Author Archives: summitpsnews

Technology controls us, or we control it

By Hannah Kim

Staff Writer

Hello Summit News Readers!

My name is Hannah Kim, and, as a journalist for Summit News, I will focus on writing about an ever-changing field: technology.

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K2 junior Hannah Kim

Technology impacts us on a day-to-day basis. To learn, we utilize Summit’s PLP model (an online learning platform catered to help students learn independently and at their own pace); to keep in touch with friends, we can tap a few things on our phones to send a quick text message; to stay informed, we might turn to Google or a news app for instant notifications; to relax, we might browse on Netflix to binge watch TV shows for hours on end. The list goes on. 

As students who are living in a society where technology is ever-present, my goal is to write articles that will increase our awareness of it: the good, the bad, the known and unknown. Whether this means addressing the ways algorithms can increase our bias in politics, publishing articles about new innovation, or writing articles about the tips and tricks of technology that can be used to help a Summit student, it is vital for us to become technologically informed in order to better navigate the future of society. 

But why exactly is it vital? It seems like Gen Z folk understand how to use Google. It seems as if adjusting to the latest video game console or iOS update is not an arduous task. It would be safe to say that we are the most tech savvy generation of any other. So why is it crucial to be cognizant of technology when it seems as if we already know how to use it? Who can know the benefits and implications of technology better other than the ones who use it the most? 

The answer is simple: because technology is powerful. Technology either controls us, or we control it. I cannot stress the number of times I have seen students at Summit being captivated by the recommended videos suggested by their YouTube account. We become like robots, capable only of keeping our eyes open and clicking the mouse to watch the next video. Occasionally, we might exercise some brainpower to switch a tab when the teacher approaches too close. Is this the state-of-the-art education technology is providing us? Is this the way we learn to become independent, well-informed citizens? 

Technology is merely a tool. How we wield it depends on us. I hope that this column will provide insightful, thought-provoking content that can not only help readers become technologically informed, but also help them truly consider the effects it might have on their lives; the best way to respond; and the best way to stay in control. 

Residents of San Jose affected by Google’s plans to expand

By Polina Runova

Staff Editor

The company Plotter Pros resides in a building that doesn’t look like much from the outside. Its walls are a simple white, periodically coated in murals by graffiti artists. The whole building is located in a small alley off of the main street, Alameda, in downtown San Jose.

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The building home to Plotter Pros looks plain and ordinary from the outside. PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

Despite its plain appearance, it turns out the building has more to it than meets the eye. Peter Inshaw, president of Plotter Pros explained that the building “was actually a community center. It was built in the 30s as a roller rink. It’s been a bunch of things that involve the city.”

Plotter Pros, a commercial printing company, is only one of the downtown businesses that might be affected by Google’s expansion in the area. Concerns include rent increases, displacement, and possible loss of valuable buildings.

Today, the building in question is not only home to the company Plotter Pros but also a studio that Mr. Inshaw rents out to artists. He believes the building has done enough for the community to be considered of historical value.

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Peter Inshaw, president of Plotter Pros PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

At first Mr. Inshaw had thought that it would be preserved, as “it’s a historical building.” Now he believes this is not the case. “Other historical buildings are being levelled,” he said, mentioning another building that has been around since the 1800s. Today it is a “big hole in the ground.”

Despite his concerns, Mr. Inshaw believes that Google’s expansion might bring benefits as well. “The good part is that it’s revitalizing downtown, which has been stagnant with no plan,” he said. “Actually connecting all the transit has been something a long time coming.”

Referring to both unprotected historical buildings and rent increases, Mr Inshaw said he remains unsure about whether the benefits of the downtown remodel will outweigh the negatives.“I just don’t know the long-term cost of it.”

Although not many people besides Mr. Inshaw expressed a concern for historical buildings, many share a worry about rent. “Those are probably the two biggest concerns,” Mr. Inshaw said. “We lose the building, or can’t afford to be here.”

Google plans to move into downtown San Jose

Nanci Klein is San Jose’s Director of Real Estate and Assistant Director of Economic Development. She explained that Google’s plans for San Jose include “up to 6.5 million square feet of office development,” as well as “a range of housing units.” She added that Google intends to provide amenities, not just office space, in order to make downtown San Jose an area where people can work, live and engage in recreational activities.

Ms. Klein said that “San Jose wants both jobs and housing” and that Google is willing to help provide both. “Many cities have 2.5 to 3 jobs to employed residents. San Jose is approximately 0.76 jobs to employed ratio,” Ms. Klein said. That is an issue that the city hopes to fix through their collaboration with Google.

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The need to commute in order to go to work puts more cars on the road. PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

Ms. Klein explained that there are several negatives that come with San Jose’s lack of jobs. People need to commute in order to go to work, which “puts a lot of people on the roads, and creates more greenhouse gasses.” Giving people work near the place they live would benefit the environment.

Additionally, Ms. Klein said, “There’s a lot of benefit and quality of life for people working closer to where they live.” She explained, “If you just have office [space] and everyone leaves at 6 or 7 in the evening, it’s pretty quiet. But if you have a mix of uses, which incorporate jobs and residential, it can be very, very lively.”

There are still several things that need to happen before Google can start breaking ground. “There is an entitlement process, which we hope will be completed by the end of 2020. Then there will be the process of design and building permits,” Ms. Klein said. She added that this estimate could change, depending on the economic state of the country. “Things can be approved, but if the community, the United States, or the world is in a down trend, that will potentially limit what time frame is needed for beginning construction.”

Ms. Klein said that, for the past years, it has been difficult for the city to “provide fundamental services to our residents and our businesses.” The city of San Jose is hoping that working with Google will help to “provide as much equitable development and quality mobility, to have the array of jobs, to make them available to San Jose residents,” Ms. Klein explained, adding that, “It’s a really important part of our economy and community.”

People of downtown react to Google’s plans to expand

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Denise Luna, manager of Babe’s Mufflers and Brakes PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

Denise Luna is a manager of an auto repair business called Babe’s Muffler and Brakes. Ms. Luna is new to the area, and has heard “little” about Google’s plans to expand. “I just heard the rents might go up,” Ms. Luna said. “Around here, they are already expensive as it is.” Although not terribly worried about her business’ displacement, Ms. Luna has noticed that some people were “already moving out.” She added “that right there, could affect our business, because we get a lot of people who live around here to do business with us. They move out – there goes our business.”

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Eric Johnson, owner of Recycle Bookstore PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

Others are hoping that, on the contrary, Google’s expansion will bring about more jobs and opportunities for business. Eric Johnson is the owner of a bookshop called Recycle Bookstore. Mr. Johnson is expecting that the expansion will bring more activity to downtown San Jose. “The more density you have, the more activity you have,” Mr. Johnson said. “And that tends to be, on the whole, a good thing.”

Mr. Johnson has also noticed the increase in rents, but he hopes Google will also bring an increase in business, which will allow him and others to cover the increasing rents. “Sometimes a small business can pay a little more rent, it depends on whether or not the area increases the business at all.”

Google’s expansion has already affected other cities

Google first came to Mountain View when it leased office space from SGI’s campus, back in 2003. The campus was purchased a couple years later, and then transformed into Google’s corporate headquarters, Googleplex. When the plans for Google’s expansion in Mountain View were first suggested, people had mixed feelings about this development. Some were hoping for more business, while other feared rising housing prices and displacement. Now, roughly fifteen years later, local businesses confirm that Googleplex came as a mixed package.

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Mountain View is home to Google’s corporate headquarters. PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

The Google campus is pristine. The trees are aligned; the hedges are trimmed; and the sidewalks are clean. Everything appears to be taken care of. Nearby, a construction site is fenced off where Google is working on another building. However, just a few streets down, everything looks different.

Smaller businesses, while agreeing that Google has brought some benefits, admit that many people are now struggling to keep up with rising rent prices. Some businesses have trouble finding new employees, as many people have been forced to move because of the rising rent prices.

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Joy McCarthy, manager of The Maids PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

“Finding employees is very difficult,” Joy McCarthy said. “They can’t find housing in the area.” Joy McCarthy runs a cleaning service called The Maids. It is a family business, currently owned by her mother. Ms. McCarthy, in addition to running The Maids, is also a renter. As a result of Google’s expansion, Ms. McCarthy notices that “rents have definitely climbed significantly.”

Concerns with housing seems to exist all around town. A local business owner, who asked to remain anonymous, said that small companies like his family business are less and less likely to be able to “afford to work our family business in the area”. These are people who have been in Mountain View for ages. “I’m born and raised here, so I’ve been here almost 40 years, and I’ve absolutely seen a major change. My father’s been here 65 years, and he can obviously tell you times have changed.”

Although the family business has been in the area for what can seem like forever, it is possible they might have to leave the area because of the rise in rent pricing. “Major developers see more value in retail office space, or commercial office space, vs warehouse space,” the family business owner said. “Small companies like myself, we rely on being able to operate in a warehouse capacity.” This is why the owner foresees that they “will likely be forced to move within the next three or four years.”

Not everything people say about Google is negative, however. “As a matter of fact, we do work for Google. When Google buys some of these buildings here and in the peninsula area, we are hoping that we get contracted to go do some of that flooring work,” the family business owner said. “So there is benefit in providing when they’re building new homes, when they’re building new office space. It is bringing more job opportunities to those local businesses.”

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Omega Printing is a commercial printing company in Mountain View. PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

Another local business says they got more good out of Google’s expansion than bad. Omega Printing is a commercial printing company, located nearby Googleplex. Jesselyn Hernandez, a graphic designer at Omega Printing said “for us, we’re printers, so it’s actually a positive, because the new starter companies, we start printing for them.” She added that once these startup companies, “start growing bigger and bigger, they go somewhere else because we’re this small little business”.

Google’s expansion in Mountain View has indeed been attracting many beginning companies to the area, and in this way provides business for the local companies. Ms. McCarthy agreed that every now and then there’d be “a little more business from people moving in and out.”

“It depends on who you ask,” Ms. Hernandez said. She explained that, overall, there are both benefits and negatives to Google’s expansion. “For us, like I said, the pros are overcoming the cons. For new people, that are coming into the city, I would gauge more negatives.” 

Google’s plans to expand in San Jose affecting Willow Glen

Although Google’s expansion is going to take place in downtown San Jose, the indirect impact could be felt all the way in Willow Glen.

Mark Larson, a film history teacher at Santa Clara University, lives a 15-minute walk from downtown Willow Glen. He brought up the idea that Google’s expansion will bring about a change in the community’s mindset.

Willow Glen hasn’t been affected by “anything that they’ve done concretely, of course, because no one’s broken any ground or anything,” Mr. Larson said. However, Mr. Larson added, “I think it’s the psychological effect, where this giant company comes into your town and sort of starts taking it over. I think that affects how you think, and the space that you live in, and the idea of community.”

Mr. Larson suggests that whenever a big company such as Google comes to a community, many things change. “You lose the character; you lose the history; you lose the small businesses that can’t keep up; or you lose the employees for your restaurant or for your little shop that you’re trying to run because they can’t afford to live in the community.”

Mr. Larson explained that, once Google moves in, whenever he goes to the Diridon train station in downtown San Jose, he’ll “have to walk through their whole campus, their whole corporate headquarters, just to go to the train.” Mr. Larson feels downtown San Jose will become a completely different place. “I won’t be in San Jose; I’ll be in Google Land.”

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A sign with the words ‘Google Glen’ was put up in Willow Glen. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Larson

It appears downtown San Jose isn’t the only place where Google is making its presence known. “Here in Willow Glen, where we live, we’re famous for our nice little downtown, Lincoln Avenue, where all the shops are,” Mr. Larson said. Recently, however, there’s been a change.“We saw this sign that went up, put up by Google, saying ‘Google Glen’,” Mr. Larson said. He feels that Google is “putting their imprint on our little community here, our little neighborhood. And that’s upsetting because you want to have your own identity, whatever we decided we wanted to be.”

Mr. Larson added that although the mental effect is the most prominent one, there are other concerns in the Willow Glen area as well. “We do rent our home, and we’re absolutely scared out of our wits that our landlords will sell the house because of the Google effect,” Mr. Larson said. If that were to happen, he fears he and his family would “ have to move somewhere.” Mr. Larson explained, “That’s happened to so many people that we know; you hear about it on the news. We’re very scared of that, and we’ve never had to worry about that before.”

Local news stories support Mr. Larson’s story. For example, the Mercury News reported that about a year ago, Decron Properties, a real estate investment firm, bought an apartment complex in Willow Glen. Mercury News wrote, that because of increasing prices in the housing market, “apartments are becoming increasingly attractive alternatives.”

The apartment complex is only “a short rail ride from Google’s proposed transit village in the downtown area.” Mercury News reported that David Nagel, president of Decron Properties, said “The proposed Google campus was a compelling reason for us and our investors to acquire this well-located property.” It appears Google’s expansion is affecting the decisions of other large companies, even those located away from downtown San Jose.

“I really don’t have a solution to it,” Mr. Larson admitted. However, he did say, “I think one thing that would help, though, is if people had more of an awareness for their community, about the impact it might have, for their own sense of identity.” Mr. Larson believes it’s important to keep the people informed. Sometimes communities “get very excited about stuff like this,” Mr. Larson said. “I think they rush too quickly into accepting it.”

Changes await Downtown San Jose

“There are going to be so many changes that come,” Ms. Klein said. She anticipates new amenities and resources to come into the area “in terms of retail, in terms of BART, in terms of additional streetscape, additional places for people to gather,” as well as “jobs, housing, and affordable housing.”

“It might pretty much upscale the area,” Mr. Johnson, owner of the Recycle Bookstore said. “The fear would be that smaller businesses that survive on slightly lower rents might be priced out of the area.”

Mr. Johnson also said, ”You have development and it tends to uplift America sometimes as well.” He can imagine both positive and negative outcomes from Google’s expansions. “It’s kind of up to the city to kind of balance and see what the effect on the community is going to be,” he said.

Ms. Klein agrees, that the city has “the opportunity and the responsibility to do it in a way that is positive for the community.” She added that the city hopes “to mitigate and minimize any potential negative impacts from the project.”

For example, Ms. Klein brought up that “there is very much a concern that bringing 20 to 25 thousand additional people down to San Jose can cause pressure.” Many people are expected to come into the area Google plans to move into. “It’s an interesting statistic that was shared with me recently, “Ms. Klein said. “The number of people that are projected to go through Diridon [in one day] by, say, 2040 will be the same number that go to the San Francisco Airport in a day.”

The general increase of activity in San Jose means there are going to be “more people who want to be in the area, who are willing to pay more for houses and/or rental apartments in the area,” Klein said. “City of San Jose is paying a lot of attention to issues relating to any potential displacement.”

Ms. Klein adds that there is a big difference between Google’s Mountain View expansion and Google’s San Jose expansion. “In Mountain View they are very much a campus,” Klein said. “In San Jose we are working with them to be integrated into the city and that will make a tremendous amount of difference into what is created.”

Ms. Klein explains that the city is trying to protect both the people, and the culture of the city. This includes buildings in the area. “In San Jose, like many other places, there are buildings which are landmarks which will absolutely be retained,” she said.

She also added that some buildings, might be “adapted” into the developing area. For example, “there are buildings where only what is retained are the facades, so that the building can be redone to make it much more efficient,” while “in some instances there is development over those buildings, so you have what’s referred to as air rights,” Ms. Klein said.

Ms. Klein explained that this is “not because of the Google project, but just part of regular development considerations,” and that similar remodeling is happening “in many, many cities throughout the country”.

There might be many changes coming to San Jose, but Ms. Klein believes the city will keep it’s own cultural personality throughout the development. “San Jose is blessed with a wide ranging diversity, and that’s the kind of city that we want to continue to be,” she said.

“I am personally not terribly worried about this.” Mr. Johnson said. “Cautiously optimistic, let’s put it that way.”

“People will adjust and figure it out,” Mr. Inshaw, president of Plotter Pros, added. The community of downtown San Jose is “just kind of waiting to see,” he said. “It’s years away, but it’s already having an effect.”

Feature Image (at the top of this post): A street going through the Google Campus in Mountain View is labeled Google. PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

State senator visits Tahoma for press conference

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Oct. 8, State Senator Jim Beall visited Summit Public Schools: Tahoma for a press conference with the journalism class.

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State Senator Jim Beall emphasizes diversity in government

By Uma Datta, Maddie Knight and Jae-Lyn Miranda

Staff Writers

To California State Senator Jim Beall, diversity in government is incredibly important. It allows connections with the American people. Whether it be a different gender, race, or sexuality than the majority, Sen. Beall believes diversity will play a huge role in the upcoming elections. 

“One of the things a lot of people talk about is maybe there should be more diversity in the senate, and I agree with that,” Sen. Beall said. 

On Oct. 8, Sen. Beall visited Summit Tahoma for a press conference with the journalism Expeditions class. Many issues were brought up, including the benefits of diversity in government. Sen. Beall is a supporter of government diversity and believes it will strengthen, not hurt the government.

Sen. Beall is an especially strong supporter of women in government. He believes that a woman in charge would change the future of the United States. 

“I personally think that women would change the way of how to do things if they have leadership,” Sen. Beall said. He thinks it’s time for a change. The senator started his career working in a group where both men and women were politically active. This showed him the value of diversity in his workspace. 

Sen. Beall said, “The men are a little bit more ego.” He added, “I like to work in a more collaborative way with people. I guess it’s easier to work with women on a team.” He is looking forward to having more women in places of power: “I think by next election, or the one after that, we might have a majority of senators being female.” 

Both of Sen. Beall’s top candidates for the upcoming presidential election are women: Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. “It’s neat to have a female president, don’t you think?” 

Sen. Beall resonates with Kamala Harris because they have a connection, both being California politicians; and he admires Elizabeth Warren for having a clear stance on issues, something he said the other candidates lack.

The senator is term-limited and will leave his seat next year. He is not the only one; two of his fellow senators are leaving as well: “Three white men, if you want to put it that way, are leaving; in each case, there are females running, LGBTQ+, and others running for those seats.” 

Sen. Beall is eagerly awaiting the upcoming presidential election. With five women still in the running for president, it remains anybody’s game. 

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State senator speaks on legislative accomplishments

By Kylie Gallegos, Destiny Holliman and Emily Nguyen

Staff Writers

A San Jose State alumni, State Senator Jim Beall has dedicated his life to public service and focused his legislative career on providing health care; he also received an award for his work in public transit. 

“When you have the stresses of trying to achieve; or something might have happened to you in a personal relationship; or maybe there was something that happened to you in your family that caused you to get upset; you need someone to talk to, so we are trying to establish the counseling programs in all the schools,” Sen. Beall said, explaining why he passed legislation for mental health services for youth.

On Oct. 8, Sen. Beall visited Summit Public Schools: Tahoma and answered student questions about his experiences as a senator and the laws he has passed. For example, Sen. Beall introduced  SB 12 in 2019, which requires a minimum of 100 youth centers to address mental health issues for young Californians. These centers would not require insurance or citizenship. 

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, it’s not really a health problem; it’s really just your own feelings or something’, but I think it is a health problem,” Sen. Beall said. 

The senator also introduced SB 191, which helps young residents receive services for mental health and substance abuse. The bill provides services to K-12 students by establishing partnerships in school districts and county mental health plans. 

Sen. Jim Beall also mentioned he’s working on getting the governor to sign a foster care bill. In addition to that, he has passed bills to help better support foster children.

Sen. Beall helped pass SB 319 into law; the bill allows public health nurses to observe the use of psychotropic drugs on foster children. The bill ensures that public health nurses are permitted to use mental and health information to help ensure that the child’s developmental needs are being met. 

The senator’s legislation is not only focused on mental health issues; he also focuses on transportation. He talked about his transportation legislation and how he has passed multiple transportation-related bills.

The bill SB 152 reduces the complicated application process for Active Transportation Programs (which encourage biking and walking). The bill also provides funding for pedestrian safety.

Sen. Beall ended the press conference by returning to the issue of substance abuse and how he feels it should be dealt with by the California legislature: “We should have full health-care services for anybody that has a substance abuse problem, and I’ve been working on that for a long time.” 

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State senator’s history inspires his focus on making change

By Grace Mcmorrow, Eric Spyropoulos and Dania Zamudio

Staff Writers

State Senator Jim Beall was raised in San Jose, California. When he was in his teenage years, he started working in the fields to support his family, after their house burned down. He witnessed the mistreatment of the other workers in the fields, which inspired him to make a change. 

Sen. Beall’s focus is not making money; he wants to make changes and help make California a better place. “It’s not about yourself, not about making money, none of that.”

On Oct.8, Sen. Beall spoke to a class of student journalists at Summit Tahoma and explained that one of his primary goals is treating people with physical and mental health issues. “I think we should fund more treatment programs,” he said. “We should have full health-care services for people with substance abuse problems.” 

He also wrote a bill for foster care, Assembly Bill 12, which helps people ages 18 to 21, allowing them to attend college or preparation courses with housing made available.

Sen. Jim Beall said he studied urban planning and social sciences. This is part of his ideals as a politician. Sen. Beall believes in working on preventing climate change. 

Sen. Beall said that California should be a sanctuary state. He believes that splitting up the family for immigration is unacceptable. He said, “I would develop a process … for them to become a U.S. citizen.” 

Sen. Beall believes selective enforcement of the law is inappropriate. He said, “If you have justice, you need to have equal justice … so you have to have everyone treated the same.”  He believes that sometimes the justice system doesn’t work in terms of equal justice.  

The senator is term-limited and cannot run for re-election. He believes that there should be more diversity in the State Senate and, after the election, he estimated that the majority of the senators are going to be females. 

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State Senator Jim Beall addresses affordable housing options, concerns and solutions

By Zachary Daniel, Henry Pierce and Cyrus Shakeri

Staff Writers

State Senator Jim Beall believes there are major inconveniences in California related to jobs and housing and those factors contribute to the difficulties of being successful in San Jose. He attended a press conference held by Summit News on Oct. 9 to discuss this.

“The problem is there are too many jobs and not enough housing,” Sen. Beall said, providing student journalists with the ideas and solutions that he has for his district. SB-5 and SB-9 are some of the forefront bills Sen. Jim Beall has advocated for that have the intention of improving San Jose’s housing situation. 

Sen. Beall has served as a San Jose City Councilman, Santa Clara County Supervisor, and legislator in the State Assembly. In addition to housing costs, he has demonstrated an interest in public transportation, mental health and foster care.

Sen. Beall plans on improving the housing crisis in the Bay Area by providing funding to local governments to collaborate on state-approved community revitalization plans. He said, “My job is to have it done right,” and claims that this will create affordable housing for hard-working Californians and better the opportunities that the Bay Area provides.

“If housing options were provided, then people wouldn’t have to move to places like Los Banos, or be forced to double up,” Sen. Beall believes that if the expense of housing is decreased, more people will be able to live in the Bay Area, and they wouldn’t need to spend lots of money or drive farther for their daily commute to work.

According to CBS SF Bay Area, in places like Stockton and Sacramento, a weighted 11.2 percent of the workforce commute every day to work or school (310,496 people live in Stockton alone, meaning 34,100 people are affected on a day-to-day basis by the housing shortage).

Article SB-4 strongly encourages increased housing development located close to transit and job centers by removing restrictive local development policies. This secures the acceptance that every jurisdiction contributes its fair share to a housing solution while acknowledging relevant differences among communities.

Sen. Beall’s SP-6 encourages housing production in California by requiring the state to identify sufficient and adequate sites for housing construction. This will provide more resources to companies looking to build more housing, and over time will decrease the price of living.

SB-9 is a restructuring plan that enables more housing for low-income families through the Tax Credit Allocation Committee (TCAC). This bill means more funding for the construction of affordable housing units at no cost to the state.

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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Schedule change at Summit Shasta affects students

By Zack Navarra

Shasta Editor-In-Chief

Change is simply inevitable, but how and when we change should be determined by the people who will be affected most. Summit Shasta students and faculty have seen radical changes to the daily bell schedule over the past year, and many have something to say about it.

Summit Shasta students and faculty arrived on campus on Aug. 17 for the start of the 2019-20 school year awaiting something entirely new. The previous year’s schedule at Shasta consisted of a block schedule in which every core class was completed before lunch; students would then finish their day with two different personalized flex time classes. 

The 2018-19 Friday schedule featured all-day Mentor SDL (Self-Directed Learning). Mentors being the Summit equivalent of homeroom teachers, SDL is the Summit equivalent of study hall.

For 2019-20, Summit schools transitioned to a schedule that no longer features brunch, Flex Time and Friday Mentor SDL, while seeing the additions of daily Mentor SDL, a 45-minute block Wednesday schedule where students attend all of their core classes, Summit Reads and Solves (English and math intervention) and an earlier school release time.

The new Wednesday schedule incorporates a 90-minute block dedicated to mentor community time. This is then followed by three 45-minute blocks; each of these blocks are from a student’s Monday schedule. Students then have a 35-minute lunch break. Finally this is followed by three more 45-minute blocks; each of those are from a student’s Tuesday schedule.

For many students, these changes came without warning. Shasta senior Allen Estrada said he “learned just three days before school started,” while Shasta junior Aaron Susantin said, “I saw it on my schedule the first or second day of school.” 

Many students did not learn of the new bell schedule until they received their class schedules days before school started. Senior President Jessica Co is one of these students. She said, “Like most students, I learned a week before school started.”

The new schedule has presented multiple problems for the student population at Shasta. The two largest for the Shasta student populace are the lack of brunch and the new Wednesday schedule, which students would prefer to have as Friday’s schedule.

Students have not been shy in expressing their displeasure to their mentors and student representatives. According to senior mentor and English teacher Chelsea Watts, “If you polled my mentor group, 25 out of 25 of them would say I would rather have brunch back.” 

Shasta Junior Class President Melissa Elizarde said, “Many people do not like that we don’t have brunch anymore.”

Students have reported feeling increased levels of hunger throughout the day. Susantin said, “My biggest annoyance is there wasn’t brunch; I get hungry in the middle of the day.” 

Susantin’s sentiment is replicated in Estrada, who said, “We no longer have brunch; I have to get up earlier and make myself heartier breakfast. That way I don’t feel so hungry throughout my classes. Despite that, I still feel pretty hungry.” The loss of brunch ultimately leads to some students feeling higher levels of hunger throughout the day.

Students at Shasta have also expressed their dislike of the newly implemented Wednesday schedule, where students attend one 90-minute block of mentor community time followed by three blocks of mentor SDL. According to senior mentor and history teacher Sarah Dayon, “The Wednesday schedule has been the one thing students have particularly said they dislike.”

This sentiment is expressed by Senior President Co, who said, “I think that the Wednesday schedule is really draining for them because usually we have had a different schedule on Friday, and it’s indicative of the weekend and you get a break, but you’re just coming back to core classes after Wednesday.” 

Co continued, “In general, Wednesday schedule feels really long, because you have half a day going through a full day, and then you have lunch and it’s like starting your day over again.” Students have not been afraid of expressing the stress and strain that can be caused by the Wednesday schedule.

Shasta students have felt an added strain since the introduction of the new Wednesday schedule. Shasta senior Gabe Garfias said, “They kinda surprised me this year. You don’t really think about something until it’s gone, Fridays [SDL] especially were a time for me to get a lot of work done. But now that they are not here, it’s kinda sad and it’s throwing me off a lot.”

The new schedule has managed to bring some improvements to the average student’s life. Elizarde said juniors “find it mainly positive; there are some things they don’t like, but overall I think they’re doing pretty OK with getting used to the new schedule.” She continued by saying, “People are taking advantage of PLT in the morning.” Senior President Co believes that, “It’s helped them with catching the bus on time; it’s helped them get home an hour earlier, and that’s like the main difference.”

 One of the most popular changes among students would be the shift to an earlier lunch. Susantin said, “Lunch period moving closer to noon is nicer. It aligns with when I would normally eat lunch.” Students have been able to find silver linings in the new schedule that will help their day-to-day lives at Shasta. 

Summit Shasta teachers have experienced their own benefits and reservations about the new schedule. 

Teachers at Shasta first learned of the possible schedule changes in the spring of 2019. According to Ms. Dayon, “In the spring they had rolled out three possible schedules that they had proposed; they had talked to school leaders to inform their decision. They presented it to teachers, and we were supposed to give input, but we had no decision-making power.” The Shasta teachers’ role was to provide feedback on which schedule they liked the most, but they had little voice in what those three schedules were, Ms. Dayon explained.

Additionally, Ms. Watts said, “I will say that of the three possibilities that were offered, none of those three ended up being the schedule that we have right now, so the schedule we have right now was not actually one of the three possibilities.” The schedule implemented at the beginning of this school year had two major differences from the one Shasta teachers favored in the spring. The first being that none of the proposed schedules indicated the removal of brunch, and the second being that the current Wednesday schedule was originally proposed to take place on Friday. Teachers became aware of the official schedule in late July.

Shasta faculty have expressed that the lack of brunch has caused certain inconveniences. Ms. Watts said, “As many of our students have expressed, it’s really tough to get to the bathroom or do anything during those five minutes, especially if I am expected to transition into new classroom.” 

Brunch provided an essential time for students and faculty to use the bathroom, interact with others, and prepare for their next class. Now the only time to do that is the five-minute transition periods between core classes. Considering that Shasta teachers often must move to different rooms throughout the day and that there are only three adult bathrooms on campus, it can be nearly impossible for Shasta teachers to use the bathroom from the start of school up until lunch, according to Ms. Watts. 

Teachers have also expressed that they had originally expected the Wednesday schedule to be on Friday. According to Ms. Dayon, “We had originally hoped that the Wednesday schedule would be on Friday. It seemed like something most teachers were giving a lot of input to.” The teachers had pushed for this in order to have a different schedule be toward the end of the week, instead of the middle of the week.

Teachers have found some changes to be extremely beneficial and an overall positive to their day-to-day life. Ms. Dayon said, “I have appreciated being able to see my mentor group every day for longer than 10 minutes.” Previously, mentors only had a guaranteed 10 minutes a day to see their students during “10-minute time.” Under the new schedule, mentors have a guaranteed 70 minutes a day to see their students during mentor SDL.

Ms. Watts shared a similar sentiment regarding the morning SDL when she said, “I think that having mentor PLT [now called SDL] every morning has been a pretty positive shift; I also think that not having all day PLT means that our PLT is more productive on the whole.” Through this change, teachers have been able to more meaningfully connect with students while simultaneously increasing student productivity.

Shasta and Summit administration have been working on possible schedule changes since as early as December 2018. According to Superintendent Anson Jackson, “We had essentially 11 schools last year — 15 schools with like 20 schedules — and so, um, I’m exaggerating, but we had a lot of schedules, and it was very complex, and we took the best of those and iterated to make three different schedules, what worked, what didn’t work, what teachers liked, didn’t like. Those became the three different models.” At this point in time, teachers from Shasta were not directly involved; however, Shasta administration was involved at this point.

In the spring of 2019, Shasta teachers were given the three different schedules to give input on. According to Superintendent Jackson, “We said, ‘OK, teachers we have three models. Let’s look at them, which ones you like the best.’ That information is then referred back to the scheduling team, the Home Office team to figure out, which is made up of leaders and an operational lead to make sure we are fitting the constraints of the state, the requirements. They will say, ‘OK, this is what teachers agreed upon, now give feedback on.’” It was at this point in time that teacher input was being incorporated into the bell schedule plan. 

However, there were still phases after teacher selection, like ensuring that schedules fitted local and state requirements. At this point in time, Shasta teachers were no longer providing feedback to the scheduling team at Summit’s home office. According to Superintendent Jackson, in the period between spring 2019 and July 2019, “Local admin were in conversations throughout the whole rollout.” 

During this period of time, the current Wednesday schedule was finalized. According to Superintendent Jackson, “A number of factors — it came to the point where it became almost an idea, like, we had various schools wanting different things. Some schools wanted the Wednesday; some wanted the Friday. Then we looked at, ‘How do we stay consistent?’ The other piece was that consistency allows for a strong Community Day. So we wanted to have Community Day, as you guys know, at every school to have some idea of, like, if we wanted to do something like a peer-to-peer cross-schools Community Day where we have Shasta and Rainier do like the VC together, that allows for that to happen. When we have different days, it’s hard to have that collaboration peer-to-peer support when it’s not consistent. The idea was to say, ‘OK, they want Friday; they want Wednesday. How do you mitigate? What’s the driving force?’ The driving force was collaboration and consistency, which is why we chose Wednesday.”

The removal of brunch and the addition of breakfast was also implemented during this period of time. Brunch was dropped from the schedule in favor of breakfast, which is a 10-minute period right before school starts where breakfast is served to students. 

Shasta Executive Director Wren Maletsky said, “One of the reasons we are excited to have breakfast instead is we want to make sure we’re offering an opportunity for all students to have the nutrition and energy they need to start the day. So we thought including breakfast as a way to make sure that all students got that. We also have talked a lot as a faculty about if a student is late or they missed that opportunity, like, how do we make sure they still have the energy they need? So we always have food stocked in the office, a student can definitely let their teacher mentor know at any point. But what we did and what happened is students waiting several hours into the school day before they get to eat anything, because we know that not what’s best for students aligning.”

Food is served through this breakfast line at Summit Shasta. PHOTO CREDIT: Zack Navarra

The addition of breakfast might have been intended to offset the loss of brunch while providing benefits for students, but it has fallen short for many students and faculty at Shasta. Previously, Shasta students had to wait three hours and five minutes between brunch and lunch. Now students must wait four hours and 10 minutes in-between their breakfast and lunch meals. This has led to many students feeling hungrier throughout the day. 

Furthermore, brunch was more than just a morning meal for many on campus. Students used it as a time to socialize with classmates, use the bathroom, and prepare for class, along with eat their morning meal. Teachers used this time to meet with students, use the bathroom and transition to different classrooms. Simply put, breakfast can not provide the same benefits that brunch did for students and faculty.

Implementing the Wednesday schedule has caused additional grievances among many students and some teachers. Shasta students must now deal with homework being due the next day in a block schedule system. Students now are being assigned homework on Tuesday that is required by Wednesday. This creates an inequality for students who have that class on Monday; they receive an extra day to do their homework. This inequality goes both ways: students can be assigned homework on Wednesday and have it due the next day, while others won’t be required to finish until Friday. 

This also creates a situation where students will have class on Friday, but be unable to attend Office Hours for help until the upcoming Tuesday. The Wednesday schedule has created unfair logistical problems for students at Shasta.

If the current Wednesday schedule were to be held on Friday, these problems would be avoided. The reason it is on Wednesday does not seem to outweigh the benefits for Shasta students. Community Time at Shasta is used as a time for mentor groups to focus on themselves; that time has rarely been used for communicating with other mentor groups, let alone with other schools. Therefore, it seems that Shasta students would benefit more from having their 45-minute classes on Fridays.

According to Superintendent Jackson,“We want to make sure what’s thoughtful, what’s best for students — thinking long-term, we hope that these adjustments aren’t going to be a one-and-done. We hope the data proves that it’s better, and you guys feel more engaged and feel supported. However, if something happens, we are open to feedback and will make those shifts.” 

The schedule changes brought to Shasta affect students and teachers the most, yet there are clear problems that afflict the students and teachers. Students have the power to voice opinions and push for change through advocacy. To better the experience of Shasta students, brunch should be reinstated and the current Wednesday schedule should be switched to Friday.

Featured Image: Shasta students transition between classes. PHOTO CREDIT: Zack Navarra

Related:

Uniform schedule impacts students lives across Bay Area campuses this school year

Newly implemented schedule troubles Rainier teachers

BREAKING NEWS: Rainier students protest in response to new restricted blacktop usage during lunch break

San Jose city councilmember visits Rainier student journalists

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Sept. 25, San Jose City Councilmember Johnny Khamis came to Summit Public School: Rainier for a press conference to share his story of becoming a councilmember and talk about his goals for the city of San Jose. 

 

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San Jose City Councilman Johnny Khamis uses his passion to help the environment

By McKayla Castigador, Vu Nguyen and Van Tran 

Staff Writers

Johnny Khamis is a San Jose councilman for District 10 who uses his financial and business background to assist the city of San Jose. He was an immigrant from Lebanon who arrived here in 1976, needing to learn English, and he struggled to make a living. However, his hard work allowed him to use his skills in finance and business to help San Jose.

He advocates for people to be educated on conserving gas and electricity. Because of this, he is driven to implement strategies to combat climate change. 

“It’s important for us to make sure we get people educated about conserving,” Councilmember Khamis said on Sept. 25, at a student-led press conference at Summit Rainier.

San Jose leaders have been doing what they can to improve the city’s environmental condition by buying clean energy for the city, increasing regulations for construction and recycling. However, Councilmember Khamis still believes that more things could be done. Therefore, he has come up with other ideas to combat climate change.

Councilman Khamis would like to try and find a way to reuse methane gasses. He references the idea of putting a tarp on cow manure to extract the methane gas for electricity.

One of the biggest projects that the committees worked on was building the Zero Waste Energy Development partnership, where they take garbage and efficiently remove methane from it. They then recycle the methane to make gasoline to fuel the garbage trucks.

Councilmember Khamis’ personal feelings toward the city show his care for the environment. “I planted more trees in the city than any other council members,” Councilman Khamis explained, acknowledging that he has planted 50-60 trees with his family. He also spoke about investing money into planting trees in the community. 

In San Jose, the cost of living is very high. Councilman Khamis explained that the reason why it is so expensive is that San Jose takes the environment into account. San Jose reserves land for environmental purposes and has regulations for the energy used in construction.

Councilman Khamis is very passionate about what he does. He acknowledged that his job isn’t the easiest and that politicians need to have the heart to help people.

Councilman Khamis explained, “Don’t do it for the money — You got to have the heart to be a councilmember.” 

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Councilmember Johnny Khamis seeks to help the community

By Marion Delos, Jess Lara Jose Rodriguez and Andres Ruelas 

Staff Writers

San Jose City Councilmember Johnny Khamis focuses on helping the San Jose community, helping out with the homeless, after school programs and community colleges. 

“I’ve been really proud to represent our city,“ Councilmember Khamis said, before speaking on how he is one of the only councilmembers who has actively made moves to better his community by planting more trees than anyone else on the council, as well as planting some personally with his family. He is proud of having an increasing amount of trees in the city of San Jose. 

Additionally, with taxes, the city council has been spending millions of dollars on protecting our city. Councilmember Khamis said, “The city has been spending millions of dollars every year on different things like addressing homelessness.” Since he came into office, the city has spent up to $2 million dedicated to the homeless. 

San Jose is currently spending nearly $30 million from their general fund for the homeless and to finance after-school programs, according to Councilmember Khamis. The city is also putting out further spendings of $1.5 million per year to support the school systems, and more than $500,000, annually, is spent on support for children and  families who are on the food stamp program. 

Addressing climate change, San Jose is now buying clean energy such as GHG free energy and energy from solar-energy companies, according to Councilmember Khamis. They are also no longer spending much money on natural gas and coal-fired power, which now allows a cleaner mix of energy, compared to PG&E, and selling it to residents for 1% less. 

Councilmember Khamis is one of the people who brought out the “straw ban” where residents are no longer allowed to get straws at restaurants unless asked for, and has also increased requirements for all new construction so they now have to use electronic instead of using natural gas. With all the recycled items, the councilmember is thinking of ways to turn those recycled items into energy, like they do in countries such as Sweden and Denmark. 

Councilmember Khamis also makes sure he is involved with his community even if it means missing out on family events. On weekends, he attends community events; goes to marathons and community gatherings; and even has office hours where people can come in and ask questions, give complaints, or just converse with him in general. 

“Not every councilmember does as much as I do, to reach out to the public, but I like it; I like talking to people; I like solving problems, ’cause that’s what a council member is supposed to do,” Councilmember Khamis said. 

When Councilmember Khamis was running for office, the runner-ups were well-known competitors. To win, Councilmember Khamis out-worked everyone and spent his time walking to nearly 16,000 doors to talk to people to get where he is today. 

Councilmember Khamis explained, “That was a big obstacle — not having help — and so, what I would say is that I don’t take no for an answer, and I will fight. I am a fighter.”

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District city councilmember Johnny Khamis discusses parks and recreations

By Sean Moser, Adrian Pescatore, Sol Perez and Carlos Villarreal 

Staff Writers

San Jose City Councilmember of District 10 Johnny Khamis is concerned over recreation in San Jose. Councilmember Khamis, being someone who is very active environmentally, stresses the importance of a healthy environment. 

Councilmember Khamis explained that one of his parks used to only open three days a week, so he used his city fund to have it open for four days a week. “I used my own city funds to open it a day more,” he said.

On Sept. 25, Councilmember Khamis came to Summit Public School: Rainier for a press conference with student journalists. During the press conference, he addressed issues and answered the questions that the students brought up.

Councilmember Khamis stressed that parks in San Jose are dilapidated and not very well taken care of. He then gave an example of his success in adding two acres of land to Almaden Lake Park, showing his dedication in bettering his district’s parks.  

Councilmember Khamis is a big supporter of parks and recreation: he shows this by participating in park cleanups, advocating for longer open park hours and taking care of the park overall. He said that he wants to “make sure the grass is taken care of and make sure it’s not overrun by squirrels.”

Councilmember Khamis shows his passion for keeping the community healthy by planting trees personally and with others in order to connect with his community. “I have planted over one hundred trees into my community,” he said. 

Councilmember Khamis planted the most trees out of every councilmember in San Jose and also pushed his peers to be environmentally active with him. The councilman also sees this as an opportunity to connect with his community more. 

By adding more trails in his parks, he would like to encourage people to exercise and really embrace the parks that he and his team work very hard to maintain.

Councilmember Khamis said that he is committed to making the community better as a whole in order to make it a place that people can be proud of for generations upon generations.

He plans to create a space where everyone can be comfortable and feel safe in a clean, healthy environment. With that, he says he will make the community better, planting one tree at a time.

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San Jose city councilmember emphasizes building tiny homes for the homeless

By Jasmine Chinn and Ismael Navarrete 

Staff Writers

On a quiet morning on Sept. 25, Councilmember Johnny Khamis visited Summit Public School: Rainier in San Jose to talk to student journalists. Councilmember Khamis is currently running for State Senator for 2020. Councilmember Khamis is focused on bettering his community by helping the homeless who are living in poverty. 

Immigrating to the United States as a child in 1976 from a war-torn Lebanon, Councilmember Khamis struggled with school and learning English. His determination toward pushing past the barriers that he experienced in his life has led him to where he is today, as a councilmember.

Councilmember Khamis puts his heart into helping his community as a representative for District 10 of San Jose and prides himself in using his financial skills to help the city of San Jose, making sure it is spending money wisely. 

When asked what is a memorable story or experience that defined his career, Councilmember Khamis talked about his idea to build tiny homes on two sites sometime back. He said, “Each one of these units were going cost $87,000 to build, and Oakland, at the same time, was building Tuff sheds for $3000. So I said no to this program, not because I’m against tiny homes, but I thought we could help a lot more people with the same amount of money.” 

Councilmember Khamis wants to change and improve the homeless situation by helping the city spend their money wisely to help people who are living in poverty. 

On his website, Councilmember Khamis talks about homelessness issues in California, where many people who are homeless are also suffering through mental illness and poor living situations. He wants to have a low-income housing project to build tiny houses for the homeless.

One of the motivations that Councilmember Khamis has, regarding the housing crisis, is also providing housing for people who are both homeless and mentally ill. He pointed out certain propositions, such as Proposition 63, that have not followed through with their promises.

Councilmember Khamis elaborated on the proposition, “Back in 2004, we started collecting millions of dollars from the rich. And we were supposed to use that to create mental health services. And I have not seen a single mental health service facility.” 

These ideas are further expressed in a Mercury News article highlighting his argument that the Bay Area must do its part in helping mentally ill homeless people get their own housing.

It is clear that Councilmember Khamis is trying to help the community by helping the city to find a cheaper way to build these tiny houses. To Councilmember Khamis, it is clearly important for his community to come first: “Not every councilmember does as much as I do,” he said. 

 

 

Uniform schedule impacts students lives across Bay Area campuses this school year

By Evelyn Archibald and Judy Ly  

Editors-in-Chief

Denali senior William Torborg said it is hard for most students to stay focused for long durations. He pointed out that as a student with ADHD, it is harder for him to maintain concentration in class. 

“It’s not like, the most fun to sit through four and a half hours of class and then get a break,” Torborg said. 

In a majority of interviews, students echoed similar concerns in response to no longer having brunch as a form of a break in their daily bell schedule. 

For the 2019-20 school year, a new uniform bell schedule was introduced to students across all Summit schools in California.

Here is a Story Map of all the school sites mentioned in this article. 

One of the changes to the schedule included a new breakfast block before classes started. 

Replacing brunch with breakfast

Brunch, which previously acted as a 15-minute break, in the first portion of classes, was removed. Instead, breakfast was implemented before students start their first block of the day: Mentor Self-Directed Learning (SDL). This class aims to essentially be a study hall for students with their mentor groups. 

Summit Public Schools Superintendent Anson Jackson said the purpose of having classes back-to-back until lunch time, was to make sure teachers had a consistent schedule and workload. Students would in return have a more consistent flow from project to project and class to class, without disruption from a break in between.

“The idea [for students] is to minimize the changes throughout the day and minimize the breaks of cognitive load,” Superintendent Jackson said. 

Rainier Senior President Madelin Morales said she noticed less productivity happening in the classrooms without having a break in between classes. 

Rainier students walk back from the restroom as another student approaches it. PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Ly

“Kids have to use the restroom a lot more during — like during our regular classes, solely because, like, during our break, or what we used to have as brunch, a lot of people use that time to use the restroom,” Morales said. “I definitely noticed a lot more students having to go, like one after another. And it doesn’t seem like they’re doing it just for fun, but they genuinely — because they have to.”  

Hailey Kaufman, a senior from Summit Prep, said her peers have been “losing focus” in class. 

“We’ve lost that break to kind of reset before our next class,” Kaufman said.  

According to Superintendent Jackson, another reason for having brunch removed was so students can start off their day with breakfast. 

A Prep student gets breakfast in the cafeteria before school starts. PHOTO CREDIT: Jonathan Garvin

“Adding breakfast as opposed to taking away brunch is kind of the idea; not to take away anything but to add something,” Superintendent Jackson said. 

However, Tahoma Executive Director Jonathan Stewart said the implementation of breakfast has not been effective on Tahoma’s campus. 

“We have fewer people taking breakfast in the morning than we did people taking brunch last year,” Mr. Stewart said. 

Calvin Andrews, who acted as the student body president for Summit K2’s 2018-19 school year, said brunch was more suitable for students. He explained that brunch allowed students to buy food items between classes, making it more accessible to students who showed up close or late to start time. 

K2 has also implemented a new lining up policy in which students need to line up at a certain area on campus before going to class. Andrews claimed this policy makes it harder for students to buy breakfast before school starts. 

K2 students start their school day by lining up. PHOTO CREDIT: Hannah Kim

K2’s new Executive Director Cythnia Jerez said one of the goals of the lining up policy is to inspire students to get breakfast. 

She said, “Our campus is next to the field where students are, like, lining up. So that encourages, actually, them to actually go to the cafeteria and grab breakfast.”

Superintendent Jackson addressed this concern of students not arriving early enough to access meals and being hungry between classes and lunch. He said teachers are able to provide snacks to students near the end of the morning Mentor SDL block. However, teachers providing snacks is not a normalized standard across all campuses. 

“It’s not an expectation,” Superintendent Jackson explained, “but that is the flexibility of the time.”

By gathering input from local administration at school sites, Superintendent Jackson said drafts of the schedule were created. Later on, three proposed schedule structures were sent to teachers and faculty to gather feedback. 

In the initial drafts made by Summit Leadership (executive administration) and school-site-based administration (principals and deans), the focus was on the scheduling of Mentor SDL time and the structure of core class time. The switch from brunch to breakfast wasn’t included or discussed. 

However, he added that the idea of replacing brunch with breakfast was a joint decision between “school leaders” based off feedback and experiences on campus during brunch. 

“Adding breakfast to the schedule was not a part of that proposal at the time,” Superintendent Jackson said. 

There is a petition circulating to reinstate brunch, as a way to reinstate a morning break, at Rainier’s campus.  

Changes to lunch time

Lunch was altered as well, having the standard lunch time moved to be from 12:30 p.m. until 1:00 p.m. For campuses like Everest and K2, their lunch was shortened. 

Everest students pass through their hallways. PHOTO CREDIT: Molly Pigot

Everest senior Molly Pigot said the response to the reduction has been mostly negative. “Our lunch break was reduced from 45 minutes to 30 minutes, which I think a lot of students are really upset with.” 

For Summit Prep students, Kaufman said lunch is now later in the day than previously. 

Pigot mentioned the students at Summit Everest attempted to stage a walkout against the changes; however, they were met with faculty pushback and students were not allowed to participate.

The lunch break is now earlier for students at Tahoma, Denali, and Shasta compared to last year. 

Shared space concerns

Most Summit schools have their own facilities and campuses for students to attend; however, some school sites are co-located with another school. 

Ernesto Umaña, a middle school math teacher for Summit Tam, said the bell schedule did not heavily impact their shared spaces. Tam’s middle school and high school share a campus, blacktop and gym with Aspire Richmond California College Preparatory Academy. 

He also noted that Tam Middle School now has minimum days on Wednesdays, which has been received positively by students. 

However, in the South Bay, students at Tahoma and Rainier no longer have access to the blacktop area and basketball courts, previously shared with their home school, due to having coinciding lunch times. 

Tahoma students settle into their lunch break. PHOTO CREDIT: Nethan Sivarapu

Mr. Stewart said Tahoma was already considering revoking the access to blacktop usage due to past student behavior issues. The new bell schedule caused Oak Grove High School’s blacktop to be an off-limit space as default. 

At Rainier’s campus students protested against the restricted blacktop usage and bell schedule changes. 

Edwin Avarca, former assistant director and current executive director at Rainier’s campus, said the reasons why Rainier students have to be separated from Mt. Pleasant’s campus are due to safety concerns in regards to student interaction in a shared space. 

Blacktop space and basketball courts are now off limits for Rainier students during their lunch break. PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Ly

“That’s like a large concern that we have as a whole,” Mr. Avarca said, referencing each school’s administration. “How could they support if there’s a potential conflict? I think that that is the biggest concern is ensuring student safety if we’re sharing the blacktop at the same time.”  

Mr. Stewart also said Tahoma’s lunch on Wednesdays is scheduled from 1:10 p.m. to 1:40 p.m. because KIPP, the second school Tahoma is co-located with, has their lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays.  

Denali students slowly trickle in for the school day. PHOTO CREDIT: Ellen Hu

By default, classes start at 8:20 a.m. and end at 3:20 p.m. across all Summit campuses this school year. At Denali’s current high school campus, the school had to adjust their start time. Denali students start their classes at 8:35 a.m. due to an agreement with the City of Sunnyvale. 

Denali Executive Director Kevin Bock explained that the permit Denali has with the city allows for their campus to start no earlier than 8:35 a.m. There is an elementary school across from Denali, meaning the two schools need to stagger start times due to concerns regarding morning traffic. 

Denali students also have lunch at 12:45 p.m., 15 minutes past the default time. 

Continued debate about bell schedule changes

Superintendent Jackson said the Summit Public Schools leadership team prioritized the betterment of students and teachers on the job when creating the uniform bell schedule. 

Andrews disputes this claim, saying that in reality, the opposite effect is happening based on his experiences at K2. He explained that students’ lives can be very different when campuses range from Richmond to San Jose to Daly City. He continued to explain that life for students in Richmond differs greatly from their Summit peers in other cities. 

“We’re two different schools, from different backgrounds, from different economic backgrounds, different racial backgrounds, living in different areas where our lives are different,” Andrews said. “We all have different needs; we all have different wants; we all have things that are affecting us in different ways. And by Summit sort of putting us under an umbrella of, ‘Oh, this works at one school, it will work at another.’ It’s just not working.”  

Featured image at top: K2 students walk to their first class after lining up in the morning. PHOTO CREDIT: Hannah Kim 

Denali Editor-in-Chief Ellen Hu contributed reporting to this article.

Related:

Schedule change at Summit Shasta affects students

Newly implemented schedule troubles Rainier teachers

BREAKING NEWS: Rainier students protest in response to new restricted blacktop usage during lunch break

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