Tag Archives: clubs

Denali increases support in the arts

By Mark Haiko

Denali Multimedia Editor

Art is the use of skills in pursuit of creative productions, with examples being drawing, written literature and video creation. This definition is quite broad, and, in concept, most things people use their imagination on can be considered art. Even with such a loose definition, Summit Public Schools: Denali has had problems with promoting art.

As highlighted by the article “Denali needs more art opportunities,” Denali had a large gap in arts representation. In the 2018-19 school year, there were only four art-based Expeditions (electives), while most core classes did not feature artistic projects. Whenever students walked through the hallways, there wasn’t anything promoting art clubs and there weren’t any pieces of art on the walls.

When asked if he believes art belongs in the school environment, Expeditions teacher Vincent Nelson answered, “I for sure do. I think that a lot of our passions revolve around art.” Mr. Nelson, who teaches Video Production and Screenwriting, also talked about how, through our passion, we can learn more things about ourselves and how art is a great pathway for this.

Art is a way for students to express their passions and creativity. At most schools, students who are passionate about art are given the chance to showcase their passion through electives and clubs. Denali does not always have the same types of programs.  Even so, through the years they have been expanding their arts programs, and many people believe that Denali is on the right track.

Through the 2019-20 school year, Denali has increased its promotion of art in many different ways. The main ways were including more visual and performing arts Expeditions courses, giving more freedom with independent study and allowing more art-based clubs to pop up.

Students are given directions in Intro to Video Production. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

Expeditions increases art choices

Last year, Expeditions courses at Denali were far more limited, and getting a Visual and Performing Art credit was more difficult. Some arts classes, like Stage Combat (now known as Experimental Theater), were pending in their VPA certification. (Courses must be approved by the UC system to receive this designation; all California high school students need at least one VPA credit to graduate).

The 2018-19 Expeditions course catalog at Denali was quite limited in its offerings of VPAs, and, due to that, students had to participate in a VPA Expeditions course in a later year.

Last year there were only three teachers who taught arts classes, and, due to this, the types of art offered were really limited. The only multimedia-based art was Multimedia Political Journalism, while Creative Writing and Visual Arts focused on writing-based and drawn art, respectively. Stage Combat was the only performing art, which was retro-actively given a VPA credit at the start of this year.

This year Denali added a senior class, and, due to this increase in the total number of students at the high school, more Expeditions classes were added to the roster. Six new Expeditions courses have been added, with four of them being arts-based courses. This almost doubled the amount of arts Expeditions the school has.

Denali senior James Begole, was “very disappointed in the lack of choice in arts” last year, and was “pleased by the amount of Expeditions we have this year.” He said that “Denali didn’t have enough art opportunities, though this year you have more choices in terms of art Expeditions.” He believes that art at Denali is heading in a good direction, and he hopes that it keeps expanding. 

“I think that Summit is doing well in offering art, since they have drama, physical, and written art in Expeditions,” Denali sophomore Steven Johnson said. He is referencing the nine art Expeditions courses Denali now has, with four of them being visual art; four being written art; and one being performing art.

With the landscape of courses that Expeditions provides, Denali has improved in its art capabilities. Expeditions is a good way for students to express themselves and showcase their own ideas through art, instead of outright saying it.

Students learn stage fighting in Experimental Theater. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

Independent Study gives students more choices

Independent Study was originally planned as a make-your-own Expeditions option designed for personal research projects. It was sometimes also used for working on AP course preparation, so that students would be ready for the AP tests that come near the end of the school year.

Many students have found new possibilities for their Independent Studies.  For example, Denali seniors James Begole, Leopold Chen and John Duroyan joined together to work on their art project “Dance of the Three Kingdoms.”

“Dance of the Three Kingdoms is a collaborative writing project based around three settings and different writing styles coming together to form an engaging narrative,” Duroyan said. Their project heavily revolves around being given the chance to use Independent Study time to work on their passion and flesh out their world.

Through Independent Study their group can work on their project the way they want to. “We outline our general settings, work out our characters and their backstories, at our own pace,” Duroyan said. What he is referring to is how, in Independent Study, students set their own pace and work as much as they need, without being on teacher-set deadlines.

Denali seniors John Duroyan, Leopold Chen and James Begole work on their Independent Studies PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

This is a project that they were working on in their free time, and it involves aspects of both creative writing and painting. With Independent Study, they were given an avenue to work on their art projects as their own Expeditions course.

“I especially like Independent Study and the structure of Expeditions, where you get to work on a lot of art-based projects where you can collect your arts and focus down on what you want to work on,” Chen said.

Independent Study helps students like Duroyan and Begole to work on their own art projects that they are passionate about without the restriction of a teacher setting the curriculum and agenda. Instead of forming their imagination into a mold that is given to them by the teacher, students get to make your their own passion-based project in the Independent Study.

Art-based clubs have increased in number

Clubs is an area where Denali has struggled the most to provide arts-based opportunities. In the 2018-19 school year, the arts made up only three of around 28 clubs. This was an extremely small amount, especially with the school providing very little art in core classes. The school was divided into volunteering clubs and technology clubs, with almost no representation for the arts of the school. 

This year, 11 of the 28 clubs are art-based, a large jump from the previous year’s three art clubs. These arts classes range from movie clubs to journalism and writing clubs. This year has seen a large increase in arts-based clubs.

Many different arts are represented in various clubs, such as Writer’s Club, which “strives to provide a relaxed and helpful environment for people who want to express their creativity through writing,” according to club co-founder Chen. Writer’s Club is an example of one of the clubs that popped up this year. It is also one of the clubs that adds diversity to the arts-based clubs.

Denali makes progress in art offerings for students

This year, Denali has improved its arts landscape and increased the amount of art that is being supported. Due to these changes, Denali has added more choices to the students’ pursuits in expanding their creativity.

FEATURED IMAGE (at top of post): This wall showcases a “temporary graffiti” art project in the Denali hallway. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

Body Positivity Club gives Denali students a place to accept and appreciate themselves

By Ellen Hu

Denali Editor-in-Chief

A group of students gather in a classroom with friendly smiles on their faces and their lunches in hand. They aren’t talking about television shows or video games. They’re talking about underwear sizes.

The Body Positivity Club is a student-run club at Summit Denali High School where students are able to discuss topics related to self acceptance, body images in the media and much more. “I really just want a safe place for people to build up their body confidence and find their inner value and their inner worth,” Summit Denali junior and club leader Renata Duarte said.

The club meets on Mondays in Room 3.  Students can join the club by filling out the club form at tinyurl.com/bodyposiclub2020

Duarte founded the club at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, although she had discussed the idea with Denali staff beforehand. “When she first brought it up with me she was so excited,” Denali Modern World History II teacher and club supervisor Karla Guerrero said.

Ms. Guerrero is joined by Denali Math II teacher Dharini Ramaswamy to supervise the club. Currently the club has 17 members, although Ms. Guerrero wishes there were more. “But I do understand that it’s a club, and it’s up to students who are interested,” she said.

When Duarte was thirteen years old, she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Duarte considers it an “umbrella term” with symptoms that can include irregular menstrual cycles and elevated signs of male hormones. One of Duarte’s symptoms is weight gain that is caused by a chemical imbalance of testosterone and estrogen.  

“For a while I was playing sports, I was very active,” Duarte said. Even so, she found herself gaining weight without an explanation. 

“A lot of the doctors, they were writing it off as me being lazy and not being an active enough person, even though I was doing all of these things,” Duarte said. “When I finally got a good doctor, I was diagnosed with that and I found a community of people with PCOS.”

This community introduced Duarte to the body positivity community. While initial conversations covered self-advocacy in doctor’s offices, she found that there were a lot of other topics that could be covered. 

Through her online PCOS health chat room, Duarte learned about Tess Holliday, a plus size model. “She started talking about body positivity, and that really resonated with me,” Duarte said.

Holliday began to share stories of people who were following healthy habits and still gaining weight as well as people who were not able to get the help that they needed because of their sizes. For one of the first times, Duarte saw stories that sounded like hers.

The club gives her and other students a place to share their stories and make other students aware of the pressures that society places on outer images. “When I told them I got kicked out of an Abercrombie and Fitch because I was just in there, they were like ‘why is this happening?’ and they got angry,” Duarte said. “They wanted to do something about it.”

Denali AP English Language teacher Nicole Soriano appreciates how vulnerable club members are able to be in the space, although she did have concerns at the beginning. “These are really challenging topics and it [school] is a really hard place to do it too,” she said.

“One of my concerns was how the meetings were going to be structured,” she said. At first she was worried that the club would focus on harmful experiences without helping students heal from them. These worries were soon addressed as no problems occurred.

“It’s very open and judgement free,” Ms. Guerrero said. “It’s a very powerful safe space.” She believes that the club will help students relate and stand up for each other in the future.

Ms. Soriano appreciates the level of care and thoughtfulness that Duarte has put into the club. She believes that self-acceptance is “the most overlooked area of self-care” and is glad that Denali students now have a place to address that.

Denali junior Meghan Butler joined the Body Positivity Club to better understand body positivity in the media and to support her friends.  The club has also introduced her to new information.

“I like the facts that Renata gives,” Butler said.  “They’re well-sourced and interesting.”  

In the future, Duarte hopes to set up a mirror that community members can look into, reflect on what they love about themselves, then write it down on the mirror. She plans to place it in a secluded area of the school so that people can do this in private.

“I know it’s really hard,” Duarte said. “It’s one of those topics that not a lot of us like to talk about; but I want people to feel safe, and I want people to feel welcomed.”

“If I can just have this club and continue this conversation that has been going on through social media and a bunch of other places, than hopefully this platform can continue to make this conversation an actual thing,” Duarte said. 

FEATURED IMAGE (at top of post): Denali junior Renata Duarte speaks to Body Positivity Club members during a meeting. PHOTO CREDIT: Ellen Hu

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

Shasta Dungeons and Dragons Club provides a unique experience

By Albert Chang-Yoo and Zachary Navarra

Staff Writers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clubs build community at Summit Shasta

By Sophia Woehl

Staff Writer

This year, Summit Public Schools: Shasta has over 30 clubs organized by students. Most students are involved in at least one of these clubs, which meet after school, during lunch or off campus.

Clubs at Summit Shasta are run by student leaders, who can create a club if enough students are interested, with the support of a teacher. In the beginning of September, a large club fair is set up at lunch, with club leaders trying to entice students to sign up for all kinds of groups.

Throughout the year, clubs meet, sometimes holding fundraisers to earn money for their activities. In these clubs, all grades interact and students make new connections through a common interest.

Clubs have been at Shasta from the very beginning because students have had extracurricular hobbies and activities that they wanted to share with their peers. Every year, clubs change based on the interest of the students and the number of club leaders who step up to organize a group.

Most students believe that clubs are enjoyable, but do clubs change Summit Shasta? Do they influence the community here?

See below for a look at what students and staff members think of clubs at Shasta: 

For an in-depth look at one student-led club, see below:

The Young Dreamer Network is an example of a club that brings students together and helps to build the community locally, as well as abroad.

Shasta senior Sabrina Robinson is the co-leader of the Young Dreamer Network at Summit Shasta. The Young Dreamer Network is an organization that sends students on service trips across the globe over the summer. Robinson is also involved in three other clubs: Service Club, Animal Awareness Club and Car Club.

Robinson and Shasta senior Kaitlyn Becker started the club last year after they went on a service trip to Guatemala the summer after sophomore year.

Sabrina Robinson headshot

Shasta senior Sabrina Robinson

“Kaitlyn and I signed ourselves up for a trip to Guatemala sophomore year and when we came back, we just knew that we wanted others to experience different cultures like we were able to,” Robinson said.  

Now, in its second year as a club at Summit Shasta, the Young Dreamer Network has over 40 students who attend the weekly meetings. Some of these students will volunteer on weekends and go on service trips over the summer.

As a club leader, and a member of many other clubs, Robinson has a strong opinion about how clubs impact the school community. She believes that clubs make a very positive change in the school.

“They really provide an outlet for students to develop their social skills, making a really positive impact on our community as a whole,” she said. “Being a part of so many clubs at Shasta actually really helped me transition into its unique community as a freshman.”

Many staff members and students also believe that clubs build connections between grade levels. Robinson said that she felt more connected to students because of the clubs.

“All the clubs that I’ve participated in over the years have helped me develop friendships across grade levels, making me feel more connected to the students at Shasta,” Robinson said.

She went on to say how the Young Dreamer Network impacts the community: “Volunteering helps build empathy and confidence, which our club members are showing in their everyday lives,” she said. “I know that as individuals in a community become stronger in character, the community will too.”

Overall, the clubs at Summit Shasta have made a difference in students’ personal lives, and their communities. Robinson said, “They provide a safe space for people to share their interests and ultimately help unite people from different grades who would have otherwise not known each other.”

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If you are interested in learning more about specific clubs at Summit Shasta or if you want to get involved in a club, please email Shasta Assistant Director Ava Petrash at apetrash@summitps.org.

Below is a list of the clubs currently offered at Summit Shasta:

Service Club, Anime Club, Coding Club, Music Club, Shasta Science Society, TerraCycle Club, Fellowship Club, Animal Awareness Club, Amnesty International, Debate Club, Cultural Empowerment Club, D & D Club, Model U.N., Ambassador Club, Yearbook Club, Young Dreamer Network, Poly Club, Rats and Clowns United, Gaming Club, American Red Cross, Board Game Club, Musical Theater Club, Hogwarts Club, Library Club, FilAm Club, Film Club, Black Student Union, Gardening Club, Shasta Auto Club, SAT/ACT Prep, Baking Club and the Entrepreneurship Club