Tag Archives: culture

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: Juul.com

“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

How the future of journalism is changing in the internet era

By Kristian Bekele

Staff Writer 

As the intersection of news and social media is merging at a faster rate, there are various questions that come up with the use of the Internet as a tool for informing the masses. How does the monetization of news websites and “click money” affect the quality of reporting? How does the Political Correctness culture — mixed in with multiculturalism — affect the honest issues that people need to talk about?

Two teachers at Summit Preparatory Charter High School in Redwood City gave their perspectives on how the journalism industry is affected by the internet and by the new political and social movements that have occurred within the last couple of years.


Chris Kelly, history teacher at Summit Prep

Chris Kelly is the eleventh grade AP U.S. History teacher at Summit Prep. David Tellez is also a history teacher, but he instructs students in Modern World 1 and 2.

Both of them have had experience working in the journalism industry, with Mr. Kelly working for various publications, most notably as an editor on The Dolphin Log, a quarterly publication on the history and culture of the San Francisco Bay, from 1993 to 2005. Mr. Tellez was a part of Univision as an intern for Community Communications in Los Angeles before becoming a teacher.

With both of them having experience in the journalism world and as history teachers, they have the ability to analyze the historic and local impact of news and how it affects the lives of people.


David Tellez, history teacher at Summit Prep

One of the things that greatly influenced the rise of interest in the news is the terrorist attacks that occurred during 9/11. During that time, Mr. Tellez himself was in high school, and he said that the way that he and his classmates were often informed was through the lens of satire. He remembers watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and being informed through him.

Compare that to now, where people are now informed through various news publications such as HuffPost and Breitbart, to name a few. Mr. Tellez sees this trend of people mainly focusing on what they want to hear instead of diversifying their input from news media, and he said that most people now are “more polarizing.”

Mr. Kelly was an editor at the time, and he said that he has seen the expansion of news media since he was younger (mentioning the dominance of news stations such as CBS and NBC) and that in general people should look at different news sites such as Buzzfeed, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He sees that people (especially his students) need to be able to check the credibility of the media that they watch, and that “a part of teaching is teaching how to do this.”

But then the question comes up about how people should deal with PC (political correctness) culture. It’s a rather hot topic in general, with both sides having solid arguments as to the definition and the implications that can come with implementing these “social norms”. Both teachers agreed that PC culture can be used as a positive tool to allow for communities to further understand people, but at what cost?

Mr. Tellez said, “I do think that to the extreme Political Correctness is harming. It is negating conversations that need to take place.”

Mr. Kelly also said, “The proliferation of all these people that have something to say is something positive. It is a reflection of the First Amendment.”

Both of them agree that the use of people that need to have their voice heard is high, but there should be a point where people should also be respectful of the questions that come as a result.

Mr. Tellez gives an example with his mentor group having questions about theology, culture and race in the group.

He said, “If we were trying to create a safe space, my white students would not be able to ask the questions that they wanted to.”

For instance, if someone posed the question about the differences between Hispanic, Latino, and Chicano, they would not be able to ask this question under the norms of political correctness.

Mr. Kelly also agrees with Mr. Tellez’s statement. He said, “It can shut down the conversation.”

Mr. Tellez also adds that when a person is offended, they need to fully talk it out. Otherwise, their grievances will not be fully addressed, which makes a more divided community.

With the 2016 elections and the comments that have been made by President Trump about fake news, the news media is slowly starting to change. Mr. Tellez said, “I’ve seen news organizations focusing on informing the public on the presidency. There is a shift back to Edward Murrow style of reporting.”

Edward Murrow is an iconic news reporter from the beginning of World War II who was known for putting his life in danger for finding the truth.  was famous for his reports during the McCarthy scandal in the mid 50’s. With the reporting and the investigation that Mr. Murrow did, he was able to clear the name of Mr. Radulovich through his television show See It Now on CBS.

This is where Philip DeFranco comes in. Philip DeFranco, or sxephil, is a YouTuber who specializes in news reporting, even though he doesn’t call himself a reporter. An article in the LA Times described him as the “Walter Cronkite of the YouTube generation.”

I have been watching him since 2013-14, and I constantly go to his news analysis and commentary because of how honest and factual he is.

Mr. DeFranco has a method of introducing a story. He first gives the facts of what has occurred and then gives his opinions (no matter how polarizing), and that is why I appreciate him. In an interview with Forbes, Mr. DeFranco said that “even now, every time I open my mouth, I’m potentially alienating someone. But I think that’s the only way to have the conversation. That’s why I’ve formed it the way I have.”

The intersection between honest reporting and wanting to make profit from advertisement revenue is a rather wide gap and sometimes, content creators can be (for a lack of another word) singled out due to the content that they have created. This mostly means that they would be blacklisted on many advertisers.

With Mr. DeFranco, it was due to the controversial videos that he makes; for instance, in this video he informs the audience about the protests against Milo Yianoppolus and Martin Shrkeli’s speech at the University of California-Davis. Mr. DeFranco puts forth the argument that those against Yianoppolus and Shkreli should not be quick to shut down their voices, even if the speakers’ ideas are against what the protesters believe in.

Such arguments about free speech are a rather touchy subject to talk about during our political moment. Mr. DeFranco’s argument also ties back to what Mr. Tellez and Mr. Kelly said in regards to PC culture and the negative effects that can have in creating a dialogue.

Philip DeFranco is able to step out of the boundaries of both sensationalism and political correctness to bring about news reporting in a clear and honest way.  This makes him “not advertiser-friendly.” In August 2016, YouTube made public that if there was any content that was deemed “not advertiser friendly” (one of the categories was any talk about political conflicts, natural disasters, tragedies and war even if the images are not shown), it would be demonetized.

This means that people who use YouTube as their main income source will basically be censored if they talk about the political, social and economic issues occurring within the world due to their inability to get money from the advertisements that run on their videos. YouTube has the legal right to do this (since they are a private company), but it’s more of an ethical issue. By demonetizing the new generation of news analysis and commentators, then their opinions and voices will not be heard.

The scary part is that this announcement is not anything new. According to Ethan and Hila Klein of the popular h3h3Productions channel, they have been having this problem at least two years before due to the tags that they used.

At this point, it’s just whether journalism and journalists will be able to coincide with the advertisement driven companies and (to a greater extent) us, the people as consumers of media? In order for the truth to come out and the people involved to make a living, there needs to be some sort of way that they can get money. The one possible way that this can happen is through the purchase of subscriptions to news sites. Otherwise, there would be advertisements on every web page and that can easily be remedied using ad-block. As John Oliver said in his observation of the journalism world on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, there is a balance that needs to be obtained with the consumer and the producer.

Otherwise, the truth will be buried under clickbait.

Featured Image (at the top of this post): Journalism students Eliza Insley and Cici Logan pose for the Summit News website banner. PHOTO CREDIT: Kai Lock

San Francisco’s multiculturalism defines my community

By Micah Tam

Staff Writer

As a native of the Bay Area, I personally feel very lucky that I get to be surrounded by so many different cultures and ethnicities. That diversity helped me form my views on the world and become more open-minded. To exhibit what community means to me, I am presenting the different cultural influences in the Bay Area, specifically the multiculturalism in San Francisco.


Roasted ducks hang in the front window of a restaurant, which is a common sight on the streets of Chinatown.


Chinese street names in Chinatown are present on each street sign. Grant Avenue is one of the oldest streets in Chinatown. It was previously named Dupont Street, which explains why the Chinese characters translate phonetically to “Du Pon Gai” (“Gai” meaning street). 


Grant Street showcases different Chinese business signs and hanging lanterns.


An assortment of tea leaves are displayed on the tables of Vital Tea Leaf.


Above is a look into an herbal shop that sells Chinese herbs and medicine.


Above is a storefront of a jewelry store, showcasing different jade necklaces, rings and bracelets.

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The leaders of Saints Peter and Paul Church were “originally sent to San Francisco to minister specifically to the Italian immigrant population,” according to the Salesians of Don Bosco.


Columbus Café on Green Street has a beautifully painted mural above its storefront.


These are different Italian restaurants located down Green Street.

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Above is a glance inside the Italian deli and market, Alimento.


Father Junípero Serra founded the Mission San Francisco de Asís on Oct. 9, 1776.


Above is a mural in Clarion Alley between 17th Street and 18th Street in the Mission District.


This is the Cornerside Mexican Market that is located on Mission Street.

These photos were taken in Chinatown, North Beach and the Mission District, which are the main locations in San Francisco that I feel showcase the strongest sense of cultural diversity within the city.  In addition to these three areas of San Francisco, there are also other culturally-centered areas such as Little Russia and Japantown.

Growing up in such an accepting and diverse part of the world has helped me to develop a more open-minded mindset and also to have appreciation for the different ethnicities, cultural groups and people in this world. I am grateful my community has not only impacted me in defining where I come from but also in shaping who I am.

Rainier visibly supports diversity

By Yelitzi Ortega

Staff Writer

Students and faculty at Summit Public School: Rainier often visibly show their support for the creation of a diverse school community. Specifically, many students and faculty display pride in the diversity of the school and especially show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. Students also display their pride for diversity by having flags and joining clubs such as the Multicultural Club. Examples of pride can be seen all over campus. Things like posters, flags and even buttons are seen every day, as shown in the slideshow below.

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All of this visible support for diversity helps create a safe space for all members of the Summit Rainier community. Here’s a spotlight on some of the staff members who help create a safer space for diversity:


Rainier Spanish Teacher Angel Barragan

Mr. Barragan is one of the most influential people at Rainier when it comes to diversity. His classroom has many flags from different places, and he often speaks about opportunities students have to go to programs like the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Program.


Rainier Assistant Director, Edwin Avarca

Mr. Avarca is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and he has a very big impact at the Summit Rainier because of the way he speaks about and supports all of the diversity in school.


Rainier Office Manager Lupe Trujillo

Ms. Trujillo is often seen showing her pride for diversity by having stickers on her laptop. She also has very strong opinions when it comes to the school’s community, and she isn’t afraid to speak out. Ms. Trujillo does everything in her power to ensure the safety of every student in this school, whether it has to do with bullying or maybe even smaller things.