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Raven Report Sequoia High School

Volume vii, Issue 7

1201 Brewster Ave. Redwood City, CA 94062

Sweeping changes for SAT set for Spring 2016 to a scale of 1600 instead of 2400, and the essay portion will be optional (but many colleges are expected to require it). Other changes include the combination of the reading and writing sections into one, as well as removing the quarter-point penalty for guessing incorrectly. The SAT vocabulary

By EMILY DUCKER Staff Reporter The College Board announced changes to the SAT that will go into effect in the spring of 2016, March 5. The changes will affect this year’s freshmen and all younger students. The most notable changes are that the test will go back

words will no longer be obscure; they will be words that students use in their academic lives and should be more familiar with. Students will only be allowed to use calculators on designated parts of the math portion of the exam. In the optional essay, students will be required to support their claims with

facts; students will not be allowed to fabricate statistics, as is currently allowed. In addition, the College Board announced plans to partner with Khan Academy to make free preparation materials for the exam. The College Board plans to reveal further details about the test as well as new practice materials in April.

Photo by Carlos García

Students extract insect DNA; they plan to share their research on the bacteria, Wolbachia, with local scientists.

April 9, 2014

Principal to be Assistant Superintendent next year By LILY HARTZELL Managing Editor The District Board of Trustees approved Principal Bonnie Hansen to be Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services starting July 1; they announced the change at their meeting March 26. She will be in charge of curriculum and instruction, especially preparing the district to transition to Common Core. Hansen will collaborate with teacher leaders and oversee English Learners (EL) and Special Education in the district. She sees her new role as focusing on teaching students to think and learn, much as IB and other curricula at Sequoia do. “I will not wear a walkie-talkie anymore. There will be less urgency and more strategy,” Hansen said. The position was posted on sites nationwide with applications due April 25. Hansen expects the district to choose someone by mid-May, although she will be acting as principal for the rest of the year and speaking at graduation. “The worst part is that is that there won’t be any teenagers. The best part is that it’s an opportunity to make a difference district-wide on curriculum and instruction,” Hansen said. Hansen served as Sequoia’s Instructional Vice Principal for five years before becoming principal. “I will miss this place,” Hansen said. “The student body is a wonderful example of why everything is going to be just fine. It is made of phenomenal human beings.”

Cutting-edge biotech classes encourage budding scientists By CARLOS GARCÍA and CARMEN VESCIA Staff Reporter and Feature Editor Growing stem cells, extracting DNA, cloning, all done in a multi-million dollar lab. No, this isn’t some high tech corporation. It’s just daily life in Sequoia’s biotechnology classes. Sequoia is home to Biotechnology 1-2 and 3-4, both taught by Ashley Dever in a state-of-the-art lab in the LL wing. Sequoia first began offering biotech five years ago, and Dever has been teaching it for the past three.


Biotechnology is defined as the use of biological processes to create or modify products for commercial use. This includes altering the DNA of fruits and vegetables—genetically modified organisms (GMOs)—to make them pest resistant or even altering the DNA in human cells to treat and cure diseases. “My favorite part is that it’s so handson, and it’s so interactive. I also think it’s so relevant to our lives,” Dever said. “We’re now seeing things about genetically modified foods and a lot of new prescription drugs and cancer therapies that are arising from biotech.”


Meet Bacon: Kuliga’s pig

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Defining your race

Page 5

Biotech was first used over 6,000 years ago to ferment cheese, and today, over 13.3 million farmers around the world use biotechnology to increase crop yields and crop quality. It has also been used to create over 250 health care products, vaccines and medicines. “I think it would be awesome to go into something that’s really impacting the world right now,” sophomore Biotech 1-2 student Marissa MacAvoy said. “There are all these cancers and diseases that have no cure, and a lot of problems result from mutations in the DNA, and part of what biotech is trying to do is alter that to fix

the disease. Instead of treating the symptoms, you’re treating the actual problem.” The class spends the majority of its time working and researching in the lab. So far this year, Biotech 1-2 has extracted DNA from yeast, bacteria and salmon sperm, and they are even planning on sharing the data they collect in an upcoming lab about a bacteria called Wolbachia with local scientists. The workforce in the biotechnology industry is a big one. It has grown during this 21st century, and is still growing. The Bay Area is a “hotbed” of biotech and it is

See BIOTECH, page 2

By the Numbers


school days left in the year



April 9, 2014

New stock marketeers head to international championship By CLAIRE BUGOS Photo Editor

Members of the Sequoia DECA Club (Distributive Education Clubs of America) have qualified for the upcoming International Career Development Conference in Atlanta this May. The club was started in Jan. 2013 by juniors Wyatt Duncan and Paul Kiraly to teach others the basics of investing in the stock market and improve their skills. In a recent qualifying competition which took place over four months, Duncan and Kiraly put together a portfolio that placed them fourth in California. Because they placed in the top five in the state, the team moved straight to the interna-

tional competition. “In our free time, [we] invest in stock, we read about stock, we read about investments, real estate—everything. That’s what we like to do,” Duncan said. “We spend our time reading and doing the stuff we love: making money.” The competition requires teams to use $100,000 in virtual money to invest in at least three companies of their choice. DECA creates a simulation of real-time numbers on Wall Street so that students feel the effects of investing in the stock market without actually doing so. The simulation is a new experience for Kiraly and Duncan who are used to long-term investment, so they had to adjust their strategy to work for the

four month period. of 29 percent, earning them apInstead of seeking out com- proximately $20,000. panies that they predicted “It was basically intuition would strive in the long-run, the with a little bit of background team looked for a company that research, but not much,” Dunwould make a boom of sorts in can said. “The thing about thethe amount stock market of time re“The club is basically a place where is that it is all quired. everyone can come together and learn about judg“ T h e about stocks. It’s a good starting place.” ing other money I p e o p l e ’s — junior Paul Kiraly would inemotions— vest on my not facts. At own is very different from the the end of the day, what’s driving money I would invest in the sim- the changes in the stock market ulation,” Kiraly said. is demand.” Duncan and Kiraly inKiraly and Duncan will give a vested $70,000 in Netflix, presentation to a panel of judges Chipotle Mexican Grill and in the form of a 10 page paper a 3-D printing company. and 15 minute oral presentation, After having their money on which they have been drafting the simulated market for four and practicing in front of the months, the team had a return other club members.

BIOTECH, from page 1

Photo by Carmen Vescia

known as Biotech Bay, with companies like Bio-Rad, Genentech and Johnson-Johnson, among others, making their homes here. “It is a little controversial that you might be altering nature, but there are so many good things that can come out of this,” senior Biotech 3-4 student Kate Boudreau said. “In the right hands, biotechnology could be used to have a great impact on the world.” Biotech offers a unique experience that the other science classes can’t. “Biotech is more independent. In Physics and Chemistry, you get a straight up lecture, and in Biotech, you get a hands-on experi-

Student choreographers dance to their own beat By XAVI BOLUÑA Staff Reporter The 45th annual Dance Show will showcase 26 student-choreographed performances culminating from nine months of hard work and dedication in Carrington Hall April 25 and 26. The 46 advanced dancers arrive for zero period every day, preparing for months before the two-day show. “From August to March we’re always in the dance studio. The next three weeks [up to the show] are spent onstage,” said senior Joy Robinson, who has been in Advanced Dance since her freshman year . Volunteer student choreographers started last year, picking genres ranging from lyrical to contemporary and everything in between. “What’s hard is to think about what people can do and how people will look onstage,” junior choreographer Madeleine van der Rijn said. “Even if it looks good on yourself, you have to make sure that it looks good on other people too.” They create their dances over the summer so they can be ready to teach their peers when the school year be-

gins. “It’s very difficult to pick up the moves in hip-hop when I’m used to jazz or tap,” Robinson said. “But when you’re learning a dance that’s not your style, you just have to work even harder.” Each student is appointed to three different dances, one every four weeks. Some students opt to take on another dance, but practice outside of class. “I would say 95 percent of the work is done by the students,” said Taylor White, Advanced Dance teacher of 13 years. “This is my first year choreographing a dance ever,” Robinson said. “It’s interesting to see [someone learning] someone else’s choreography versus trying to teach people your own. It puts into perspective what every other choreographer has gone through before.” After the Dance Show is over at the end of April, the dancers begin practicing for Dance Day before working towards choreographing new and unique performances for next year. “If [it’s] the only thing you do in April, go to the Dance Show,” Robinson said.

As of now, there are about 13 members in the club who work to fundraise and learn about investments. The club meets on Wednesdays at lunch in room 108. Math teacher Steven Wong serves as the club adviser along with parent adviser Virginia Kiraly. “The reason we started the DECA Investment Club is not to go to these competitions—it’s to learn, because for us, learning is more valuable than anything else,” Duncan said. In the future, the DECA Club will grow and expand to cover more topics. “There are lots of things to do and lots of things to manage,” Wong said. “The more the merrier.”

ence,” senior Biotech 3-4 student Alan Mendieta said. Biotech 3-4 is in its first year and is currently trying to clone African Violets. Last summer, Boudreau spent six weeks interning with Genencor in Palo Alto researching the biotechnology behind making ice cream fluffier. This year, six other Sequoia students are hoping to apply for internships through the same program organized by San Mateo High School. “I would encourage everyone to sign up for biotechnology,” Boudreau said. “You never know if you’re going to like it or not, but you might as well try it because we have a great lab, a great teacher and a great program.”

Baseball alums blog for ESPN

Sequoia graduates Connor Grossman and Drew Tweedy’s baseball blog, www., has recently become affiliated with ESPN as the official blog of the San Francisco Giants. Grossman and Tweedy both graduated in 2013, played varsity baseball, and are majoring in Broadcast Journalism at Syracuse University and the University of Southern California, respectively. “We’ve been best friends since freshman year and always talk about baseball, so we thought, ‘Hey, we should probably do something about that’,” Tweedy said. The pair had been toying with the idea for a while, but Grossman finally took the initiative during fall of 2014. “It was pretty good, but only our moms were reading it,” Tweedy said. As their posts became more frequent

and as they improved layout, they looked to expand their readership through affiliation with major sports networks. Grossman and Tweedy have been offered internships for KNBR this summer and are hoping to have a partnership between their blog and Affiliation with KNBR will allow Grossman and Tweedy to expand their readership locally, appealing to the Giants fanbase. In the off-season, they posted three to four stories a week with draft analyses, season predictions and Spring Training recaps. Now that the season has started, West Coast Bias is posting daily. “As of now, we’re just trying to expand our readership,” Tweedy said. “It’s unreal how fast things are going. We’re just riding things out and seeing where they go.” —CAROLINE LEMPERT

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April 9, 2014

Kuliga raises pig and brings home the bacon By LAUREL DEARBORN Managing Editor Administrative Vice Principal Mike Kuliga walks around at lunch and can easily be spotted with his orange Home Depot bucket, collecting scraps of food for the six pigs he will visit in the following days. One of these pigs is named Bacon. Out of the six, he belongs to Kuliga and was given his name, foreshadowing his fate. “They aren’t really pets. We don’t have that sort of relationship,” Kuliga said. “I named it Bacon specifically so that I would remember the parameters of our relationship.” Kuliga’s desire to produce his own food began with his garden. He enjoys working with vegetables such as tomatoes and artichokes in his backyard, a love that stemmed from time in his grandmother’s garden when he was younger. But one day, when he was asked to go wild pig hunting, Kuliga realized that if he was going to continue to eat meat, he needed to be able to pull that trigger. “We’re really casual about the meat we eat in society. You go to In-n-Out and you get a hamburger and there is a big disconnect [with the fact that] my hamburger was once an animal,” he said. “One of the reasons that I do this is to remind myself where it all comes from.” Kuliga chose to earn the pig instead of outright paying for it. This means that he has to con-

Why raising your own pig is more humane than raising one in factories: In factory farms, sows (mother pigs) spend their lives in tiny gestration crates that are too small for the pigs to be able to move or even turn around. Some factories cut off pigs’ tails without painkillers. Pigs can live up to 15 years, but in factory farms they’re slaughtered after 6 months. Baby male pigs are castrated without painkillers. There are about 65 million pigs in factory farms in the U.S. In factory farms, pigs are removed from their mothers at 2-3 weeks and placed in windowless sheds. —Information from Photo courtesy of Mike Kuliga

Bacon was less than five pounds when he was born and will reach between 200 and 250 pounds in October. tribute to the farm to get the meat from the pig in the end, thus explaining the orange bucket he carries around at lunchtime. “As I was brainstorming ways to contribute to the farm and earn the pig, I was thinking about the fact that I work on a big, public high school and there are probably some leftovers after lunch,” he said.

The socialite

But for him, collecting these scraps is also political. “I’m very much an environmentalist. On some level, I see all of these fossil fuels getting made to make fertilizer and things to grow feed, and then there are fossil fuels to ship food to the supermarket and school and then there are fossil fuels that get burned getting the kids with the food to school,” he said.

“So when those sandwich crusts get thrown away or the scaps get thrown away, you’re basically throwing a whole bunch of oil in the garbage. I would rather take that fossil fuel and turn it into pig instead of wasting it.” In the end, Kuliga will be the one to kill Bacon when he reaches 200 to 250 pounds come October. “What I am doing is much more humane,” Kuliga said. “Most of the pork meat comes from pigs who have never seen real sunshine. They have been cooped up in big pens in a fac-

tory. They don’t get to be social. They don’t get to be a pig. When Bacon goes, he is going to go happy.” The intention in this whole process is to eventually get a new pig, already named Pork Chop, and repeat the cycle. But Kuliga doesn’t know if, after October, he will be able to do it all again. “It’s going to be a bigger challenge to raise a pig and kill it,” Kuliga said of slaughtering a pig he raised. “If I can’t do it, then I probably should give up bacon.”

The organizer All students use their lockers differently—for some, colorcoded binders and and a mini mirror are essential. For others, a locker is basically a garbage disposal. Here are a few archetypical lockers we’ve noticed around Sequoia.

What your

locker says about you

The slob


4 Although California’s teen birth rate has dropped about 60 percent since 1991 because of expanded sex education programs, a sighting of a pregnant girl at Sequoia is still not rare. However, there are local resources aimed at preventing and supporting pregnant teens. According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), there were 70.9 births for every 1,000 teens aged 15-19 in 1991. By 2011, this number had decreased to 28 births per 1,000 teens. Sequoia, which sees only a handful of teen pregnancies every year, is fortunate to have a free clinic, the Sequoia Teen Wellness Center, and Teen Talk Sexuality Education on campus. “Sequoia has demonstrated a full commitment to both comprehensive sex education and access to youth-friendly clinical services. Unfortunately, many other districts and states don’t always share that commitment,” said Perryn Rowland, Director of Programs and Services for Teen Talk. “When we teach at other schools, students often comment on how lucky Sequoia students are.”

Feature According to TIME, some critics believe that such efforts would only promote more sexual activity and increase teen pregnancy rates. Nonetheless, the Youth Advisory Board’s 2013 Needs Assessment Survey found that of the 22 percent of sexually active students, only 56 percent always used a form of contraception. Additionally, the survey revealed that 92 percent knew where to obtain free condoms. “I think that all high school students deserve the right to medically accurate information about sex and sexuality. Knowledge is power and studies have shown that teaching comprehensive sex education does not increase sexual activity,” Rowland said. Regardless of the preventative services provided, there are still teen parents at Sequoia. Teen mothers have the choice of applying for the Redwood High School Teen Parenting Program, which offers small class sizes, education on parenting and finance, as well as free childcare. Furthermore, they have the option of staying at Sequoia while taking advantage of Redwood’s childcare

services. “Any pregnant teen has the right to stay at Sequoia. They have the right to stay here throughout the pregnancy up until the delivery,” Teen Resource Center Director Judy Romero said. To support the transition to Redwood, Romero started a group of teen mothers in 2010. She provided them with emotional support and Health Aide Claudia Rendon partnered with her to provide medical information. Guest speakers such as the Second Harvest Food Bank and a doctor taught about nutrition and the delivery process. Through her time spent with teen mothers, she found that low self-esteem is a contributing factor to teen pregnancy. “When [girls feel] like they don’t deserve to be treated well, they feel like they can’t say no. They feel like they can’t express themselves to say ‘I want you to use a condom,’” Romero said. Another trend in teen pregnancy in California is how it disproportionately affects the Latino community. The Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) states that Hispanics currently have the

April 9, 2014



fortunate to

have free sexual health services Teen pregnancy rate

drops in California, still a ways to go —ARACELI EFIGENIO

highest teen birth rates, and the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) concluded that out of the 38,303 teen births in 2011, 28,640 were of Hispanic origin in California. The OAH also found that since 2007, the teen birth rate has declined by 39 percent for Hispanics, compared with declines of 29 percent for blacks and 25

percent for whites. “If they don’t see a future for themselves, then what they know is ‘I’ll be a mom,’” Romero said. Romero is a daughter of teen parents herself, and her parents are first generation immigrants. “Even if I were to ask my parents now, ‘Would you do that all over again,’ they would say, ‘We wish we would have been

See TEEN MOM, page 6 Photo by Araceli Efigenio

Decoration debacle:

Should seniors be allowed to decorate their caps?

Reason 5: I know that I personally did my best in high school, and I am proud of what I accomplished. If someone else is going to a “better” school than me that doesn’t mean that It’s my day. I I feel bad about myself. I’m excited for have worked hard them. Reason 6: College logos aren’t the only for four years. I have pulled all- thing I can put on my cap. If I want to put nighters. I have an anchor, my lucky number or something crammed for that is metaphorical to me, I will. Reason 7: Not decorating my cap is tests. I deserve to like having vanilla ice cream when I can have some puff have rainbow sherbert with sprinkles. Reason 8: Balancing sports with acapaint on my demics isn’t always easy. I’m proud to graduation cap. Here are 10 show that I made it through hell week by having a sports logo on my cap. reasons why: Reason 9: I know some of my friends Reason 1: When I throw are the first to graduate from high school my hat up in the in their family. What’s more of a reason to air, I want to be show off my pride than that? Reason 10: In a sea of over 400 seniors, able to find it. it’s nice to personalize graduation in a way Reason 2: By now, people know where that is unique to me. I I’m going because the Raven Report has already “In a sea of over 400 seniors, it’s want a memento, and I published the senior is- nice to personalize graduation want to hang it on my sue, so some personalizing in a way that is unique to me.” wall. If you agree with won’t be a shocker. any of the 10 reasons Reason 3: I’ve worked above, help us in the fight to decorate our my ass off. Reason 4: I’m old enough to be able to caps. Let’s make a petition with at least 250 deal with the fact that other people might seniors, giving us a majority of the gradube going to my “dream” school. By graduation day, I will be happy with where I am ating class, to present to the administration. going.

By LAUREL DEARBORN and MATVARI MAHARAJ Managing Editor and Opinion Editor

the student was less successful. Quite the opposite might be true: a student who is going to a state school may have worked hard to make changes in his It’s graduation or her community, while the Ivy Leagueday; you’re bask- bound graduate may have spent the last ing in your fam- four years working only for him- or herily and friends’ self. The students’ caps, meanwhile, reflect applause as you a totally different message. Decorating caps with our colleges procircle the track and take a seat motes division and inequality in what alongside your should be a day of unity and pride. Colclassmates. You feel proud and relieved— lege has always been a status symbol, and you’ve made it through four years of chal- those flaunting the most prestigious placlenging classes, time-consuming extracur- es are placed above the rest. Those who didn’t apply or weren’t admitted to those riculars and adolescent awkwardness. But since you first arrived on campus schools are left feeling inadequate, while in your uncomfortable robes, a lingering those who can’t afford expensive private schools are reminded ghost has slowed the flood of of the opportunities cliche emotions. In front of you, hundreds of merrily dec- “Regardless of where I get in they are forced to pass orated caps remind you of the or decide to go, my cap will be up. The college applischools you didn’t get in to or nothing but proud purple.” cation process is mulcan’t afford. tifaceted and deeply Though decorating caps with college insignia may seem like a personal. It’s also the most-discussed subharmless tradition that celebrates stu- ject of senior year. For graduation, let’s dents’ achievement at graduation, it has put all that aside and celebrate our last day negative side effects. The problem is that as Cherokees. Luckily, Sequoia doesn’t currently aldecorating our caps and flaunting our future alma matters quantifies our level of low students to decorate their caps for high school achievement—a cap with a graduation. Regardless of where I get in or more prestigious school on it implies the decide to go, my cap will be nothing but student wearing it achieved more (read: proud purple—a celebration of a school was better) in high school, while a cap I’m proud to attend, not a boastful flauntwith a lesser-known place on it implies ing of where I’m going next.

By SIMON GREENHILL Editor-in-Chief



April 9 , 2014

Breaking the boxes:

Race is more than others’ expectations

By ABIGAIL WANG Staff Reporter It’s hard to look at your own family and know that they are disappointed in you. But what’s even harder is not even being able to understand the language they speak. At family reunions, I am an immediate outcast and introductions always end up the same way. People ask my dad, in Mandarin, if I speak the language. When he tells them no, it’s always the same face of disappointment. Suddenly people who are family can no longer relate to me. I’ve been laughed at by my cousin and other younger Mandarin-speaking kids when I attempt to speak the language. Now when people ask, I’m afraid to even try. But why? I know and acknowledge

that I’m half-Chinese and half-British. I Like many people, friends were surlike that I have a Chinese middle name. prised to learn I am even part Chinese. I love hearing stories from grandparents They then asked me if I celebrated Chiabout World War II in China. But instead nese New Year and what I did. I told them of sharing that with others, I’m caught that yes, I celebrated it, and that my fambetween beily has dim sum ing white and with friends Chinese at the and a hot pot same time. to celebrate. “It’s not picking and choosing. I Upon hear‘That’s it?” they want to be able to select two boxes ing that I have replied and two middle shook their on a test or application for my own names, my heads with disreason.” friends always appointment. have to nag at I felt confused me to share it. and hurt with I’ve learned their reaction, that sharing I thought celonly leads to ebrating with them hopelessmy family and ly trying to pronounce it and instead of friends was something special, not somebeing respectful, they laugh. Meanwhile, thing that measured my identity. Chinese people pick apart my pronunciaThere’s a constant pressure to be more tion. The more I try and embrace my cul- Chinese or be more white, but it should ture and be proud, the more I am made a not matter. My race and how I choose to joke, not able to fit either mold. portray it should be what it is to me and

Does it Matter?


not defined by others; I don’t have to speak the language or celebrate Chinese holidays religiously. I also don’t have to conform to be more white. It’s not picking and choosing. I want to be able to select two boxes on a test or application for my own reasons. Regardless of what others tell you, embodying race should be a choice you make based on your own thoughts about your identity and not others. Your ethnicity shouldn’t be something others are disappointed in or you feel embarrassed by simply because you feel you aren’t “enough.” You should know that what you believe and feel you are should be more than enough. My brother said something to me the other day: “People are always going to be putting you into boxes your whole life, to try and categorize you and figure you out.” But boxes aren’t something we should be put into. You don’t need anyone to tell you who you are or figure you out. Simply be proud whatever you may be, no boxes needed.

? Mixed




Pacific Islander

Support and outreach in IB need to diversify By SABRINA VILLANUEVA AVALOS Staff Reporter While our student body is large and diverse, enrollment in ICAP and IB classes does not yet fully represent our diversity, an issue that arises while students sign up for next year’s classes. While most understand that higher level courses are vital to college admissions and future success, the problem lies with getting all types of students to want to sign up for and be a part of ICAP and IB. “I have to say in my ICAP classes, there’s a lot more white people,” sophomore Adilene Molina said. “In Geometry I can speak Spanish to my friends, [but] in ICAP it’s hard for [all students] to relate to each other because when we talk about our families, [others] have really small quiet families and mine is really big and loud.” These differences can cause uneasiness. “[Students] think that their stereotypes will be applied to them more than what they really want to say [in advanced classes],” sophomore Mijal Epelman said. The administration, specifically the IB Office, has acknowledged the racial gap in higher level classes, and one

of their main goals is prevent IB from being divided into two separate worlds. “I think it is very important for our IB program to look like our school at large,” IB Coordinator Lisa McCahon said. “The population in IB should be a representative population of what the student demographics look like for the entire student body.” The IB office and Sequoia staff value diversity in advanced courses to benefit students, both in high school and in the future. “There are many reasons why [diversity] is important,” McCahon said. “One, you don’t want two schools on one campus. Two, IB is very important, not only to get in to college, but it prepares [students] for what [they’re] expected to do in college. We want all of our students to be successful in college and thus, we want more students accessing IB. Lastly, a more diverse IB class enriches the class discussion by adding multiple perspectives, benefitting everyone in the class.” Simply informing students of higher level opportunities may not be enough to overcome the fear of being a minority in IB classes.

“You need to feel like there’s one person that’s only thinking about you and who knows you, and you know them and who makes you feel like you can succeed,” Epelman said. Although steps are being taken to encourage students to reach for these classes, schoolwide assemblies may be scaring students more than motivating them. “The assemblies tell you how awesome IB is and how many doors it opens, and then they tell you what type of student you need to be to get in,” Epelman said. “Those lists of characteristics for everything are terrible. You’re never going to totally identify with everything on the list.” Students have suggested sending letters to incoming freshmen from current ICAP and IB students describing their own experiences to show new students what advanced classes are like realistically, rather than allowing rumors and assemblies to deter students from signing up for them. People have also emphasized the importance of supporting students within these classes once they actually enter the classroom to promote diversity there.


Opinion Staff Editorial

Safe sex is smart sex:

Take responsibility for your body

Despite open information about safe sex, poor deciscions are made regarding contraception. Every year in the U.S., there are more than 750,000 cases of teenage pregnancies, 82 percent of which are unplanned. On top of that, 19 million cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) occur in the teenage community annually. With such staggering statistics as these, the topic of sex cannot be taken lightly. Nearly half of the entire teenage population is sexually active. Of these, the majority regularly uses some form of contraception. But the fact of the matter is that STIs and pregnancies do happen, even if you think you’re being careful. Programs like Teen Talk are great starts to understanding the basics of sex. But as informative as Teen Talk is, the material they offer is often taken for granted. It doesn’t always sink in that herpes is real, or that of the 18.9 million new STI cases detected each year in the U.S., 9.1 million, are contracted by teenagers. It’s your own responsibility to take advantage of the resources they point you towards, like the Teen Wellness Center on James St. There, students can find information and contraception, all free and confidential. So what is holding people back from not being one hundred percent safe all the time? Avoiding an awkward conversation with your partner should be no excuse to not use protection, because when it comes down to it, it’s

not worth it. And knowing exactly where to get contraceptives makes it even easier to take the proper, preventative steps. With that in mind, if you feel uncomfortable seeking contraception, you’re not ready to have sex. The surest way to be protected against STIs and pregnancy is abstinence. No other form of contraception is one hundred percent effective. Because of the unreliability of contraception, unplanned pregnancy and the contraction of STIs cannot be entirely attributed to poor judgement; sometimes life just happens. There are still more circumstances, for example rape, where abstinence or contraception are out of your hands. But if you and your partner are not planning on a child, and you are morally and religiously comfortable using contraception, take the initiative. Sex is in no way a requirement for high school, and it should go without saying that you should wait until you are completely ready. But if you do make the decision to be sexually active, be smart about it. It won’t make you cooler if you decide to live life on the edge by not using protection. And even if you consider yourself to be “safe” most of the time, don’t take the risk when you find yourself without a condom. Just one time could determine your future relationships, education and the rest of your life. So know when you’re ready, be safe all the time and understand how to be responsible for your body.

Traditional education system inhibits creativity By EVAN ISENSTEINBRAND Staff Reporter

Tests. Homework. Essays. Sleep deprivation. Repeat. It sometimes seems that teachers assign an unrelenting barrage of work, with little opportunity for students to think outside the box and exercise creativity. Following directions gets rewarded with good grades, while other hands-on or creative learners may get worse grades. I strongly believe that students should be encouraged to take advantage of their own skill set and not the ones school or state mandates them to have. The problem lies within the

system itself. Public schools work with more opportunity to were founded after the Ameri- think outside the box, like ascan Revolution, the basic funda- signing more inventive projects mentals about education haven’t and involving more free-thinkchanged much since then. ing homework assignments. High school students have There isn’t always one answer been grouped according to their to a problem. Giving students level of intelligence, honors ver- the independence to explore sus regular classes, and age. Let- other possibilities highlights ter grades were developed just to their individuality. For example, show how intelligent students essays give students the space to were, not how hard they tried. express their opinion with jusThe curriculum has become tification. Group projects emmore advanced over time but phasize several talents that help the idea is still the same: churn students find their creativity. out like-thinking minds who Encouraging students to don’t need to view history be very differthrough difent than their I strongly believe that students ferent sources should be encouraged to take ad- enhances their peers. But that vantage of their own skill set, not perception of doesn’t work the skill set that the school or state the world, and anymore. We mandates them to have. creates indineed to emvidual opinbrace more creions. ative free thinkers in the world. Students should openly think Instead of stressing confor- outside the box and express cremity in schools, students’ d ativity. I hope that one day, inindividual creativity should be dividual talents are treated with celebrated by assigning school- more attention in school.

april 9, 2014

Sequoia Says

What’s the most creative April Fool’s prank you’ve ever been involved with? “ I took eight fake babies used by the home economics department with me, and [went in someone’s classroom]. I removed the panels from the ceiling and I hid the babies inside. So on April Fool’s he was teaching class and all of a sudden you would hear the baby go, ‘Wahhhhhhh,’ and he didn’t know where it was coming from.” — English Teacher Nichole Vaughan “I opened my friend’s locker and took his books and spread them throughout the empty lockers around the school.” ­— Junior Gray Lara

“When I was dog-sitting for my friend, I rearranged her entire room.” — Junior Jenette Masarie

“My sister filled my shoes with shaving cream and asked me to go outside, so I stepped in it.” — Junior Ben Morrison — EMILY DUCKER and CAMERON REBOSIO

TEEN MOM from page 4


would have been older,’” Romero said. “My parents would tell us ‘Take advantage of the opportunities we did not have because we were young and had a family.’” Even though pregnant teens lose their childhood, there is still a silver lining to teen pregnancy as teen parents rise to the challenge of raising

a new life—while still obtaining credits. “I am constantly amazed by some of the teen parents I work with. They are proving everyone wrong by working harder and giving so much of themselves to make sure their children are well cared for and loved,” Rowland said. “They give up a lot of their own childhood but they are doing it with courage and grace.”

Sequoia High School

Raven Report 2013-2014

Editor-in-Chief Simon Greenhill Managing Editors Laurel Dearborn Lily Hartzell News Editor Dalia Jude Feature Editors Araceli Efigenio Carmen Vescia Opinion Editor Matvari Maharaj Sports Editor Jarrett Crowell Photo Editor Claire Bugos Online Editor Caroline Lempert Layout Editor Anna Dagum Staff Reporters Xavi Boluña Julio Cortez Emily Ducker Lily Friebel Carlos Garcia Claire Harkola Evan Isenstein-Brand Emma Peyton Cam Rebosio Sabrina Villanueva Avalos Abigail Wang Adviser Kim Vinh



April 9, 2014

Best friends lead badminton team to victory

By LILY HARTZELL Managing Editor Nancy Nguyen and Nikki Shintaku have been friends for twelve or thirteen years—Nguyen claims they met in first grade at Clifford Elementary School, but Shintaku maintains that they played house together in kindergarten. Now seniors, the pair forms varsity badminton’s number one girls doubles team. “Our coach let us pick [partners] this year, so we thought we’d try it out, give it 150 percent,” Shintaku said. Shintaku joined the team her freshman year to try something new. She has played girls doubles every year since then, playing varsity for some matches last year. Nguyen joined in her sophomore year also playing girls doubles, then mixed co-ed doubles last year. Sequoia is 2-1 as of April 7. The two took some time adjusting to being partners at the beginning of the season. “In doubles you have to communicate a lot to know your partner has you covered in one certain area, and we didn’t know what we were doing,” Nguyen said. They have improved quickly, however, and the rest of the team notices. “Their relationship definitely makes them the best girls doubles team on the court right now,” senior team captain Alex Lazich said. “They’re definitely some of the better girls on the team, but their communication is why they’re number one. You can see the bonds of friendship between them on the court.” Doubles teams rotate positions to cover the whole court. The two have to communicate constantly throughout their matches, calling when they will make the return shot and telling each other where to move on the court. “Most people think it’s easy because

Photo by lily hartzell

Photo courtesy of Nancy Nguyen

Seniors Nancy Nguyen and Nikki Shintaku met at Clifford Elementary School (left) and have shifted from eating popsicles on spirit days to being “the little princesses” of the badminton court.

they just think, ‘Badminton, oh you’re “With every team, their skill or their just hitting a little birdie around a back- strategy is very different, so it gives us a yard net.’ But really it’s a lot of skill and mix of what we need to work on more or stamina, and you need to know your what we need to fix,” Nguyen said. placement to get your opponents to move The pair try not to let their skill show around,” Nguyen said. “You sweat more until they face their opponents, however. than you think you would.” “Our strategy is to pretend like we’re Another challenge this year is a new really bad and then when we come into scoring system which increases the speed the game it’s like ‘nah,’” Shintaku said. and stakes of “But even the game. In “Most people think it’s easy because they just if we’re bad it’s a match, the think, ‘Badminton, oh you’re just hitting a little ok because we teams play best birdie around a backyard net.’ But really it’s a lot already showed of three games of skill and stamina. You sweat more than you ac- them we’re bad. and the points tually think you would.” We try to defor boys and —senior Nancy Nguyen ceive the other girls doubles, players,” Nguyen boys and girls said. “It probasingles, and mixed are combined to give bly won’t work.” varsity a score out of fifteen. Off the court, the two are regulars at To prepare for their games, Shintaku Tpumps, a boba tea cafe in San Mateo and and Nguyen often practice with teams they often go window shopping together. that are stronger than they are to improve Seeing each other every day for two hours their technique. has brought them even closer, and added

honesty to their relationship on the court. “We can say things to each other and not be like, ‘Oh that was a good job,’ or ‘Nice try.’ With strangers you don’t know you don’t want to be too strong coming off, like ‘You seriously missed that?’” Shintaku said. Shintaku and Nguyen are nervous as their season begins, particularly because they are number one for varsity girls doubles. “You get those butterflies before every game. We’ve been practicing and playing our teammates, but it’s different when you’re playing against these other people you don’t know and it counts towards something and there’s more pressure and you’re number one so you’re supposed to be really good,” Nguyen said. The two are focusing on staying positive, however. “We’re going to look at it more as let’s go out there and try our best, but let’s have fun,” Shintaku said.

Athletes seek balance between grades and sports All athletes must meet the district set minimum 2.0 GPA to be eligible to play in competitions, though some specific programs have additional requirements. Coaches often hold study halls or tutor sessions to ensure that every player is completing their schoolwork.

By JARRETT CROWELL Sports Editor Students who play sports spend two hours a day for four months attending practices and competitions. Despite this enormous commitment, many athletes’ GPAs increase during the season. Coaches and their respective programs provide resources for student-athletes during the season to help them maintain satisfactory grades. In the fall, football players are required to attend a study hall if they have less than a 3.0, which is one point higher than the district mandated 2.0. For wrestling, coaches put tables in the gym and have students who are struggling sit and do homework. These study sessions can make a remarkable difference for some players. “For football, even if I didn’t need to go, I would find myself going just to get ahead on homework because late practices always kill me, and then I’m always so tired afterwards,” senior football and baseball player Cameron Greenough said.

Photo by emma peyton

According to athletic director Rob Poulos, coaches of sports with smaller rosters need to closely examine each player’s GPA before deciding on their team. This more selective process encourages student athletes to work even harder in the classroom. “The cut-sports tend to look a lot more aggressively at GPA since they have such a small roster,” Poulos said. “It’s a massive impact if they have a kid who is ineligible or close to it because it would have such a big impact on

them if they suddenly lost three players. That could really cut into playing rotations and affect the team.” Though some students are unable to maintain a 2.0 GPA, Poulos finds the GPA requirement to be reasonable. “I haven’t found a kid yet who was doing their work and failing classes. It’s almost always a lack of follow through or effort, getting sidetracked,” Poulos said. “I don’t think very often that dropping a sport leads to a student then going home and do-

ing homework during those two hours.” Additionally, coaches hold a lead role in ensuring that each player is succeeding in the classroom. The relationship between player and coach is heightened during the season because they see each other every day. In the off-season when there is less interaction, there is a higher chance that a struggling student will not be given the help or attention that is needed. “[Coach Corey] Uhalde has always been there. He’s always

been able to take the time to take you aside and talk to you about your grades and what you need to do to get them up,” Greenough said. “It just pushes you to become the best student-athlete that you can be.” During the season, a coach becomes an adult that players look to when they need help. This is an immense help to a player’s academic performance. “I know a lot of coaches don’t really care about your outside life. They’d rather have your mindset stuck on what you need to do in the games,” senior basketball player Sesilia Lauese said. “It’s really helpful when they take the time to look into our education and sit us down and help us with our future plans as well.” Though the time commitment and practice schedule may seem grueling at first, a student’s grades often benefit from participating in a sport. “I don’t think my grades would be as good because I wouldn’t see any drive for myself,” Greenough said. “Sports have been the only thing that have been pushing me so consistently throughout high school.”



April 9, 2014

Local coaches put program on the right track By DALIA JUDE News Editor A nutritionist, a yoga instructor, a pilates instructor, a psychologist and a coach for each track and field event— sounds like something you would find at a long-running program, but look no further than Sequoia’s Terremere field. Mesha Spivey, new track and field head coach, has recruited around 10 coaches and specialists to help the 132-man team climb to a new level. “The program was erratic, and my thing was to make it more consistent— make it something where the kids know their coaches are going to be here, they know their buses are already booked, they can believe in us,” Spivey said. ”Quite frankly, we believe in them, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing this.” Not only does every coach bring past high school and collegiate track and field experience, they all went to high school in the Sequoia Union High School District. Spivey jumped at Sacramento State after ranking fifth in California his senior year at Woodside, qualifying him for AllState honorable mention. Spivey’s supporting cast has a similarly impressive track record. Newly appointed pole vaulting coach Dan Meyers graduated from Menlo-Atherton where he ranked eighth in California. Sprinting coach Linda Shinshiro holds the mile-relay record at Sequoia and last year coached Alex and Alyssa Bliss, the girls who broke her 440-relay record. Hurdles coach Gordon Bliss holds the 300 hurdles record at Carlmont. He then went on to run at San Jose State and has been coaching at Sequoia for five years. “I’m really honest with them, I won’t blow smoke at them. Hurdling is one of

The Cherokees are in the Ocean division, and have a record of 9-31 as of April 7. Senior Kyle Cambron pitched a two-hitter April 2 against El Camino, and Senior Cameron Greenough followed up with a one-hit performance April 3.

Photo by Dalia Jude

The track and field program has hired 10 new coaches and specialists to serve the 132-man team, which includes a nutritionist. All of the new hired faculty members went to high school in the Sequoia Union High School District. those events where if I lie to them and I tell them that they’re doing something good cause I want to boost up their ego and they hit the hurdle and crash and get hurt, it doesn’t help anyone,” Bliss said. Though their high school diplomas might show their orange, blue and red loyalty, when the coaches come to Sequoia they emphasize unity throughout the entire team. One way to unify the team is through full-squad yoga at the beginning of most practices before everyone splits off to perform drills for various events. “Even though it’s very individual, you’re sprinting and you’re racing against everybody else, with a bigger team it’s more of a sense of community at that point,” junior thrower and sprinter Tyler Ikeda said.

“You’re all doing yoga together, you’re with your throwing buddies and you run over to the sprinting people, and we all just have a very close-knit group.” The coaches’ expertise and effort do not go unnoticed by the athletes, many of whom returned with the hopes of a more successful and consistent season. “They’ve had experience and they know what they’re doing. They come every day, they come early, they go to the meets that they don’t really need to go to and they’re out here when they could be doing something else,” junior team captain Jonah Walker said. From full-squad yoga at the beginning of each practice, to lenience with schedule conflicts for other extra curriculars, it is clear that Spivey and the coaches care about the students beyond their perfor-

mances in meets. “People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care about them, so I care about every one of these kids out there,” Spivey said. “They all have unique traits ... I have to respect their individuality … I love these children, I’ll do anything I can for them.” With an instructor for each individual event, it is much easier for the athletes to get support from their coach despite being on Sequoia’s largest sports team. “Concerning Mesha, I think it’s really cool to have a coach who cares so much about the program,” senior hurdler Evan Schulz said. “Mesha really puts a lot of effort into making our team better and getting a lot of new kids to participate which I think is very helpful and beneficial to our team.”

“It’s always good to have chemistry with people instead of going on a team where you don’t really know what to expect and don’t know the people.” —Senior Liam Clifford, left field “We all have a pretty good relationship because we never doubt each other, we just play to a higher level than we should be playing.”   —Senior Gonzalo Rodriguez, third base

“If we're winning, I don't change anything.” —Junior Matt Lopez, center field

“[My dad] wasn’t able to play, so I figured I could for him, so “There’s not really one guy he got to see all the things later that’s super good and carries in baseball that he could never the whole team, so we have do.” to rely on each other to be a —Senior Kyle Cambron, good team and be successful.” pitcher —Senior Carson Parodi, “We’re scrappy. We’re just a second base bunch of really weird kids. We’re all our own person, and “My favorite part about we come together to make a playing is just the guys that pretty good team.” you get to be around. There’s —Senior Chris Ortiz, a bunch of different personcatcher alities and we all get along really well.” —Senior Zane Gelphman, first base

“Pretty much every single one of us played together before, and we’re all friends, and we all screw around.” —Junior Tommy Lopiparo, right field

— Compiled by Lily Friebel

Jarrett Crowell, senior Shortstop Zach Pace, junior Catcher Spencer Smith, senior Pitcher Liam Finn, junior First base Jonathan Morrow, senior Left field Marcus Avelar, senior Center field Cameron Greenough, senior Third base Kenny Belanger, senior Pitcher Matt Marino, junior Second base Antonio Arellano, junior First base


Sequoia High School Raven Report 2013-2014

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