Tag Archives: journalism

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

Multimedia Political Journalism gives students a chance to explore interesting topics

By Charles Cassel, Jacob Gaylord and Michael Stavintser

Staff Writers

Journalism is a medium that allows students and people from all around the world to learn more about their surroundings. The Multimedia Political Journalism class at Summit Denali expands this topic by illustrating the ideas and current news of political figures, stances and topics.

“I will be back for Advanced Multimedia Political Journalism because I enjoyed the first class, and I would like to pursue it more,” Denali freshman Mark Haiko said.

Advanced Multimedia Political Journalism will be a new course at Summit Denali for the 2019-20 school year. Interested students must have already passed Multimedia Political Journalism (the introductory course) or complete a teacher recommendation form with their independent study paperwork. Interested students should email the journalism adviser, Liz DeOrnellas, at edeornellas@summitps.org for more information.

“I would say that the work was a little bit harder for me because I don’t like to write, but it was very interesting and that helped me get through the class,” Denali sophomore Kyle Kobetsky said. “Going over topics and covering them was very interesting, but it was challenging.”

See below for a video about the Multimedia Political Journalism course:

Featured image (at the top of this post): Journalism students participate in a Socratic seminar to reflect on their current event lessons. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

Advanced journalists look back at a school year of noteworthy experiences

By Jacob Kahn-Samuelson and Maxwell Taniguchi-King

Staff Editors

Between traveling to Redwood City to visit Summit Everest and Prep and visiting the Spartan Daily (San Jose State’s school newspaper), the journalism program at Summit Tahoma has had a profound influence on the students and teachers at the school. This year in Advanced Multimedia Political Journalism the students have written about an array of topics and have developed as self-guided reporters.

See below for the student editors’ perspective on the AMPJ course:

Colleen Bateman, a senior at Summit Tahoma, served as the Tahoma Editor-in-Chief of Summit News. She and her fellow AMPJ peers answered a few questions regarding their experiences from this Expeditions class. Bateman talked about the highlight of the past year: “My highlight has been the story that my team and I did on how well Summit prepares you for college. And the reason that was the highlight was because we came up with the idea within a 20-minute meeting pitch and then we just ran with it.” Bateman has written about: Students advocating for acting class, A drama teacher defends her craft, The impact of losing the arts, Public schools and their relationship with religion, The school volleyball team, The arts at the Celebration of Learning, Sociology of Law, Photography, Zoe Lofgren visiting Summit, How Summit prepares students for college and Google’s downtown campus proposal.

Justin Butera is one of the Tahoma Webmasters who has worked with the AMPJ students. One example would be when he collaborated with them to help create the interactive design for the aforementioned story about How Summit prepares students for college.

William Butler, the Tahoma Sports Editor for Summit News, responded to the questions posed to him about AMPJ. Butler talked about the influence Liz DeOrnellas, the journalism adviser, has had on him as a reporter: “She’s an amazing person; she’s helped me since my freshman year … She helped guide me; she’s like, ‘Maybe this could be better, you could do this to get a better angle.’ She’s been very helpful through the process of my three years in journalism, and she’s been a big influence.” Butler has written about: Wellness and Movement’s impact on Summit, Senior night, How Summit prepares students for college and Google’s downtown campus proposal.

Although he was not mentioned in the video, Jacob Kahn-Samuelson has improved a lot as a reporter in the role of Tahoma City Editor for Summit News. Kahn-Samuelson has written about: Advanced Acting, DACA, San Jose housing, How Summit prepares students for college and The Trump Russia investigation.

Matthew Michelsen, another Webmaster at Tahoma, has supported Tahoma students throughout the year. Like Butera, Michelsen helped the AMPJ students create the interactive design for How Summit prepares students for college.

Nethan Sivarapu, also not mentioned in the video, is the Tahoma Multimedia Editor for Summit News. Sivarapu has learned more about journalism through AMPJ and has written about: Citizen views on street art, Summit’s learning platform, Advanced drama at rainier, How Summit prepares students for college and Students’ roles in midterm elections.

As Tahoma Multimedia Editor for Summit News, Maxwell Taniguchi-King talked about his experience and growth this past year in AMPJ. When asked about his growth, he said, “I think I’ve grown through understanding the story better; it is not just how good a video looks and how many big words you use in an article.” Taniguchi-King has written about: Refugees’ sense of community, Citizens’ views on street art, How Summit prepares students for college and An art teacher’s passion for Visual Arts,

Ms. DeOrnellas is proud of her students’ growth as reporters and their development as writers. She spoke about what she has enjoyed the most in this past year in AMPJ: “I think I was impressed with the complexity of what we’ve been able to accomplish and the speed at which we’ve been able to accomplish those stories. I think my students have become much more efficient at interviewing and writing and video editing on deadlines, which is great.”

Multimedia Political Journalism encourages young journalists

By Amanda Ahn and Justice White

Staff Writers

Multimedia Political Journalism is a course where students can learn and experience what it is like to be part of a working newsroom. Students learn teamwork, gain interviewing skills, and learn how to meet deadlines. Over the Expeditions courses, students in this class are given time to pick a topic, interview, make a video and write an article to inform the Summit community about different events, classes, or outside topics by publishing on our website, Summit News.

“I think a skill I will take out of this class is better video shooting and taking photos,” Tahoma freshman Caden Vu said.

The journalism Expeditions class is a course full of using one’s independence. Students are strongly encouraged to get out of their comfort zone when it comes to writing.

This course provides an introduction to communications media. Students are taught to look and take notice of all sides of any situation. As a result, the course helps students better understand different views and helps them write unbiased news articles. Students also practice writing opinion pieces that try to persuade or shift another’s views.

“When I first started the class, I didn’t know anything about articles or politics, but I learned a lot since then,” Tahoma freshman Polina Runova said.

The class is definitely different from other writing classes as it allows students to write about situations and topics they are genuinely interested in. The course helps students take advantage of their right to free speech by sharing their views with the Summit community, motivating the journalists to want to go deeper into their writing and research.

See below for a video about the Multimedia Political Journalism course:

Featured Image (at the top of this post): Tahoma student journalists visited the Spartan Daily newsroom at San Jose State University. PHOTO CREDIT: Liz DeOrnellas

Student journalists reflect on self-directed advanced course

By Nick Reed

Staff Editor

Advanced Multimedia Political Journalism is an independent study journalism class run by students who produce written articles, videos and podcasts. The class is run like a newsroom with several Editors-in-Chief, a Webmaster and several Staff Writers churning out all different forms of content.

There have been troubles, trials and tribulations. Sometimes things have been difficult, but all the student journalists agreed that in the end it was worth it and everyone in the class has learned so much and grown because of it.

See below for a video about the Advanced Multimedia Political Journalism course at Summit Prep:

Featured Image (at the top of this post): Prep Editors-in-Chief Eliza Insley and Jon Garvin interview Prep junior Daniel Garcia for their Celebration of Learning piece.

Advanced journalism course will continue building students’ media skills

By Evelyn Archibald

Staff Writer

Summit Shasta is wrapping up its first year offering Multimedia Political Journalism as an Expeditions course, and student journalists are ready to continue. While the intro class won’t have the opportunity to be taught at Shasta next year, students can choose to take Advanced Multimedia Political Journalism as an independent study course.

The AMPJ course will use the skills journalism students developed this year – interviewing, reporting, photography, editing articles and video – and build on them in a more self-directed curriculum. Because it is an independent study, students will lead themselves and their peers in the class, taking more responsibility on deadlines and finding stories, going off campus and working in specialized beats such as politics or sports. 

“It’s a really cool opportunity to have at Shasta, especially since we don’t have a normal school newspaper. It’s useful to have that resource, to write and have the freedom to express yourself,” Shasta sophomore Albert Chang-Yoo said about the journalism course.

The class is mainly geared toward students who have taken MPJ already; however, if you haven’t taken that course but are interested in journalism, photojournalism, working in an independent study and current events, you can still apply! 

Rising sophomores and seniors are the target grades, as it is a full-day independent study. If you are interested, have an English teacher, history teacher or Expeditions teacher fill out this form and email the course instructor, Elizabeth DeOrnellas, at edeornellas@summitps.org for more information about the required paperwork. 

Although AMPJ is a form of independent study, students will submit projects through the platform and receive grades based on cognitive skills and focus areas. The course is UC-approved and a VPA credit. For more information, see Shasta freshman Evelyn Archibald who will be the Shasta Editor-in-Chief next year! She can be reached at earchibald.sh@mysummitps.org.

See below for a video about the Advanced Multimedia Political Journalism course:

Featured image (at the top of this post): Shasta freshman Melissa Domingo practices her photography skills. 

Journalism students learn to communicate

 By Karina Ramirez and Karen Salazar

Staff Writers

Journalism is a way to share the news with our community. It is also an Expeditions course where students talk about current events that are happening and do professional writing such as articles that contribute to the community at Everest Public High School.

Journalism students learn useful things like writing structure and grammar; they also complete hands-on activities and improve their ability to create great content.

Celebration of Learning is an event after school where parents and students go to view the work that students did during Expeditions. The Journalism class showed a playlist of student-created videos and set up stations for visitors to view the student-produced website.

See below for a video about this course:

Note: Journalism became part of the Expeditions course offerings in the 2016-17 school year. For the 2017-18 school year, there were three journalism courses offered: Journalism, Advanced Journalism and Multimedia Journalism.

For the 2018-19 school year, all introductory students (anyone who has not previously taken a journalism course at Summit Public Schools) will be enrolled in a new course called Multimedia Political Journalism. As in school year 2016-17, the first round of Expeditions will focus heavily on political coverage in advance of the November elections. The subsequent three rounds will continue to include current event discussion, but the journalism production work will shift to additional student-selected topics. 

Here’s a look at the 2017-18 Multimedia Journalism class at Rainier (video produced by Cecelia Carrillo):

Here’s a look at the 2017-18 Journalism and Advanced Journalism courses at Rainier (video produced by Nicolas Medina):


Everest journalism program expands



« Older Entries