Author Archives: Melissa Domingo

Summit Shasta clubs enrich the student experience

By Melissa Domingo

Arts Editor

Chaos. Standing in front of tables by the blacktop, club leaders are yelling, trying to promote their clubs and looking for eager students who want to join. Snacks and trinkets are handed out for students, on one condition: sign up for a club. Students haphazardly circulate during the lunch period, looking for clubs that pique their interest.

On Aug. 30, Summit Shasta held its annual club fair and students were able to pick from the multitude of clubs offered. This year, over 30 clubs were in the roster. The clubs are separated into five different categories: volunteering and community support, media and arts, learning and practicing new skills, gaming, and affinity organizations.

Serena Spada and Lizzy Hyunh promote Ambassadors Club. PHOTO CREDIT: Adelaide Giornelli

Serena Spada, senior and club leader of Shasta’s Ambassadors Club, said that she organizes their booth for the Club Fair, and she also works with the administration for Shadow Days and Recruitment Nights.

Club members host Shadow Days: “When there’s incoming eighth graders, who want to experience what half a day of what being in Shasta is like, we do that,” Spada explained. Ambassador Club also takes responsibility for Recruitment Nights and Open House. Spada said, “Usually a hundred plus parents and a hundred students come and they just listen to what information Ms. Maletsky and Ms. Petrash have to say about our school … at the end we spread out and ask the parents if they have any follow-up questions.”

After joining Ambassadors Club, Spada said that students should be able to “become a more engaging part in our community, or have a more involved role, so that they know what’s going on and know what it takes to have an active effort to get people to join our school. I want them to become welcoming people.”

She also said, “A lot of people who join the club don’t have good social skills, and so, through Shadow Days and through talking with parents, and like asking questions, they’re able to develop them, so I hope it’ll help them; it’s a skill that’ll help them in the future.”

Spada said she loves being a leader and getting to meet new people. “I think it’s a cool club; and there’s a lot of members; and if you wanna get to meet new people and build connections, and, like, become a more involved part of our community, everyone should join it!”

Spada is also the club leader for Film Club. In this club, members pick a genre they’re interested in and “watch a movie or a short film with that genre and analyze what parts we liked about it.”

Film Club is a straightforward club: “We create a plot, then a script, and then film, act in it and then edit it.” All of their work is uploaded onto the Shasta Film Club channel!

Spada said she hopes that students who join Film Club are able to experience possible future careers they could be interested in or are able to relax and enjoy a hobby that school normally doesn’t offer.

Spada said, “Filming is fun! It’s something they can do to relax, rather than having constant work.” Students “come and make films and have fun!”

Michael Mac Callum, senior and co-leader of D&D Club, describes the club as a place where they play the tabletop roleplaying game, Dungeons and Dragons: “Essentially, D&D is a game, where you make a character; everybody makes a character … Then the players then describe how they interact with the environment, like a game of sorts where you can do, really, anything you want; it’s all the making of the character, the rolling of the dice and your imagination, really.”

He said that D&D “made sense in the club formula, you know, it helps build community.”

Mac Callum really enjoys having the time to play, at least once a week, especially when there’s a specific time and location everyone can meet up in. Sometimes, it’s difficult trying to play with everyone due to the times and locations not working.

People who partake in this club enjoy the time that they’re able to wind down from a day of work, especially during Wednesdays when Shasta students attend all of their classes.

The LGBTQ+ flag flies in one of the classrooms in Shasta. PHOTO CREDIT: Melissa Domingo

Chelsea Watts, senior mentor and AP Literature teacher, is also the adviser for GSA Club (Gender and Sexuality Club). Shasta’s GSA “is in line with GSA groups around the country in making sure we are promoting a safe space for all students, regardless of gender, sexuality presentation of identity. We also want to make sure that we are bringing awareness to issues in the LGBTQ community and just making sure Shasta is a place where students can be themselves.”

The students who have joined GSA have either seen or dealt with challenges that surround LGBTQ issues; they also find support in the club: “I think that the students we have in the club right now have all expressed that their values are in line with making a safe space for everyone,” Ms. Watts explained.

Ms. Watts’ big goals are to eliminate discriminatory language on campus and to bring awareness to LGBTQ issues to both students and faculty. 

As a club adviser, Ms. Watts said she enjoys “giving students a space to discuss sensitive topics in a format where they feel safe.”

“I really enjoy seeing students take ownership of pieces of the club and, like I said, we’re in the beginning parts of that process, and seeing students take those leadership roles, I think is really important, as something that they can use beyond just this one club, right? Because those are skills you can apply anywhere.”

She also said that “a lot of students hear GSA and they think like, ‘Oh, that’s the gay club.’ Right? Only gay kids go to that, and I want kids to understand that that’s not at all the case; it’s very much a space for students who are within the LGBTQ community, but also allies, who, you know, are aiming to make Shasta a more welcoming place. So, that’s what I’m hoping, Shasta at large, would understand.” 

Ms. Watts closed by saying, “It’s open to everyone.”

Featured image above: Club leaders take a group photo after the Club Fair. PHOTO CREDIT: Adelaide Giornelli

Human Sexuality teaches students to be comfortable with themselves

By Melissa Domingo and Mytrisha Sarmiento

Staff Writers

Human Sexuality is an Expeditions course that focuses on teaching students how to be comfortable with their own sexuality and that of others. Students learn a variety of concepts related to being a person in a society filled with labels and injustice.

The Human Sexuality teacher, Bea Daily, said, “It’s about sexuality and gender and what it means to be a sexual human in the world … It’s kind of pretty broad and very inclusive, I would say.”

Shasta freshman Rocky Conway said Ms. Daily is very open and comfortable with the topics they learn in class. She said, “Ms. Daily is very adamant about making kids feel comfortable [when it comes to] to talking about real-life things that we don’t always get to talk about at home or within our friend groups.”

See below for a video on the Human Sexuality course:

Featured image (at the top of this post): Shasta freshman Tiffany Alfaro showcases her Human Sexuality project.

Entrepreneurship teaches students to freely create

By Melissa Domingo and Mytrisha Sarmiento

Staff Writers

Entrepreneurship is an Expeditions course that teaches students how to start a business, negotiate and overall become successful with their own startups. The class consists of creating products and advertising these products to people who would be interested in buying them.

Danica Lyming, the Entrepreneurship Expeditions teacher, said, “[Students] basically learn how to make your own product or service. You make it; you advertise it; you pitch it at a competition and potentially win money.”

Shasta freshman Javier Gomez talked about the creative freedom Ms. Lyming gives them as they create their products. He said, “You can make anything; she lets you run wild with that idea.”

See below for a video about the Entrepreneurship course:

Community debates the role of physical fitness at Summit Shasta

By Melissa Domingo and Mytrisha Sarmiento

Staff Writers

Summit Shasta is known for its self-directed curriculum and its lack of a physical education system. A few students and faculty feel as if this should be fixed.

The only physical fitness requirement for Shasta students is to pass a physical fitness test in freshman year. Students are required to perform push-ups, situps and a shuttle run.

In other traditional high schools, it is a requirement to complete at least two years of a P.E. class. In these two years, students must grasp “knowledge and competency in motor skills,” “achieve a level of physical fitness,” and “demonstrate knowledge of psychological and sociological concepts,” according to the California Department of Education.

For example, Westmoor High School requires students to take two years of a P.E. course and take a swimming course.

Students and faculty alike agree that although Summit Shasta has a multitude of sports teams, only around half of the student body participate.

The Athletic Director, Mike Lofberg, did mention that, in the past three years, student participation has “tremendously grown.”

“We are now seeing record numbers every year,” Mr. Lofberg said. He said that we can attribute these record numbers to the students’ high demand for sports.

Many perspectives were heard, and most people agreed that adding P.E. as a flex time course would be the best strategy, although there were a few who suggested adding a morning class for P.E.

Rachel Baumgold, the ninth grade math teacher, said she believes that if students had a P.E. class it would be easier for them to “let out energy.”

Emily Ryan, an Education Specialist, asked if it was feasible to “take a class on physical fitness outside of just the Expeditions period.”

This year, Health and Fitness was added to the list of available Expeditions classes at Shasta. The course is held by instructor Rebecca Breuer, and it focuses on workouts, although the class is only held every six to eight weeks, in two-week sessions (Ms. Breuer and her students are featured in the photo at the top of this post.)

See below for a video discussing this topic in-depth:

San Francisco struggles to serve the homeless in the Bay Area

By Melissa Domingo and Mytrisha Sarmiento

Staff Writers

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the Homeless Youth Alliance doing for the homeless?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is LifeMoves doing for the homeless?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How aware are people about the homelessness problem?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are the factors that have contributed to this problem?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related:

Booming Silicon Valley confronts cold reality of homelessness

Youth writes about the ignored side of the homeless population

Teen uses voice to amend legislation