Tag Archives: community

Tahoma community members share opinions on the 2020 election

By Yasmeen Ali, Kainoa Garo and Ian Vu

Staff Writers

Many people from Summit Tahoma, a charter school in San Jose, show strong opinions on the upcoming 2020 presidential election. Many teachers and students have knowledge about the candidates; Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris appear to be inspiring the most interest so far. 

As of Oct. 9, a total of 19 Democrats and four Republicans are running in the 2020 presidential election. Opinion on campus seems to lean toward a Democratic view; all the teachers and students interviewed at Summit Tahoma for this story expressed the most interest in Democratic candidates. 

For example, Tahoma math teacher Douglas Wills said, “I’m in love with Elizabeth Warren. Every time she talks I’m, like, in love with her … she’s a little to the left of me with some economic things, but, in general, she lines up pretty well with me.”

See below for political perspective from the Tahoma community:

Opinions of the Tahoma community on presidential politics

Some interviewees explained that the presidential campaign is currently focused on whether or not President Donald Trump should stay in office. Tahoma history teacher Kevin Franey said, “A lot of focus is on the Republican side keeping Trump in office, and on the Democratic side it’s mostly about beating Trump.”

Tahoma Executive Director Jonathan Stewart explained how extreme views are becoming more common. “The political center ground in the U.S. has eroded a little bit, so people are more on the political extremes, either on the right or the left.”

Particular community members expressed their wants for more variety in the candidates who are running for president. Tahoma senior Ethan Nguyen said, “One change I would love to see is that I’m hoping that the establishment — in both the DNC and RNC which is Democratic and Republic national committees — I’m hoping that they allow more candidates this time … people were forced to pick a side.”

A few of the individuals interviewed said presidential elections in the United States require improvement. “There’s a lot of problems in our system. I think the fact that it depends on so much money is a big problem. It puts a lot of pressure on candidates to bend to people that are able to supply that money,” Tahoma Assistant Director Megan Toyama said. “I think that the electoral college — and not being based purely on the popular vote and it being based on the electoral college — gives some states more power than others.”

Expeditions Dean Monica Hanson, who runs the electives team at Summit Tahoma, also identified multiple problems in which how voters chose certain candidates. “I think we get too caught up in cult of personality … but I wonder at what point we’re actually looking at the plans — and their track record of being a politician and getting stuff taken care of and actually doing what they say — rather than this is someone I’d want to hang out with.” 

The presidential election of 2020 is important as it determines how our future regarding the government might become. Tahoma biology teacher Alexis Lorenz said, “I think as up-and-coming voters, our students need to always take that opportunity to vote. As my dad always says: You can’t bitch if you don’t vote. And we all dearly like to complain, and so, if you’re gonna complain, you have to have done your part in making your voice heard.”

Rainier community responds to termination of annual school camping trips

By Keith Dinh

Rainier Editor-in-Chief 

Prior to the 2019-20 school year, every Summit Public School brought as many students as possible to a camping trip early in the first semester. For Rainier, students were taken to the mountains into the woods to stay for two days and camp overnight, and, over the years, this has become a defining part of Rainier’s culture that many students would look forward to every year.

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The Rainier community gathers to hear the announcement of the winners of the annual 2018-19 Mentor Olympics. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Students would be able to spend the first day setting up their tents that they shared with their friends and participating in a variety of activities that their mentors would lead. Many of these activities included hiking, board games, poetry writing, origami, talent show practice, and even learning how to dance. 

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Members of the Rainier community seat themselves for an evening meal at the 2018-19 annual school camping trip. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

The students would be able to eat together and watch a talent show which spotlighted their peers, teachers, and even parents who had come to volunteer. The next morning, students would be able to take part in the annual Mentor Group Olympics, which was a series of games that each mentor group would take part in to be able to best the others in a competitive environment. After the winner of the Mentor Group Olympics was announced, everyone cleaned up their areas and headed back home.

On June 3, at the end of the 2018-19 school year, Rainier administrators sent an email to students announcing the termination of Summit’s annual school camping trips. This announcement brought mixed reactions from the students and faculty members of Rainier. 

Rainier sophomore Aidan Franco-Lee expressed that the termination of the camping trip is something that negatively impacted the community. Being able to participate in the event during the previous school year, Franco-Lee recalled his memories as being very positive, transformative experiences that allowed him to be a more integrated member of the Rainier community.

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Rainier students wait in line to get their meals at the 2018-19 annual school camping trip. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

In regards to the recent termination of the camping trip, Franco-Lee said, “I was really upset about it. Personally, coming to school here, where I didn’t really know anyone, the camping trip was really definitely something that got me to know my mentor group — It got me a lot more comfortable, and it really helps me and everyone, so it was fun, too.

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Rainier science teacher Edward Lin stands with his mentor group to give their mentor chant at the 2019-20 Community Day. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

In an effort to fill the absence of the camping trip with another event, Rainier’s faculty members planned a Community Day where students would walk to Lake Cunningham State Park and partake in the Mentor Olympics for the day. This year, students played games and had a barbecue in the afternoon after two of the games were completed. The final game was cancelled due to the extreme heat that day. Students were then directed to walk back to campus to be picked up after dismissal.

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Rainier sophomore Aidan Franco-Lee PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Franco-Lee expressed his opinion of the Community Day as an unfulfilling event in comparison to the camping trip, saying, “This year, I didn’t really enjoy Community Day because I felt that it was too short. Especially coming in and seeing all the incoming freshmen — knowing that they didn’t get that experience of the nice, long, overnight stay and really bonding with everyone — It was kind of like, ‘Oh, no, I’m sorry for you guys. You didn’t get the really fun experience,’ and obviously, I wanted it, too: I only came for one year, which was also like, ‘oof’.” 

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Rainier science teacher Shaila Ramachandran PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Rainier science teacher Shaila Ramachandran explained that she feels the pressure from the termination of the camping trip as a teacher. Ms. Ramachandran feels that her mentees, with the lack of the camping trip this year, have been looking for chances to find camaraderie and strengthen their bond as a mentor group, which puts pressure on her to find things to do with her mentees. In addition, Ms. Ramachandran believes that the camping trip is a major attraction for students thinking about coming to Summit Public Schools. 

Ms. Ramachandran said, “I don’t think it was the best decision for students. I think it was an activity that really sets our school — our schools —  apart from others, and it is a big selling point for students coming to us. And so I feel, for that reason, that they should have gotten more voices involved in the input stage at that.”

Believing that teachers and students should have been able to have a chance to give their insights and opinions toward the topic, Ms. Ramachandran explained that she believes the decision made in regards to the camping trip is a decision that should have had more input before the final decision was made. 

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The Rainier community cheers each other on during the announcements of the winners of the 2018-19 Annual Mentor Olympics. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

“I was just reflecting on how I have a couple of new mentees this school year, and we didn’t have the benefit of them having a camping trip where they could really bond and immerse themselves in the mentorship group, and, so, instead, we kind of just had to hit the ground running with them, getting them accustomed to the work, and not really feeling, as a result, supported by that … Now, I feel like more of the pressure is on me to form more of those activities during the school year, like through mentor outings and things which we would do before. I feel like my students are really craving that and requesting that more throughout the school year,” Ms. Ramachandran said.

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Rainier students converse during the 2019-20 Community Day. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

There are some students and faculty at Rainier who believe that the decision to remove the camping trip had more negative effects on the community than positive ones. Although, there are some in the community who have found neutrality in their position in regards to the camping trip decision. 

Rainier Dean of Operations Lupe Trujillo has found some positive outcomes from the decision to terminate the camping trips. Mrs. Trujillo expressed that there is a lot to do logistically to allow the camping trip to occur, ranging from student paperwork to volunteer driver forms.

Apart from the logistical difficulties that she has encountered in trying to execute camping trips in the past, Mrs. Trujillo did say she feels some sadness from the decision to terminate the trips. She explained that she will no longer be able to see the talents that the students were allowed to showcase to a school-wide audience and see the bonds that are built between students during this time. 

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Rainier Dean of Operations Lupe Trujillo PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

In response to these new changes in culture, Mrs. Trujillo hopes to be able to keep the tradition of the Mentor Olympics every year in the form of Community Day. She hopes to be able to improve the planning and agenda every year to be able to fill the void that students feel from the termination of the camping trip. 

Mrs. Trujillo said, “We are going to try to do what we can to ensure that we keep these things intact. I think it has more to do with whatever we put in place. I think what I am more interested in is continuing the memories and the feelings that the camping trip provided, the teamwork aspect, all of that; but, I think if we can do that well in our Community Day, I think it can take the place of, and I think we can continue to build that community. This was the first year — we kind of went at it blindly — so I feel like it was not thoughtfully well-done. I think we could do a much better job, and I do think that there is a possibility for us to do just that to create those memories and all of that the camping trip inspired.”

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Rainier students converse during the 2019-20 Community Day. PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Students and faculty at Rainier have varying opinions on the termination of the school camping trips, ranging from sadness to happiness and from frustration to neutrality. 

A survey was conducted, asking Rainier’s community members what their opinions and feelings are about the termination of the annual school camping trips, and 86.4% of community members who submitted responses believe that the termination of the event was an unfavorable decision: 94% of the total responses attributed the termination to having a negative impact on the community, while 5% found the decision beneficial.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Keith Dinh

Here is a selection of the responses received:

Rainier sophomore Amanda Brand: It really isn’t good that the camping trips were terminated, and as a sophomore who only experienced the camping trips as a freshman, I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as other people, and that’s why I feel so bad for the new freshman class of 2023, because instead of an unforgettable bonding experience, they got a poor substitute. The camping trips get better with age, and it’s really unfortunate a lot of people don’t get to experience the prime experience of the camping trips, or at all.

Rainier junior Joana Padilla: The camping trip was a time for my mentor group and I to regroup after the summer. It was a time to get to know others and just have fun. I was disappointed and mad because the students had no say in the decision of the termination of the annual school camping trips. We could have been warned. Summit is known for its camping trip, and the fact that they terminated kind of made others really disappointed.

Rainier senior Rigoberto Estrada: Well, to begin with, I’m a senior now, and this was my last year at Summit Rainier and at first when I found out about the camping trip being terminated on my last year, it kind of got me by surprise, this camp trip meant a lot to Summit. It was a time where us peers all came together and kicked off the beginning of the school year with great energy/memories and a chance for all of us to get along and actually come together as one school. What I´m really going to miss about the camping trips were the talent shows. The talent shows were a way for us students to show and express our talents to one another and believe me the past camping trips were amazing. It made me realize how many super talented kids we have at our school. But even though I’m not gonna experience the camping trip with Summit anymore, since I’m a senior and I’m leaving next year, I hope you all reconsider bringing it back for future students and for my brother, also, who will be a junior next year.

A Rainier teacher (who asked to remain anonymous): I believe it was done as a response to teachers unionizing and have heard it was actually not the wish of Summit Leaders but rather legal advice from their lawyer, with teacher sustainability/work hour expectations in mind. What would have been better about the process in my opinion is actually polling teachers, students, and parents about the effectiveness of the camping trip and whether they believe it’s something that should be kept and/or made “optional”/allow each school site to decide whether to keep camping trip themselves. There are some Summit teachers (at other sites) who strongly believe camping trip was unsustainable/too much to ask of teachers and was not a positive start to their school year due to student discipline issues that always came up. I feel that teachers staying overnight at a camping trip could be made optional/up to sites to decide how to handle if they want.

To see more pictures from both Community Day and the Camping Trip of the 2018-19 school year, see the slideshow below:

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Redwood City mayor visits Summit Prep journalists

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Friday, Sept. 6, Redwood City Mayor Ian Bain came to Summit Preparatory Charter High School for a press conference to answer student journalists’ questions about his role in the community.

Ian Bain introduces the importance of local politics in Redwood City

By Jovani Contreras, Fabiana Munoz and Rosie Esteverena 

Staff Writers

Ian Bain believes that local politics are one of the most important facets of government. 

Mayor Bain started his Sept. 6 press conference at Summit Prep with a long, but informative introduction; he told of his perseverance and of his campaigns that failed for years before he was finally able to sit on the council to the point of maxing out his terms.

Mayor Bain wanted students to know he had dedicated his life to being a public servant.

However, his most important point in this was the relevancy of local politics in our day-to-day lives. The government is an essential part of how things function seamlessly, and Mayor Bain believes that much more work is done on a local level than any other.

The Redwood City mayor expressed how cardinal it is to get involved in the community being that council decisions greatly impact the daily lives of people in the city. He had a lot to say about the role local politics plays the city.

Mayor Bain said, “The laws we make here locally — even the court house events — that impacts your life, and I wish more people understood that and would get involved.”

Mayor Bain’s changes in his 18 years on the council included: making great strides in the beautification of Redwood City, implementing a public dog park and leading environmental initiatives resulting in a 22% decrease in electricity since 2005.

These changes have affected the Redwood City community greatly as far as helping beautify the city and improve the quality of life for its citizens. Mayor Bain said, “When Redwood City is nice, beautiful and welcoming, think of me.”

Mayor Bain is very proud of his achievements and the effect they have had on Redwood City, and he has further plans to better Redwood City and the lives of those living in it.

Mayor Bain has created a “respectful tone for local government.” He said, “I hope you learn to love Redwood City as much as I love Redwood City.”

 Mayor Bain works to better the community 

By Victor Aguilar, Cristina Ramirez, Salette Vazquez and Jorge Zamora 

Staff Writers

Redwood City Mayor Ian Bain reminisced about the days of bowling alleys, roller rinks and mini golf and hoped to bring family recreation back to the city.

On Sept. 6, Mayor Ian Bain came to the journalism class at Summit Prep to discuss things that are happening in the community of Redwood City.

As the mayor said in the press conference, he wants to “bring back family recreation.”

He said he wants to bring more entertainment to Redwood City, as there is zero to none right now for kids and adults to do in the community.

The mayor talked about many places that have been taken down. For example, the roller rink in Redwood City. The roller rink was taken down on Sept. 30, 2017; it was loved by many people. It was so loved by people that the mayor has teased that “they’re in talks with a roller rink operator.” He mentioned to not get people’s hope to get up, but it is a sign of change that the talks are happening in the first place.

When asked the question, “How would you improve Redwood City?” one of the places he mentioned taking his kids to was a place called Malibu Grand Prix. This place was always a mainstay in Redwood City, as it was open for 35 years. The thing is though, as mentioned in the Mercury News, it had to close down since of the rising cost.

The bowling alley, as known as Mel’s Bowl, was open for 40 years before being demolished for a 141-unit apartment. It was a staple of Redwood City, as many people that grew up around the area have said that “was the place that started my bowling obsession”

Mayor Bain has already began making changes to the city with the building of the Main Street Dog Agility Park. He was very proud of his work and even said that whenever he drives past the park and sees dogs playing he feels proud. One of the others ways Redwood City has improved is with connecting families through the events in downtown Redwood City. There are many events there, such as the Salsa Festival that lets people enjoy the culture and the setting of Redwood City.

Mayor Bain wants to reinvent areas of Redwood City that were there before to make them feel like a more family environment, where people can engage more with their community.

Ian Bain cares about Redwood City

By Morgan Dundas, Nina Gonzalez and Elizandra Zelaya

Staff Writers

Redwood City’s Mayor Ian Bain came to visit Summit Preparatory High School to spark dialogue with the students of the Multimedia Political Journalism class. He spoke about everything from housing prices to bringing back the famous roller rink to the community.

Mayor Bain engages with the community to form a genuine connection with the people he’s overseeing. He cares about helping others, which pushes him to do the best he can to make sure the people’s wants and needs are satisfied. 

Mayor Bain accomplished building the important court plaza, which stands for a large space for everyone in the community to gather and connect, regardless of someone’s race, religion, or sexual orientation. This area can be found near Redwood City’s downtown, which holds a special place in the community’s hearts.

Mayor Bain is also responsible for building the newest dog park on Main Street. He is grateful for the opportunity to complete this project and is satisfied with the work he has done. Driving by the park every day and witnessing everyone enjoying downtime with their family and friends, in turn bringing together the community, brings a smile to his face.

The mayor’s early drive for politics came from a connection to the young group in his community in which he can see himself and is proud to stand as an inspiration for many.

Mayor Bain is also proud to have helped a local group to get a street light near their home because there were many complaints of disrespect to the street due to the darkness. According to the mayor, one complaint said, “I come out every morning, and I find trash, slurpee cups, used condoms; it’s disgusting.” 

Mayor Bain followed up by stating how he “made a few phone calls and was able to find the status of the street light, and a year later I got an email from him saying, ‘Hey the street light just went in, it looks great, all my neighbors are thrilled, thank you so much for helping us.’ Those are the kinds of things that really keep me going.”

Mayor Bain makes sure he has open arms to everyone, he makes everyone feel safe and welcome to the community.  He said, “I talked about diversity and how we expect it here. We don’t report people who are in the country without documentation.”

Redwood City has a 32% Spanish speaking rate versus the national average of 13%, highlighting the diversity in which Redwood City holds

Mayor Bain shows a lot of intense eagerness and enjoyment toward the projects he has completed throughout the city and is more eager to start planning the new ideas he has to add to the city. He hopes that this will bring more entertainment and attraction to Redwood City.

The mayor is trying to add some new attractions to the city, such as a new roller rink and a bowling alley. He is trying to restore some of Redwood City’s attractions due to the roller rink closing down along with other attractions.

Redwood City Mayor Ian Bain talks about gun control

By Giselle Maldonado, Hannah Murrieta and Yoeli Romero

Staff Writers

Lately gun control has been a heated issue because of all the shootings that have happened in the past year. The Redwood City Mayor Ian Bain visited Summit Prep to talk about a variety of topics surrounding the city as well as larger problems.

Gun violence is a common topic discussed in politics. Even though people usually talk about it on a national level, Mayor Ian Bain, a local politician had a lot to say about it.

The mayor believes that gun violence is a major issue and some things need to be done to stop it. Responding to a question about the walkouts, the mayor said that “we need a new president … because the one we have currently doesn’t do anything about gun violence.”

More than ever, young people like Summit Prep students have had opinions on gun control. Students from schools all over the Bay protested.

According to Summit News, on March 14, 2018, students from Summit Prep, Everest, and many more from the Sequoia District joined the walkout from 10 to 10:17 to pay respects to the 17 victims. When the students arrived at the downtown area, Redwood City Vice Mayor Diane Howard gave a speech to support the students for their safe and encouraging protest. Afterwards, the students continued to yell out their chants one last time.

On March 24, 2018 students from all over the United States walked to prevent gun violence. The March for Our Lives movement started by students to advocate for sensible gun reform.

Students are willing to take a stand against gun control since it is such a big issue in the United States. So many lives have been affected by this issue, so students are trying to make a change to make our communities a safer place. 

Many people, including Mayor Bain, agree that changes need to be made to our current gun control policy. Although there are restrictions, it seems that the policies are not preventing gun violence. According to CNN, there has been about 22 school shootings so far in 2019. 

Tahoma displays their fondness for compassionate Operations Manager

By C.M. Bateman and Maxwell Taniguchi-King

Staff Editors

Lupe Talamantes-Escobedo, known as Ms. Lupe to students and fellow staff members, is the Operations Manager for Summit Public School: Tahoma. For nearly four years, Ms. Lupe has shaped Summit Tahoma through her valuable guidance and positive impact. Students and teachers alike appreciate Ms. Lupe’s continuous assistance and will miss her comforting presence when she leaves her current role at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

See below for a video tribute to Ms. Lupe:

Planning Prom at a small school proves challenging

By Molly Pigot

Everest Editor in Chief  

In every high school, Prom is the event of the year. Often viewed as the “last hurrah” of the school year, students count down the days to this famed event, planning and prepping for months in hopes of crafting the perfect night. For many students, this includes getting the perfect dress, getting matching corsages and boutonnieres, or reserving a limo to arrive at Prom. But for a portion of the student population, planning the perfect night is very different.

The Everest Student Government has been working very diligently over the last few months in order to plan their Prom. For us, this event is the highlight of all of the hard work we have been doing over this past year; this is our time to shine. We have been putting in the hours to make sure that Prom is the best it can possibly be in our own attempt to plan the perfect night.

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Last year’s Prom was at the Glass House in San Jose. PHOTO CREDIT: Jane Shamaeva

 For such a small school though, this can be difficult. We do not have the same budget as a school like Sequoia or Carlmont, and so we have our work cut out for us. We are also planning a joint Prom with both Summit Prep and Summit Denali, which adds another element for us to plan. We will need all of our planning complete before our Prom date, which this year is May 4. 

The greatest difficulty we are dealing with is our budget. For the size of our schools, the budget is reasonable; we are estimated to have around 300 students at the event. The complications come when trying to have high-quality decorations and elements at Prom.

Student Government has been fundraising throughout the year for Prom, but with such a large price tag it is difficult to get all of the money we need on fundraising alone. By partnering with other schools, we can then expand our budget because we increase the number of attendants at the event. If we were to have a Prom for Everest alone, there would only be about 125 attendants.

With the budget we are working with this year, we are devoting most of it to the venue, which this year is the Marriott in San Mateo. Because of this, our spending limit on decorations and other items like a DJ or photos is more limited. This provides issues when trying to create a more luxurious appearing event to appeal to students. 

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This year’s Prom will be held at the Marriott in San Mateo. PHOTO CREDIT: Marriott

As Treasurer of Everest’s Student Government, I have been putting in my best effort to ensure that our Prom is classy and elegant on this budget. This isn’t the easiest task, as cheaper decorations can be low quality and can make an event seem cheap.

I want to ensure that our Prom is refined and that it reflects the effort and time we put in it – not the budget. Because of this, most of the time I put into planning this event is directed towards the decorations; they can make or break the event.

One main resource for our planning process has been Pinterest. This source has a multitude of uploads of cheap but high-quality ideas for decorations. Even with our theme, which is Casino, we have a countless number of options for decorations on this site. With these ideas in mind, we then take to sites like Amazon, which has affordable supplies to create the decorations we envision our Prom to have.

With these supplies that we purchase we will be making decorations such as large dice, centerpiece and card deck wall decor. I have been keeping track of the items we have been purchasing, concerning the price and the quantity of the items, so that we stay within budget.   

Fortunately, we have been prepared for specific situations like this! Past projects in our math classes have allowed us to get a first-hand experience with budgeting and event planning. By using these mathematical skills we learned in class, we are able to create budgeting plans that outline how much we can spend and not go over our limit.

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Ignatius Hayer, president of Everest’s Student Government

Everest Student Government President Ignatius Hayer said that planning on a small budget has been great as it has taught him ways to plan so that in college, when budgeting is tricky, he will know ways to save his money. He also said that he has learned a lot about how to use coupons and how there are many ways to purchase items for a portion of their original price.    

With a smaller budget though, it is difficult to live up to the expectations many students have about Prom. Larger schools in the area have big luxurious Proms, renting out venues such as San Fransisco City Hall, providing fun activities such as game tables and catering beverages from popular restaurants. These Proms are hard to be compared to as they have a much larger budget and a much larger group of attendees.

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Last year’s Prom featured this dessert spread.  PHOTO CREDIT: Jane Shamaeva

These Proms are also very difficult to plan. Venues like San Francisco City Hall often have to be booked about a year in advance and, with locations being farther away, travel fees become an issue.

Because of how expensive these large Proms are, students often have to pay upwards of $90 for tickets. That plus however much a student spends on their personal effects – clothing, hair, accessories, transportation – can make Prom a multi-hundred dollar event.

Having a smaller Prom is less stressful for the students. Not only are the tickets half the price of that of a large Prom, but the venue is closer and the number of attendees is smaller. It allows the students to focus more on themselves and worry less about transportation and paying for their tickets.

Everest senior Tyler Signorello, who attended both Everest’s and Carlmont’s Prom last year, said, “Although our Prom is smaller, you know a lot of people there and you see a ton of new faces when we combine with other schools, so it feels larger. At a school like Carlmont’s Prom, there are so many people, and there’s so much happening, it’s hard to focus on the moment. Either way, they are both really fun events.”

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Students dance at Prom last year. PHOTO CREDIT: Jane Shamaeva

There are many benefits to a smaller Prom, and I believe it works really well for our school considering how close our community is. Prom can be a very beneficial community event if it is executed properly. We want students to reminisce on this night, to think fondly of it and to remember how fun and beautiful it was.

Prom takes months to prepare for, and at times the planning seems grueling; but when the set day finally arrives, all of the stress will have been worth it when we finally get to see our perfect night all put together.  

Related:

The last hurrah: Planning graduation

Minority students are asking the Denali administration for the support they deserve

By Kyle Kobetsky and Evangeline Si

Staff Writers

The Summit Denali Queer Straight Alliance was started in the fall of 2018, with the intent of creating a safe space for queer kids at Denali. Around the time the QSA was formed, the school held a Club Fair, intending to promote different clubs or social gatherings within the Denali community.

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This poster advertises the QSA Club. PHOTO CREDIT: Kyle Kobetsky

During this time, clubs were encouraged to distribute flyers across campus. For many clubs, this was not a problem. For Denali QSA, they found all of their posters missing from the walls. Even the poster advertising on the specifically designated club wall was missing.

This was not the first or the last time the members of the QSA would experience normalized discrimination, but it resonated with them. Having contacted the administration and received what was essentially radio silence, the QSA members were left feeling ignored.

A founding member of the QSA, who requested to remain anonymous, said, “The administration at Denali has often tried to make things better for people of certain identities who seem to be on the receiving end of harassment. However, nothing they do seems to make a lasting change for those of us affected.” Many Denali minorities feel these microaggressions and instances of discrimination are becoming normalized without administrative action.

Emma Smith, a key member of the Queer Straight Alliance, commented on the normalized discrimination she experiences: “People say the ‘f’ slur a lot […] they also say the ‘r’ slur but that’s not [homophobic]. Both of those words make me uncomfortable and having them said like where I go to school is not great for me at all […] they are just, like ‘Hey don’t swear!’ and then [the administration thinks] that makes them not do that again. That is a lot more harmful than the thing, like bigger instances [of homophobia].” 

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Denali sophomore Emma Smith

This is one of many incidents of the administration at Summit Denali not providing for the different identities within the high school community. Similarly, a former student Zaid Yousef, had concerns about a lack of an adequate praying area. Over his year with Denali, these concerns were not suitably addressed to provide the practicing Muslim community with a regular or comfortable praying area.

“[The] main thing for the Muslim minority was the prayer issue […] when all the rooms were occupied, we had to pray separately within our class times,” Yousef said. As you can see from his feedback, he was not too happy with the administration’s efforts in solving their problem. We asked Laura Zado, the Dean of Instruction and Culture at Summit Denali, for a response toward Yousef’s complaints but she did not get back to us.

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Denali Dean of Instruction and Culture Laura Zado

We also spoke with Ms. Zado about the minority groups at Denali and how the school works to provide for those with different needs or to prevent discrimination.

“Denali has done some in the past, like ‘what is bullying like’, […] ‘what does racism look like in today’s world’, ‘what does sexism look like in today’s world’ and I think that is something people touch on in classes, I would like to see students do more of that and to raise that awareness,” Ms. Zado responded.

Continuing her point, Ms. Zado said access to the curriculum and the projects needs to be improved. “I think we still have a ways to go in terms of making sure that particularly for students with, either learning differences or who English is not their first language. I think we have a long way to go in terms of providing access to that […] I think that is something our teachers are constantly working really hard with, I would say the other place I would really love to see — wanna push myself to, is bringing myself to kind of awareness events and programming to the school so different identity groups can get students together who are part of that identity group having them do some sort of celebration, presentation with the school.” Ms. Zado’s responses go to show that the administration does encourage awareness for the different identities of Summit Denali, but the students want them to take further action.

Denali has affirmed that one of their main focuses is on encouraging diversity in the community, but the response to hatred and bigotry falls short of their mission statement. However, this is not to say the administration of Denali willfully ignores the concerns of their diverse student body; but even with their current efforts, minorities are left feeling like second-class citizens in their community.

The situation at hand in Summit Denali is not purposeful lenience but an oversight due to frequent turnover, a lack of cultural competence and a diminished response to discrimination.

We then asked Ms. Zado how Denali deals with incidents that involve discrimination or harassment toward different identities in the community. “So the work that I do when we do hear about an incident [that] involves [minorities and homophobia/racism] really trying to understand what was at the core of that, and really try to get to what was the motivation and what was the rationale — just to help prevent it again and then we use something called restorative justice in order to bring in some logical consequences,” she replied.

The reaction from the administration of Summit Denali that students have personally experienced might not deliver the appropriate consequences for their targeting actions, but the lack of punitive justice reduces the awareness, respect and safety for the different identities in Denali’s community. 

While the minority student population feels ignored, there is still room for a voice in the Denali community, emphasized by the welcoming student body and the encouragement of the staff.

The Discord community is unique and diverse

By Charles Cassel, Mark Haiko and Soren Ryan-Jensen

Staff Writers

Louis Parks’ first experience with Discord was a few years ago in the summer of 2016, around one year after Discord’s release, when a few of his friends on Skype were urging him to make a Discord account. At first, he didn’t switch, but a few days later the peer pressure from everybody else switching had convinced him to try it out. After a few days of usage, he had adjusted to Discord and preferred the cleaner application over Skype. At this time, the only chats he was in were with friends who played Minecraft with him. At first, he didn’t really use it, but now he uses daily.

Discord is a chatting platform developed by Discord Inc that fills in for many roles. Other platforms that are similar are Skype, Teamspeak, and, most similar, Slack. Discord was made and is primarily for gamers and by gamers. Unlike Slack, Discord has voice chat and programmable bots that can do everything from moderating to playing music.

In Discord, you can call people personally or start group calls, but its main feature is the servers. Anyone can get up and host a Discord server where they can invite their friends. In these servers you can have multiple text and voice channels, as well as roles and bots. In the channels you can chat with people with either speech, text, or images.

This is a small list of text channels.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko
This shows two people having a conversation in General Banter. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

Our server is called the “Cereal Bowl.” We are comprised of around 80 people from various places and backgrounds. We were formed on July 3, 2017, after Steam chat didn’t work for us. It started with only two people, and it has since risen up to 80 people actively playing and talking to each other.

This shows the layout of Discord. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

An example is a group of around 10 people running a clan for the game known as Rust. They used the Discord server to organize in-game raids and events, and they would use the server’s voice chat to communicate important information like player location and amount of materials needed. Discord was an integral part of this.

This is a chat used for Rust. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

Another instance of Discord’s use is for Counter-Strike Global Offensive, abbreviated CSGO. People on the server used Discord to help them organize games and used it for callouts and formulating tactics. CSGO is a highly competitive game, where being able to speak to your team in really important; but, even though the game has an in-game chat, Discord was used to a greater extent and to greater efficiency.

Discord is highly used by gamers for its great versatility and easy accessibility. Unlike Teamspeak, you don’t have to do anything at all to host a server in which to chat, except for starting up the server (unlike most Discord-like apps, where you either host a server from your computer or you pay a company to host for you). But Discord’s ease of access and the servers being free were the main reasons people jumped ship for Discord.

This shows a small group of people who inhabit the server.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

People also use Discord for general chatting and banter. Since you can join a call at any time and people can see you in the call, they might also join in and start chatting. A lot of people in the “Cereal Bowl” usually join in a voice chat and talk about anything they feel about it. Sometimes they talk about school, what they did over the week, or just talk about things that seem relevant at the time.

This is an example of a person using images to communicate. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

Our Discord server is quite diverse. We have people from the United States, to the Middle East, and even Japan. Almost everyone on the server speaks more than one language, usually having English as their main language. Out of the people we surveyed, only one out of the nine people didn’t speak a second language.

An example of diversity is Charles Derrick William Bailey the Fourth. He is a German-American living in Tennessee, who speaks both German and English. Another example is Jens Berg, who is a German-Chinese-American; he speaks English to others, but to his parents he speaks either German or Chinese, depending on which parent he is speaking to, and he is also learning Spanish.

When surveying the people on the server, we also noticed that everyone knew English, and when looking even deeper and looking at everyone in the Discord, all of them speak English, even if they live in Belarus or Japan. People in countries where English isn’t really common still spoke English.

Many different people had many different starts in Discord. There was Louis Parks, who was mentioned at the start of the article, who started using Discord after all of his friends started moving to it instead of using the more popular app at the time, Skype. A similar situation happened to Vadim Fedorov, who moved to Discord after having a large amount of his friends move to Discord.

This shows Bageldorf sharing memes in Meme Hub 2, the reason he made the Cereal Bowl. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

A few other examples are when Steven Johnson’s friends “introduced it to me, and we spent the day just sending memes to each other because we had nothing better to do” or Charles Derrick William Bailey the Fourth, who joined a Discord server with his clan called “LOST.”

There are also a few other instances, but most people started doing Discord after their friends decided to stop using another app for voicechat at the time and switch to Discord; therefore, the person would feel uneasy not using Discord when everyone else was using it, so they would also start using Discord instead. With this process, a large amount of people started using Discord because their friends have them make the switch, and, with that, most of the voicechatting community started using Discord.

Using Discord allows people to communicate to groups that in other cases they couldn’t reach before. For example, our source Charles Derrick  William Bailey the Fourth stated, “I had a hard time with learning the genitive der, die, das, den, and Discord helped me by allowing me to join German servers and talk to people. Also I can talk to friends that are learning German and help them.”

Another example comes from Steven Johnson, who also echoed this statement, saying, “It is difficult to learn Spanish because it’s a lot of memorizing conjunctions and words, Discord helped me because some of my friends speak only Spanish or mainly Spanish at their homes so I was able to learn Spanish better from them.”

As we can see from these statements, Discord can help people learn more languages because it makes it easier to reach people who know those languages. People also use Discord for other things; our source Taehui uses Discord to “communicate with majority of friends (both IRL and online).”

In addition, almost all people interviewed used the word “communicate” or “chat.” This supports the idea that Discord is not just for gamers.

In an article posted by Psychology Today, one reason people hate others is due to a sense of something being alien or “other.” However, one interviewee, Louis Park, reported: “I always see people getting along, and it is rare to see any arguments of genuine hate. There is no hate speech, and the most intense arguments I have ever got into personally is over Minecraft.”

A person passes on information to his server mates. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

Charles Derrick William Bailey the Fourth also echoed this opinion, saying: “It depends on who you hang out with, but almost everyone I have met has been very kind, and I enjoy talking to them.” Steven Johnson also agreed, saying: “I view people on Discord as friends.”

Many people from many different backgrounds come to Discord to connect under one cause: to have fun with each other, regardless of race, religion, language and barriers. In Discord communities people respect and care about one another, as shown by Louis Park and Charles Derrick William Bailey the Fourth, who claim that they “always see people getting along” and that “almost everyone I have met has been very kind.” Discord is also a place where people can strengthen their relationships and academic skills by practicing skills with each other through calls. For example, Steven Johnson used Discord to help him practice Spanish with others: “It is difficult to learn Spanish because it’s a lot of memorizing conjunctions and words; Discord helped me because some of my friends speak only Spanish.”

In conclusion, Discord is a very positive and diverse place that can be used to expand knowledge and friendship. It is also very unique compared to many other ones.

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