Tag Archives: social media

New tools affect how society sees photography

By Ellen Hu

Denali Editor-in-Chief

As you walk into any art museum, it’s likely that people will line the hallways, trying to get a glimpse of the displays. Some might even have their smartphones out, trying to capture photos to share with their friends and family.

These tools are not foreign to the Denali community; students use their phones to take photos of each other during spirit weeks and school dances. As the tools students are exposed to begin to change, their ideas of photography and art will be redefined.

“I think nowadays anyone can be a photographer, because everyone has a mini camera in their pocket,” Denali junior Jake Van Tassel said. Students have noticed that the practice of photography has become more popular because of the available tools. “You can take bursts with them; it’s a lot easier to adjust the lighting, and I think it makes it more accessible for a lot of people,” Fremont sophomore Anne Hu said.

Since 2009, Apple has released 13 new versions of smartphones. With the most recent version, the iPhone XR, the company has introduced a system that allows users to change the depth of field, similar to DSLR cameras, which professional photographers use.

In addition to increasing the accessibility of cameras, smartphones have provided a platform off which photo sharing websites and applications can grow. Social media applications such as Instagram, Snapchat and VSCO have become especially popular with the teenage community. Not only are teenagers interacting on the applications: “35% of U.S. adults now say they use this platform, an increase of seven percentage points from the 28% who said they did in 2016,” the Pew Research Center found, regarding Instagram, in a 2018 study.

“I’ve noticed that a lot of photographers who base themselves off Instagram or the internet have relatively the same kind of style,” Denali junior Claire Mallinson said. These trends, she said, include color filters and common locations.

“I think that it’s engaged different communities,” Denali junior Bridget Kiernan said regarding the spread of photo sharing social media sites. Kiernan, who follows National Geographic photographers rather than influencers, has noticed different trends. “They have a story, that I think that’s the most important part,” she said.

Other photography tools have introduced large-scale controversies that affect more than the photography community. Photoshop has long benefited photographers by giving them the abilities to introduce new elements into their photos, but sometimes it can be taken too far.

“It allows people to branch out from what they’re more comfortable with, which is a raw photo,” Van Tassel said regarding Photoshop. “It’s kind of amazing.”

Due to the prominence of Photoshop and its role in the art community, job positions are now devoted to the use of this tool. “Photoshop experts” use knowledge of the tool to create advertisements and place their customers in magical places in and out of this world.

The application can cast doubt onto the reality of an image. Examples include how students’ faces were photoshopped onto athletes’ bodies in the college admission scandal of 2019, and how models’ bodies are photoshopped to fit society’s beauty standards.

Not everyone agrees with the extent some photographers are using the tool. “It’s cool to have that sort of artistic sort of sense that you can create a world,” Kiernan said. “But when they are saying ‘oh, this is real’, it’s stupid.”

With the introduction of these tools, the art community has placed new borders on what art is regarding photos. “We always go through phases, and different techniques, and just what the art community is looking for,” Kiernan said. “As photography evolves, it is certainly changing, so I think art is changing.”

Denali students would like to see photographers branch out and take on styles and stories of their own. “I think that it would be beneficial if photographers, even ones who base themselves off social media, would branch out and try different styles,” Mallinson said. “Because that’s how we got here in the first place.”

See below for a video about new tools that affect the photography community:

Technology affects education and social lives

By Avi Mehra

Staff Writer

Faris Khetto, a sophomore at Summit Tahoma, has been greatly affected greatly by technology. His father often gave him death and suicide threats. “He used to be really aggressive towards me, and he threatened to kill me a couple times,” he told Summit News. One day, Faris felt that he would have really died. “I felt that he was actually going to really hurt me,” he said, “like I would be dead.”

Khetto had a deactivated phone, given by his father, with him. His father gave the phone because he believed that deactivating it would stop all calls from going through. “I was able to call 911 and stuff like that, like emergency services.”

“Technology has really changed my life.”

He called the police, not mentioning the death threats, and only saying that he “felt unsafe.” Custody of Khetto was taken away from his father. “I feel like that really saved my life, because if I didn’t have my phone, I would have been most likely dead … I really felt like there was a threat.”

Communications technology clearly has positive effects. In addition to life-and-death situations such as Khetto’s, these technologies can connect friends and family over long distances. Without such technologies, these connections would not be feasible.

Students at Tahoma also use communications technology for fun or entertainment. Many of Tahoma’s teenagers use social media on a daily basis. There are growing concerns on a national level that excessive social media use has significant detrimental effects on the social lives and physical and mental health of users. Tahoma students shared their viewpoints.

In a survey sent out to the Tahoma student body, only 8 percent of people responded that the effects of technology on social lives are more negative than positive. Of the students, 20 percent responded that technology affects their social lives very positively, and 66 percent responded that the effects are positive. 

One Tahoma senior expressed serious concern with regards to technology use at home: “There are many negative things about technology that impact me socially and mentally. Some days I tend to feel lonely, sad, nervous, and full of self-hatred. I find that because of my anxiety and depression symptoms that I would tend to look to my phone to pull me away from life through pointless, draining YouTube videos, online games that are designed to addict and make money, and random memes. Because of this, I tend to forget about schoolwork during breaks and weekends. This got fairly bad when I didn’t do a lot of work over Thanksgiving break and I fell behind. This was the first time I had an overdue project in [three] years.”

Most students claimed technology use at home does not negatively affect schoolwork and personal health. 

For sophomore Jasen Pardilla, technology is a great influence on his life: “Technology is part of my everyday life,” he said, “It’s all positive benefits.” He pursues working with technology in the future.

Sophomore Janelle Langarica, an aspiring video game designer, agrees. She is part of the programming classes at Tahoma. “[Programming] would definitely help me in the future because we live in the Silicon Valley; if you’re living here you might as well take advantage of what you have around you.” Langarica has expressed that using and working with technology has positive benefits on mental capacity: “Definitely – it helps with logical thinking. Creativity too – you have to be creative in how you put stuff, the design.”

Regarding the effects of technology on education, Tahoma students said that the positive effects were notably more significant than the negative; they reported similar results regarding the impact on their social lives. See below for survey results:

Forms response chart. Question title: How significant are the effects of technology on your social life?. Number of responses: .

This is expected, as a majority of Summit’s curriculum is online, on the Summit Learning Platform. Students at Tahoma are able to see how technology can be used for legitimate and positive purposes and can see past negative effects that are sometimes focused on in the media.

The same student with the negative concerns wrote about how useful other, non-Summit-specific, technology has been for her.

“I don’t think I could have made it as well without the internet, document cameras, magnifiers, and my computer. This allows us to think more about the world around us and learn about things we couldn’t before … Especially for students with disabilities, like myself, technology is important to allowing us to participate in class better than without it.”

See below for a video regarding tech use and the Tahoma community:

Rainier reflects on social media and the community

By Yesenia Martinez 

Staff Editor

Rainier junior Cathy Ly has a social media success: her faux eyelash business. She recalls making the Instagram account during a moment of bravery, completely oblivious to the product it would become. Every day she receives messages from students of all grades at Summit Rainier who are eager to purchase a pair of faux eyelashes, and every week she is chasing a new person down who wants to buy a pair. As of November 2018, the Instagram page had a total of 310 followers and had sold over 100 pairs of faux eyelashes.

The global increase in social media usage has been immense, and experts say there is no chance of it slowing down anytime soon. Social media is responsible for a huge chunk of people’s careers, friendships and political knowledge.


Rainier math teacher Hassaan Ebrahim scrolls through Instagram. PHOTO CREDIT: Cathy Ly

Rainier math teacher Hassaan Ebrahim said, “I like social media; I think it’s a good way to kind of stay in touch with people like across the country, across the world. My family is all on it; it’s an easy way to stay connected.”

We created and sent out a survey to the whole school containing 13 questions that let students give their opinions on Summit Rainier and it’s community. One-fourth of the student body responded and gave their thoughts.

The community at Rainier, according to student survey responses, is diverse, friendly and open-minded. Students believe social media contributes to the strong community. Social media allows a sense of self-expression, a version in which the person behind the screen is more brave.

Screenshot 2018-11-30 at 8.23.37 AM

These survey results show how many students believe social media gives them a better understanding of the community.

Students at Rainier pay homage to social media for guiding them through the journey of finding friends and for allowing them to keep up with current events. 45 percent of respondents claim they look at social media 10 or more times a day, which contributes heavily to how the community here operates and grows.

80 percent of all mentor group classes here at Rainier have a social media account in which they share photos of their mentor outings and funny pictures and videos of students. The student council also has an Instagram account in which it shares the details of upcoming events, spirit weeks and fundraisers.

Screenshot 2018-11-30 at 8.21.55 AM

These survey results show how many times students look at their social media platforms each day.

With success comes failure, and Rainier exemplifies that statement. A lot of upperclassmen at Summit Rainier don’t think the community at Rainier is 100 percent what everyone says. Summit students and teachers tend to speak out about politics, which eventually led people to have mixed emotions about a lot of the things students speak about.

One student described the community as “close-minded and biased” and another student claimed that the community can be “chill, but can turn ugly if you don’t share the same views as everyone,” and it seemed like there were other students who agreed.

Students claim that social media also impacts them personally. One student said, “It’s helped me get along with other people because we get to make jokes that we understand and give us a similar sense of humor that makes talking not as painfully awkward. I can discover things that I never knew I had an interest in, and yeah.”

Social media has a different effect on everyone, because of the amount of people on different social media platforms. Social media can also result in cyberbullying. Rainier junior Amanda Flores recalled a time in which she experienced a level of cyberbullying that impacted her so much she quit social media for a week.

Screenshot 2018-11-30 at 8.23.51 AM

These social media results show how many students believe social media influences them as a person.

“It was really scary,” Flores said. “I remember trying to defend my best friend’s honor, and then all of the sudden I was being spammed with hurtful messages.”

She claims a boy was treating her best friend horribly by posting pictures of her, saying hateful things and falsely portraying her to be someone she isn’t. She tried to defend her honor, but things only backfired.

“He said he would give his followers free drugs to whoever spammed me the most,” Flores said. “I was called ugly, a slut, a hoe, and anything else you can think of. It was painful to look at my Instagram account.” 


Rainier junior Cathy Ly goes live on Instagram. PHOTO CREDIT: Amanda Flores

Flores has recovered from that situation, and she continues to use social media to connect with friends, stay politically aware and make new friends.

Social media presence is continuously developing as future generations grow older, which can be interpreted as both positive and negative. But people can’t deny how responsible it is for people’s friendships and success.

See below for a video about social media usage at Rainier:

Students are spending too much time on social media

By Darren C. D’avila
Staff Writer

At Summit Preparatory Charter High School, most of the students spend their time using social media. When you walk around the school, you mostly see everyone on their phones seeing posts on social media, and there is only a small handful of students from grades nine through twelve who never touch their phones during break or lunch. Here are seven reasons why I personally think social media is a waste of time for students:

1. It affects your school life. In every class I go to, I see at least a small amount of students on their phones when the teachers are talking, explaining, or when students are supposed to work on projects. It takes up their time and that only leaves them a couple of days to complete the project, while others who use their time wisely have weeks to complete each project and also have time to work on other projects from different classes.

2. It can get you in trouble with teachers. I have seen many students getting their phones taken away by teachers many times, but it’s the students’ responsibility to take care of their phones, and they shouldn’t put themselves in that position. When their phones are away, the only thing that runs through their mind is the messages they’re missing, leaving people on “read,” a statement people use when someone reads a text but doesn’t reply, or if the teachers will send an email to their parents about them misusing their time at school.

3. It can affect your grades. When on social media, you mostly forget what you’re doing at school and forget what the teachers are explaining. Later on, you can’t remember anything about what to do for your project, and you get a bad grade on it.

4. It can affect your friendships with teachers and students in real life. You can say that you have friends online, but if you only believe in that, you can’t have physical time with others. If you hang out with others in real life, you can play games, go to restaurants and movies, or just chill with each other. Through social media, you can only view and like posts. Even though many companies are adding games to their products, there is no fun playing with someone from a distance.



These are the results of a survey of Summit Prep students who disclosed how many friends/followers they had and how many of them they talk to offline.


5. You can be lead into danger. There have been many incidents where students are being tricked into thinking that strangers are their “friends,” and that leads to many problems for the student and his or her family. Tyler Cohen Wood, a public speaker and author of “Catching the Catfishers,” said, “It’s very important that parents with younger children are aware of what apps their kids are using and what those apps do.” Mr. Wood also said, “A lot of those applications that target young children have a social media aspect to them. People trying to target children will use those apps, as well.”

6. You get put into drama. Drama has been around for awhile, and it just keeps spreading. I’m always away from it because I don’t have social media, but it’s annoying to hear every piece of drama going on during school. On social media, most students are friends or followers to each other, and, when someone posts a comment to someone, everyone sees it, and that’s the only thing people talk about at school.

7. Social media was not made for everyday use. Social media was made to interact with people you know who live far away or to share something interesting with others. We shouldn’t make social media mandatory for our lives. We should only make social media as a backup thing if life is going slowly, or if you are alone for the moment, but not when you’re around a group of friends.screenshot-2017-02-28-at-11-04-32-amscreenshot-2017-02-28-at-11-04-43-am


These are the results of a survey of Summit Prep students who disclosed how much time they spend on social media.

Social media is affecting the lives of students today

By Darren C. D’avila
Staff Writer

At Summit Preparatory Charter High School, I see many of my friends or other students on their phones checking social media. There are few groups of students who try to stay away from their phones to engage with their friends. I think it’s sad that we have to live in a world that is surrounded by so much technology.

Many students use social media platforms, for example, Instagram and Snapchat. Those were two of the most used social media platforms in 2016, as stated by Priit Kallas from Dreamgrow.

Students use these platforms to message their friends or to send them “Snaps,” which is sending a picture to someone on Snapchat. Students message each other during school while being a few feet away from each other, texting each other from different classrooms or when having a lunch break.

The reason why students tend to be on social media most of the time is because they want to message someone so they won’t be bored in class. Most students want to catch up with their “Streaks” – a way to keep users on Snapchat which forces them to check their Snapchat to send Snaps to someone in order to keep their streak. Or they probably go on social media to distract themselves from class because they don’t want anything to do with the subject.

CNN reporter Kelly Wallace highlighted a report by Common Sense Media, in which researchers discovered that teens in the United States spend around nine hours a day using social media for their enjoyment. Ms. Wallace also wrote that nine hours is more than the average teen sleeps and more time than they spend being around teachers or parents.

Students should spend less time on social media in order to be successful in school. If they do not achieve their goals for school, then they could fail their classes due to using social media during school. Grades of the students could drop heavily.

Nick McGillivray, from TurboFuture, wrote that users that are light users of social media have improved grades, with an average GPA of 3.82, while heavy users tend to suffer with their grades, with an average GPA of 3.06. Another study McGillivray quotes showed that students who studied for a test while on social media scored 20 percent lower.

When I am in a class, some students are on their phone viewing social media when class is in session. When they can’t put away their phones, the phones are taken away and given back to them at the end of class or at the end of the day. The moment when students don’t have their phones, most of the thoughts that are going through their heads focus on all the messages they aren’t responding to, causing them to worry how that will affect streaks with their friends. If that problem affects the way they think during class, it could affect the way they are learning in class; for example, if a teacher asks them a question, they wouldn’t be able to answer.

With many students, social media affects their relationships with friends and teachers; for example, you can’t have as much fun on social media as you can being with friends in real life. If your teacher sees you every day on social media, then they won’t see you being productive like other students, and they won’t think highly of you. Many teachers would look up to you or give you the respect that you need if you weren’t on social media all the time.

During school, I wish it was possible to convince students to spend less time on social media and to instead be with their friends more often. If that ever happened, there would be more friendships coming together, and there would be more communicating with people instead of looking at a screen to talk to someone. Talking to someone would be easier, and it would also invite other students around you to jump in the conversation.

If students weren’t always on their phone checking social media, many parents and teachers would be proud that they are taking a change and deciding to go without social media. Teachers and parents would possibly give out more responsibilities to students because they are letting go of social media for a change.

My parents gave me responsibilities throughout life as I grew up, but they haven’t given me many since they see me on my phone a lot. I think that if I can show them that I can be responsible around them, and even when they are not around, they would trust me more and probably would give me the things I always wanted. I personally think it would be the same if other students did the same.

If students were to let go of social media more often and engage with others, teachers, friends and family would see the change in them and would be more interactive with them. There would be more interaction with one another and that would also improve friendships with fellow students. This is the reason why social media has affected student’s lives, and we should try to end this to make a better future for them.




Students learn to appreciate their culture in the Bay Area

By Kristian Bekele and Micah Tam

Staff Writers

Being in the Bay Area means that there is a vibrant enough mix of cultures within our small sphere, at least in the means of ethnic and cultural diversity. But within the great mix of different kinds of cultures, how can one learn to appreciate their culture?  


Student journalist and junior at Summit Preparatory Charter High School, Kristian Bekele

I, Kristian Bekele, was born in Ethiopia. I arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare airport on July 17, 2007. But it took me several years to fully appreciate the culture and the people that I came from.

Before we dive into anything else, yes, there are cultural differences between Americans who identify as African and those who identify as Black, which is why the term African American can be misleading. It can end up being rather complicated as to who is who, but the difference, in my mind, can be summed up to this: those who identify as African have parents/grandparents who came straight from the continent and still have some connection to the culture; those who identify as Black have ancestors who lost contact with African culture due to the deliberate separation of families and communities during slavery.

This was something I greatly experienced when I moved from Ethiopia to the United States. I went from a place where everyone had the same values, culture and beliefs to a place where I became a minority. This led me to be confused about how to identify myself.

On one hand, I was African. I came from the continent and became a resident in the United States. On the other hand, I was seen as Black, but I did not have the same experiences as many Americans who identify as Black because my ancestors were not subjected to slavery and segregation in the United States.

It was within the last five years or so of being a citizen of the United States that I have started to identify myself as Black and to check the “Black/African American” box when I’m filling out forms that ask for racial identification.

Living in Menlo Park, I also was in an area where there aren’t that many Black people, let alone those who are African. It also didn’t help that my features are “racially ambiguous.”

This led me to have a large disconnect with my culture. On the one hand, I am racially identified as Black, but I primarily identify with my Ethiopian heritage.

It wasn’t until I was in the seventh or eighth grade where I started to once again connect back to my culture like speaking Amharic. Also, the creation of the Habesha community famous Twitter page Buna Time (I discovered this page last year) allowed me to connect back to my culture in a way that was never available before.

One of the ways I have furthered my understanding of the cultures that make up Ethiopia is reading about its history and talking about that with my parents. As a child, what I had heard about Ethiopia’s history was mainly about the communist government, led by Mengistu Haile Mariam, Haile Selassie, Tewodros II and King Menelik II.

My parents didn’t participate in all of the cultural aspects of the typical Ethiopian culture. For instance, we were not Ethiopian Orthodox, but instead Pente (non-denominational).

I also wasn’t exposed to much about the different dialects and languages throughout Ethiopia since I moved at such a  young age. As I look back at my experiences in exploring and understanding who I am, I see that both my faith and my culture greatly influenced me.
 In both areas, there is the idea of freedom being a human right. Freedom is something that is emphasized within the Ethiopian culture because of the independence that Ethiopia had throughout the Scramble for Africa. With Christianity, it’s the belief that Jesus Christ came down and saved all, and that the freedom that is found with Him is accessible to all.

I’ve been able to not only discover myself and what my identity is, but also to understand the large role my cultural experiences play in the world view that I have.

As Lissa Thiele, who teaches courses on the Holocaust and Sociology of Law for the Expeditions team, said, “People think race and culture are the same, but it’s not.”


Student journalist and junior at Summit Preparatory Charter High School, Micah Tam

I, Micah Tam, was born in San Francisco, California. I am half Chinese and half Taiwanese. Amidst the whole China and Taiwan political drama, it’s kind of a weird position to be in.

Growing up in the Bay Area, I feel that I have been in a pretty protected bubble when it comes to racism or cultural ignorance. Living here, it seems that I am surrounded by people of my race or at least similar race, which led me to the false pretense that there are a lot of Asians in America. Little did I know, that coastal cities are where many Asians live, whereas many states in the middle of America have few Asian citizens.

I also attended a Chinese immersion preschool in San Francisco then moved to Burlingame for primary school at Franklin Elementary School. There, the majority of the students were either White or Asian.

It wasn’t really until middle school that I experienced some mild racism. Nothing really major such as physical or emotional bullying, but some incidents still stuck out. Some of my classmates would throw around phrases like “ching chong” and ask me what it meant, or they’d make comments about how small my eyes are.

Like Kristian, I consider myself to be pretty “racially ambiguous.” Maybe that’s because my skin is a bit darker than the stereotype of how East Asian people have perfect, smooth, pale skin, but people usually are surprised when I tell them I’m Chinese. They usually go on to guess every single major East Asian race before they finally give up.

Because of the mild racism and racial ambiguity, I felt stuck with my identity. I was uninspired to have pride for my culture.

Also, like Kristian, it wasn’t until I found different social media accounts like @asians4thewin and @asiangirlsunite on Instagram, that really encouraged me to have pride in being who I am.

The accounts that focus on Asian American pride and cultural awareness brought up the injustice and problems that Asians face, just as many other minorities in America face prejudice. I learned about acts such as yellow face and yellow fever, which was people of other races trying to look stereotypically East Asian. I also learned about White actors depriving Asian actors of roles that are written to be Asian, such as how Emma Stone played a half-Chinese, half-Hawaiian woman in the film “Aloha” or how Scarlett Johansson is playing a Japanese woman in the upcoming film “Ghost in the Shell”.

Connecting my ethnicity, my culture and my identity to real-world problems made me realize that there is too little recognition of the misappropriation of Asian culture and too much injustice for me to feel ashamed of who I am. I started getting sick of laughing off racist jokes and seeing blatant “whitewashing” all around me.

We, Kristian and Micah, encourage you to learn more about your culture and identity and take pride in who you are. Spread cultural awareness so that everyone can be understood and accepted. All in all, don’t forget to love yourself, and don’t be afraid to be unconditionally you. 


Cultural awareness builds understanding between Americans

Experts offer strategies to be more culturally aware

Tahoma journalism students use Twitter to share their voices

By Noel William Cintron

Staff Writer  

Journalism students at Summit Public School: Tahoma are using Twitter during warmups to inform themselves about the world. What the students do on Twitter is see what professional journalists and politicians are posting and then retweet or comment on those tweets in order to share their thoughts.

Here’s what some of those journalism students had to say about their use of Twitter:

Tahoma senior Hugo Serrano discusses how he uses Twitter to debate politics. 

Left: Tahoma freshman Will Butler said, “Being able to use Twitter for journalism is eye-opening because we get to see daily updates, breaking news and overall what’s happening in our country.”

Right: Butler said, ”My Twitter feed is about reporting the news and interesting topics, spreading the word about politicians and post-election events.”


Left: Tahoma senior Hugo Serrano said, “My Twitter for journalism class has helped me see how the world is at the moment and has opened my eyes to a new world.”

Right: Serrano said, “My Twitter feed is full of examples on how President Trump is failing as a president.”

 Left: Tahoma sophomore Anthony Matute said, “I usually only use Twitter when I’m in class.” 

 Right: Matute said, “Most of my retweets are for satire.”  

Left: Tahoma freshman Absa Fall said, “I love that I can use it very often to project the big issues going on at the time.”

Right: Fall said, “My retweets are usually from politicians and news accounts about what’s going on at the time.”


Left: Tahoma senior Christian Contreras said, “When I use Twitter, I only use it when I’m in journalism, before school, at lunches and when I’m at home.”

Right: Contreras said, “My Twitter feed allows me to see what everybody posts and see what Donald Trump posts on Twitter.”

Here’s a selection of screenshots from the Tahoma student reporter feeds:   

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Expeditions Executive Director Caitlin Reilly said she’s glad to see journalism students learning how to use social media in a professional way: