Author Archives: Albert Chang-Yoo

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.

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

Creative Writing course opens the imagination

By Albert Chang-Yoo

Staff Writer

The Creative Writing as Performance Expeditions course at Summit Shasta has explored poetry writing, perspective shifting and storytelling in the course of a single year. Students have the opportunity to freely express themselves through short stories and poems.

The course was taught by Elizabeth DeOrnellas for the 2018-19 school year. During the 2019-20 school year, Eric Gross will become the new Creative Writing as Performance Expeditions teacher at Summit Shasta. “It’s a great way to share my passion with those who also have a similar passion for Creative Writing,” he said. 

Shasta freshman Bowie He said: “You can do whatever you want … you can be serious, you can be funny.” Shasta freshman Devin Elizarde said he likes how the class gives him the freedom to tell his own story: “All the work comes from the heart.”

See below for a course video about the Creative Writing as Performance course: 

Life After Shasta explores the future

By Albert Chang-Yoo

Staff Writer

Life After Shasta is an Expeditions course at Summit Shasta in which students deepen their understanding of themselves by examining their own strengths and weaknesses and how those qualities can be applied to what they want to do after high school. There are two classes, one for sophomores and one for seniors.

A lot of the work revolves around honing in on potential careers. Pupils have a chance to meet and even shadow professionals working in fields that they find interesting. Students get to focus on more individual needs and opportunities, as opposed to a class like Adulting where topics are more broad.

“Ideally, every student leaves with a better understanding of who they are right now, where they want to go, and … the steps they need to take in order to get to where they’re going,” Life After Shasta instructor Jackie O’Connor said.

Shasta sophomore Ethan Pang said this course allows students to find interests that they maybe didn’t even know they had: “If you don’t know what you want to do after high school, or if you would like more guidance figuring out how to get to where you want to be, then this is a really good course for you.”

See below for a video about the Life After Shasta course: 

Shasta Dungeons and Dragons Club provides a unique experience

By Albert Chang-Yoo and Zachary Navarra

Staff Writers

Imagine fighting off a monstrous dragon with your flaming battle axe. Your best friend and a total stranger stand by you, weapons in hand ready for their last stand. With the role of the dice, the battle begins.

Dungeons and Dragons, commonly referred to as D&D, is a relatively new club to Summit Shasta. The D&D club was founded last school year by current sophomores Joe Hernandez, Archer Prochazka and Aaron Susantin.

The club itself meets every Friday from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in Shasta’s E building. In its second year, the club boasts a relatively large 41 student members. New members are welcome any time. You can contact Hernandez when the club meets or at the following email address: jhernandez.sh@mysummitps.org.

D&D is a tabletop game that consists of the player characters and the Dungeon Master. The player character is the human-controlled in-game character. Player characters are created using specialized books, the roll of dice and one’s imagination.

Shasta junior Michael Maccallum acts as a Dungeon Master. According to Maccallum, the role of the dungeon master is to “manage all interactions that are not between characters, the setting of the campaign and the story. The DM acts for the world and the player character’s surroundings.”

If a Dungeon Master does his job right, he should create an environment of organized chaos. The nature of the game itself is to be fun and not constricting. This environment allows the players to decide their own fate.

As the leader of his group, Maccallum has been able to see the unique connections that the game provides. He said, “In a sense it has definitely helped build bonds that wouldn’t have been created otherwise. The game pushes people into an environment where they have to go out of their comfort zone to communicate with people they normally would not talk to.”

However, not all students feel this way. While the club boasts a relatively large 41 members, only five of these members are female students. Shasta freshman Evelyn Archibald is one of these five students. “In my time there I was in a small group; it was a little awkward. In general, I feel like D&D is male-dominated. I have felt lonely; being the only girl in my group can feel isolating in a way,” Archibald said. “I don’t think it is the club itself; I just think it is how society has put stereotypes on D&D.”

A commonly held belief is that D&D is a game played by a bunch of nerdy boys in someone’s basement. Another common stereotype is that girls can’t play D&D, and it is only for guys.

Hernandez believes that “stereotypes do have a large role to play in why female students might feel more uncomfortable. I think these stereotypes help decide who actually joins the club. The reason for the large gap is because very few of their friends join.” Hernandez added that “anyone is welcome” and that he hopes to create an environment that is inclusive to all students.

The D&D Club at Summit Shasta provides a unique experience for students to come together in a creative unconstricted setting. It encourages teamwork and imaginative thinking that leads to a fun time. In the words of Hernandez: “D&D is a place where friends and strangers alike can come together to die trying to feed a dragon a hot pocket.”

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.