think the same goes with all teachers, like we’re here for our kids; and we love our kids; and we just want our kids to, like, feel safe and happy while they’re here.”

Rachel Baumgold, freshman mentor and math teacher, explained how the administration supported the school: “Shasta wrote up a way to explain to students the summary of what happened and gave mentors ideas for what questions to ask, facilitate conversations with students to make them feel safe and make them feel like they could express their emotions that they’re feeling.” Each mentor group discussed the incident during morning SDL. 

Online safety was another concern highlighted by teachers. “I think as, as teachers and as students, we need to think a little bit more about what we do online and make sure that it’s aligning with, like, who we are as a person and that we’re not, like, hiding behind a screen and being someone other than who we are online,” Keren WuRohe, sophomore mentor and math teacher, said. Milagros Morris, sophomore mentor and Spanish teacher, also commented on social media concerns: “I want to tell the kids, the kids to be very careful on social media. And take this thing seriously, and if they see something, say something.” 

The overarching theme among mentors was a feeling of admiration for the resilience of Shasta students. Nathaniel Thompson, sophomore mentor and Spanish teacher, said, “I’m just really proud of the students today. I think everyone handled it with about as much grace as we could expect from high-school-age people.”

Ms. WuRohe spoke of the student response: “I am impressed with the strength of the community and the maturity of a lot of students to recognize how silly like something like this is to do, like how, how stupid it is to do something like this.”

Ben Alexander, Evelyn Archibald, Zachary Navarra and Mytrisha Sarmiento contributed reporting to this article.

New Homeless Navigation Center on Embarcadero sparks debate

  Alabama and his dog sit on a curb along Market St. PHOTO CREDIT: Mytrisha Sarmiento

By Mytrisha Sarmiento

Staff Editor 

A veteran named Alabama has currently been living on the streets of San Francisco for nine years. He was born in Detroit, but grew up in Tennessee. He found his way to San Francisco due to medical reasons. 

When asked if there should be more Homeless Navigation Centers around the city, he responded, “That’s a hard question, because, if you put in more, more people come to the city for that. In Tennessee we don’t have Navigation Centers, therefore there are no homeless.” 

Alabama is just one of many living on the streets of San Francisco. The city holds up to 24% of the national homeless population, which has increased by 17% since 2017 according to the San Francisco Chronicle. This comes to a total of an estimated 6,858 people who are homeless in the city today.

Alabama shared a possible solution in helping to alleviate the problem: “Quicker housing instead of being on a two-year or three-year waiting list. The first time I got housed on the city it took almost four years, and I know there are so many homeless people that the list is that long.” 

As part of the city’s efforts to tackle homelessness, Mayor Breed proposed the SAFE Homeless Navigation project in March 2019. The SAFE Homeless Navigation will hold 175 to 225 beds, which currently is the biggest Navigation Center in the Bay Area. This new establishment is located on a part of Seawall Lot 330 about two blocks from Piers 30-32. There have been a multitude of meetings, conferences and hearings held regarding the establishment. The opposition consists mainly of angry residents who are fixed to halt construction and discontinue the project as a whole.

The two sides of the argument created GoFundMe pages with the hope of gaining funding to support their arguments. The opposition raised $44,610 with an anonymous donor who contributed $10,000 alone. These funds will go to lawyers who will be fighting the Homeless Navigation Center in court. The people in support of the project raised a total of $176,015 on the GoFundMe page. That is almost triple the amount of the opposition.

When informed of the efforts to discontinue the project and the $44,610 raised to pay for lawyers to battle it in court, Alabama said, “Why would anyone do that? It just doesn’t make sense — Wow.” 

He said, “I think it will benefit 80% because not everybody who is homeless wants to be inside; there’s about 20 or 30 percent out there, so the ones that want to be off the streets will benefit a lot.” 

Employees of the Watermark said, “We remain neutral” when asked if they had an opinion on the Homeless Navigation Center being built to the right of the entrance to the building. 

A resident of the building who would not disclose their name said aggressively in a loud tone of voice, “This is a political statement!” There has been a lawsuit filed by residents in an attempt to stop the project. 

A resident of Bayside Village, Facundo Lucero, said, “It’s time San Francisco did something about the situation, but, to be honest, I don’t think I would be comfortable about a building near the area.” He appeared in a hurry to get back to his sandwich. This introduces a concept that has a dominant presence on the side of the opposition: NIMBYism. The Encyclopedia Britannica explains, “Not in My Backyard Phenomenon (NIMBY), also called Nimby, a colloquialism signifying one’s opposition to the locating of something considered undesirable in one’s neighborhood.” 

Aaron Cisneros a manager of a local business Bayside Market, said, “Yes, it will benefit the homeless people; I think we need something like this, but I don’t think this is the right area ’cause right here on Embarcadero it is very busy, and there are all these people that live here, families. In the news you can see everything that’s going on, and it’s scary, real scary.” 

When asked what other efforts could be put in place by the city in order to lessen the amount of homeless people on the streets, he said, “Well, we definitely need to come up with a way to help; I think it is pretty sad that there are so many homeless people in San Francisco. People need to address it. It’s gonna be hard to find a place — where are we gonna do this at? Everywhere they go they are going to unfortunately have a negative response; we need to do something — I don’t know what; I don’t know where to begin.”

The Homeless Navigation Center appears to have already had an effect on the local community. Mr. Cisneros said, “Yes, it already has people in the neighborhood talking about moving away. People who bought housing here because of the beautiful views are now ready to leave because of everything that’s going on. It may seem like a small percentage of people who leave but it makes me worry.”

He added, “I come to work at 5:45 in the morning, and I have to walk by every day, and it’s affecting my own safety, and I’m a guy. I’m a big guy, but you know what — I am no challenge against a gun or a knife. What are you gonna do? It’s scary.” 

Safety concerns are apparent considering that, as of 2016, the amount of homeless people in San Francisco who have a substance abuse disorder has risen, as depicted by San Francisco County SCS Snapshot 2016

Eric Montanna, a superintendent of construction at the Homeless Navigation Center, said, “I like the project I’m building; I think we should be helping as much as possible.”

Mr. Montanna believes that this Homeless Navigation Center will help decrease the amount of homeless people on the streets, and this is important because “there is a lot of homeless on the street, sleeping on sidewalks.”

Furthermore, he said, “I think we need to create more jobs and find affordable housing or lower down housing prices.” Housing prices in the Bay Area are consistently increasing year by year, causing more people to move away or become homeless. This is another aspect of the overall homeless epidemic in the city. 

The final petition regarding the Homeless Navigation Center claimed that, as a result of the “rushed” construction, key steps of the process were overlooked. The building process also included public outreach and a comprehensive environmental review.

The residents are mainly concerned about the effects of the Homeless Navigation Center which the SFIST stated as “drug use, crime, and a general blight to their waterfront environs.” The lawsuit was dismissed by Superior Court Judge Ethan Shulman, who made a final ruling against Safe Embarcadero (who formally go by “Safe Embarcadero for All”), which is a non-profit organization mainly supported by businesses, local residents and other non-profit organizations. The restraining order made by the residents was overruled by the judge on the count that the opposition had failed to reason the potential harm they would endure if the project were to continue.

In response, Mayor Breed shared her opinions of the backlash and lawsuits on the city and county of San Francisco website. Mayor London Breed said, “Our City is in the midst of a homelessness crisis, and we can’t keep delaying projects like this one that will help fix the problem.When we have people suffering on our streets, we need to be able to provide them with the care and services they need.”

There is simply no one solution to the massive amount of homeless people in San Francisco. The solution will need to be a collective effort. The collection of problems in San Francisco have grown out of proportion, including skyrocketing housing prices, NIMBYism, the lengthy amount of time for homeless people to actually get into housing, and a lack of outreach to prevent homelessness, such as providing aid to families at risk of becoming homelessness and people living in their automobiles.

Meanwhile, the two-year lease for the Embarcadero will determine the effectiveness of the Homeless Navigation Center. If successful, the two-year lease on Seawall Lot 330 could be extended.

Climate march shows dedication to cause, but more action is needed

The Student Informer

Political and current event opinion from Ben Alexander

Climate change is perhaps the most dire threat facing humanity to date, which is why it is imperative that we take real, substantial action. Simply raising awareness is not enough — true political change is necessary.

Given the gravity of the threat of global warming, up to 40,000 protesters gathered in downtown San Francisco to protest political inaction on Friday, Sept. 20. Organizers from the group Youth vs Apocalypse, which was supported by the group 350 Bay Area, lead the action in San Francisco.

The Climate Strike was part of a worldwide action that included 130 countries and was hailed as a victory by organizers.  

Yet it is important to recognize that this one Climate Strike is but the first step in a long but necessary process. To declare the strike a complete victory is to ignore the dire situation we are in now and the necessary action that must be taken. 

This march was a precursor to a UN summit on climate change, encouraging governments to take action – action which is undoubtedly necessary. According to the 2018 UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, human activities have already caused a 1°C increase in global temperatures above pre-industrial levels and temperature rise is expected to reach 1.5°C by some point between 2032 and 2050. 

While the IPCC report estimates reaching net zero CO2 emissions and declining emissions of non-CO2 greenhouse gasses would halt global warming on the scale we are seeing now, it is also important to recognize the dangers of allowing increases in global warming. Increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather has already been observed in correlation with global warming and this is only the beginning. The report further estimates that as temperatures increase, so do the risks associated with them, stating that consequences for a 2°C increase in temperature would be greater than those of a 1.5°C increase, which is why it is imperative that we act now.

Protesters march on Beale Street in downtown San Francisco. PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Alexander

It is abundantly clear that action on climate change must therefore be taken. Protests such as the one on Sept. 20 are one method of such action, but they cannot exist alone. 

Organizers of the strike realized this and thus had specific goals in mind. Corporations Amazon BlackRock and Bank of America were targeted for their connections with businesses that contribute to climate change (Amazon was also targeted for poor worker treatment and collaboration with ICE), while PG&E was targeted for using non-renewable energies. Federal legislators Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) were further targeted for their lack of support for the Green New Deal, proposed legislation for massive investment in green technology which organizers supported. 

While these are reasonable targets — they all are in positions of power, whether those are political or financial, and all targets do have the ability to influence climate change with that power — it is important to realize that this march has not resulted in any of these changes coming to pass yet. While this march has perhaps brought climate change more into the public spotlight for a few days, it cannot be considered a true victory.

The fact of the matter is that, at this point, simply raising awareness about climate change is not enough. The magnitude of the climate crisis before us requires more immediate concrete action. 

Does that mean we should not protest and exercise our First Amendment rights to freedom of assembly or petition government? Of course not — it simply means that we must do more than an occasional protest. Only through constant political pressure can we make the radical change necessary to combat the climate crisis.

Protesters march on Market Street in San Francisco. PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Alexander

In the context of protests this looks like not just one protest, but many, ensuring that the issue of climate change is in the center of discussions. Further protests against climate change must also be disruptive — they must exist in such a way that they cannot be ignored. While this was somewhat accomplished due to the scale of the march on Friday, it can also come from civil disobedience, a tried and tested strategy of political advocacy.

These political actions must result in fundamental changes to the global economy. The goal has clearly been defined by the aforementioned IPCC report: it is essential that we meet a net zero emissions goal.

This requires government investment in renewable energy and regulation of corporations. This means limiting greenhouse gas emissions, using sustainable farming methods that aid carbon sequestration efforts and also addressing the effects of the climate crisis. 

Communities around the world are already feeling the effects of rising sea levels, increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather, and ecosystem loss. The world’s solutions to climate change cannot ignore these people — we must also mitigate the damages that our world has already and will undoubtedly suffer due to global warming. 

Policy proposals such as the Green New Deal encompass the essence of these ideas. This resolution, proposed by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), sets out a loose plan for addressing climate change by meeting the goal of net zero emissions while promoting high-wage jobs. 

Beyond advocating for real changes in our governments, we can have a personal impact on climate change, although far less of one than a government. This can come from the power of people as consumers. If possible, buying sustainable products or simply buying or using less of non-sustainable goods can reduce personal impact and perhaps, on a large scale, convince corporations to be more mindful of the environment around them.

In any case, we must be willing to continue advocacy to address what is perhaps the greatest threat to humanity of our era. We cannot declare a false victory and move on with our lives without creating real, substantial, change.

Featured Image (at the top of this post): Protesters gather on Jackson Street near the end of the march route. PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Alexander

Vape culture impacts Shasta and campuses nationwide

By Ethaniel Reyes and Albert Chang-Yoo

Staff Editors

At Summit Shasta, the fact that many students vape isn’t exactly breaking news. In the bathrooms, there is often a faint wisp of flavored vapor, leftover from a Juul in use. Shasta is located just 10 miles from the headquarters of JUUL Labs Inc., the company at the epicenter of the rise of teenage vaping. A Juul is a device that looks similar to a USB-stick but is in fact an e-cigarette that uses small replaceable pods

Both at Shasta and across high schools in America, a new concern is making headlines: The rising use of vaping among teenagers is causing many to fear the ramifications of health going into the future. 

Vaping at Shasta

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The boys bathroom at Summit Shasta.  PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo

At the Summit Shasta campus, while the problems might not seem so serious, there are definite examples of active vape culture within our learning spaces. One student, a junior (who, because he has vaped before, will remain anonymous), talked about vaping on campus. “It’s pretty big,” he said, “everyone wants to know what it’s like to smoke.” 

Juuls are appealing, he said, because “it’s like a kids’ version of a cigarette […] you can just recharge it and put in a new pod.” Peer pressure is definitely a factor because, according to this student, you don’t want people to think you’re a “wuss.”

On a personal note, this student recently decided to quit vaping. After going for a period in which he Juuled quite often, he came to the realization that “any type of smoking isn’t good.” As for other students who are thinking about vaping, he said, “Don’t do it because you will be hooked for life.”

Another student, Shasta junior Jedediah Lupe, talked about some of the different aspects of how his peers participate in the realm of vape culture.

According to him, he believes people participate simply for the sake of it or just get peer pressured into doing it; he looks down upon it, bringing up the fact that there are a lot of chemicals in vapes that could ”take away your brain cells”.

“I’ll say people do it every day… just for the fun of it, or just to be cool in front of their friends because they’re doing it,” he said. It doesn’t make any sense to him that people are doing it and how people think it’s cool, simply calling it downright “dumb” in a straightforward manner.

And the ramifications to both smoking and vaping also don’t appeal to him as well. He revealed that his friends “act like little kids” whenever they smoke, seeming like they are “always forgetting things, always hungry, always wanting to do something”.

“I kinda [have] respect for those who don’t smoke,” he said. He honestly believes that vaping and smoking habits should be stopped as soon as possible for health’s sake. “Don’t do it. Smoking will take over your life. Ruin your lungs, probably get lung cancer in the future.”

In the national spotlight

Recently, President Trump entered the debate over vaping. During a press conference this month, he commented, “We have a problem in our country… It’s a problem nobody really thought about too much a few years ago, and it’s called ‘vaping’”.

The Trump administration is moving to ban the sale of flavored pods, pointing to the rise in teen use and the recent cases of vaping-related illnesses (including seven deaths). It’s part of growing concern over teen vaping. Vaping among teenagers jumped 78% from 2017 to 2018. 1 in 5 high school seniors reported vaping within a one-month span.

Locally, in San Francisco, the sale of e-cigarettes has already been banned. San Francisco is the home of the Juul Labs headquarters, a major e-cigarette company, and many blame Juul for the rise of vaping due to its deceptive marketing tactics and products that appeal to young adults.

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An ad that was a part of the launch campaign for Juul. PHOTO CREDIT: Stanford University School of Medicine

In a study conducted by a Stanford research team, it was concluded that Juul’s marketing tactics in its first 6 months of operations to be “patently youth-oriented.” Juul’s social media accounts (which have now been shut down) catered mainly to younger adults, and many of its models could have easily passed as high-school or college-age. The study reports that “about 10% of American cigarette smokers are among the age group of those most heavily frequenting JUUL’s social media advertising channels,” which highlights Juul’s promotional efforts were notably misalignedwith its professed purpose.

Juul is also known for its sale of pods that come in vibrant flavors, including some such as watermelon, creme, and mint. While these are meant to make Juuls more appealing to former smokers, it can also cater to youth. The researchers wrote that “youth perceived that flavored e-liquids advertisements are meant for them.” 

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A post on Juul’s (now deleted) Instagram page advertising Creme Brulee flavored Juul pods. PHOTO CREDIT: Juul Labs Instagram

According to Engadget, Juul has responded to the criticism, saying that “We have never marketed to youth […] We have no higher priority than to prevent youth usage of our products. Our product is intended for current adult smokers and our marketing specifically is designed to help achieve that goal.” Anybody under the age of 21 who visits their website will be directed to a smoke-free government site. They also list a lengthy amount of measures taken to prevent the spread of underage vaping, which can be read hereJuul is also known for its sale of pods that come in vibrant flavors, including some such awatermelon, creme, and mint. While these are meant to make Juuls more appealing to former smokers, it can also cater to youth. The researchers wrote that “youth perceived that flavored e-liquids advertisements are meant for them.”

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A 2015 Times Square billboard advertising the launch of Juul. PHOTO CREDIT: Stanford University School of Medicine

What do teachers think? 

So what do teachers at Shasta think about the rise in teenage vaping? One in particular – Vaughan Wilkins – a Summit Expeditions teacher for both Psychology and Wilderness, explores the certain psychological complications and consequences smoking and vaping has on teens.

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Mr. Wilkins teaches both Psychology and Wilderness. PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo

“The sneaky part of addiction is that you don’t know what’s happening until it’s actually done,” Mr. Wilkins said. Coming from being an addict from high school to college, he himself has experienced the side effects of smoking and addiction, also emphasizing how it reflects our behavior and our inner emotional well-being. “Anyone who gets addicted is not getting something else in their life,” he mentioned.

Even as Mr. Wilkins grew out of his addiction since college and started working as a teacher, he still finds himself in situations where vaping and smoking are still prominent. Last year, Mr. Wilkins said that he had to cancel all of his field trips for his class due to a few smoking incidents happening on one, single field trip alone. “It was a bummer for the kids who had nothing to do with it. But, that’s what happens when you are in a team,” he explained.

Effects on teens

There’s more to smoking than its negative psychological effects on people, especially for teens and adolescents who are just starting the bad habit. According to a 2016 research paper by Tobacco Control, an international journal site with peer-reviewed articles on tobacco’s effects, it was found that recent vape users were more than four likely to report past-year cigarette smoking as people who didn’t vape, as well as twice as likely than those who had smoked in the past but not as the baseline.

The health disadvantages don’t stop there. Another report, one by AAP News & Journals, shows that people that continue to vape and smoke have significantly higher concentrations of carcinogens in urine samples than people who either only smoke or do nothing at all. 

Britt Ehrhardt, the public spokesperson for the Santa Clara Public Health Department, was also able to add on more analysis about the effects of teen vaping in the Bay Area. Ehrhardt pointed out that this is an issue in her county, given the increasing number of teen vape users which is seen very “alarming” in her eyes. According to one of the surveys they have funded, she reports that almost one in every three teens have tried vaping, 

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Juuls contain nicotine, which is highly addicitve. PHOTO CREDIT: Juul.com

“Don’t be fooled: the tobacco industry is intentionally targeting kids and teens with flavors coupled with addictive nicotine,” Ehrhardt warned to teens. Juuls contain almost twenty times more nicotine in one cartridge then a single cigarette. She also debunked the lie that vapes are “just” water vapor.  “The vapor is actually aerosol that may contain metals, particulates, and toxic chemicals. The nicotine content of the aerosol inhaled during vaping can be very high, often much higher than a cigarette.”

What Ehrhardt does with the Santa Clara Public Health Department is that they work with different organizations in the community to prevent tobacco use by means of different presentations to youth who may or may not be struggling with smoking and vaping. As well as that, they have even invested over $1 million to provide for implementation strategies of tobacco prevention in cities since 2010, according to Ehrhardt.

So what does this mean for Shasta students?

For many Shasta students, vaping is a problem that is encountered every day. However, there is proof that it is indeed a path for many to quit, even though it is advisable by many individuals that smoking isn’t something that people should do at all.

As vaping at Shasta continues, Mr. Wilkins has advice for high schoolers who want to try out vaping: “You need food, water, shelter, love — nicotine hijacks all four of those and convinces you the only thing you need is nicotine… the cost is too high.” According to him, it’s very important to “weigh the costs and benefits,” and “think about what’s missing in your life and how to fix that.”

Featured Image: A man using an e-cigarette. PHOTO CREDIT: Wikipedia Commons

Trading card games teach valuable life skills

By Michael Mac Callum

Staff Editor

Imagine walking into your favorite card shop for a local trading card game tournament. You see some of the same people as usual, your typical play group. Wow, there’s a large turnout today; usually there are around eight people, but this time there are 14. 

This was the scene at Lefty’s Sport Cards in Millbrae, California on Sept. 22, starting at 10 a.m. and ranging until 1 p.m.

You play a few games against your first opponent. Narrowly, you lose the first one, and then you win by a large amount on the second game. The set is best of three; you have one game left. You again very narrowly lose, and you go on to your second opponent

You do this two more times; most games are very close, and, at the end, the shop owner asks who won and what the score was. You earn three packs, but the event isn’t over yet; people begin to pull out binders and show each other their cards for trade. You trade a few low value cards for a high value and fairly rare card, a solid trade. 

Players chat and trade cards after the tournament. PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Mac Callum

Now, imagine you are at a Magic the Gathering World Championship; thousands of dollars are at stake. The game is going slow, and the odds are tipping into the opponent’s favor until you draw just the right card to land the last fatal blow. 

This is what happens every year at Trading Card Game tournaments around the globe. Trading Card Games (also known as TCGs) are games where two players duel using decks of collectable cards which all have unique effects. Some popular trading card games you might have heard of would be Magic the Gathering Yu-Gi-Oh or Cardfight Vanguard.

Trading card games are based on luck, deckbuilding, memory and timing, but a lot of the fun is in the community surrounding it, which has been described positively by many. Magic the Gathering Grand Prix competitor Collin Mo said that he feels the TCG community is a “warm and welcoming environment” and that it is “easy to just join in.”

For many people, TCGs are just a hobby. For instance: Shasta senior Luke Kyi, a six-year Cardfight Vanguard player, said he only really plays for fun, not tournaments. But playing as just a hobby isn’t all that is offered; quite a few people play trading card games at a competitive level, or at least want to pursue a competitive level. One of those people include Shasta senior Pius Loo.

When asked whether Loo would consider playing trading card games on a competitive level, he responded, “I would, but I feel like my decks, in all games, are kind of inferior to the meta.” The meta is defined as what decks are currently “tournament viable” and, while you could technically play whatever deck you had at the moment, certain decks are significantly better than others due to either being good against a lot of the other strong decks or just good synergies between powerful cards. This is a problem that some TCG players face because most of the game isn’t just playing — it is the outside planning of deck construction, the consideration of other decks your opponents may bring and knowing how your decks fares against those.

However, those who invest the time have often found themselves a lot of success. One example would be Shasta senior Jason Agbunag, who has been playing Yu-Gi-Oh since second grade. Agbunag once made it to the Yu-Gi-Oh World Tournament, the largest tournament that Yu-Gi-Oh offers. 

But trading card games can often have even more of an impact than just competitive play. As described by Mo, who has participated in the Magic the Gathering Grand Prix event, one of the largest Magic the Gathering tournaments there is, explains that trading card games taught him quite a bit of math and language skills as well as how to take things slowly. He explained, “There’s not too much pressure to make a decision, so it teaches you how to consider your decision and consider the process in which you want to navigate — let’s say — a complicated board state or determine how you want to build your deck.”

In the end, according to Loo and Moyrong, all TCGs are about: collecting cards, dueling others and making “big brain plays.”

Featured Image (at the top of this post): Two players mid-match at a Magic the Gathering tournament. PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Mac Callum

The lack of women in administration at Rainier affects the community

By Deandra Han, Jennifer Rico, Charlie Stattion, Karla Tran and Jasmine Villegas 

Staff Editors 

Changes have occurred in Rainier’s culture and community compared to the previous school year. More specifically, due to the changes in staff, the school has now has a predominantly male administration; as a result, issues have arisen regarding the current amount of female representation. 

In the 2018-19 school year, Rainier’s administration hired Aileen George to work as the Dean of Instruction and Culture. Ms. George contributed to the amount of female representation in the Rainier community and administration. She worked closely with various students, many of which were female.

Having Ms. George along with Lupe Trujillo, Dean of Operations, as administrators gave many female students the opportunity to come to someone who they can relate to for support when needed. Ms. George announced her departure from Rainier’s administration that the end of the 2018-19 school year. Many students, especially female students, were saddened by the news. With Ms. George’s absence came an absence in the amount of representation women of Rainier’s community would receive. 

In a tribute video made at the end of the 2018-19 school year after Ms. George announced her departure, Rainier junior Lam To said, “One of my favorite memories was probably the time that we went to our first debate tournament, because even though I was really on the fence about that and I was really insecure about my own abilities, Ms. George really believed in me and she was always there to support me. That made me feel a lot more empowered and a lot more secure in a place I don’t normally feel safe.”

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Rainier Dean of Operations Lupe Trujillo PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Mrs. Trujillo, the only current female administrator at Rainier, feels the need for more female representation in administration and community here at Rainier. When asked about whether there should be more female representation she said, “Yes: there’s definitely a need, I think again there’s just sensitive situations that come up and administrators have to deal with. There are subjects that get brought up that I think would be very hard for a lady to share certain details with a male.” 

Mrs. Trujillo continued to share the impact of a female opinion in meetings and administration decisions by saying, “There are certain things that I bring up as topics of discussion that, had I not been present, they wouldn’t even been brought up. That is absolutely not to say anything negative about our male administrators, it’s just that they have never experienced some of these things. So it would be very difficult for them to bring up things that they don’t know.” 

See below for a video with more perspective on this issue:

Mrs. Trujillo also mentioned how hard she has worked to try to include more female administrators and representation overall. She said, “I will do everything that I can to continue to do whatever I can to ensure that those conversations number one are happening and also we are going to reach out and tapping all of our networks for female leadership. Because I just know being in this role, working at this school for the last five years, there is a great need, and I know that the conversations, like I said, are definitely different when there is a female in that conversation, so yes, I am confident that we will continue to do so.”

Additionally, Rainier Executive Director Edwin Avarca is also working toward an overall more equal and diverse administration. More specifically, he wants to have a variety of races and genders. He said, “So, definitely female leadership is something I have been thinking about and in thinking about that I am thinking about current members of our faculty, for example. I’m thinking to myself, like, this person could do very well in a leadership position, this person is female, for example, who could do good in the leadership position.”  

The lack of women in administration does not only affect the administrators, it affects the students here at Rainier as well. Female students, when needed, go to female administrators for support. Having a female administrator there for students is different from having support from a male administrator. This is because, for female students, it can be more comfortable for them to go to someone who has gone through similar situations.

Rainier junior Trinity Fa’afiti shared some reasons why increasing the number of female administrators would positively affect Rainier’s community. She said, “I think that they should because I feel like women bring just like a motherly feeling that all girls and guys, that need it at school, with all the pressure; you know, the studies, the exams and everything that we have, I feel like having more females around can bring that motherly [feeling] and like, ‘I can lend you a hand,’ type of feeling that I feel like every student should have.”

One option that is aimed to support and give more representation to girls at Rainier is an organization named “Girls Group.” Mrs. Trujillo reached out to the organization and female Rainier students in hopes of bringing it to Rainier’s community. She gave details regarding the organization by saying, “Some of our ladies are missing these strong female mentors in their life, and going through being a teenager and raising a teenager, I know that there is a time and space where you just don’t, like, get along with your mom, and that’s kind of the norm, and I think for those reasons, during that time, that it is so important for young women to have other strong females in their life who they can go to for advice.”

Administrators have heard the student voices and are working toward solutions to increase the amount of diversity in gender and race in Rainier’s administration. One solution, for example, that administrators have been discussing is assessing which faculty would be great in leadership positions, more specifically, female faculty members. They believe this could increase the diversity of administration, which could help all Rainier students feel supported. 

Another possible solution Rainier administrators have worked on is the organization “Girls Group,” mentioned earlier, that aims to provide support and representation for female students, whether that be emotionally or academically. 

Rainier community responds to termination of annual school camping trips

By Keith Dinh

Rainier Editor-in-Chief 

Prior to the 2019-20 school year, every Summit Public School brought as many students as possible to a camping trip early in the first semester. For Rainier, students were taken to the mountains into the woods to stay for two days and camp overnight, and, over the years, this has become a defining part of Rainier’s culture that many students would look forward to every year.

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The Rainier community gathers to hear the announcement of the winners of the annual 2018-19 Mentor Olympics. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Students would be able to spend the first day setting up their tents that they shared with their friends and participating in a variety of activities that their mentors would lead. Many of these activities included hiking, board games, poetry writing, origami, talent show practice, and even learning how to dance. 

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Members of the Rainier community seat themselves for an evening meal at the 2018-19 annual school camping trip. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

The students would be able to eat together and watch a talent show which spotlighted their peers, teachers, and even parents who had come to volunteer. The next morning, students would be able to take part in the annual Mentor Group Olympics, which was a series of games that each mentor group would take part in to be able to best the others in a competitive environment. After the winner of the Mentor Group Olympics was announced, everyone cleaned up their areas and headed back home.

On June 3, at the end of the 2018-19 school year, Rainier administrators sent an email to students announcing the termination of Summit’s annual school camping trips. This announcement brought mixed reactions from the students and faculty members of Rainier. 

Rainier sophomore Aidan Franco-Lee expressed that the termination of the camping trip is something that negatively impacted the community. Being able to participate in the event during the previous school year, Franco-Lee recalled his memories as being very positive, transformative experiences that allowed him to be a more integrated member of the Rainier community.

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Rainier students wait in line to get their meals at the 2018-19 annual school camping trip. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

In regards to the recent termination of the camping trip, Franco-Lee said, “I was really upset about it. Personally, coming to school here, where I didn’t really know anyone, the camping trip was really definitely something that got me to know my mentor group — It got me a lot more comfortable, and it really helps me and everyone, so it was fun, too.

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Rainier science teacher Edward Lin stands with his mentor group to give their mentor chant at the 2019-20 Community Day. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

In an effort to fill the absence of the camping trip with another event, Rainier’s faculty members planned a Community Day where students would walk to Lake Cunningham State Park and partake in the Mentor Olympics for the day. This year, students played games and had a barbecue in the afternoon after two of the games were completed. The final game was cancelled due to the extreme heat that day. Students were then directed to walk back to campus to be picked up after dismissal.

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Rainier sophomore Aidan Franco-Lee PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Franco-Lee expressed his opinion of the Community Day as an unfulfilling event in comparison to the camping trip, saying, “This year, I didn’t really enjoy Community Day because I felt that it was too short. Especially coming in and seeing all the incoming freshmen — knowing that they didn’t get that experience of the nice, long, overnight stay and really bonding with everyone — It was kind of like, ‘Oh, no, I’m sorry for you guys. You didn’t get the really fun experience,’ and obviously, I wanted it, too: I only came for one year, which was also like, ‘oof’.” 

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Rainier science teacher Shaila Ramachandran PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Rainier science teacher Shaila Ramachandran explained that she feels the pressure from the termination of the camping trip as a teacher. Ms. Ramachandran feels that her mentees, with the lack of the camping trip this year, have been looking for chances to find camaraderie and strengthen their bond as a mentor group, which puts pressure on her to find things to do with her mentees. In addition, Ms. Ramachandran believes that the camping trip is a major attraction for students thinking about coming to Summit Public Schools. 

Ms. Ramachandran said, “I don’t think it was the best decision for students. I think it was an activity that really sets our school — our schools —  apart from others, and it is a big selling point for students coming to us. And so I feel, for that reason, that they should have gotten more voices involved in the input stage at that.”

Believing that teachers and students should have been able to have a chance to give their insights and opinions toward the topic, Ms. Ramachandran explained that she believes the decision made in regards to the camping trip is a decision that should have had more input before the final decision was made. 

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The Rainier community cheers each other on during the announcements of the winners of the 2018-19 Annual Mentor Olympics. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

“I was just reflecting on how I have a couple of new mentees this school year, and we didn’t have the benefit of them having a camping trip where they could really bond and immerse themselves in the mentorship group, and, so, instead, we kind of just had to hit the ground running with them, getting them accustomed to the work, and not really feeling, as a result, supported by that … Now, I feel like more of the pressure is on me to form more of those activities during the school year, like through mentor outings and things which we would do before. I feel like my students are really craving that and requesting that more throughout the school year,” Ms. Ramachandran said.

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Rainier students converse during the 2019-20 Community Day. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

There are some students and faculty at Rainier who believe that the decision to remove the camping trip had more negative effects on the community than positive ones. Although, there are some in the community who have found neutrality in their position in regards to the camping trip decision. 

Rainier Dean of Operations Lupe Trujillo has found some positive outcomes from the decision to terminate the camping trips. Mrs. Trujillo expressed that there is a lot to do logistically to allow the camping trip to occur, ranging from student paperwork to volunteer driver forms.

Apart from the logistical difficulties that she has encountered in trying to execute camping trips in the past, Mrs. Trujillo did say she feels some sadness from the decision to terminate the trips. She explained that she will no longer be able to see the talents that the students were allowed to showcase to a school-wide audience and see the bonds that are built between students during this time. 

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Rainier Dean of Operations Lupe Trujillo PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

In response to these new changes in culture, Mrs. Trujillo hopes to be able to keep the tradition of the Mentor Olympics every year in the form of Community Day. She hopes to be able to improve the planning and agenda every year to be able to fill the void that students feel from the termination of the camping trip. 

Mrs. Trujillo said, “We are going to try to do what we can to ensure that we keep these things intact. I think it has more to do with whatever we put in place. I think what I am more interested in is continuing the memories and the feelings that the camping trip provided, the teamwork aspect, all of that; but, I think if we can do that well in our Community Day, I think it can take the place of, and I think we can continue to build that community. This was the first year — we kind of went at it blindly — so I feel like it was not thoughtfully well-done. I think we could do a much better job, and I do think that there is a possibility for us to do just that to create those memories and all of that the camping trip inspired.”

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Rainier students converse during the 2019-20 Community Day. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Students and faculty at Rainier have varying opinions on the termination of the school camping trips, ranging from sadness to happiness and from frustration to neutrality. 

A survey was conducted, asking Rainier’s community members what their opinions and feelings are about the termination of the annual school camping trips, and 86.4% of community members who submitted responses believe that the termination of the event was an unfavorable decision: 94% of the total responses attributed the termination to having a negative impact on the community, while 5% found the decision beneficial.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Here is a selection of the responses received:

Rainier sophomore Amanda Brand: It really isn’t good that the camping trips were terminated, and as a sophomore who only experienced the camping trips as a freshman, I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as other people, and that’s why I feel so bad for the new freshman class of 2023, because instead of an unforgettable bonding experience, they got a poor substitute. The camping trips get better with age, and it’s really unfortunate a lot of people don’t get to experience the prime experience of the camping trips, or at all.

Rainier junior Joana Padilla: The camping trip was a time for my mentor group and I to regroup after the summer. It was a time to get to know others and just have fun. I was disappointed and mad because the students had no say in the decision of the termination of the annual school camping trips. We could have been warned. Summit is known for its camping trip, and the fact that they terminated kind of made others really disappointed.

Rainier senior Rigoberto Estrada: Well, to begin with, I’m a senior now, and this was my last year at Summit Rainier and at first when I found out about the camping trip being terminated on my last year, it kind of got me by surprise, this camp trip meant a lot to Summit. It was a time where us peers all came together and kicked off the beginning of the school year with great energy/memories and a chance for all of us to get along and actually come together as one school. What I´m really going to miss about the camping trips were the talent shows. The talent shows were a way for us students to show and express our talents to one another and believe me the past camping trips were amazing. It made me realize how many super talented kids we have at our school. But even though I’m not gonna experience the camping trip with Summit anymore, since I’m a senior and I’m leaving next year, I hope you all reconsider bringing it back for future students and for my brother, also, who will be a junior next year.

A Rainier teacher (who asked to remain anonymous): I believe it was done as a response to teachers unionizing and have heard it was actually not the wish of Summit Leaders but rather legal advice from their lawyer, with teacher sustainability/work hour expectations in mind. What would have been better about the process in my opinion is actually polling teachers, students, and parents about the effectiveness of the camping trip and whether they believe it’s something that should be kept and/or made “optional”/allow each school site to decide whether to keep camping trip themselves. There are some Summit teachers (at other sites) who strongly believe camping trip was unsustainable/too much to ask of teachers and was not a positive start to their school year due to student discipline issues that always came up. I feel that teachers staying overnight at a camping trip could be made optional/up to sites to decide how to handle if they want.

To see more pictures from both Community Day and the Camping Trip of the 2018-19 school year, see the slideshow below:

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