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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

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

By Evelyn Archibald and Judy Ly  


Denali senior William Torborg said it is hard for most students to stay focused for long durations. He pointed out that as a student with ADHD, it is harder for him to maintain concentration in class. 

“It’s not like, the most fun to sit through four and a half hours of class and then get a break,” Torborg said. 

In a majority of interviews, students echoed similar concerns in response to no longer having brunch as a form of a break in their daily bell schedule. 

For the 2019-20 school year, a new uniform bell schedule was introduced to students across all Summit schools in California.

Here is a Story Map of all the school sites mentioned in this article. 

One of the changes to the schedule included a new breakfast block before classes started. 

Replacing brunch with breakfast

Brunch, which previously acted as a 15-minute break, in the first portion of classes, was removed. Instead, breakfast was implemented before students start their first block of the day: Mentor Self-Directed Learning (SDL). This class aims to essentially be a study hall for students with their mentor groups. 

Summit Public Schools Superintendent Anson Jackson said the purpose of having classes back-to-back until lunch time, was to make sure teachers had a consistent schedule and workload. Students would in return have a more consistent flow from project to project and class to class, without disruption from a break in between.

“The idea [for students] is to minimize the changes throughout the day and minimize the breaks of cognitive load,” Superintendent Jackson said. 

Rainier Senior President Madelin Morales said she noticed less productivity happening in the classrooms without having a break in between classes. 

Rainier students walk back from the restroom as another student approaches it. PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Ly

“Kids have to use the restroom a lot more during — like during our regular classes, solely because, like, during our break, or what we used to have as brunch, a lot of people use that time to use the restroom,” Morales said. “I definitely noticed a lot more students having to go, like one after another. And it doesn’t seem like they’re doing it just for fun, but they genuinely — because they have to.”  

Hailey Kaufman, a senior from Summit Prep, said her peers have been “losing focus” in class. 

“We’ve lost that break to kind of reset before our next class,” Kaufman said.  

According to Superintendent Jackson, another reason for having brunch removed was so students can start off their day with breakfast. 

A Prep student gets breakfast in the cafeteria before school starts. PHOTO CREDIT: Jonathan Garvin

“Adding breakfast as opposed to taking away brunch is kind of the idea; not to take away anything but to add something,” Superintendent Jackson said. 

However, Tahoma Executive Director Jonathan Stewart said the implementation of breakfast has not been effective on Tahoma’s campus. 

“We have fewer people taking breakfast in the morning than we did people taking brunch last year,” Mr. Stewart said. 

Calvin Andrews, who acted as the student body president for Summit K2’s 2018-19 school year, said brunch was more suitable for students. He explained that brunch allowed students to buy food items between classes, making it more accessible to students who showed up close or late to start time. 

K2 has also implemented a new lining up policy in which students need to line up at a certain area on campus before going to class. Andrews claimed this policy makes it harder for students to buy breakfast before school starts. 

K2 students start their school day by lining up. PHOTO CREDIT: Hannah Kim

K2’s new Executive Director Cythnia Jerez said one of the goals of the lining up policy is to inspire students to get breakfast. 

She said, “Our campus is next to the field where students are, like, lining up. So that encourages, actually, them to actually go to the cafeteria and grab breakfast.”

Superintendent Jackson addressed this concern of students not arriving early enough to access meals and being hungry between classes and lunch. He said teachers are able to provide snacks to students near the end of the morning Mentor SDL block. However, teachers providing snacks is not a normalized standard across all campuses. 

“It’s not an expectation,” Superintendent Jackson explained, “but that is the flexibility of the time.”

By gathering input from local administration at school sites, Superintendent Jackson said drafts of the schedule were created. Later on, three proposed schedule structures were sent to teachers and faculty to gather feedback. 

In the initial drafts made by Summit Leadership (executive administration) and school-site-based administration (principals and deans), the focus was on the scheduling of Mentor SDL time and the structure of core class time. The switch from brunch to breakfast wasn’t included or discussed. 

However, he added that the idea of replacing brunch with breakfast was a joint decision between “school leaders” based off feedback and experiences on campus during brunch. 

“Adding breakfast to the schedule was not a part of that proposal at the time,” Superintendent Jackson said. 

There is a petition circulating to reinstate brunch, as a way to reinstate a morning break, at Rainier’s campus.  

Changes to lunch time

Lunch was altered as well, having the standard lunch time moved to be from 12:30 p.m. until 1:00 p.m. For campuses like Everest and K2, their lunch was shortened. 

Everest students pass through their hallways. PHOTO CREDIT: Molly Pigot

Everest senior Molly Pigot said the response to the reduction has been mostly negative. “Our lunch break was reduced from 45 minutes to 30 minutes, which I think a lot of students are really upset with.” 

For Summit Prep students, Kaufman said lunch is now later in the day than previously. 

Pigot mentioned the students at Summit Everest attempted to stage a walkout against the changes; however, they were met with faculty pushback and students were not allowed to participate.

The lunch break is now earlier for students at Tahoma, Denali, and Shasta compared to last year. 

Shared space concerns

Most Summit schools have their own facilities and campuses for students to attend; however, some school sites are co-located with another school. 

Ernesto Umaña, a middle school math teacher for Summit Tam, said the bell schedule did not heavily impact their shared spaces. Tam’s middle school and high school share a campus, blacktop and gym with Aspire Richmond California College Preparatory Academy. 

He also noted that Tam Middle School now has minimum days on Wednesdays, which has been received positively by students. 

However, in the South Bay, students at Tahoma and Rainier no longer have access to the blacktop area and basketball courts, previously shared with their home school, due to having coinciding lunch times. 

Tahoma students settle into their lunch break. PHOTO CREDIT: Nethan Sivarapu

Mr. Stewart said Tahoma was already considering revoking the access to blacktop usage due to past student behavior issues. The new bell schedule caused Oak Grove High School’s blacktop to be an off-limit space as default. 

At Rainier’s campus students protested against the restricted blacktop usage and bell schedule changes. 

Edwin Avarca, former assistant director and current executive director at Rainier’s campus, said the reasons why Rainier students have to be separated from Mt. Pleasant’s campus are due to safety concerns in regards to student interaction in a shared space. 

Blacktop space and basketball courts are now off limits for Rainier students during their lunch break. PHOTO CREDIT: Judy Ly

“That’s like a large concern that we have as a whole,” Mr. Avarca said, referencing each school’s administration. “How could they support if there’s a potential conflict? I think that that is the biggest concern is ensuring student safety if we’re sharing the blacktop at the same time.”  

Mr. Stewart also said Tahoma’s lunch on Wednesdays is scheduled from 1:10 p.m. to 1:40 p.m. because KIPP, the second school Tahoma is co-located with, has their lunch from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays.  

Denali students slowly trickle in for the school day. PHOTO CREDIT: Ellen Hu

By default, classes start at 8:20 a.m. and end at 3:20 p.m. across all Summit campuses this school year. At Denali’s current high school campus, the school had to adjust their start time. Denali students start their classes at 8:35 a.m. due to an agreement with the City of Sunnyvale. 

Denali Executive Director Kevin Bock explained that the permit Denali has with the city allows for their campus to start no earlier than 8:35 a.m. There is an elementary school across from Denali, meaning the two schools need to stagger start times due to concerns regarding morning traffic. 

Denali students also have lunch at 12:45 p.m., 15 minutes past the default time. 

Continued debate about bell schedule changes

Superintendent Jackson said the Summit Public Schools leadership team prioritized the betterment of students and teachers on the job when creating the uniform bell schedule. 

Andrews disputes this claim, saying that in reality, the opposite effect is happening based on his experiences at K2. He explained that students’ lives can be very different when campuses range from Richmond to San Jose to Daly City. He continued to explain that life for students in Richmond differs greatly from their Summit peers in other cities. 

“We’re two different schools, from different backgrounds, from different economic backgrounds, different racial backgrounds, living in different areas where our lives are different,” Andrews said. “We all have different needs; we all have different wants; we all have things that are affecting us in different ways. And by Summit sort of putting us under an umbrella of, ‘Oh, this works at one school, it will work at another.’ It’s just not working.”  

Featured image at top: K2 students walk to their first class after lining up in the morning. PHOTO CREDIT: Hannah Kim 

Denali Editor-in-Chief Ellen Hu contributed reporting to this article.


Schedule change at Summit Shasta affects students

Newly implemented schedule troubles Rainier teachers

BREAKING NEWS: Rainier students protest in response to new restricted blacktop usage during lunch break

The state of school lunches at Summit Shasta is #sad

By Albert Chang-Yoo

Staff Writer


Marshmallow Mateys (above) is an off-brand version of Lucky Charms. PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo

Here at Summit Public School: Shasta, most people I know try to avoid the school lunch. Brunch usually consists of some kind of off-brand cereal. More often than not, it is hard to identify what is being served for lunch. If you start asking around about what people think of the school lunches, you won’t exactly get a positive response. I surveyed over 130 kids (close to one-fourth of the school), and the most common words to describe the school lunches ranged from “okay” to “gross” and “bad.” Some students described it as “cardboard”; others used more creative terms.

The school lunches at Shasta are premade in a facility 20 miles away.


Food is pre-packaged and stored in a heater. PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo

The lunches arrive at Shasta every morning. The food is stored in our small kitchen and is watched over by Catherine Quan. Ms. Quan has no official job title, but she helps prepare and serve the food. She explained to me that the food is kept in an industrial fridge and two heaters. The fresh fruits are kept in bins on shelves near the entrance. However, there is a lack of actual kitchen materials. None of the food has to be cooked; there are no trays or plates to wash, and the room is more like a holding space for the pre-packaged meals.

How Shasta gets food

Shasta’s current food supplier is a San Carlos-based company called Lunchmaster. One look at the Lunchmaster website, and a consumer would see no problems. The LunchMaster site offers glowing photos of food, proclaiming that none of the foods they make is fried. More than 80 percent of the food is local. “We make fruits and vegetables appetizing for children,” one section reads.

Lunchmaster markets itself as a family-owned business. According to its website, its two “taste-testers”  are the general manager’s kids. The two founders are a wife / husband duo. Lunchmaster also employs two registered dietitians. All meals meet federal and state regulations and are “balanced meals” made “from scratch.” The company touts itself as healthy, tasty and down-to-earth.

In contrast, the student sentiment at Shasta tells a different story. 75 percent of students polled said that they weren’t satisfied with the current school lunches, the ones provided by Lunchmaster. Only 28 percent said they considered the school lunch to be healthy. Many described it as “processed” and “greasy,” even though the Lunchmaster website states that none of their food is fried (“Even our french fries are oven-baked!”).


Shasta gets monthly menus from Lunchmaster. PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo

I interviewed Maria Canjura, the office manager at Shasta. She said that Summit Public Schools’ corporate branch makes the decisions on what supplier Shasta has. Summit has a contract with Lunchmaster and gets monthly menus from which they pick out the meals. All Summit schools in the Bay Area are supplied by Lunchmaster.

She thinks that the meals are healthy and that Lunchmaster tries to include healthy meals. As for why the kids don’t like eating the food, Ms. Canjura said: “You would have to ask the kids […] I would love to know why.”

What do kids think?

Well, according to the kids, the food just tastes bad. Shasta sophomore Ryan Hui buys school lunch every day and describes the meals sarcastically as “flavortown.” He said that he would like better quality food and bigger portions.

Another Shasta sophomore, Ethan Tran, said he doesn’t mind the portions, but he does want better quality. He would also like “less plastic packaging.” “They could be worse, but they could be a lot better,” Shasta sophomore Joseph Hernandez said. I asked students to rate the food out of 5, and 91.8 percent of those surveyed rated the food a 3 or less. Only three people (2.5 percent) gave the food a 5.


Shasta sophomore Ryan Hui sarcastically refers to the food as “flavortown.” PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo


Shasta sophomore Shawn House says that the food is simply “not good.” PHOTO CREDIT: Albert Chang-Yoo












As for what the teachers think, I also interviewed Laura Friday, the freshman English teacher. She said that health is the main problem for her: “The school tries to provide healthy options […] some students don’t accept the healthy foods.”

However, she does agree that “certain meals look better than others,” and she gets the sense that the food isn’t “particularly appetizing.” She thinks that the school is trying their best to make sure that all students get fed while also maintaining a budget. “We have to make compromises,” Ms. Friday said. “This is a national issue.”

Improving lunch by looking across the globe

School lunches are a national issue. Almost every other developed and wealthy country has better school lunches than America. In fact, only Canada, a country that seemingly passes the United States in every way, has worse school lunches. They ranked 37th out 41 in a UNICEF Report on access to nutritious food for kids, right below–that’s right–the good ol’ US of A.

In order to improve, we can look to international cases of great school lunches. France takes their school lunches especially seriously. At one high school, 850 students are fed every day for only $2.50 per meal. The chef that runs the kitchen feeds the students escargot and roast beef. A student described the food as “better than what I get at home.”

Another example we can look to is Japan. Only 5 percent of food is wasted in a school district in Northern Tokyo. Japan’s childhood obesity rate is one of the world’s lowest. So how does Japan do this? According to a Washington Post article, food is never frozen and its school lunches are “a source of national pride.” In Japan, meals are made from scratch.

Image result for japanese school lunch

This is an example of a typical Japanese school lunch. PHOTO CREDIT: Wikipedia

School lunches in Japan usually consist of rice, vegetables, fish, or soups, quite unlike here in America, where us Shasta students have to deal with mysterious meat or cardboard. Plus, while there still is unhealthy food being served, it is in seriously limited amounts. “On a recent day at Umejima,” the article reads, “kids were served the Japanese version of fried chicken, known as karaage. Each child was allowed one nugget.” Japan’s government provides some minimal guidelines, but the task of regulating health mainly falls to the school nutritionist. That’s right–most schools in Japan have nutritionists. As for cost, it is all managed by local municipalities, while parents pay for ingredients. The cost for parents is $3 per meal, and they even have lesser payment choices for struggling families. So school lunches can be tasty, healthy and affordable.

Of course, we don’t live in Japan or France, we live in America. But contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of schools in the United States that provide healthy and tasty school lunches. Unfortunately, here at Shasta, kids still try to avoid the school lunch. Students eat better food at home, not at school. Kids at Shasta have inside jokes about how bad the food is. Suffice to say, the majority of the student body here at Shasta does not take “national pride” in our school lunches. But we can always change things.

The students surveyed had plenty of ideas on how to change things: letting some clubs cook and sell food, not having premade food, including more choices, getting more substantial meals and picking a better supplier. While there are definitely challenges in trying to implement these changes, something is better than nothing. According to the students, the school lunches are a whole load of nothing.  


The Summit Personalized Learning Platform helps organize schoolwork

By Kainoa Garo, Nethan Sivarapu, Ian Vu and Kent Williams

Staff Writers

The Summit Learning Platform (or, as students and teachers still call it, the PLP) is used by all Summit Learning schools. The platform guides students’ education with a huge collection of educational resources. The PLP (Personalized Learning Plan) is used by Summit Public School students for everything from completing projects to learning content at their own pace.

According to Summit Tahoma Executive Director Jonathan Stewart, “Students have all the learning at their fingertips. And it also helps students communicate with teachers. The PLP was created in steps. In the beginning, it was just a series of Google documents and spreadsheets where teachers can track everything.”

Not only students use the PLP – teachers use it too. It is one of the most important tools for Summit teachers at school. They use it to grade projects, add assignments, view grades and more.

Every single one of Summit Tahoma’s 355 students knows what the PLP is. A few students and one teacher shared their thoughts on the PLP:

Tahoma freshman Jasen Pardilla

Pardilla said that when the PLP is red, it makes him work harder. He said that the PLP does motivate him because whenever a playlist becomes yellow, he feels anxious. 

Tahoma junior Jordan Fierro

Fierro said, “I don’t like that you could pass playlists and be behind on a project and be failing. But it’s also good because you could go back to assignments you missed. So it’s a win-lose situation.” The PLP also gives him a feeling of nervousness. He explained that “when you see your reds, it puts you down.” On the bright side, he added that the PLP also gives him the resources to make learning easier for him.

Tahoma freshmen Gabriela Ruiz and Sandra Madrigal-Ruiz

Ruiz and Madrigal-Ruiz are close friends at Summit Tahoma, but they have different opinions on the PLP. Ruiz said that the PLP makes schoolwork at Summit Tahoma simpler compared to other schools and that it motivates her to get work done faster. However, Madrigal-Ruiz does not like it because “the line moves too fast.” She adds that the PLP does not motivate her because “it makes me rush and doesn’t give me enough time to focus on other things besides school.”

Tahoma history teacher Steven Covelman

Mr. Covelman said that he admires the PLP for its ability to let students go at their own pace and for how it motivates students. The reactions his students get whenever their playlist turns green is enough to tell him that it is able to manipulate the emotions of students. “For some students, it makes them anxious. But, overall, it has the effect to make students motivated.”

Overall, the answers of the school’s students and staff regarding the PLP were really diverse. Certain people find the PLP helpful, but others do not. The PLP was made for students, to guide them through their education. See the video below for more details about student and teacher opinion on the platform:

Davis speaks on the community

By Alejandra Gomez and Jasmeet Kaur 

Staff Writers

The definition of community runs far deeper than simply a group of people who live in the same place. Community is a feeling that gives the members a sense of belonging, united through a particular interest and having greater strength together than as an individual. These are all aspects of a strong community which can be found represented by the students and staff at Caroline Davis Middle School.

Davis’ community is very diverse and brings all types of students together. The students more often than not come from middle-class or low-income families, and that aspect brings all the children together, eliminating the social class discrimination found in lots of schools. Staff reported that there is a great diversity in ethnic backgrounds between students, and that seeing them all get along and have cross-racial friends warms their hearts.

Davis is a very supportive, caring, welcoming and extremely “tight-knit” community, treating each other like family. Many students, and even teachers, attending Davis have had parents or even grandparents who have gone to this school, and the teachers often are able to recognize siblings, or even children, of their previous students.


Davis eighth graders Patrick Opilla and Jordan Cooper 

One student in particular described his family’s history at Davis. Patrick Opilla, a 13-year-old eighth grader at Davis, talked about how when he was merely a 3-year-old infant his father coached the boys soccer team and his mother coached the girls team. Following their parents’ path, Opilla’s siblings all went to Davis, and now he attends the school that has been in his family since the day he was born.

This concept of history at Davis transfers to the teachers too. Samuel Barocio, now a history teacher at Davis for three years, talked about how he graduated from Davis, and his previous eighth grade history teacher is now his colleague. Brett McCleary, Mr. Barocio’s previous history teacher, described how when he became a teacher at Davis there were a handful of teachers still there who had taught him when he was a student at Davis, and now he was teaching alongside them as their colleague.

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Samuel Barocio, seventh grade history teacher

When Mr. Barocio became a teacher at Davis, Mr. McCleary, along with his brother Greg McCleary, who teaches eighth grade science, described how it felt being on the flip side of that situation. He said, “We’re the old guys now. For me, the big turn around is just seeing that time really has passed.”

Even though more than 15 years have passed for both brothers, day after day the McCleary brothers are drawn back to Davis because of one sole purpose: the kids. They said, “The kids give us energy. The eighth grade organism is a special age. There’s still a little bit of kid left in them, and there’s a lot of trying to grow up and being an adult and they’re all trying to figure stuff out – really fun group of kids to work with.”

From a history perspective, Brett McCleary explained how recent political landscapes, such as the presidential election, have transferred over to his classroom. He said, “I feel a reinvigorated charge into bringing purpose into why I teach kids civics, Constitution, government, and trying to encourage political involvement, and concern about what’s going on in this country to become a better citizen. Getting up and getting to work is easy now when I realize I gotta roll up the sleeves; I got a lot of work to do. I have to get these kids to understand their roles, their responsibilities and their contributions they’re going to make some day, and that fires me up.”

Greg McCleary, eighth grade science teacher; Brett McCleary, eighth grade history teacher

Mr. McCleary went on to talk about the results of their hard work as teachers. He said, “It’s always cool to see as you get older into teaching you run into ex-students teaching at school with you, or other ones that are researchers for Stanford or they’re working as an engineer, whatever it might be, the whole spectrum. It reminds you that the work we do now, we don’t see the benefits until much later down the road, but, when you see them, it’s like – that’s why we do the job we do.”

The staff at Davis is very caring; they love their students and the vibrant, “family” vibe they feel going to work every day. Many teachers at Davis, although for different reasons, have been at Davis for a very long time. Mike Coleman, a P.E. teacher for eighth graders, has been at Davis for 34 years.

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Mike Coleman, eighth grade P.E. teacher

He said what brings him back every day is the challenge and atmosphere of being a P.E. teacher. Mr. Coleman explained that being a PE teacher isn’t as easy as some would believe. He said, “I have to figure out, just like everyone else, ways to engage students, to motivate students, and I have a game plan every day. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, and I usually will try to do a self-evaluation to see what worked and what didn’t. I just try to bring my A-game every single day.”

Mr. Coleman went on to explain that having a Physical Education class is very important for students because, besides all the health benefits and healthy habits they take with them, P.E. teaches kids skills they won’t learn in a classroom such as teamwork, leadership, perseverance and real-life problem-solving skills. It also helps children at this age of 12 or 13 to develop camaraderie, which is vital in building strong relationships as they move into high school.

His views on P.E. are shared with his colleague, Nicole Benson, who is also an eighth grade P.E. teacher. When asked what brings her to work every day, Ms. Benson replied, “It’s one of those jobs that doesn’t feel like work. It’s a part of what you do every day.” She said that the kids at Davis are very compassionate and respectful toward all the P.E. teachers, and, along with them, the community, her colleagues, and sports drive her to come back every day to instill healthy fitness habits in all of her students.


Nicole Benson, eighth grade P.E. teacher

She also believes that P.E. should “100 percent” be offered in all schools, not only because of health benefits, but because of the fact that many kids don’t know much about sports, and the exposure to sports at this age teaches them about the accountability that comes with being on a team, which transfers into real life when they will have to work with a team and know how to take responsibility for their actions.


Angela White, seventh grade P.E. teacher

Along with helping develop skills needed to move forward into their lives, teachers try to develop a healthy student-teacher relationship that they hope will last a lifetime. Angela White, a seventh grade P.E. teacher, described her relationships with the students. She believes that at the middle-school level, kids are wanting adult interaction from people other than their parents because of the fact that in elementary school they are always around adults, so in middle school they want to get to know the adults and establish a friendship.

Davis employs some teachers that are very young, and the students have a chance to get to know them on a more friendly level instead of just the “you’re my student; I’m your teacher” relationship. Mrs. White explained that she likes to keep in touch with her students even after graduation because she really gets to know them and she becomes their friend, not just the woman who made them run a mile every week.

Along with healthy student-teacher relationships, student bonds at Davis seem to be decent as well. Davis’s “team system” brings together many students who might not have ever spoken to each other before.

The team system at Davis started four years ago, and students are randomly put into groups — accounting for IEPs (Individualized Education Programs), English Language Learners and GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) students — for a balanced team. Each team has a group of four teachers for the core classes of math, English, science and history, and all students in the team have the same four teachers. Teachers reported that this was a great step in a positive direction because it allowed them to get to know their students better and offer more support to kids who need that extra push.

Students love the team system because they get to spend more time with the friends they make in these teams, and there are competitions between teams to see who has the most spirit, bringing the students closer through teamwork and the desire to achieve a common goal: to be the best team.

In addition to the team system, student bonds and the community are strengthened through school spirit days and rallies. Davis has many fun and engaging spirit days, including Pajama Day, Disney Day and Crazy Hair Day, that help connect the students in an entertaining way. When asked about rallies, eighth grader Jordan Cooper shared, “Rallies are the things that get you hyped up – once you’re done with your class and you’re tired, and you wanna get hyped up, go to a rally and it’s really fun. You can just go see some of your friends.”

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Green Team at the rally

Along with school spirit, Davis provides students with many opportunities. Some programs offered at Davis are art, foreign language and also the chance for eighth graders to be a teacher assistant, teaching them about responsibility and working with people outside their age group.

Students say that the art program is really fun and engaging, and I, being a previous student enrolled in the art program at Davis, believe that art class is very fun and gives you confidence in your own skills because of the way it’s broken down to help students get more advanced over time. Davis offers kids the option of Spanish or French for foreign language, which gives the kids more variety as to which language they’d like to learn.


Art work from art class

Some more programs offered at Davis are band, GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) and CJSF (California Junior Scholarship Federation). Davis has a very advanced band program, which has won many first place trophies all around the world. They travel far, to places such as Disneyland, to perform and compete. The GATE and CJSF programs allow students who excel the opportunities for scholarships in college.

On the flip side, Davis teachers also offer students who need extra help the support they need, by staying after school or during lunch to help anyone who asks for it. The McCleary brothers talked about how Davis’ partnership with the Boys and Girls Club also helps the students and them in providing the students more help.

Brett McCleary said, “There’s a Boys and Girls Club next door that has an actual homework center, and most of the kids get the help they need there.” Greg McCleary said that this lightens the load on teachers and described their partnership with the Boys and Girls Club as a “luxury,” and stated, “I appreciate that, and I’m sure the kids do too.”

Davis also offers a variety of sports to their students such as basketball, soccer, volleyball, track and field and cross country, for both boys and girls. They also have a softball team, which is offered to only girls. Students talked about how much they love the sports teams at Davis. Many kids are very committed to the sports they play, and they said being a student athlete puts a lot more pressure on their school life.

“Being a student athlete is more difficult than being an average student,” Kahary Redmond stated. “Basketball affects me because it makes me want to work harder as a student and an athlete. You have to focus on your grades because, if you don’t focus on your grades, that means you can get cut from the team, and you don’t want that.”


Eighth grade basketball team, 2016-17

Cooper also talked about how being a student athlete affects his school life. “You gotta do your best just to stay on the team. As a student you gotta focus on your grades, and as an athlete, you gotta focus on your skills. You have to find a good balance.”

Dominic Price, a seventh grader, said he comes to school every day because of basketball, and it makes him want to do better in school to stay on the team.

A lot of changes have taken place in the 50+ years that Davis has been around, especially to the campus. Kim Kianidehkian, the principal at Davis, talked about the “Beautification Process” that took place. She said when she arrived at Davis, she started meeting with the superintendent and creating a plan for what was needed at Davis in order to create an “equitable, safe, clean and attractive” environment.

She continued, “Because of the budget crisis that’s been going on in California for a long time, the exterior of our building was neglected. Our district was able to pass a bond that allowed us to bring an influx of money into school beautification, so we created a plan with the superintendent.” She also explained how the original plan was supposed to take only a year but has turned into a four-year process for transforming the exterior of Davis. There have been changes in landscaping, restoring covered walkways for rainy days, and a fresh coat of paint for the school, along with decorative fencing around the school that also helps in lock downs, if needed.

The art students at Davis also contributed to make the campus pop. They have given ideas for some of the walls and murals that have been painted.

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In addition to campus, the community and spirit at Davis have also changed a lot. Mr. Barocio talked about his experience from when he was a student at Davis to now being a teacher. He said, “The amount of spirit here has been greatly increased from the time I was here. Things like teams have really helped to improve the spirit, and rallies – we didn’t have that when I was here. Just seeing the kids wearing their different team colors, it’s definitely a cool thing to see. The campus spirit has increased drastically, and I believe it’s for the better.”

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Rally Games (SOURCE: davis.schoolloop.com)

Overall, many changes have come upon Davis, but the one thing that stayed the same is the community. The vibe at Davis has always been welcoming and bright. The community is very supportive, caring and hardworking. They are determined to make the experience the best they can for the students, and, if someone slips, someone else is always there to pick up the slack and fix it. Greg McCleary explained that this is his favorite aspect about Davis. “You gotta make do with what you got. You don’t hear people here complain. They just roll up their sleeves and fix it, and that’s what I love about this community.”

Here are some additional photos of the Davis community as it undergoes restoration:

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Summit Prep goes camping

By Jon Garvin and Kai Lock 

Multimedia Editors

On Aug. 28 and Aug. 29, the Summit Prep faculty and students left campus for their annual camping trip. The purpose of this camping trip is to build relationships between students, as well as continuing to strengthen their relationship with their mentor and other teachers.

During this annual camping trip students play fun community builder games, at times involving just their mentor group and at other times competing against all of the other mentor groups (also known as the Mentor Olympics) for points.

The annual camping trip also offers breakout sessions, which include activities such as making friendship bracelets, hosting a dance party, playing in a soccer tournament and much more. To be able to participate in more than one activity, there are two breakout sessions, each one lasting about an hour.

Two Summit Prep camping trip traditions are the talent show and the mentor group chant. Each mentor group gets time to create a mentor group flag, chant and mascot. They then present these at the end of the camping trip and teachers decide which mentor group has the best chant. Wrapping up the camping trip means naming the mentor group who accumulated the most points the winner.

Below are some pictures from the camping trip:

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Sophomores practice their mentor group chant (left to right: Evelyn Balladares, Yesenia Lopez, Casper Lyback and Jenny Soria).


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Senior Annabeth Sims enjoys her time at the nail painting breakout session.


Summit Prep freshman Xavier Ramirez has fun freestyle rapping at the annual camping trip talent show.


Summit Prep Dean of Culture Michael Green and Summit Prep Executive Director Caitlin Reilly dress up in dinosaur costumes and have fun telling puns onstage.

Here are some additional photos taken at the Summit camping trip:

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Summit Prep students show their families what they have learned in Expeditions

By Kristian Bekele 

Staff Writer  

On May 25, Summit Prep students demonstrated all that they have learned to peers and parents in what is known as the Celebration of Learning showcase. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., students from the Expeditions classes Education Pathways, College Readiness and Sociology of Law showed off what they learned in the eight weeks of Expeditions.

Education Pathways 

In Education Pathways, students learn about the educational system and its flaws from an educator’s perspective. Students went to schools and shadowed teachers as they learned about the achievements and problems of educational systems.

For their final product, students got to choose between modeling their career pathways and how they would achieve their goals or highlighting a specific flaw in the educational system.


Summit Prep freshman Armando Sanchez and sophomore Brandon Kerney look over Kerney’s final product.


Summit Prep junior Angela Chung shows her plans to attend Cornell University and Harvard in order to achieve a career as an architect. She said that the reason why she wants to be an architect is because she likes how architecture combines various elements such as math, drawing and design to make structures.


College Readiness 

College Readiness is a mandatory course where juniors learn about college and the application process. Summit Prep juniors showcased their college applications to fellow classmates, teachers and parents. As part of their final product, students made a slideshow demonstrating what colleges they wanted to go to, the necessary qualifications and their reasoning for choosing those schools.


Summit Prep junior Paola Godoy presents her college plan to her mentor Bree Hawkins.



Summit Prep Dean Mary Beth Thompson talks to her mentees, Juan Reyes and Jesus Pichardo, about their college choices.


Sociology of Law 

“There is no such thing as a good person or a bad person, only good and bad choices.” S. Dawson’s quote is something the Sociology of Law class learns from the moment they step inside the classroom commanded by Expeditions teacher Lissa Thiele, who also serves as a Juvenile Justice Commissioner.


Sociology of Law teacher and Juvenile Justice Commissioner Lissa Thiele

During Celebration of Learning, the class had a Socratic Seminar involving parents and students debating whether armed guards were allowed in schools. The topic was thus because the class had been studying the Second Amendment and mass shootings. They had watched a documentary on Columbine earlier in the round, and the documentary was still fresh in their minds.

During the Socratic, the group discussed mental health because a majority of school shooters have been shown to have mental issues. The topic of damaged masculinity was also brought up early in the conversation.

Damaged masculinity is when a man’s masculine qualities are destroyed by someone finding and exposing their weakness and ridiculing them for it. Because most mass shooters are men, this damaged masculinity plays a huge role in the number of youth dying per year from mass shootings.

At the start of the Socratic, parents and students who participated seemed to agree on one thing: In different situations, people feel safer with armed guards, but they don’t feel safe with an armed guard in the school.

Staff Writers Micah Tam, Tyler McGuire and Darya Worsell contributed to this report. 

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