Raven Report 22-23 February Photo Issue

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2 Table of Contents CHEAT GPT By Adam Trinklein & Thomas Jett 4 IB, IS IT REALLY FOR ALL? By Rylan Butt & Oscar Nolf 10 CAMPUS COMPARISONS By Christine Chang 14 MAKE IT OR BREAK IT By Hope Callaghan THE OBSESSION AND ETHICS OF TRUE CRIME By Zoraya King INVESTMENTS @ STUDENTS UP 21.9% By Nicholas Lawrence MORE THAN THE GAME By Haylee Huynh 20 22 28 34 4 28 20


A note from our editors-in-chief

As Sequoia returns from the mid-winter break, everyone prepares for the long stretch of classes and tests ahead of them. Our reporters and editors have worked day and night and overcome many challenges to create the collection of pages you are about to read.

These will be the second individual articles that our new reporters, J1s, will be writing. We’re excited to see improvement in not only writing quality but magazine design as well. Through mentorship and editing, the staff as a whole has honed in on any points of weakness and has worked tirelessly to improve upon their previous works. This community formed in the newsroom has brought cohesion and unity to an already diverse range of writers.

With this issue, we strived to be positive. Flipping through the magazine, you will be able to read a variety of well put-together articles that will hopefully bring a smile to your face. From movie reviews to sports recaps to Sequoia animal features, there is something for everyone to read and relate to this issue. For those interested in the more serious topics, we have that too. Updates on the district drama and the IB Diploma can be found in the issue as well.

This issue was the opportunity for

reporters to get out of their comfort zone with photography. We strayed away from our illustration and doodle art style in hopes of better capturing the livelihood of the Sequoia community through real pictures. Our reporters did amazing, taking their DSLR cameras out and capturing key photos to make their articles come to life. See if you can spot yourself in any of the photos taken.

With our advisor back, we thought all our problems would go away. Amongst the rejoice of having a full team again, we overlooked the fact that we would be losing key reporters and editors as they went off to pursue the IB Diploma. Our remaining editors picked up the extra work without question, demonstrating the amazing leadership and courage of the experienced Raven Report staff.

Even though we just distributed our last magazine, we hope that you can enjoy all of our work and appreciate the hard work our reporters put into improving their journalistic skills this issue.


THE RAVEN REPORT IS A Sequoia High School student publication produced in the journalism class through the efforts and decisions of the staff and the publication’s editors and adviser. The Raven Report is a public forum for students, staff, parents and community members.

THE RAVEN REPORT STRIVES TO provide Sequoia High School with informative, engaging and relevant news. The staff will exercise integrity and adaptability while promoting justice and transparency through professional reporting about the school, the community and the world.


THE RAVEN REPORT STAFF welcomes signed letters to the editor so that readers might share in the opportunities of the scholastic free press in open forum. The written views of students, parents or community members must be responsible, in good taste and free from libel, slander or obscenity. Letters may be edited for grammar or content if necessary; furthermore, editors will not guarantee that letters will be published.




Printing and web posting funded by
RAVEN REPORT // 22-23 EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Hope Callaghan Rylan Butt Oscar Nolf FEATURE EDITORS Mateo Mangolini Haylee Huynh OPINION EDITOR Zoraya King Oscar Nolf Rylan Butt
Callaghan OPINION EDITOR Allison Wang SPORTS EDITOR David Raymond MULTIMEDIA EDITOR Stan Hamelin A&E EDITOR Vivian Krevor GRAPHICS EDITOR Abby Aguayo NEWS EDITOR Alex Parker-Rogers STAFF REPORTERS Amara Bakashi Ethan Butt Mathew Caesar Julius Ceja Preza Christine Chang Alex Cottrell Sasha Efimchik Anjali Govoni Thomas Jett Donovan Kervick Lucia Kitching Wqilliam Lampe Nicholas Lawrence Collin Liou Markus Mukherjee Minou Ono Sarina Sanghvi Caroline Sieling Adam Trinklein Pedro Vail ADVISOR Diana Nguyen

Cheat GPT

Sequoia staff express concern over language models in classrooms

The end of homework, the end of internet search, the beginning of a new era, artificial intelligence is sending ripples, waves, and tsunamis through every sector. New AI language model Chat GPT has been all the buzz in the last few months since its inception.

This language model was developed by Open AI and launched in November of 2022. It had already amassed a million users shocked and wowed by the capabilities of a novel chat bot in the span of just five days. It can create jokes, give advice, answer questions, write essays, imitate styles of speech, and much more. Chat GPT has allowed for some of the most convincing text generation of any large language model to date. Concern about the capabilities of this AI have swept far and wide. “The College Essay is Dead,” wrote Stephen Marche from The Atlantic. Google reportedly issued a “code red” alert within the company over Chat GPT’s capability to upend search engines; after all, who would choose to sift through links and ads for information, when they could get it directly and concisely from a chat bot?

At Sequoia High School, Chat GPT has had an impact already. Thirty-two out of seventysix students surveyed in a recent poll had heard of Chat GPT. Three of those students admitted to using it to cheat on school assignments. Chat GPT’s launch has already rippled out to Sequoia’s English teachers.

“I’ve watched a student sign in to an account and looked at how it worked, and it can generate an essay very quickly, and it is alarming, ” IB English teacher Ms. Rutigliano said.

Anxiety about using Chat GPT to cheat on school work is running high, while new

technology like phones have always been an issue for teachers, trying to automate creativity is new.

“My biggest concern as a teacher is always just how to get my students to learn as much as possible and how to get them to think critically. In order to do that, they need to do their own thinking” IB English teacher Emily DeVoe said.

The anxiety about the model is lowered by a closer look at Chat GPT, and how the language models output is less impressive than it first seems. Because it can’t actually form its own opinion or cite a source, its products can’t satisfy the expectations of teachers.

“I was terrified, I gave it an IB prompt and in about three seconds, it generated a five paragraph essay that outwardly didn’t have any issues, but then I looked at it and all the quotes were fabricated.” DeVoe said

Most people who have played with the language model come to the same conclusion about its limited abilities. Because of the AI’s lack of opinion and personality, the average person, or an application like GPT zero, can see through writing by the AI.

“Essays written by chat GPT are basic level stuff, if someone actually uses chat GPT by itself and turns it in, it’s not going to be a good essay and is easy to detect.” Sophomore Cade Miller said.

There are potentially good uses for AI still, it can be used to accelerate writing or

get students, but it can’t be expected to write with depth.

“I think that if you use it correctly, it can make your writing better. It’s not a high depth analysis of whatever you’re writing about, but it’s a good foundation.” sophomore Cade Miller said.

DeVoe also points out that like other methods of cheating, Chat GPT is only getting in the way of students actually learning.


“It’s very easy to follow these shiny sparkly shortcuts that aren’t actually helpful. I’ve seen this with summaries of texts that we read in class, which seems like it’s a shortcut at the time but it’s just surface level regurgitation” DeVoe said.

It’s hard to estimate the future impact of Chat GPT on student writing, but right now it isn’t as threatening as it first seems. The limits of the application mean that a forward thinking school shouldn’t need to be worried about it more than other issues like plagiarism.

“There are so many other resources that are already used for cheating, that the addition of one extra seems not very relevant,” Sophomore Rikhil Kokal said.

It’s up to students to choose to be honest and not use the tools available to them for cheating. While Chat GPT doesn’t seem like an issue in its current form, it is an extension of the issue that is cheating for schools.

“If you’re going to cheat, we’re at that moral part where cheating is cheating and that’s up to the person.” Kokal said

My biggest concern as a teacher is always how to get my students to learn as much as possible and
to get them to think critically. In order to do that, they need to do their own thinking
Emily Devoe, IB English Teacher
Photo by Thomas Jett and Adam Trinklein

A Conversation with Dr. Timnit Gebru

I reached out to renowned AI ethicist Dr. Timnit Gebru and she responded!

Gebru was named one of Time Magazine’s people of the year in 2022. She immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia when she was fifteen years old. She earned her PhD from Stanford in computer vision and worked for Google from 2018 to 2020 where she co-led the AI ethics team. In 2020 she was fired from Google after publishing a paper on the dangers and biases of large language models. PostGoogle, Gebru formed her own non-profit group called the Distributed AI Research Institute whose interdisciplinary approach involves bringing together underrepresented voices to be heard in the conversation around AI. Her work has gained worldwide recognition by many scholars in academia and major publications like Nature, Fortune, Washington Post and Time Magaizine.

The following is from a conversation I had with Gebru, edited for conciseness and clarity. The questions I asked her are bolded and her answers are all of the text that follows.

Q: What is the importance of ethical AI?

This word is being thrown around for a lot of different things. Everybody’s excited about it, everybody’s talking about it, and it seems like everybody needs to do it. A lot of the ways in which people are working in this space have a lot of problems, and many of them are not necessarily specific to AI: they might just be related to exploiting workers, and this might just be another avenue of exploiting workers through surveillance. So a lot of the issues that we see are not necessarily new, it’s just another way in which they can be perpetuated by this technology. So initially when I was working in this space, I got into technology, because I just liked

building things. That was really the only thing I was concerned about. But then I started to see what I was participating in, and how could I just be building stuff for [exploting others]? And so that’s how I started thinking about trying to steer this field in a bit of a different direction. Or at least, figure out what I want to build and not build. I think that in any field or technology, not just in AI, it’s really important to figure out what’s okay, what’s not okay. And many other disciplines have done that. And many times, it happens after the fact. Discipline is proliferated, and horrible stuff has happened, and then at some point, by force, some sort of laws are instituted. So, to me, that’s the importance of ethical AI.

Q: What is your approach to ethical AI?

I see it as a very broad field. There are people working around different aspects of these things. Some people are more interested in analyzing the error rates of a particular model, as it impacts different groups of people. So for example, people might use some sort of model to determine whether you should get their loan or not. And there are groups of people who analyze whether the algorithm that’s used for that is fair, or not fair. Whereas for me, I have to go from the very beginning and say, should this tool even exist? We shouldn’t assume that a particular tool has to exist first, and then analyze whether it’s fair enough. So I think I like to have a broader view of what it means to build this kind of stuff and how we analyze the harms and the benefits.

Q: How does your organization DAIR address ethical concerns that aren’t considered by tech companies like Google, Microsoft, and Open AI?

I started thinking about a pretty broad view of what the harms and benefits are.

DAIR stands for the Distributed AI Research Institute. We’re a small, small, institute. We don’t have the ten billion dollars, like Microsoft announced they would give Open AI.We don’t even have a fraction of that. Our goal is to see if we can use this technology to actually help people in marginalized groups fight back: give them more resources, more data, more tools. Why would large tech companies do this once again? And then the third thing is to figure out what is an alternative we could imagine in terms of the future? Do we have to have a future where a couple of multinational corporations have these large huge models, determined by large huge datasets from everybody, stealing works from artists, and making money for themselves but not other people? Is this the world we want? Not me! If that’s the case then how do we work

towards the world we want rather than just complaining about what is happening right now. That’s very hard for us because, when you see an issue and you don’t think people are really seeing the issue, you want to make those people see the issue and yell about it over and over again but that doesn’t create space for actually building your alternative version of the future. What happens is you end up always being stuck in cleaning up mode and you’re not really investing in people who are doing something different. We don’t have billions of dollars, but we can do some things grassroots. We can try to do what we can with what we can. I hope that there will be many other smaller organizations like that. That’s the other issue in silicon valley; people want monopoly of everything. That’s the venture capitalist model.You have to grow, you have to have a monopoly. I’m thinking, what if there’s like a federation of startups that don’t want to grow so much, don’t want to have a monopoly. Each of them want to maybe serve a specific community, specific kind of thing, and then work together. Why does it have to be this business that is controlling everybody everywhere? So these are some of the ways we are trying to counter what we see as harmful in the space.

Q: What people are you trying to bring together with DAIR? How does this allow more voices to be heard in the conversation around AI?

We are an interdisciplinary team which means that we have people who are doing this work from different perspectives– not just engineers, computer scientists, sociologists and AI researchers, but also people who are not researchers who have a good understanding of the harms they face. One of our fellows, Adrian, was a delivery driver at Amazon and was helping organize workers there. She has a lot of information and understanding of how Amazon treats workers like machines and she is working on a project to quantify the level of wage theft that is perpetuated by using some of these automated systems (wage theft per worker). A lot of people don’t think about surveillance, a lot of times when people try to talk to you about surveillance systems they say, “oh you know, we need it for security” and what is security for? It’s to prevent crimes. They don’t really think about the industrial scale crimes that are being perpetuated by these huge multinational corporations. So she was estimating that the wage theft is somewhere between $6,000 to $18,000 per worker.

Trinklein Image generated by DALL-E when prompted with “futuristic AI robot”

Focus Apps: A Love-Hate Relationship


Focus apps are a way to focus on your work in a more fun way than a regular timer. Just to make it more fun, you get rewards for however long you study. Some apps are very effective and I feel very productive after a study session, while others are not.


This app is certainly different than others I have used. FocusPomo motivates you to study with the promise of a screen of cute smiling tomatoes; when you finish a timed study session, you earn a brightly colored tomato that bounces around your screen for a week. The size of your tomato depends on how long you have been studying. The length of the chosen timer is very reasonable; from fifteen minutes to an hour and a half. If you stop your timer, which you do by pressing and holding the screen, you still receive a tomato, though it frowns instead of smiling. I like two things about this: you can’t accidentally pause your timer, and you don’t get punished for not finishing the full time. In fact, you still

get rewarded for what you complete, which I approve of. The frown of your tomato serves as a reminder, though, to do your best to finish your time.

Another thing I like about this is that the app stays on your screen while you study. The screen isn’t distracting either; it’s just a black screen with the timer itself, the time in the upper left corner, and the battery in the right.


Using this app caused much more stress than productivity for me. Flora motivates you by promising a tree for every study session. This is nice except for the fact that if you leave the app, it thinks that you have stopped focusing, and quits your timer. It doesn’t tell you that this happens beforehand, and then guilts you for

failing by showing a tree with no leaves with a red background with the words “you killed a tree”. It further taunts you by showing that right now only you can see this, but you can also share this with your friends if you want them to shame you as well. What is also odd about this app is that you can motivate yourself with money. You can put money on your time and punish yourself if you fail your timer by donating money to the app. Mind you, you don’t receive more money if you succeed; the money just goes back to you. I do not recommend this app unless you are very sure that you won’t need your phone for whatever it is you are focusing on and are confident that you will finish your timer. The one plus is that according to the app, they actually plant a real tree for every tree you earn.



Right off the bat, this app sometimes shows things in another language, which from what I could tell, isn’t fixable. There is a weird glitch that occurred for me where a tutorial on how to work the app appeared every time I exited a feature. The motivation is also odd; every time you study, you grow wheat. You also receive suns, with which you can buy other crops to sow. This app didn’t really motivate me at all and just got on my nerves from the constant popping up of the tutorial. I do not recommend it.

I think when apps count down, it makes you feel like you’re getting closer to your goal, but when it counts up I feel like I am on an endless mission. There is a little ring around the pause timer that signifies how much of your timer you have used, but it is little, and distracting. This page overall though is less distracting than the page for live studying.

This app doesn’t have any punishment for stopping your timer early, which I think works very well for it. The interface is very pleasant and easy to use. Flipd also collects statistics on how much you study and when, which I think is very appealing to people.


From the beginning, this app looks more polished and organized than the other apps. When you first open the app you are shown an easy to understand tutorial which shows all of the features and advertises the premium version. There are many options for timers; a normal timer, a pomodoro timer, and a stopwatch timer where you study and live with other people. The study live timer is a good idea in my opinion because it makes people feel like they aren’t the only ones who are studying and are all doing it as a group. It

doesn’t disappear from the screen, which is both good and bad here. It is good because you can see how many minutes you have been focused and see options like pausing, finishing, and multitasking, which means turning on a feature that makes it so that you can leave the app without the timer pausing the timer. It also offers lofi music or white noise to help focusing, but the problem with all of these features offered and not disappearing is that it is distracting. I keep feeling the need to glance over to see how much time I have studied and also see how many people are studying, out of curiosity.

What is quite nice about this app is how you can set goals for yourself. It automatically gives you a goal of studying for three hours, which you can change.

For the normal timer, something I don’t like is how it continues to count up instead of down.

Overall, this is my verdict: My favorite app was FocusPomo, with Flipd being a close runner up. FocusPomo was just simple to use with an amusing but not ridiculous motivator. Flipd was very nice as well, but there were just too many features for me. I think it would work very well though for people who enjoy being very organized. Flora might work for some, but not for me. I’m still haunted by “You killed a tree”, and probably will be forever. Focus Land is just weird. Focus Pomo for the win.

Photos by Sasha Efimchik

Studying Study Skills

A closer look at the study skills class and the education of students with learning disabilities.

For students with disabilities or academic struggles, high school comes with a whole host of obstacles to navigate. Whether it’s more support with reading, focus or speaking students require, it is essential Sequoia offer education programs and services equipped to address their needs.

Study skills - a current program available - often flies under the radar, but should be discussed in order for the Sequoia community to achieve its common goal of an accessible high school experience.

What is study skills?

The study skills program is for students who have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and face challenges or learning disabilities that affect their experience in the classroom. The class serves students with learning disabilities such as, ADHD, autism, dyslexia, speech impairment and more, but also supports students with language barriers or traumatic brain injuries. The goal is to give these students and others with IEPs a class period dedicated to academic support for their general education classes.

Teachers offer this support by providing homework help or reteaching lessons from any of the student’s other classes. For students with executive dysfunction (a common behavioral symptom of ADHD that affects a person’s ability to prioritize and complete tasks) organizational tools for schoolwork are provided.

“The primary thing I try to teach students is to be organized. To keep track of your homework, when you need to turn it in and keep track of when your tests are. So, we do what we call a weekly tracker. Students look up their grades every week so they know what classes to focus on and they write down what homework they have,” Study skills teacher Dayna Danielson said.

Junior study skills student, Scarlett Sandoval Martinez added that along with the teachers, the other students and overall environment of the class also provide academic support.

“Here you get help with your work. They give you any help you need and time to do your work and like, you just go to this really nice environment with other students. In

total it’s really nice and helpful. Like even if you don’t want the help you can help other students,” Martinez said.

Upon entering high school, students with IEPs who took study skills in middle school will automatically be placed in the class their freshman year. Some choose to drop it later, while some choose to take it longer into their high school careers, as was the case for junior Kai Roblin.

“I found out about the class and got my schedule changed in eighth grade to a study skills class in place of my sixth period art. It really helped because I had it in sixth period and I would get homework done from different classes or help on assignments so I stuck with it for freshman, sophomore, and junior year,” Roblin said.

Another aim of the class is to make sure students graduate highschool with a plan for their future. Teachers offer information on community or four year college as well as trade school options.

“Sequoia is big on four year colleges after high school but for some kids that’s not always the best… I first encourage looking into two year colleges and a lot of the students are fine

with that option. There are also some where they want to go right to work,” Danielson said.


Study skills is a part of the mainstream or full inclusion model Sequoia uses to educate students with disabilities. It was implemented recently and is used by the entire district as an alternative to having all students with IEPs attend only a single class in one part of the school for the entire school day.

“This district went to a full mainstream model years ago. Some districts don’t do it that way. Some districts have a self contained, speciality day class where those students just go to one classroom and aren’t mainstreamed in for algebra, or science or social studies classes,” Brand said.

While this may work for some schools, a program like this isolates students with disabilities to one part of the school, cutting them off from the larger community. It also singles these students out and can cement the idea that, because they have a different set

On paper, the IB diploma seems like a diverse learning opportunity that showcases the best of Sequoia’s academics, but in reality, it has more flaws than expected. A survey of every student in the IB diploma shows that more than 90% of those students don’t think the diploma fairly represents the demographics of Sequoia as a whole.

According to the IB office, the IB diploma is 53.1 percent white, 25 percent Hispanic/ Latino, 16.7 percent Asian, and one percent Black. Students in the diploma were surprised by this fact, many had predicted that the percentage of white and asian students would be higher and that there would be less latino students.

“The amount of Asian and female students in the diploma is not at all proportional to the school’s student body,” senior Vir Shah said.

After further investigating the Sequoia IB database and talking to students about how they were represented, we noticed a discrepancy between the ethnicity the student identified as and the ethnicity they were flagged as by the diploma. Students with

mixed ethnicities were only marked down for one of them. This resulted in an inflation of the number of white and Hispanic/Latino while lowering the number of Asian and Black students.

Consisting of the top students in the school, the IB diploma creates a private school environment in a public school. Full diploma students have limited opportunities to interact with students outside of the diploma, even if they are still taking IB classes. Due to the specific classes that the diploma requires, diploma students find themselves in class with mainly other diploma students, even if the class is available to anyone. Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and IB Core are the only classes that are explicitly for students pursuing the diploma or parts of it, but after taking into account that higher level math and language classes may only be

offered in one or two periods, it becomes clear that diploma students are being funneled into the same schedules.

This concept is called shadow tracking. Say a diploma student was taking IB french, TOK, multivariable calculus (multi). Since the number of periods each class offers is limited, the students’ 0-2nd period would be forced to be TOK, IB french, then multi. This places restrictions on the rest of the students’ classes, for example, since their second period is taken, they would be forced into fourth period IB english. This is why some class periods are occupied with a lot of diploma students even if it is a standard IB class.

Interacting with non-diploma students even on a social level becomes difficult since full-diploma students are held to such a high standard. Whether this is caused by the

Some staff help us run down a list of students who have every class they would need in order to be eligible to pursue the full diploma.
[...] They are invited to what we call a VIP IB diploma meeting and it’s takes place during the school day
Lisa McCahon, IB Coordinator
IB Diploma Class of 2023, photo by Rylan Butt

diploma program or if it is just these types of people who feel suited for the diploma, it is undeniable that there is elitism in the IB diploma, even among each candidate themselves. The pressure to get into a good university can sometimes even affect friendships when you are directly competing with them.

“This competitiveness can inspire supportiveness as well as toxicity; however, it really depends on the people you encounter,” senior Amanda Swee wrote in a survey.

It becomes harder to diversify the diploma if it is dominated by a majority of students who struggle to interact with non-full diploma students. Whether it be a systematic issue, historical issue or just racism itself, it is discouraging for students who don’t look like those in the diploma to join because they would feel as if they don’t belong in that community. A big part of IB is creating a well rounded, diverse community, yet that is something it struggles to do in the diploma program itself.

All freshmen and sophomores are exposed to the IB diploma through grade level meetings.

“Some staff help us run down a list of students who have every class they would need in order to be eligible to pursue the full diploma. [...] They are invited to what we call a VIP IB diploma meeting and it’s takes place during the school day,” Lisa McCahon, IB Coordinator said.

The diploma however, isn’t completely restricted by one’s academic talent. It’s undeniable that IB classes are significantly harder than regular courses which is why the diploma seems like such a daunting challenge. The diploma is accessible to all academic talent as long as they are willing to put in the time and effort to get everything done. This does not mean that the diploma is accessible to all students. Those who have

significant extracurricular commitments, whether that be working a job to support their family or playing sports everyday after school, simply do not have the time that is needed to complete everything the diploma requests.

Zero period TOK, photo by Rylan Butt Racial demographics of Sequoia’s IB Diploma Program

IB from Bergen to Redwood City

Two IB schools across the Atlantic

In a region of highly competitive highschools, Sequoia stands out as one of the few to offer IB.

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) is an esteemed high school program that is hosted in 159 countries, and is known for its rigor and discipline. While all IB schools have to follow the IB’s criteria, different schools will have their own defining culture and values, which can set their programs apart from each other.

I had the opportunity to witness these differences firsthand, as I spent a semester in the IB program at a Norwegian high school in Bergen, Norway.

School structure

Bergen Cathedral School’s approach to education puts an emphasis on the selfmotivation of its students, steering away from the traditional carrot-and-stick mentality of many American high schools. The school website describes its IB program as a “relaxed atmosphere in which you can get to know other students easily and do enjoyable and meaningful activities.”

At Sequoia, IB students are given large quantities of homework to be completed outside of class. In many classes, homework is graded and makes up a portion of your final grade. This leads to students’ dedicating

a significant amount of time to schoolwork, leaving them with less room for other things.

“I would say daily, from the moment I get home basically, till the moment I go to bed, I’m usually doing homework,” junior and IB Diploma candidate Ethan Thacker said. “I wish it was studying because then I could control it and not get graded on it. But I do actually have to do all of that. Which is unfortunate.”

Bergen Cathedral School, on the other hand, places a big emphasis on progress and personal growth, as many homework assignments are not graded and term grades aren’t based solely on cumulative grades. This takes the pressure off performance and lets students focus on learning.

“If you want students to learn, giving them a number is totally detrimental to learning. So instead of measuring performance, you actually want to measure progress,” IB Coordinator of Bergen Cathedral School, Gillian Boniface, said.

Additionally, part of Norway’s approach to education is to foster self-motivation and encourage students to take ownership of their own learning, rather than relying on external incentives. This aims to prepare students for their future and prevent burnout later on.

“What’s interesting about Norway is there’s much more expectation that students

are motivated and do their work. Because that’s what we’re trying to teach them. Because ultimately, the motivation has to come from you, the student. It’s about your education, it’s about your life,” said Boniface.

Diversity and accessibility

Diversity in the IB program has different meanings to these schools. At Sequoia, one of the program’s main goals is to encourage all students to participate in IB. From 2014-2017, Sequoia was one of the five US high schools that participated in the Bridging the Equity Gap Project. This project aimed to increase enrollment and participation of low-income students in the IB program.

On top of that, Sequoia has shortened the length of some courses, making it easier for more students to participate. Many Standard Level classes are offered as one-year courses, encouraging a higher level of student involvement in the program.

The IB Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS) course, which has been traditionally offered for one year, is transitioning to a two-year course to reduce the number of prerequisites and provide students with more time to fully understand the content, in order to increase their chances of success.

At Bergen Cathedral School, diversity means having students from diverse countries and cultures in the classroom. According to an IB student at the school, this creates a unique opportunity to observe “different political opinions based on different cultures and countries, which is quite interesting.” This diversity of nationalities and cultural backgrounds also enriches the classroom environment and provides a broader perspective on global issues. Students get the chance to learn about different cultures and traditions, leading to increased cross-cultural understandings.

Because IB is an international program, I went into this experience with the assumption that IB is the same everywhere. However, I learned that the IB’s uniformity doesn’t change the inevitable influence that different countries and cultures have on education. Despite this, the IB’s goal to prepare students for the challenges of tomorrow by providing them with a globally focused education remains the same.

Boniface highlights the importance of this goal by referencing the school’s motto.“Ex sapientia libertas, means through wisdom and learning to freedom. I think that’s quite relevant today. The value of education is important and you can’t have freedom without having a good education.”

Photo by Nora Kovscek

A trifecta of flavor

A review of three local restaurants: La Casita Chilanga, Humphry Slocombe, and Venga Empanadas

In the heart of Redwood City, Sequoia High School lies just walking distance from a downtown area filled with restaurants with variety in size, price and flavor. For students who enjoy the popular activity of walking downtown for lunch with friends, Redwood City offers many culturally diverse food options as well.

Whether they are smaller or less popular than other chains, these hidden gems deserve to be discussed. I’ve decided to unearth three of these gems by trying out La Casita Chilanga, Humphry Slocombe ice cream and Venga Empanadas.

Directly across the street from Sequoia, La Casita Chilanga is a small restaurant specializing in Mexican food. Less than a minute away, you need only exit on the corner of Broadway and El Camino Real and turn left to arrive. With a wide variety of food including tortas, sopes, burritos tacos and flautas, there is something for everyone.

I ordered a carne asada taco and a medium horchata, a traditional drink of rice milk and cinnamon.

For $3.95, the taco consisted of well-seasoned carne asada, onions, cilantro and salsa. The food was ready in five minutes, with helpful and friendly service.

Continue on Broadway for five blocks, and after the cross street Jefferson Ave, you will find Humphry Slocombe, a unique ice cream shop.

The store specializes in their distinct ice cream flavors, differing from more popular flavors such as vanilla, chocolate and mint chip. Instead, they feature flavors such as Vietnamese coffee, malted milk chocolate, black sesame, peanut butter fudge ripple and cherry elderflower.

I ordered the malted milk chocolate and honey graham, for the price of $5.50 for a single scoop. I ordered the malted milk chocolate and honey graham, for the price of $5.50 for a single scoop. For that price, I received two large scoops of each flavor.

“The owners who started all this were kind of bored of all the normal ice cream flavors and they kind of wanted to shake it up so we do weird stuff like bourbon flavors or cherry with flour in it,” a Humphry Slocombe employee said. “So it’s just that I guess to make it a little different.”

Continue on Broadway and turn right onto Main Street to find Venga Empanadas, a shop that is known for their delicious empanadas, as well as several drink, salad and soup options. For just $5.50, you can buy a meat or veggie empanada.

The store offers a very inclusive menu with lots of vegetarian options, such as a mushroom, fresh spinach and mediterranean empanada.

I ordered two empanadas - an argentine beef and five pepper manchego. I was also offered a dipping sauce of chimichurri, an uncooked sauce found in Argentinian and Uruguayan cooking made mainly of parsley and garlic.

“Lo que me gusta es aprender y conversar con la gente. No solamente entrego las empanadas; pongo las instrucciones de el nombre, el sabor, si los llevan frías, que temperatura, cuanto tiempo cocinar por el cliente así que pueden entender cuando están en casa,” a Venga employee said. “Vas aprender lo que cada cliente desea. No es igual.”

“What I like is learning and talking with people. I don’t just deliver the empanadas; I put the instructions on the name, the flavor, if they are cold, what temperature, how long to cook for the client so they can understand when they are at home,” a Venga employee said. “ You will learn what each client wants. It is not the same.”

If you want to try new, innovative ice cream, head over to Humphry Slocombe for delicious new flavors.

Photos by Lucia Kitching

Campus Comparisons

How does Sequoia’s campus compare to other nearby public high school campuses? While many students praise or complain about Sequoia’s historic campus, many have not thoroughly explored the campuses of other schools.

Four nearby high schools are depicted here in photographs, categorized by athletic facilities, classrooms, and student spaces: Gunn high school (Palo Alto), Palo Alto high school (Palo Alto, colloquially known as Paly), Carlmont (Belmont), and Menlo-Atherton high school (Atherton, known as M-A).

Both Gunn and Paly are currently under construction. Paly is nearing the end of renovations while Gunn is still in the midst of them, causing several classes to take place in portables, named “The Village” by students.

“I think most people would agree that the village isn’t very nice. It isn’t as nice as some of the other parts of campus because it’s so much farther away from all the buildings and all the rooms are smaller,” junior Chin Young, a student at Gunn, said.

Additionally, according to students at Gunn, Paly allegedly gets more funding due to family donations. It is true, however, that both Gunn and Paly receive more government funding than schools in the Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) due to tax laws.

All in all, Sequoia students do appreciate Sequoia’s campus. Senior Jesse Resnick enjoys “the landscape, the trees, and tea garden,” while freshman Diego Garcia Perez likes “how big it is.”

However, like any school, it isn’t perfect. Many students note the state of our bathrooms. Sophomore Silvana Ochoa Senteno “would change the fact that people are always vaping in bathrooms.” Other common complaints include litter around campus, the “old” appearance of hallways, and lack of an effective heating/ air conditioning system.

Students also commented on the state of Sequoia in comparison to other local schools.

“It is larger but more outdated on the inside of the main building,” junior Olivia Fraser said.

However, even more students said they hadn’t seen other nearby campuses.

“I haven’t really seen any other [campuses],” junior Natalie Ward said.

Gunn high school’s weight room M-A’s football field Sequoia’s track and football field Carlmont’s football field, its blue track is 389 meters instead of the standard 400 One of Paly’s gyms M-A’s Spieker Pool, named after the Spieker family donors Photos by Christine Chang. A social studies class at Gunn Carlmont’s journalism classroom A broadcasting room at Paly A Sequoia math classroom M-A’s journalism classroom Paly’s journalism classroom “The village” at Gunn Gunn’s N building Carlmont’s S Wing Paly is nearing the end of renovations A student enjoying Gunn’s outdoor space Students in Carlmont’s quad Paly has a large biking culture One of M-A’s newer buildings Many students study in M-A’s outdoor spaces Sequoia’s front lawn
Sequoia’s belltower and class plaques Carlmont’s main hallway Carlmont’s library The outside of Gunn’s wellness center Gunn’s performing arts center Paly, like Gunn and M-A, is an outdoor campus Gunn’s library The entrance of Paly’s Media Arts Center M-A’s library
Sequoia’s Media Center

The truth behind your favorite cosmetic brands

A popular aspect of teenage life is using cosmetics, skincare, and staying up to date on trending products. However, many well-known brands perform cruel and unethical tests on animals or support it behind the scenes, often without the consumer even realizing.

People oftentimes hear the words “animal testing,” but inaccurately interpret what it really means. A common misconception is that animal testing means innocently using cosmetics on animals, such as applying makeup or lotion to them.

“When I was younger, I thought [animal testing] meant literally putting eyeshadow on rabbits. I didn’t know that much about it,” sophomore Ellery Barnitt said.

However, this is not the case. According to the Humane Society International (HSI), animal testing is when procedures are performed on live animals such as mice, rabbits, dogs and rats for purposes such as research of diseases, creating medications and testing the ingredients in cosmetics.

“All procedures, even those classified as “mld,” have the potential to cause the animals physical as well as psychological distress and suffering. Often the procedures can cause a great deal of suffering,” said HSI.

Some common tests include forced chemical exposure to toxic substances, drugs and infectious diseases which causes pain, distress or death. Other examples include inflicting wounds or pain to study the animals or behavioral experiments. Often after experiments animals are killed or re-tested on for more experiments. It is estimated that more than 115 million animals worldwide are used in experiments every year.

The ethics of these procedures are debatable; some argue that it is torturing and killing animals, while others believe it is necessary to create non-toxic and effective cosmetics for humans and advance our knowledge of human biology, health, diseases and new products.

“I don’t think animal cruelty is necessary or ethical. There are lots of way to test products without doing it on animals,” Barnitt said.

People who support animal testing may argue that it is unethical to do these tests on humans, so animals are a better alternative since some are biologically similar to us. However, these tests are not always as accurate as other alternatives, and are far more harmful.

According to HSI, there will be alternatives in the near future to convert from animal testing, to using human cells and cell lines.This as well as new technology from computers can lead to more humane and safe ways to experiment with how different chemicals and ingredients affect humans. Also, many of all of the ingredients being used in newer products have been used in past cosmetics, so testing them on animals is easily avoidable.

“Chemicals in cosmetics are fairly wellunderstood these days because they’ve been around for a long time and new beauty products are just re-made with slight differences, and so testing on animals is just not always necessary,” chemistry teacher Jonathan Holcomb said.

Despite these proposed alternatives, popular brands continue to test their products on animals or support it due to the past reliability on it. When going to buy a cosmetic product, cruelty-free brands often make it very clear that they don’t animal test on their packaging. Yet for brands that do animal test, there is nothing telling you about the harsh reality of what was done to make that product. Packaging will tell you all about the amazing benefits of the product, and not about their unethical ways, which can cause you to unintentionally be supporting it.

“I didn’t even know they supported animal tested when I bought [a Maybelline mascara],” freshman Yaritza Lopez said.

In a poll of 63 Sequoia students, almost all used at least 2-12 products that animal

Method body wash that says they’re cruelty-free (Photo by Sarina Sanghvi) Cerave face wash that does not say they animal test (Photo by Sarina Sanghvi)

test. Cerave, Vaseline, Aquaphor, Crest and Maybelline being amongst the most popular. Products from such as these that have become prominent on social media, popular amongst your friends, or accessible in retail/ drug stores could have terrible backgrounds, and are not making any efforts to change their out-of-date and unethical ways.

It is important to support cruelty-free brands, and do research before purchasing, and ultimately supporting, brands that animal test. If this was a more common practice, then popular brands would have to start changing their processes and turning to more ethical ways in order to keep their business. “If you buy cruelty-free products it increases the presence of them in that industry, and in turn would help decrease the demand for products from brands that do animal test,” Barnitt said.

Brands such as Aveeno, Bath and Body Works, Benefit, Dove, Maybelline, Neutrogena falsely claim they are cruelty-free on their websites, however other sources explain how they perform animal tests in their ingredients or final products, are owned by companies that animal test, fund animal testing or sell to countries that require it.

“Over my life I’ve seen an increase in labels on beauty products that say “cruelty-free”, because it is more and more on the minds of consumers, so companies and manufacturers of products are going to greater lengths to advertise that they do not test on animals,” Holcomb said.

Even though there is a harsh reality that many of the brands we have grown to love animal-test, there are many amazing crueltyfree brands. Some include The Ordinary, Glossier, Burts Bees, Curology, People of

Color Beauty and Tree Hut.

“We need for issues like this to become less controversial and just have conversations about them and spread awareness,” Holcomb said.

Spreading awareness and supporting cruelty-free brands will lead to a future without animal testing.

“If you buy cruelty-free products it increases the presence of them in that industry, and in turn would help decrease the demand for products from brands that do animal test,”
Ellery Barnitt, sophomore

Make it or break it

balancing their school and personal lives. The equilibrium can become unsteady as personal time is threatened by academics, work and plans for the future, hobbies are abandoned to make time for new responsibilities.

be taken at several levels and can nurture a student’s curiosity and creativity in ways unique to the space. Trained professionals with experience and passion for the subject allow for an exciting introduction to a new outlet or more knowledge and skill building to a hobby that has been developing for a while.

Ethan Sanford, Sequoia’s woodshop instructor, is an example of how extracurricular classes can provide a special environment for students. The woodshop on campus has an extensive collection of tools and resources that give Sanford a unique task of teaching both skills and responsibility. Although the countless pieces of machinery require effort to learn, they also give students an experience that is unlike those in other woodworking spaces at other public high schools.

““In a program with limited depth and breadth, the answer to ‘Can I do this?’ would be ‘No’. But in this program, because of the equipment we have, because of things that were fundraised to purchase, it’s ‘Yes, we can do that because we have this piece of equipment or that piece of equipment,’” Sanford said.

Taking classes in subjects that you are considering pursuing after high school can be a valuable resource for understanding what is next for you. Students are offered higher level classes like those labeled “IB” to be more prepared for similar classes you might choose to take in your post-high school education but with the higher level also comes a higher level of commitment, effort and energy.

“Now they’re asking questions about my art when before, the hobby came naturally and I made what I felt like making because nobody asked me to make it,” Guilaume said. “When I interact with the art I make [in IB Art], it’s not the same as the art I make at home because I know it’s gonna get assessed and it’s held to a different standard.”

The proverb “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” has more meaning than ever for highschool students with drained school and social batteries due to a lack of time dedicated to hobbies.

Whether it’s art, gaming, baking, sports or any other pastime, everyone has something that tells the world “This is me!” As a highschool student, the infinite forms of self expression are limited by time, space and money leaving students responsible for

“I have to make time for my hobbies and vice versa for work. I’ll sacrifice studying time so I don’t know the content as well for an art project I’m personally working on,” senior Anais Guilaume said about her passion for 2D art. “Or I push [the project] back farther and then I’ll lose motivation to finish it and so I feel like I have to sacrifice one or the other.”

However, new doors can also be opened upon starting highschool as classes, clubs and the large student body provide a space to explore new things. Classes like woodshop, art, photography and food & nutrition can

It is important to find groups of people that share interests with you in elective classes and clubs but it is equally important to consider the impact of these choices. For long-time enjoyers of a certain activity, supervision and teaching is not always necessary. Having a cut out time and personal materials when you already know the basics may be all that you need and pushing yourself to do what you love for a grade can be risky.

“I don’t really want baking to be a big ordeal in school, which is why I like doing it in my free time,” senior Adam Fredrick said, “It’s just something I find relaxing and often when things get too intertwined with school they

Bowl made by woodshop student, Kai Mirel. Photo credit to Hope Callaghan.
Should you turn your hobby into a grade?

stop feeling as relaxing and they’ll feel start feeling like a chore.”

On the other hand, Sequoia offers programs and resources that are not always available off campus. Classes like woodshop where students work with expensive, large and potentially dangerous tools if not properly used require students to learn in class as the machinery necessary is hard to find elsewhere.

Teachers and administrators at Sequoia fight the same time battles as they attempt to meet their deadlines and make time for personal development. Teaching the skill you enjoy is a fulfilling way to continue practicing what you love and giving that opportunity to students, however factoring in commuting to and from school, time spent on campus, taking care of personal needs and finishing work at home leaves little room for activities that fall into the “other”


Hannah Singh, an English 1 ICAP and IB English HL teacher, has a lot on her plate everyday commuting from San Francisco, lesson planning, teaching and now coaching the varsity softball team. Finding time in slower moments to make time for her hobbies allow her to continue doing things for herself despite the busy schedule during the school year.

“ I feel like [my commute] is weirdly very valuable, precious, alone time for me where I listen to a lot of creative writing podcasts. I love the digest podcast that breaks down like music and analyzes music and I listen to audiobooks just for pleasure and that also feels like self care to me,” Singh said. “I’m kind of double dipping with that I have to be in the car and I’m driving to work, but I get to do something that feels enjoyable. When I listen to stuff like that, it in turn sometimes

inspires some like creative writing.”

For teachers like Sanford, it’s easy to maintain a good relationship with their hobby because the passion has been turned into something productive and that can be shared with students in a hands-on way.

“[Teaching] does take up certain numbers of hours of a day, but I’m doing something that I still have the passion that I started with, if not more. I love designing and making things and that hasn’t diminished,” Sanford said. “If anything, it’s expanded my understanding of what’s possible and the logistics that go into making designs possible.”

As a student trying to maintain my grades, a part-time job and prepare for life after high school, it is difficult to manage those tasks and make time for my favorite creative downtime activities like making art, re-organizing my room and building Legos. The only solution to prevent my day-to-day life from becoming a long, mundane to-do list is to set it all aside and carve out time to satisfy my creative needs. Although it can be hard to shut the laptop and put the homework away, a study by the Society of Behavioral Medicine found that the amount of time we spend taking care of our personal needs has a direct correlation with our mental and physical health. The research indicated that people participating in their hobbies were less stressed, had a more positive mood and had a lower heart rate when they returned to their professional responsibilities.

The next time you feel your school battery drained and it seems impossible to start another assignment, try practicing something that brings you joy. Maybe you’ll be drawn to the same hobby you’ve had since before there was no homework or long hours or maybe you’ll press “play” on a YouTube tutorial to teach yourself something new.

You don’t have to do everything every week, but as long as you are able to cycle in the things that bring you joy that aren’t school focused [is the] best way to keep a work life balance.
Hannah Singh, English 1ICAP and IB English Year 2 Teacher


“Fictionalized, narrative-driven and exploitative.” According to junior Besher Garcia, this is true crime.

True Crime media follows real life tragedies, from murders to kidnappings and everything in between. Recently popularized documentaries, television shows, movies and podcasts investigate decades old reports and reenact crimes, allowing their viewers to assume the role of a detective and immerse themselves into gruesome acts in history.

This form of media has a tendency to over dramatize the stories and take more of an entertainment angle in hopes to attract an audience. While some people only stick to the news stories appearing on their television, others found a keen interest in the entertainment source and coined an entire genre.

True crime has accumulated its own diverse audience interested in this niche form of media, with interests ranging across the board; some are intrigued by the mystery of true crime while the psychological investigations of criminals ties other viewers in.

“The psychology and the way that they go about finding out how murders happen really piqued my interest. [...] I just think that it’s interesting how people can commit murder when biologically we’re not able to harm others or even [inflict harm] upon ourselves,” junior Ellie Peterson said.

Personal intrigue also takes form in wanting to know how to best protect yourself from danger, especially for the female demographic.

“Because women tend to be victims [of these crimes], they’re [most] invested in watching them being solved. I never watch mystery ones. If it’s an unsolved one, I will

Some common stereotypes of those who enjoy true crime assume that they are likely to get involved in illegal activities themselves. According to the true crime fanbase, this is not the case.

“Most people just assume that we’re crazy [even though] we’re not the ones that are committing [the crimes] or planning to commit [them],” Peterson said. “[Its just so] out of the box and people just can’t accept other people being interested in [or] learning about it.”

True crime is full of mystery and gore that most people are too afraid to even think about. For those who enjoy it, the reason behind their interest in it is not much of a psychological secret.

“Humans have this underlying desire to know things. Similar to how when we see a car accident, we can’t help but slow down to see what is going on. Also I think the story telling of true crime [is like] a murder mystery novel, [so] we like to try and figure it out. We like the suspense,” IB Psychology teacher Erin Cespedes said.

Simply because it is an unusual subject is what draws much of its audience in. Entertainment tactics that generate fear, mystery and anticipation keeps us watching more.

“People like knowing and being able to explain things, and so if [there is] a blank question mark [to a crime], people are just going to want to know more,” Peterson said.

Watching true crime can even benefit the viewer, making them more aware or more knowledgeable about how to protect themselves from possible threats.

“It makes you paranoid but in a good way, it can just make you aware of your surroundings,” Spears said. “There is this sort

interested in the investigative or psychological parts of the stories, true crime can help someone indulge in their interests and get insight into a possible career path.

“I am totally looking at schools that have like criminal law [so I can be a forensic scientist] and do all the science stuff behind crime scenes,” Peterson said.

Of course, with this intense form of media also comes its disadvantages. When looking at how fear inducing media affects a person’s brain, it’s hard to ignore cognitive bias.

“We are more likely to recall things we’ve seen recently and those things may influence our thinking and decision making. So for example, if someone watches a lot of true crime they might think that these kinds of events are more likely to occur and this might lead to increased fear,” Cespedes said.

Watching lots of true crime can negatively affect a person’s mental and physical well being, especially if they experience excessive amounts of paranoia.

“When I binge some podcast or binge shows, I definitely like need to go watch something happy to like reset myself,” Peterson said. “There’s something gut wrenching learning [about] and watching people get slashed to death [and] thinking about getting stabbed like 27 times. That’s just something that can definitely alter your brain.”

Overconsumption of true crime media is inevitable for many viewers, some even saying that the media is too engaging and they have trouble hitting pause.

“It’s just addictive! [...] Everyone that I know who indulges in it, constantly indulges in it– like there’s nobody I know who does it only a little bit. [Either] they’re all in or all out. [...] We want to know the story of what happened at the end,” Spears said.



events of gruesome crimes in history, how can this be a sound form of entertainment for all parties that were involved?

“It is exploiting people’s trauma for profit, [especially the producers of the media]. But there is also an argument to be made that families who get interviewed from that who have been friends of victims or victims themselves of these terrible acts, they can get paid for it. [If they are] somehow able to win off of their trauma, [thats good because they

are] taking their trauma and using it to their own benefit. [...] It’s this complicated thing– I don’t think the producers are ethical, because they’re doing it to make money, but victims, I think are completely ethical,” Garcia said.

The integrity of the art form should also be valued since it is an expression or dramatization of true events. Though, it should not be an excuse to true crime media that is simply exploitative and appears to idolize the criminals invloved. Dahmer, which premired

on Netflix this past year, was a clear dramatic reenactment of the serial killer’s life, though many find its interpretation of the story to be disturbing.

“I’m someone who [believes in the] First Amendment, I believe in free speech. I believe in art. I believe the Jeffrey Dahmer [series] may have been in poor taste, [but] I feel like it should have been made because that’s what somebody’s art told to make,” Spears said. “But I just I can’t say the ethics [about it] because I feel like it just depends. It’s just there’s so many like variables. How do you decide when you’re trying to make art?”

True crime ethics are complex, finding a way to both highlight the victims and maintain the creative vision of reenactors is difficult to navigate.

“Especially with these overly fictionalized versions of [crimes], these terrible people are kind of painted as the protagonist. But also I support storytellers who want to you know, push the envelope and possibly make a killer their protagonist,” Garcia said.

Ethics are subjective, and ultimately it comes down to the viewer to decide whether or not they want to engage in true crime media.Whether or not what you might believe personally, people will continue to create and consume true crime.

“How can you say it’s unethical when one person says its okay and other people don’t? I don’t know because it depends on who the criminal is, who the victims are and how they feel about it. It’s case by case basis,” Spears said.

Most people come to the conclusion that true crime media cannot be made ethically in a way that highlights victims without retraumatizing them or their families. Though maybe with some changes, the viewer, show crew and the families involved in the crimes can have some peace and still be able to produce true crime art.

“I think that it should be more like basic reporting, because I think that’s pretty respectful and how they do it,” Garcia said. “[When there are too many edits to dramatizice it], it just feels very distasteful. And so I think I think the presentation of it [needs to change], because there’s just disregard for it. Like it’s just entertainment, but it definitely carries more weight to it.”

REPORT | 2022 23
Graphic by Zoraya King, featuring Besher Garcia

Fact or fake: social media’s effect on news

Social media is a resource so frequently used by many young students, with a constant feed of theories and speculations students are repeatedly being left to decipher whether what they’re seeing is fact or fake.

Nearly 30 percent of Sequoia students get the majority of their news off of TikTok, and 57 percent of students say that Youtube was their most used or second most used platform for access to news. With the number of students relying on these platforms, it is clear that social media plays a significant role in the news cycle. With these kinds of platforms benefiting greatly from their algorithms curated personally for the viewers, user engagement is a priority. Whether providing those who view this content with like-minded people or showing viewers points of view drastically different from those they hold, social media enormously benefits from engagement no matter if this attention is positive or negative.

“You’re only ever going to be seeing what you want to see or what the algorithm wants you to see,” freshman Maurice Watkins said.

Social media is not all bad though; it provides viewers with an opportunity for new knowledge and creates accessibility to many previously inaccessible topics. This swift news cycle was unheard of for so long and was only truly made possible and accessible because of the internet and social media. However, it is much less censored than many public news sites and can represent many more voices.

“The good part of [social media], is that you’re going to see stories that you would

never see a long time ago,” Watkins said. Social media can amplify voices no matter their reach, and this can lead to different types of outcomes. Whether this leads to accurate information being spread faster or theories and misinformation reaching new audiences, this amplification has noticeable effects. Some even use social media platforms such as Instagram or Twitter to see what their favorite news sources have released quickly.

“I believe social media can positively affect [news] by extremely trustworthy news sources being on there sharing the [newest information], what they’re going to do or if they’re closing down. It can negatively affect news because it acts like Wikipedia; anyone can add anything.”

freshman Gael Morales said.

“Misinformation” is a term used frequently when discussing how social media affects news and the lack of validity necessary for theories to be spread through platforms such as Tiktok or Meta (formerly known as Facebook). Some are concerned that the harmful effects of misinformation are not fully understood.

“I believe the main effects of misinformation can normally lead to unexpected outcomes. For example [the] misleading information when COVID vaccines were first introduced. Multiple people [online] were saying, ‘oh, you know, this will affect my unborn child. They might get autism’’ Or when they became available for children, ‘anti vaxxer’ mothers that didn’t trust [the vaccines] said, ‘oh, this might give my child autism’, and it didn’t happen So the effects of that [were that] COVID started spreading much, much more” Morales said.

Amplifying these smaller voices is not all negative though. This can allow people who have put in true research to have an accessible space to share their views. Since smaller voices are less likely to profit off of spreading information on the internet it can provide opinions that are not necessarily

spread in search of profit. Profit is something that many believe affects the opinions of mainstream media.

“[Social media] could give you a more reliable source because more creators want reliable sources [to quote], and they will do their research, just to give the [proper] response,” senior Miranda Montero said.

An individual sharing news solely from their point of view creates a large space for bias. Biases can affect others who view this content and can greatly sway opinions. Along with biases being spread, individual creators are also likely to spread theories when contributing to discussions on current events. Theories being spread in this way can often create confusion for viewers on the true facts.

“I would say some of [the people on social media] have the chance to [spread] fake news or their own opinion and say, ‘ this is the real news, and most people seeing it for the first time, they would say, this might be real.’ So it really depends on who is creating it,” Montero said.

With the departure of Sequoia Union High School District’s first black female superintendent, many within the community have speculated about this exit. These theories can be misleading though they are to be expected when something like this happens. Many spread theories about this being a possible termination despite the silence from the district and former superintendent, some even spreading theories about this very silence.

“I wonder why the Superintendant forced out has not made a public statement? I would expect that if they were subjected to some abuse, that they would complain?” Nextdoor user J. E. said.

“If [users] are interested and actively click on the fake news, then they’re just going to be given more fake news and they’re going to be harder to differentiate.”
freshman Maurice Watkins said
Photos by Caroline Sieling

“Knock At the Cabin”

A Quietly Apocalyptic Thriller

It’s hard to know what to expect when going into an M. Night Shyamalan movie, and not just because of his fondness for a final act twist. Since the filmmaker’s 1999 smash hit “The Sixth Sense”, Shyamalan has had one of the most storied filmographies of the last two decades, and his reputation has been in constant flux. After a fairly rough spot for critical reception through the late 2000s and early 2010s, 2015’s “The Visit” and 2016’s “Split” brought Shyamalan back into the spotlight with a return to his horror roots.

Personally, despite the many ups and downs of his career, it’s hard not to get excited when a new Shyamalan movie is releasing. His early films such as “The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable” and “Signs” are some of my favorite horror/thrillers of their time. While the 2010s may have been his most inconsistent decade yet, with the disappointing Glass and Old releasing not too long ago, I still come into every Shyamalan flick with an optimistic point of view.

Shyamalan’s most recent endeavor, “Knock at the Cabin,” is an adaptation of Paul Tremblay’s award-winning 2018 novel “The Cabin at the End of the World.” The film stars Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge and will be Shyamalan’s second ever R-rated project, his first being 2008’s “The Happening.”

The film follows a gay couple and their daughter vacationing in the woods when a group of four strangers break into their cabin. The intruders, led by Bautista’s character Leonard, inform the family that one of them must allow themself to be killed by another to stop the coming apocalypse. The audience watches as the family’s world both literally and symbolically falls apart around them as they’re faced with an impossible choice.

The film is often more of a drama/thriller than a true-blue horror, and the villains

best represent this. While they’re definitely threatening antagonistic forces, the truth of their motivations is a constant mystery throughout the story. The script constantly leaves you questioning whether the intruders are simply insane or if there is truth to what they’re saying.

The intruders explicitly don’t want to be there, and this is best represented through Leonard. Dave Bautista gives what is definitely the best performance of the movie playing a broken down, constantly-calm second grade teacher. His interactions with the family, particularly the young daughter, are constantly tense as he attempts to prove the validity of his apocalypse claim.

angles as possible to capture the long dialogue scenes throughout the film. Focus is often played to extremes, with depth of field so shallow in close ups that you can hardly see the ears on the character’s heads.

The movie can begin to feel slow at times, particularly in the second act. The least memorable parts of the film are definitely in the middle, as we mainly see the family and intruders arguing and being fairly stationary. The upside of this is that it further adds to the confusion, as it becomes harder and harder to know who should truly be believed, and the characters even begin to doubt themselves. Watching the couple attempt to grapple with their situation can be genuinely tragic, however the story does become a bit predictable in the latter half.

Overall, “Knock at the Cabin” proves to be a solid thriller with great performances and striking cinematography. Those looking to watch a slower, more dialogue heavy horror/ thriller will definitely find value in this film. While the pacing can feel a little all over the place, and not every character is given much time to be fleshed out, the core of the movie provides an interesting and tragic dilemma that will keep viewers on the edge of their seat.

The horror elements are often subdued in order to focus on the character interactions. While there are a few jumpscares here and there, almost all gore is off-screen or implied. The film spends many flashbacks endearing you to the main couple, as we see their tribulations being gay in America.The daughter is put on the back-burner for most of the movie, speaking very few lines throughout the second and third act. It’s hard to call this a flaw however, as the main conflict really rests on the relationship of our protagonist couple.

For a movie that takes place almost entirely within one small area, it would be very easy to get tired of seeing the same shots of the same location ad nauseam. Luckily, Shyamalan constantly keeps it visually interesting with some great cinematography. The camera will move in and out of the house, finding as many

©Universal Pictures Redwood Downtown 20 and XD Theater, photo by Matthew Caesar
The core of the movie provides an interesting and tragic dilemma that will keep viewers on the edge of their seat.

The Art Bias Program

Art Bias is a non profit organization located in San Carlos, CA. It focuses on providing aspiring artists with the resources and opportunities that they would need to express themselves through many creative means and develop their artistry. Their programs are designed to help people hone their artistic skills and confidence, while also presenting moments for them to showcase their work and connect with other artists. Through a variety of workshops and classes, people are able to learn new techniques and explore different mediums, such as painting, drawing, Art

What Is Art Bias? At Sequoia

Art Bias is offering a special program to art students at sequoia, allowing them to experience what it would be like to work in the art industry. “The idea is to have an after school program once a week for about six students to work with 2 to 3 artists at a time on lots of different fun activities from making or looking at art to possibly going on little field trips to galleries and things like that.” Christle Waters, head of the Art Bias program at Sequoia and ceramics teacher, said. “Us art teachers looked at the students

that we felt were very interested in art and going above and beyond, doing more than the average student and who just generally enjoyed creating things. Each one of us can select around 5 students, and they all get to write a sort of resume to apply for the program,” Many students, including myself, have alredy been nominated for this program, its really quite the experience and i would highly recomend checking it out even if you dont get nominated.

About The Program

The program welcomes students from all backgrounds and encourages diversity and representation in its curriculum and events. Art Bias strives to create a supportive and inclusive environment for all students and priortizing flexibility. The program is designed to cater to the needs and interests of each individual student, and can be tailored to suit the specific

goals and aspirations of each participant, which allows them to focus on their strengths and areas of interest, while also addressing any areas that they may need to improve upon. By providing hands-on learning, mentorship, networking opportunities, and a supportive community, the program helps students to develop their artistic skills, gain confidence in their abilities, and

explore the possibilities of a career in the arts. This allows all students to feel valued and supported in their artistic pursuits, regardless of their background or experience level.

Students are also encouraged to think critically about the role of art in society, and how art can be used as a tool for social change and activism. Students are exposed to various styles and movements in art history, and are encouraged to reflect on the social and cultural contexts in which those works were created. This helps to develop a more nuanced understanding of the power of art and its ability to communicate important messages and ideas. In terms of showcasing the students’ work, the program also organizes exhibitions, competitions, and other opportunities for students

sculpture and printmaking, similar to the classes offered here at Sequoia. These handson experiences allow people to experiment and push their creative boundaries, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the artistic process of their desired medium. In addition to hands-on learning, the Art Bias program also gives people mentorship and networking opportunities, allowing them to connect with professional artists and gain valuable insights into the industry of art. This can help students to better understand the career opportunities available to them and make more informed decisions about their future path.

to display their work to a wider audience. This not only provides students with the chance to gain recognition and validation for their work, but also enables them to connect with other professional artists and art enthusiasts alike. These connections can lead to future collaborations, job opportunities or simply expanding their creative network. Additionally, the program can greatly assist students who may be interested in pursuing a career in the arts after graduation. This can include information on art schools, apprenticeships, and other professional development opportunities. This helps students to better understand the path to a career in the arts and make informed decisions about their future.

The idea is to have an after school program once a week for the six students to work with about 3 artists at a time,
Christle Waters, Ceramics Teacher
Bias in San Carlos, taken by Julius

Visit To Sonoma State

Nos gustó la experiencia en Sonoma State en el día de las universidades.

Primero tomamos un bus el 5 de octubre, En el bus convivimos, y conversamos, jugamos un juego llamado “que prefieres” fue muy divertido nos entretuvimos un poco. Ya que el paseo era largo. Llegamos y nos dieron un tour. El guía se llamaba Javier y lo dijo en ambos inglés y español. La universidad era muy grande, tenía mucha naturaleza, y paisajes muy bonitos. Aprendimos de todos los edificios. Fue interesante. Habían apartamentos confortables. Estaban muy bien. Después fuimos a la cafetería a almorzar. Había mucha comida rica para comer. Nos gustó mucho.

Había frutas, helados,pizza, etc. por último tomamos fotos y hablamos con un estudiante de enfermería. Hablamos y le preguntamos algunas dudas. Eso fue todo fue muy interesante y divertido.

Oscar: lo que me gustó del paseo de la universidad fue la tecnología.

Lisandro: lo que mas me gusto del paseo es los árboles que dijo el guia donde esta el rio También, el río me gusto mucho, también los cuartos de la universidad.

Litzy: Me gusta la universidad , y quisiera estudiar allí.


Investment @ Students

February 2021 saw the famous Game Stop short orchestrated by users of the subreddit r/WallStreetBets. Furthermore, apps such as Robinhood and Ameritrade allow seemingly easy access to the market and can get new investors into the market quickly. It is obvious that something is happening within the scene of stock market investing, and quickly.

For a long time, the stock market has been seen to be an untenable structure for most modern consumers. Plagued by elitism, Wall Street has often been restricted to the few and elite. After all, the complex nature of the stock market and market dynamics makes them inaccessible to amateur traders.

Officially, apps like Robinhood restrict minors using their platform by disallowing accounts made by those under eighteen years of age. However, they do allow parent account systems, where a parent supervisor makes the account for them. This has allowed a new influx of youth investors into the market.

According to a survey of Sequoia students, around 16 people out of 73 responses reported investing in the stock market. While this is only around 21 percent of people, considering that the vast

majority of survey respondents are still minors and have to jump through hoops to invest in the market, this is a lot. This does not include the people that have considered investing, which is much higher. Only 25 percent of students reported never thinking about investing in the market, due to 16 saying never out of 64 responses. Furthermore, around 11 percent of participants reported that they thought about investing often, and have only been blocked due to other reasons. The motivation, however, to get into this market remains as a question.

“I was initially interested in stocks because before and after the pandemic I looked a lot at stock market analytics, and I did a stock market simulation where I actually ended up doubling my money and that’s how I got interested,” senior Raul Moreno Negrete said.

For him, his obsession with the stock market started with its possibilities. With just a bit of luck and know-how, one could

exploit the market and make money, with seemingly little investment. The accessibility of apps like Robinhood made it so easy to dive in quickly, and without much setup cost. Furthermore, the stock market is often similar to gambling in a lot of ways. Hitting it big on the stock market can often cause dopamine release, further incentivizing potential investors to keep pooling money into it.

Even if people have not deliberately taken advantage of these opportunities through direct investment, the sentiment is still there.

“I’ve seen a lot of people get into stocks in my class, but the IB business curriculum doesn’t really do that. In IB business, we mainly learn financial theory and everything revolves around the IB Business exam that people take later in the year,” David Weyant, Sequoia’s IB business teacher, said. Unfortunately, due to the restrictions around the class and the IB Curriculum, IB business cannot do much with on-hands, practical, trading experience.

Even if official school curriculums aren’t that good at supporting trading, many on campus still participate. For instance, this sentiment does not only exist in students.

For many people, the stock market can seem like a game, and one that one could be

I did a stock market simulation where I actually ended up doubling my money, and that’s how I got interested.
Raul Moreno Negrete, senior
We do this consumer economics unit where they figure out how to buy a house, to buy a car, all that stuff.
David Weyant, IB Business teacher
Robinhood is a common stock-investment app. Photo by Nicholas Lawrence
Sequoia sees an increase in student investors.

good at and strike gold. However, this is not the case, but there are some Sequoia attempts to increase student financial literacy, even if curricula may not initially support it.

“In IB buisness, we do a financial literacy course after the IB buisness exam. We do this consumer economics unit where they figure out how to buy a house, to buy a car, all that stuff. They can also go into the stock market there,” Weyant said. For many, this is their first introduction to the world of business and finance, so this preparation is very crucial for an introduction to the topic and field.

However, support structures do not only exist with teachers.

One notable example of student organization in the stock market is the Business Club, which was started by seniors Christopher and Nicholas Kwok.

At the Business club, students are able to give presentations and learn about various competitions related to business and finance. One of the most recent projects of the Business Club was the mock stock investment project, where students competed in a given time frame to win various gift cards.

“The Business Club prepares students for the real world of finance and business. Also, I know that a lot of students are majoring in Business, so we would like to give them realworld experience there” Christopher Kwok, a senior and the president of the Business Club, said. As part of its mission, the Business

Club enters different business competitions, have members give presentations on various aspects of financial theory and business and more.

Therefore, it is likely that we will see greater amounts of participation in the stock market than ever before, as this culture only grows. “There is a big startup culture here, I definitely think that us being in Silicon Valley has something to do with everyone’s entrepreneurial enthusiasm,” Weyant said.

The fact that so many people are investtiing in the stock market with such seemingly low support only indicates how strong this sentiment is at Sequoia. Moreover, the fact that the Business club, a student-run club, is one of the only places for stock trading advice and investment tips, further reveals the extent of student involvement within this field.

Overall, the fact that 21.9 percent of Sequoia students responded that they have invested demonstrates the widespread desire to become more involved in financial affairs, which until recently, have been relatively cutoff and gatekept from the general public.

“I think there’s been a lot more interest in business because people are really seeing how useful entrepeneurial skills are, even if you’re not starting your own business, [those skills] give you a lot of important tools for life,” Christopher Kwok said.

Results from a Survey of 83 Sequoia Students

No 78 1% Yes 21 9% Sometimes 35 9% Rarely 28 1% Never 25% Often 10 9%
not, how often have you considered investing?
you currently invest in the stock market?
A presentation at Sequoia’s Business Club. Photo by Nicholas Lawrence.
There is a big startup culture here, I definitely think that us being in Silicon Valley has something to do with everyone’s entrepeneurial enthusiasm.
Mr. Weyant, IB Business teacher

Why school

“Kids don’t really want to learn things until they need it, to some extent. I think you would only want to [learn about] it [in] your senior year. [...] Otherwise, I think it’s too early, and they won’t actually care,” Halstead said.

According to a survey by the Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC), “41 percent of students said they didn’t have any financial literacy classes in high school. This may factor into the financial stress that teens feel when preparing for their futures. Nearly 40 percent said that having a better understanding of how student loans work would help ease their concerns.”

“Right now we are at home the whole time, and then we are thrown off to college and you have all of these things to figure out, but if [high schools] taught finances it would be one less burning task we have to accomplish.” sophomore Jules Romeo said.

Taxes are a complex topic to both teach and learn, so many high school instructors avoid the topic for as long as possible. It is important for young adults to learn about financial literacy for their future of developing

“I think that economics courses should be more than just the traditional supply and demand. […] As soon as you turn 18, you are most likely going to start applying for a job.”

school already and we’re learning so why don’t schools teach things I’m going to need in the future.” Romeo said.

However, the difference in familial incomes poses an issue when teaching about financial literacy, as families throughout the school make a range of different incomes where they qualify for different tax brackets. This makes it difficult for administrators to thoroughly describe the details of the American tax system where everyone can feel represented.

“I don’t feel prepared at all for financial responsibility. We use percentages and examples in math a lot but nothing specific to real life.” Romeo said.

A common question that is debated is whether it is the parent’s responsibility to teach their children about finances or their teacher’s.

“I think it’s more of a team effort. I think parents partially do have a responsibility of teaching their kids how to file taxes,” Duran

one is in a good mood. It’s tax season.

High School is intended to prepare young students for adulthood, but it does not inform them how to manage finances for when they leave.

“No, [highschool didn’t do a good job] teaching us financial stability. [School] was more on an academic track so we didn’t look at anything that could be applied to the real world.” IB Analysis Prep and Geometry teacher Christine Halstead said.

One of the main reasons schools don’t teach taxes is because administrators feel that teenagers do not have the inclination to learn about financial literacy and stability.

“You might want to purchase a car. If you do decide to go live somewhere else for college you’re going to need to know how to sign the lease and you need to know how to budget. I think just teaching [the] fundamental skills [on how to accomplish those tasks] can go a long way for anyone,” government and economics teacher Juan Duran said.

Then there’s the working age. As of 2023, the average working age in California is 14 years old, and minors can be claimed as a dependent filer if their income from working exceeds $12,950. Students become overwhelmed trying to keep up, and learning taxes properly will prevent ignorance and unpreparedness after leaving high school.

“Science is cool and stuff, but we’re at

2022 1040 Form, Photo by Amara Bakshi
54% of teens
are worried about financing in their future Survey by Citizens Bank Resources for filing taxes: 1. TurboTax 2. H & R Block 3. FutureProfits
aged 13-18

Open field

A new style of pre-season conditioning

Taking a page out of the basketball team’s new Open Gym program, the baseball coaches decided to transition to a new version of preseason conditioning as well.

“This year, we’re doing something called Open Field, where the coaches just put a bucket of balls out there and the kids are self organized and do whatever they want,” baseball coach Mike Doyle said. “Basketball does something similar with open gym so I just copied the name and called it Open Field since we’re on a field and not the gym.”

Last year the team worked a lot in the weight room to get into shape for the season ahead of them. However this year with Open Field, they are trying to do more outdoor activities on the field which are open to everybody who wants to play.

“It’s open to anybody that wants to come out and people that aren’t going to try out for baseball but just want to go out and play ball, so it’s just a chance for anybody in the school that wants to be active to get out there,” Doyle said. “If you haven’t played a lot, it’d be a good idea to take advantage of Open Field unless you’re already doing it on your own outside.”

One difference from this year’s conditioning and last years is the amount of freedom that the players have to hang out and get to know each other. This transition also encourages more people who still want to play the game but don’t end up trying out to get back into the feel of baseball.

“There’s no coaching. It’s just putting a bucket of balls out there and letting the kids go do what they’re gonna do. We’ll provide supervision to make sure they’re not being unsafe, but that’s really the extent of it,” Doyle said. “Sometimes we’ll have two pitchers and two catchers come out and our pitching coach will work with the pitchers and I’ll work with catchers.”

For players, it’s something frequent they can choose to attend for the preseason environment.

‘I’ve been going almost all the time. I’ve only

missed a few of the Open Fields, however a lot of people go. I think almost everybody goes each time,” freshman Hayden Del Visco said.

This transition is something that they want to continue doing in future years starting in December and going to tryouts in the last week of January, seeing as it’s something players enjoy more. It’s a first time view to see how high school baseball compares to other leagues in the past, giving the new players a gauge for coaches to see the levels of commitment and practice the players have.

“I like what they’re doing with Open Field, because I’m getting used to fielding, catching and hitting the ball. I think it’s a good way to get prepared for trying out, so I think it’s better to do Open Field instead of just lifting weights,” Del Visco said.

Del Visco played a lot of San Carlos baseball in the past and says he’s looking forward to trying out this season.

“My goal is really just to make the team and have a good season. Do whatever it takes to help out the team and to get a win and I think Open Field is helping with that,” Del Visco said.

Most of the players seem happy with this new change to preseason conditioning since in general it makes the experience a lot more enjoyable.

“They’re a lot of fun because I haven’t seen my teammates and it’s fun to see them again. You can do whatever you think is helping you prepare for the season,” sophomore Nate Gotelli said.

Gotelli didn’t go to many of the games last season, but he’s making it part of his goal for the season to try to make more of the games. He’s still very excited to get back into the game though.

“I’m catching now this year, but I didn’t play a lot last year. However I’m playing a new position so that’s fun,” Gotelli said.

Overall, the coaches and players all seem to be pleased with the new transition to Open Field, just like how the basketball team offered their Open Gym program. The new program is a lot more inclusive and lets even players who just want to go out and play ball to have fun. They also stated that they plan to continue this program in future years due to the success.

“Come out to Open Field, it would be a good chance to be able to go throw and sometimes you just need to have somebody to throw with and that’s the advantage of Open Field,” Doyle said.

There’s no coaching. It’s just putting a bucket of balls out there and letting the kids go do what they’re gonna do”
Mike Doyle, baseball coach
Photos by Ethan Butt

District drama enters its third act

Sequoia’s Board of Trustees begins its search for a new superintendent

The Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) board of trustees is once again searching for a new superintendent, after Dr. Darnise Williams’ tenure in the position suddenly and inexplicably ended this past November.

The circumstances surrounding this development are rather unusual. Typically, superintendents spend years in their position, but the past two superintendents have only been in power for a year or two. Additionally, two secret meetings were held in the lead up to the termination of Williams’ position, by a board that had been elected only a week prior.

Despite the district’s assurance that such a development was a “mutual agreement”, mistrust and skepticism among elements of Sequoia’s teaching staff begged one question: Can faith in our board be restored? The board hopes that, through the search process, trust can once again be restored.

The Search

Though it is ultimately the board of trustee’s responsibility to choose a new superintendent to lead the district, the duty of finding eligible candidates for the position is traditionally outsourced to “search firms”. These are specialized agencies whose partners (senior members who also have partial ownership over the firm) are trained to be able to quickly and efficiently search for candidates to fill non-elected administrative roles in the district, especially that of a superintendent. After a round of public and board inquiry on Wednesday, January 22nd, Eric Andrew, a partner of one such firm, was tasked with establishing a pool of candidates for the position of superintendent.

“One of the things we want to do is to make sure we have a very detailed timeline and plan in place so that we can execute it

without many deviations,” Andrew said. “It’s so that those [in the public] who are interested in the process can be a part of it.”

Andrew’s firm, known as Leadership Associates, is one of the larger search firms in California, with a reach extending both north and south of the San Francisco Bay Area. During the SUHSD’s last superintendent search, it was Andrews who found Williams, after the previous superintendent was removed in a vote of no confidence. Leadership Associates emphasizes the importance of finding a range of candidates to lead the district, something Andrew has had experience with.

“I pride myself in ensuring that any pool of candidates I bring forward is a diverse pool,so I make sure I go out looking for a diverse pool of candidates so that the board can see a variety of candidates that are very different,” Andrew said.

The timing of this search is promising, as the first few months of the year are what is known in Andrew’s line of work as “search season”. This is typically when firms conduct their search, a process that can take two to three months on average.

“Superintendents either announce their retirement or they decide they’re going to move to other districts, or in some cases, they’re being released somewhere between late December and early January. And so the search season is typically from January to June,” Andrew said.

Andrew is hopeful that Leadership Associates is able to mend some of the skepticism brought about by the irregularity of the situation.

“I think part of the act of rebuilding trust is one person at a time individually, and it takes time once it’s broken,” Andrews said.

Broken Trust

Despite these measures, elements of

SUHSD’s staff and administration still feel that there is a serious lack of transparency with the way the board of trustees governs itself. Of particular concern is the series of secret meetings held leading up to the end of Williams’ tenure.

“Will you as a team actually listen to your whole community? Or will you create your own political goals and desires,” Jenny Blum, a member of the district staff, said in a public comment.“Will you actually tell us [your aims] or hide behind the veil of secrecy that we have been waiting for you to come out from.”

Similarly, there are concerns surrounding what this series of events may mean for the district’s image. Losing two superintendents in quick succession may paint a picture of a district that isn’t particularly attractive to potential superintendents.

“Who’s going to come into a district where in the course of the last six years, they’ve gone through two superintendents and both of their contracts have ended with a mutual agreement?” co-leader of the SUHSD’s equity, diversity and inclusion partners Taja

I’ve been in the district 23 years, and what has happened? Nothing. Adili Skilin, Math Teacher
School board diveristy training. Photos by Mateo Mangolini

Henderson said. “That could potentially be a barrier to the best candidates or candidates that we need in our district to come.”

The termination of Williams’ tenure is especially difficult for the SUHSD’s teachers of color. Williams, the first black female superintendent in the district, had been responsible for ensuring that initiatives that gave a microphone to underrepresented voices would materialize. The most notable of these initiatives was the Sequoia Equity and Inclusion partners, which seeks to eliminate racial bias in education throughout the district, root and stem.

“[Pablo Aguilera and I] created room for these councils to take form in schools across our district, but we felt that there was a disconnect in communication between what was happening with the schools and what was going on in our district office and so we felt that it was important to have someone come in and bridge the two,” Henderson said. “She supported it before we were even pushing for there to be someone [from the board] at the table.”

The circumstances of the “mutual agreement” leave more questions than answers for Sequoia’s teachers of color (TOC). Williams had shown substantial work experience in high schools around California, even within gargantuan districts such as the L.A. unified school district, serving over 500,000 students. Similarly, during the Dec. 19 meeting announcing the mutual agreement, no reason was given for this development, only

that Williams had been incredibly helpful and well-received within the SUHSD. Stranger still, the mutual agreement stipulates that neither the board of trustees nor Williams can speak on the matter. That leaves teachers of color wondering, “why?” In school districts across the nation, prejudice against teachers of TOC by district administrations often happens in a covert fashion, and the level of secrecy cultivated by the board of trustees’ actions has not helped to quell the feeling that the SUHSD’s issues with diversity in its staff remain in an endless status quo.

“I’ve been in the district for 23 years, and what has changed? Nothing,” math teacher Adili Skilin said. “I hate to say that, but situations like this have happened multiple times.”

The SUHSD, though it boasts significant populations of Latino and Pacific Islander students (with 56% of students identifying as Latino at Sequoia High School alone), has had some communities more represented than others on its board of trustees. For instance, though East Palo Alto, a primarily Black, Pacific Islander and Latino community, has been within the district for nearly a century, the first board member from the town to be elected, Shawneece Stevenson, only received the position in the last five years.

“If you’ve had a district that’s been here so long and this is the first time we’ve actually had a board member from East Palo Alto… that’s enough said,” Skilin said . “I love my district and I love my school, don’t get it twisted. I can either be part of the problem or I can be part of the solution.”

Skilin, also an advisor for Sequoia High

School’s Black Student Union, has come together with other TOC to discuss the situation regarding Dr. Williams. Skilin describes the meeting as both a support group and a forum to discuss how to move forward.

“There were people coming to me who don’t ever talk to me saying ‘Skilin, what the hell is going on?’ … There’s a whole bunch of people asking that question. I thought ‘ let me get my core folks together and let me ask what they think,’” Skilin said. “What’s happened happened, and we’re not going back, and so [the question is] ‘what do we do moving forward?’”

Skilin repeated the opinion that a primary challenge when moving forward with the superintendent search is making inroads with Sequoia’s Black and Brown communities.

“Are [trustees] going out and calling folks or talking to them directly? No…Is [talking to folks] gonna take time? Yes it is, but there’s been a wound that has been created, you need to take the time,” Skilin said. “If you don’t know how to talk to folks, sometimes you come across as like you’re not being true even though you have been in reality. If you don’t want to talk to folks, you simply can’t relate to them.”

Of particular importance to Skilin is active listening on the part of Andrew’s firm and the board of trustees.

“[When talking to folks] you ask them, you don’t tell them,” Skilin said. “You don’t prescribe them, you don’t go in with an agenda.”

Still, despite these looming challenges, Skilin is determined to find a solution amid this search.

“ We have to find a solution, heal that wound.”

Taja Henderson leads Sequoia’s BSU. Photo by Mateo Mangolini Eric Andrews consults the Sequoia Board.

More than the game

Highlighting the financial burden of club sports and its inaccessibility for lower-income families.

Blood, sweat, tears and financial turmoil.

These words describe not only the hard work and dedication that goes into playing a high-commitment sport outside of school, but also the distress that comes along with finding the funds to pay for them.

Club sports offer student athletes the opportunity for additional practice in their sport before attending college. It allows them to stay in shape during off-season, provides a higher level of competition, and is integral in obtaining athletic scholarships for universities. However, these advantages come with a price tag, amounting to an average of $6,000 per year across all sports that families spend to put their children on an independent team, according to TD Ameritrade.

“Soccer is typically $2,000 to $3,000 a year plus travel. And travel can be really expensive, right? It really depends on what level you’re playing at and where you’re going,” Athletic Director and Girls Varsity Soccer Coach Melissa Schmidt said.

This cost can pose a heavy burden on the families of athletes, forcing them to reduce their overall spending to support their children.

“My family is pretty supportive. If I like [soccer], they’re supportive of that. So I know

Sequoia football game. Photo by Haylee Huynh.

they’ll do anything to help make it accessible to me. But yeah, I think [price] is a big part of this,” junior, club and Sequoia varsity soccer player Ashlee Landin said.

The competition club sports offer often intimidate those who are new to the sport, causing them to be discouraged from joining if they haven’t participated from a young age.

“I definitely have friends that wanted to try out for clubs, but it’s kind of the same thing. If you want to join a beginners club I’d say that’s accessible. But a competitive or high-demand club [is] hard to get into, you’d have to start as a kid,” junior and former club soccer player Gisell Beltran said.

The financial inaccessibility of club sports prevents students from trying out for Sequoia sports, mirroring the same discouragement those experience when attempting to join a club.

“I feel like 90 percent of us [play club], but I think it discourages some people,” senior, club and Sequoia varsity volleyball player Aniyah Hall said. “I know people who would be like, ‘oh, well, I don’t play club, so I don’t want to try out.’ I still try to encourage everyone to come and try out and see how they like it, but some people are just uncomfortable.”

Because the majority of varsity athletes are a part of a club outside of school, it limits the opportunity of skill development for other students that don’t have access to the same funds.

Percentage of college athletes that had participated in a club sport

“It’s painful to me to know that you really do have to play club soccer to make a team here. But what it comes down to is that repetition and that amount of time that you spend playing, it makes a big difference,” Schmidt said. “The kids who are playing year round at a higher level, and getting that extra coaching [...] all year, they just come in with a different set of skills. [...] And that’s hard. Because clubs cost a lot of money.”

Not only do private teams determine a student’s eligibility for varsity sports, it is also imperative if they are seeking an athletic scholarship.

“Pretty much all the recruiting for soccer happens in club and there’s big club tournaments that the recruiters go to. It also varies if they’re D1, D2, D3, so there’s a big variety,” Schmidt said. “We also have a lot of students here at Sequoia who are going to college for sports that aren’t high school sports. So like this year, we have two rowers, a gymnast, you know, so that’s 100 percent club.”

According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), 84 percent of current college athletes across all sports and gender distinctions had been a part of a club sport before playing at the university level, excluding football, cross country, and track and field. Club sports provide the chance to reap the benefits of the extended time commitment.

“Advancing club clubs opens a lot of opportunities,” Beltran said. “Our team got up to gold premier and then eventually college level. So with that it just opens opportunities for you.”

Diversity is another issue in the club sports arena, causing the financial inaccessibility to overlap with a lack of minority representation.

“[I would include] a little more diversity, just encouraging more people of color to play because [...] I know for volleyball there’s not a lot of people of color that play at all. So I always try to encourage my little cousins because I like to see people like me play,” Hall said.

Despite these issues, there are local organizations like Madera Roja Fútbol Club that are working to make club sports more available financially for families, only charging $225 annually as opposed to $6,000. Clubs like these will help to minimize the gap in sports access between lower-income families and wealthier ones.

Above all, students and families should choose to do what is best for their situation and needs.

“If anybody’s looking to do a sport, they should [...] figure out what’s right for them,” Beltran said. “Don’t follow whether your friends are staying on it. If your friends leave, don’t leave. If you want to stay, stay.”

Information via NCAA.


Can’t win them all

A highlight of the Boys Varsity Basketball Season

The Sequoia High School Varsity Boys team’s season started in the Winter, with their record being 1-11 in the normal season so far, and their total record including preseason being 1-23.

The mindset going into the preseason was the same for both the coach and the players.

“We knew well, I knew it was gonna be a little tough. Usually our preseason schedule is always tough, and it’s always been that way, but I knew we were going to struggle. I just didn’t know we would struggle this much,” said Coach Fine Lauese.

Many teams want hard preseason games in order to prepare the team for the normal season, but for some teams this can be discouraging if the competition is too difficult.

“Going into the season, I think we had some confidence, but after losing the first few, we started losing that sense of confidence,” said Varsity Shooting Guard Victor Gonzalez.

Losing the first few games can be difficult for teamsbecause it takes away your confidence and doesn’t set them up for success. Teams usually starting losing even more games which is happening this season with the team not having won a game so far.

Inexperienced players contribute greatly to the struggles of the varsity basketball team. Many sophomores are playing up for Varisty which is hard to adjust to given that they played in lower age league in the past.

“Just an experience playing a lot of kids playing a lot of minutes that are young.You know, most of them are from the freshman team. And then all of a sudden, bam, here you go. You get varsity guys that are much bigger, faster, stronger,” said Lauese.

It is impressive for so many sophomores on a varsity team, also showing the talent that the Sequoia Basketball program has and the talent they can produce.

Basketball is a game of size so it can be difficult for young players to transition to varsity. It can also be difficult mentally because in Varsity the play moves a lot quicker and you need to make faster decisions than other levels like freshman. However, since the team is made up of young players, they are developing chemistry from this season and will be able to play with each other for a while.

With all the losses, the team gets closer together and they learn each others strengths and weaknesses which will increase the potential of the future Sequoia Basketball teams. But there are other factors playing into the potential of the team.

The teams record might not be great, but the team is doing everything they can to turn this season around as much as they can. The team also has a lot of dedication and commitment to improve. They go to practice everyday, put in more work than required and are working extremely hard to turn this season around and improve for the seasons to come.

“The best thing I have going for us, for at least for me, I feel like it’s a group of kids. We have super kids. I mean, they’re great. They show up every day. They don’t complain. We work after it every day. So as long as they’re willing to come in and put the time in,” said Lauese.

This shows how powerful this teams mentality is and how bright their future is. Players are not only trying to strengthen their weaknesses but, are also trying to perfect their strengths. With the team being such a young and hardworking it shows the potential that this team has and how successful they will be in the next couple seasons.

“I’m getting extra shots up every opportunity I can putting in extreme time in the gym trying to get better,” said Gonzalez.

Just an inexperience playing a lot of kids playing a lot of minutes that are young
Fine Lauese, Varsity Boys Basketball Coach
Photo by Evelyn Harrington Jack Kempton & photo by Markus Mukherjee

Soccer recap

The freshman boys team is having a tough season, going 1-5-3 overall and 0-0-1 in league. “My favorite part was playing soccer with people that I knew,” freshman Nolan Fausto said. Playing through the tough season and enjoying soccer no matter the record is important. “My favorite game of the season was beating Hilsdale because it was our only win,” Fautso said. Sequoia won that game 2-1, but there wasn’t much more winning. “My least favorite part of the season was losing,” Fautso said.

The JV Boys team is having a very strong season, going 11-3-3 overall and 8-1-1 in league. So far in league play they have faced San Mateo, El Camino, Capuchino and Half Moon Bay, they have also played other teams in non league games. “My favorite game of the season was probably when we played Carlmont because it was a fun game,” center mid Kai Hwang said. The JV boys team did have some tough games though. “I’d say our least favorite game was when we played Woodside because they had a last minute goal which was kind of lucky, that sucked,” Kai Hwang said. They ended up losing that game 2-1 to Woodside because of that last minute goal. Overall though, the JV Boys soccer team is having a solid season. Similar to the JV team, the Varsity team is also having a very strong season. They are 13-4-1 overall and 8-2 in league. “My favorite part is seeing the team grow together,” striker Leimana Makasini said. “Like the first few games in the preseason. We’re not looking too good, like not on the same page. But right now, our team is starting to play together and work together.” With team Chemistry coming along, the Varsity

team was bound to have some enjoyable games. “My favorite game so far would be the first game of the season against San Mateo. It was pretty tough in the first half and second half we exploded and we’re doing good,” said Leimana. Varsity did win that game 3-0 for a strong start to the season, though it wasn’t always smooth sailing. “I feel like the toughest game we had was against Menlo, which we did end up winning, but we weren’t working together, that game was really close,” Makasini said.

The winning trend continues for the girls Varsity team, who are having a strong season. They are 9-2-4 overall and 4-2-2 in league. “I would say my favorite part of the season has been beating Carlmont last week because that’s like something I’ve been wanting to accomplish since freshman year,” junior Aminah Evans said, who plays center back for Varsity. But being a student athlete isn’t always easy. “The hardest part for me has been balancing soccer and all of the practices with school, and like, trying to get enough rest,” Cassidy Danovitz said, who also plays on Varsity. The day of the

interview was also a game day for Varsity, who played their rival Woodside.“I’m super excited to play Woodside [today]. That’s a goal to beat them” Evans said. They did win that game 2-1. The girls JV team is having an adequate season, going 2-3-1 overall and 1-3-1 in league. “We’ve had some losses but we’ve had somewins and it’s a good team. Everyone gets along, and we’ll have fun, make the best out of it,” sophomore Elisa Flores said. Even though the team is having a tough season, they continue to persevere and enjoy the game. “My favorite game is beating our rivals Carlmont, it was two one. We always tied for the whole game and then we scored in the last five,” Flores said. JV also had some tough games, though, losing twice to Hillsdale.

My favorite part is seeing the team grow together
Leimana Makasini, Varsity striker
Photos by Katherine Schembri and Melissa Schmidt Photo by Melissa Schmidt

Food and Fitness at Sequoia

“The Physical Education (PE) teachers at Sequoia hope that students find something in PE that sparks their interest in healthy living, and something that when they’re much older, they can look back on and, and utilize it in their daily activities,” dance teacher Taylor White said.

There are many ways in which Sequoia tries to help improve its students’ physical health, including diets and physical movement. Sequoia uses the PE department and the lunch service to help students maintain a healthy lifestyle.

According to the California Department of Education, since the beginning of the pandemic, public schools throughout California have been providing free lunches to students. The state wants all students to have access to food at school regardless of income.

“For now, universal meals are available to all students in California regardless of income. There is a push for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to offer free meals to all students across the country. [...We want] students to want to eat a healthy, tasty meal that offers variety and flavor,” food service leader Starr said.

The school has to follow different nutrition requirements, both federally and statewide when preparing the menu.

“A hamburger for lunch must offer minimally two oz of protein and two oz of whole grain. In addition, to make it a reimbursable meal, a student must take at least one-half cup of fruit or vegetable and two types of milk are required to be offered but are not required to be taken,” Starr said.

A reimbursable meal means the school receives benefits for the food that they serve. Since Sequoia offers free lunches to every student, the school must have the finances to afford lunches.

“The menu is formulated at the central kitchen using nutrition-compliant software to ensure that all standards are met, and regulations followed,” Starr said.

Along with the nutritional requirements set by the government, the food service team also has to follow other rules and regulations both at the federal and state levels.

“All goods must comply with the Buy American Act, so if an item is not grown and produced in the United States, we cannot use it. [...] California has even more stringent rules; for example, eggs and egg products must be cage-free to be used in schools in California,” Starr said.

Starr also talked about how the change in prices affects what can be served at school. With the rising costs of eggs, the school cannot afford to provide eggs for lunch.

Along with food costs, the food service team also considers quality and flavor when deciding the menus.

“We search for the best quality meats, produce or manufactured products for our students that we can buy. [...] We love to hear what students like and what they would like to see on our menus,” Starr said.

Despite all their efforts to improve Sequoia

meals’ quality and taste, students often have very different opinions on the food offered.

Of the 65 students surveyed, 43 percent said they do not eat school lunch. Students not eating lunch creates a struggle for the food service team.

“The more students that eat, the more federal funds we receive and the more we can offer students down the line,” Starr said.

If more students ate school-provided meals, the food service team would receive more funds and then would be able to improve the meals provided. In addition to varying opinions about the taste, some students think the school lunch needs to be healthier.

“Although the school does provide fruits and vegetables, they are not necessarily in the cleanest or best condition. [They need] more fresh vegetables, or fresher fruit on the side that does not look like it is rotting or going bad,” sophomore Emily Chan said.

More options would also benefit students with different dietary restrictions. Many Sequoia students are vegetarian or have other dietary restrictions, and the school lunch service could better meet their needs.

“In the next few school years we are aiming to add more scratch items to our menus and hope to also add more local food suppliers.
Stacy Starr, Food Service Lead
Walk-in fridge at the Sequoia kitchen. Photo by Christine Chang.

“I would provide more options for vegan and vegetarian

salads, but

PE is the other way Sequoia aims to help students with physical health. Sequoia has two years of PE required for graduation, but the second year can be replaced by three seasons of a sport. Some students also opt to take dance classes and get PE credits that way.

A controversial aspect of PE is Physical Fitness Testing (PFT). The PFT is a statewide physical test conducted in grades five, seven and nine that is required by the state of California for all public schools.

According to the California Department of Education’s website, its purpose is to help students and parents assess their fitness levels, help teachers know their student’s weaknesses to design the curriculum and help monitor fitness level changes in students.

“It used to be if you did not pass the PFT, you had to take PE a second year even if you were taking a sport,” White said.

She explained that the PFT is now just used

for data collection for the district and state. Because PFT used to be based on students’ Body Mass Index (BMI), some students would have to retake PE because of a higher BMI.

“I do not feel like the BMI test was a good indication of health and fitness. Kids were being held back because they had a higher BMI. I don’t think that test is a good measure of fitness levels,” White says.

Now, without the BMI aspect of the PFT, White supports having a test for students to measure their fitness levels.

“I think any sort of fitness testing is helpful, just like any quiz you take in class; it is to see how well you are doing,” White said.

The PFT also helps give students something to strive towards.

“The PFT is beneficial because it gives kids goals to aim for,” PE teacher Lauren Cornell said.

White added that she does not think students’ grades should be based on the PFT but on participation and engagement.

“As for basing a grade on fitness levels, I think that as teachers trying to instill lifelong fitness, we want to help them see that participation means more,” White said.

Some students also agree with this mentality and think that basing grades on participation encourages students to engage more.

One of the main focuses of the PE program is to get students to be physically active throughout their high school years and beyond. The PFT is also designed to help students with lifelong fitness.

“It promotes lifelong fitness because it touches on all those categories important to building that as you continue with your life,” Cornell said.

Both Cornell and White agree that it would be beneficial for students to take more than two years of PE, but it would be logistically tricky.

“It would be beneficial for their health. But there are so many classes these kids need to take for college that they cannot fit them all in,” White said.

Both teachers thought having more choices in PE classes would improve the PE department.They acknowledge that this is not possible, though, due to the state requiring specific primary PE curriculums that students would have to get through before being able to take electives.

“[With more class choices] you would get more kids that want to participate, and that would be willing to go and have fun and learn more,” Cornell said.

We, the PE teachers at Sequoia, hope that students find something in PE that sparks their interest in healthy living.
Taylor White, Sequoia dance teacher
people. There are
sometimes those are suspicious [in terms of freshness and taste] as well,” Chan said.
Intermediate dance class. Photo by Zoraya King.

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