My name is Hannah Kim, and, as a journalist for Summit News, I will focus on writing about an ever-changing field: technology.
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.
Political and current event opinion from Ben Alexander
Climate change is perhaps the most dire threat facing humanity to date, which is why it is imperative that we take real, substantial action. Simply raising awareness is not enough — true political change is necessary.
Yet it is important to recognize that this one Climate Strike is but the first step in a long but necessary process. To declare the strike a complete victory is to ignore the dire situation we are in now and the necessary action that must be taken.
This march was a precursor to a UN summit on climate change, encouraging governments to take action – action which is undoubtedly necessary. According to the 2018 UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, human activities have already caused a 1°C increase in global temperatures above pre-industrial levels and temperature rise is expected to reach 1.5°C by some point between 2032 and 2050.
While the IPCC report estimates reaching net zero CO2 emissions and declining emissions of non-CO2 greenhouse gasses would halt global warming on the scale we are seeing now, it is also important to recognize the dangers of allowing increases in global warming. Increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather has already been observed in correlation with global warming and this is only the beginning. The report further estimates that as temperatures increase, so do the risks associated with them, stating that consequences for a 2°C increase in temperature would be greater than those of a 1.5°C increase, which is why it is imperative that we act now.
It is abundantly clear that action on climate change must therefore be taken. Protests such as the one on Sept. 20 are one method of such action, but they cannot exist alone.
Organizers of the strike realized this and thus had specific goals in mind. Corporations Amazon BlackRock and Bank of America were targeted for their connections with businesses that contribute to climate change (Amazon was also targeted for poor worker treatment and collaboration with ICE), while PG&E was targeted for using non-renewable energies. Federal legislators Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) were further targeted for their lack of support for the Green New Deal, proposed legislation for massive investment in green technology which organizers supported.
While these are reasonable targets — they all are in positions of power, whether those are political or financial, and all targets do have the ability to influence climate change with that power — it is important to realize that this march has not resulted in any of these changes coming to pass yet. While this march has perhaps brought climate change more into the public spotlight for a few days, it cannot be considered a true victory.
The fact of the matter is that, at this point, simply raising awareness about climate change is not enough. The magnitude of the climate crisis before us requires more immediate concrete action.
Does that mean we should not protest and exercise our First Amendment rights to freedom of assembly or petition government? Of course not — it simply means that we must do more than an occasional protest. Only through constant political pressure can we make the radical change necessary to combat the climate crisis.
In the context of protests this looks like not just one protest, but many, ensuring that the issue of climate change is in the center of discussions. Further protests against climate change must also be disruptive — they must exist in such a way that they cannot be ignored. While this was somewhat accomplished due to the scale of the march on Friday, it can also come from civil disobedience, a tried and tested strategy of political advocacy.
These political actions must result in fundamental changes to the global economy. The goal has clearly been defined by the aforementioned IPCC report: it is essential that we meet a net zero emissions goal.
This requires government investment in renewable energy and regulation of corporations. This means limiting greenhouse gas emissions, using sustainable farming methods that aid carbon sequestration efforts and also addressing the effects of the climate crisis.
Communities around the world are already feeling the effects of rising sea levels, increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather, and ecosystem loss. The world’s solutions to climate change cannot ignore these people — we must also mitigate the damages that our world has already and will undoubtedly suffer due to global warming.
Policy proposals such as the Green New Deal encompass the essence of these ideas. This resolution, proposed by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), sets out a loose plan for addressing climate change by meeting the goal of net zero emissions while promoting high-wage jobs.
Beyond advocating for real changes in our governments, we can have a personal impact on climate change, although far less of one than a government. This can come from the power of people as consumers. If possible, buying sustainable products or simply buying or using less of non-sustainable goods can reduce personal impact and perhaps, on a large scale, convince corporations to be more mindful of the environment around them.
In any case, we must be willing to continue advocacy to address what is perhaps the greatest threat to humanity of our era. We cannot declare a false victory and move on with our lives without creating real, substantial, change.
Featured Image (at the top of this post): Protesters gather on Jackson Street near the end of the march route. PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Alexander
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.”
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
The idea of video games being an artistic medium to be taken seriously by major news outlets has not always been widely accepted. Since the days of “Pong” and Italian plumbers jumping, video games have more often than not been seen as unimportant brain candy, a filler to keep you entertained but not to be taken seriously.
Over the decades, this began to change. With some video games pushing the envelope of storytelling and visual effects, opinions began to change. Today video games are often widely regarded by news outlets as a medium to be taken seriously.
Some games, such as “Red Dead Redemption 2,” received accolades for its fantastic visuals and incredible storytelling, with the New York Times going as far as to call it “true art” and saying, “The season’s best blockbuster isn’t a TV show or movie. It’s a video game.”
However, much like in the worlds of music or film, the perspectives explored in art are usually similar to my own: western and white. It’s not often that a non-English speaking artist rises to the top of the world charts or a movie reaches audiences outside of its own country.
This obviously has no impact on the validity of non-western artists; there are many important pieces of art from every corner of the world, and I think it is important for people to explore these on their own. It is important to shift our perspectives from those comfortable to use to see the world through another lens.
While names like Haru Nemuri or BTS come to mind in the world of foreign music, I myself can’t name many video games I enjoy that didn’t come from a western (or Japan by extension) source. Although not well-versed in the world of video games, I thought I could at least come up with something.
Many gamers have heard of Bethesda Studios famed “Fallout” series, a game set in America after the events of a nuclear armageddon. With this, many have wondered what is going on across the pond.
That’s where “Metro 2033” comes in. Produced by Kiev and Malta based studio 4A Games, Metro examines exactly that perspective from a uniquely Russian viewpoint.
Set 20 years after a nuclear apocalypse, “Metro” follows protagonist Artyom, and his fight to save his home. What makes this game unique, however, is its setting. “Metro” is, unsurprisingly, set in the ruins of the Moscow metro system, the only place safe from the radiation and hellfire.
A map of the Moscow metro PHOTO CREDIT: Sameboat
Within the winding metro system come several factions. The factions of the communist Red Line and the Nazi Fourth Reich, which are both explored more in depth in the following game “Last Light,” are pitted in a constant war for seemingly no reason, an allegory all to familiar to us and especially impactful for the people of Russia whose country experienced this first hand.
This is one of my favorite elements of “Metro.” The futility of the conflict and the constant fighting for no end goal. Although showcased before, coming from a Russian perspective this has a different impact. It is important to realize that Russia lived through this exactly, and the political allegory that 4A is trying to tell is heart wrenching to say the least.
As well as this comes the Hanseatic league, the de facto America of the metros. A giant in both size and might, Hanza often treads over its own people to accomplish its goals.
One of the most fascinating parts of “Metro” is its unique gameplay. Artyom often finds himself sneaking through winding tunnel systems, fighting his way along the tracks and narrowly surviving the mutant hoards. Along with these segments come the above ground segments as Artyom navigates across the surface of Moscow, donning a gas mask with a finite amount of oxygen, which severely accentuates the anxiety that comes with the game.
This anxiety cannot be downplayed; this is a horror game after all. The dark winding passages often have monsters, and even humans, lurking around every corner. Every bullet and gas mask filter seems to count as they dwindle from your inventory, and the oppressive darkness of the tunnels only drive home the loneliness and isolation you feel as you navigate toward your end goal.
Above all these elements is the narratives 4A tries to tell with “Metro.” As Artyom had wished his entire life to see the outside world, even plastering his wall with postcards, he often finds reality confounding his dreams. Flashback segments play throughout the game, such as in an above ground apartment as you watch people living and breathing within their homes, all before it fades back to an empty, long abandoned wreck.
Artyom has never known a life outside of his tiny station on the frontiers of the metro. He dreams of leaving, of experiencing something else. The game showcases just how much more he got then he had bargained for.
He sees his friends and allies torn to shreds, entire stations massacred, an endless war being waged for seemingly no reason, and he begins to question every decision that is made. Artyom begins to way his decisions, who he saves and who must be left behind. He learns truly of what mortality and sacrifices for the greater good really mean.
“Metro” is a truly unique game. It cannot be stressed just how important it is to pay attention to non-western developers in the world of entertainment. So many fascinating stories can be explored, and many of them simply could not be told by a British or American or even Japanese developer. “Metro” is a story that can only be told by this group of Russian developers.
Russia is a country we think about a lot, as it is in our news constantly. However, I would ask you how often you look at Russia with a sympathetic eye and not with contempt or judgment. Russia is full of people, just like you or me who live their lives day-to-day.
People on the Moscow metro PHOTO CREDIT: Christopher Michel
“Metro” is not the story of any government, of any faction of any group. It is the story of people, of the Russian people. A people who are often not showcased in art. No American story would feature vodka so heavily; no British studio could so accurately depict the stations and life of the Red Line; and no Japanese person could so thoughtfully engineer the boxy Soviet architecture of Moscow.
It is too easy to ignore other countries in the world of art. This is a trope you can’t fall into. Explore other countries, look into the film, drama, music, and especially the games of other countries. You’ll learn something new a documentary could never have told you.
I advise anyone who feels tired of the meta with first person shooters to go out and experience “Metro” for themselves. This truly unique and fascinating take on the world of video games is simply not one to be ignored.
Featured image:Metro 2033 Redux Review PHOTO CREDIT: BagoGames
I am writing to you to introduce myself and the perspective I bring to the political opinion column I will write this year; my name is Ben Alexander, and I am a senior at Summit Shasta. I come to you as an active member of Shasta’s Student Advocacy Club (a part of Shasta Student Government that promotes change based on student needs) and bring a politically progressive opinion on current events and politics.
This column will provide opinions on what is happening outside of Summit Public Schools. I will write critical analysis concerning political events on a local, national and global scale. This could include anything from political action to ballot propositions to federal policy.
In Shasta’s student advocacy group, I have worked to bring student elections and student voice to the school, while outside of Shasta, I have volunteered for local political campaigns. I believe in active participation in democracy and have and will continue to be an advocate for it.
Equally important, I have a progressive political voice. That means I believe government should be used to solve problems, encourage open democracy and promote civil and economic equity. My views fundamentally come from the idea that all people should be equal and we should do whatever we can to do the most good for the most people.
Moreover, I find it important to acknowledge my perspective as a student, one who believes in the importance of learning. I come from a family of educators and thus hold teachers in high esteem.
In all, I hope this column will open minds to new ideas and facilitate useful discussion toward a better common future.
FEATURED IMAGE: Ben Alexander poses in front of the American flag for his political opinion column.PHOTO CREDIT: Michael MacCallum
As the year comes to an end, emotions are heightened as the Class of 2019 launches into a new journey. They will have to say goodbye to the bonds, the friends and the family that they have made here to grow and be successful in their quest for college.
The departure of the Class of 2019 not only affects the other students at Summit Tahoma but the teachers as well. Each year, another class leaves and leaves behind an inspiration to the following class that graduates.
The mentors who have been with the Class of 2019 since their first day are the most deeply affected. This is because the mentors helped their students grow and be successful in high school, and they even raised them as their own children.
High school was a long, arduous journey that has prepared us for what will come in the future, whether it be college, work or trade school. The bonds made will not be broken nor forgotten but remembered as a warm memory.
Our relationship with our mentors will always be remembered as loving parents who wanted nothing but the best for us. Our mentors played a significant role in our journey, and they will never be forgotten.
I would like to speak for the Class of 2019 and say that we appreciate everything that was given to us, and we wouldn’t be able to make it to where we are without the love and care given to us since freshman year.
Shown below is a video where some seniors from the Class of 2019 discuss what they will remember from Tahoma and how they are prepared for their new journey ahead. Two mentors are also shown explaining the impact their mentees had on them and how they are expecting great things from us.
See below for a video tribute to the Tahoma Class of 2019:
Featured Image (at the top of this post): Summit Tahoma seniors smile for their last picture as the Class of 2019. PHOTO CREDIT: LifeTouch
Billie Eilish, to me, has always seemed somewhat of a boring, non-offensive indie singer. She writes songs for a demographic that I’m not in, and, thusly, is someone I’ve never taken particularly seriously.
Leaving the “Don’t Smile At Me” era of her career, I wasn’t particularly interested in what she would do next. That was until I heard her new single, “When the Party’s Over.”
Now, I am a lover of sad songs, and I can learn to love many a sad pop song. This is no normal sad pop song. “When the Party’s Over” is this bare bones, nearly a cappella ballad, where Eilish finds herself crooning over faint choral humming. The song feels patient and measured, as if Eilish isn’t rushing to any ending, almost reminiscent of late ’90s emo works such as “Love Letter Typewriter” by Mineral.
Moreover, the lyrics detail a story of running away from your problems, trying to fill up the void left by someone you love leaving you in the dust by partying and forcing your mind to other places.
The song has such an in-the-moment feel, characterized when Eilish says of her song, “I feel like that’s such a sentence. It’s like, ‘I’ll call you when the party’s over,’ you’re on the phone with someone and you can’t hear them, they can’t hear you, it’s loud, they’re mad at you for some reason.”
This song changed my perception of her quite a bit. Her fake quirkiness and the accusations of being an industry plant mattered a lot less. After all, what did any of this matter if the music was good?
My anticipation went from nonexistent to very high. My expectations were still low, however. With a pop artist so early in their career, a miss was much more possible than a hit. This, however, was not the case.
Next came the song “You Should See Me In a Crown,” the opposite of the mellow cuts I’d been expecting of her up to that point. With spastic, grinding high hats and dentist drill effects, Eilish’s vocals shook with vibrato as she sang. The beat almost seems like something out of an underground hip hop project, akin to Death Grips or H099or9.
Eilish had not only proven herself more than capable twice at this point, but also displayed musical versatility, one of my biggest problems with her work up to this point. It seemed the stage was set for her album premiere.
I remember when her album dropped; I was in North Carolina doing my college tours. I was sitting in my hotel room and was shuffling through my usual artists, when I noticed her new album had been released. My expectations going in were high. I started the album at the intro, laid back in my hotel bed and let it all come.
I can say now, without a doubt, this album blew my expectations out of the water. I expected a lot, and yet I was blown away. This album is beyond incredible, and, dare I say, might be the best pop album of the year.
On this record, Eilish has crafted an ingenious, forward-moving, creative, inspired, experimental pop album. It’s almost amazing this came from a mainstream pop star and not the underground.
I find myself most astounded by the fact that Eilish sings in the same tenor, style and volume throughout the whole album, and not once does this delivery fall flat. The production and the vocal effects all contribute, but her singing style does not waver. This is not a bad thing; it’s simply a testament to the skill of her as a vocalist and her brother as a producer.
I must take a second to appreciate the production from Finneas O’connell. His beats — those shuttering high hats, the deep sub bass — all beyond ingenious. The playing with the vocals is something to be reckoned with as well, as the vocal effects add massive amounts of character to her voice and the substance behind her lyrics.
There are several tracks to highlight on this record. There are the obvious and aforementioned “When the Party’s Over” and “You Should See Me in a Crown.” Beyond that, tracks like “Bad Guy,” “Xanny,” “Wish You Were Gay,” “8,” and “Listen Before I Go” are my personal favorites.
Her song “Bad Guy” features a deep sub bass with a set of ever-increasing snaps that slowly feel as they’re surrounding you while Eilish delivers lines including “[I’m the] might seduce your dad type.”
On the other hand, “Xanny” feels like a bare bones, singer songwriter experience as it opens — singing about lifeless, drug addicted zombies — before suddenly an explosive bass effect attacks everything within the song, leading everything (vocals included) to vibrate and tingle with abrasive noise. This is all interspersed with quiet, personal piano bits, Eilish’s voice fluttering over these portions with a beauty akin to a Disney song. This loud soft dynamic doesn’t sound far off from the alternative rock of the ’90s and the ending sounds straight out of “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Cover Band.”
Eilish continues this singer songwriter vibe with “Wish You Were Gay,” her voice laying a ballad over a strummed guitar and trap backing crafting an intoxicating sound straight out of a summer jam. Although one of the more pop sensible songs on the tracklist, it is one of the catchiest and doesn’t miss a beat in comparison with the rest of the album.
“8” is one of the strangest songs on the album, featuring (honestly somewhat terrifying) baby voice vocals over a singer songwriter type trap beat. This is one of Eilish’s strongest vocal tracks on the album, featuring goosebump inducing shaking, highs and lows and that aforementioned baby voice.
However, my personal favorite song on the track is “Listen Before I Go.” An isolated, heartbreaking piano ballad is interrupted by vocal effects or bombastic production. There is nothing to draw away from the words Eilish is trying to say, and those words are heart-wrenching. She sings solemnly about her friends she will miss, her loves lost and continually refers to leaving. This is an obvious suicide note and a terrifying way to leave off an emotional rollercoaster of an album.
This album was beyond impressing for me. I completely underestimated what Eilish was capable of. She is no stereotypical pop star.
I know it might be difficult to take her seriously given the way she has come up and the prejudices some might have, but I urge all to give this album a shot. I believe they will find a wonderful and downright amazing pop experience here.
Featured image (at the top of this post): Billie Eilish performs live in Los Angeles in a 2017 concert. PHOTO CREDIT: Justin Higuchi