Category Archives: Shasta

Summit Shasta supports students after threat

By Albert Chang-Yoo and Melissa Domingo

Staff Editors

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

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

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

How did the administration respond?

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

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

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

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

How did the students respond?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did the mentors respond?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Homeless Navigation Center on Embarcadero sparks debate

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

By Mytrisha Sarmiento

Staff Editor 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Student Informer

Political and current event opinion from Ben Alexander

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vape culture impacts Shasta and campuses nationwide

By Ethaniel Reyes and Albert Chang-Yoo

Staff Editors

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

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

Vaping at Shasta


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the national spotlight

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

What do teachers think? 

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


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

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

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

Effects on teens

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

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

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


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

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

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

So what does this mean for Shasta students?

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

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

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

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


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

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

By Evelyn Archibald and Judy Ly  


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.


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

Summit Shasta clubs enrich the student experience

By Melissa Domingo

Arts Editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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