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Raven Report Sequoia High School

Volume vii, Issue 6

1201 Brewster Ave. Redwood City, CA 94062

March 5, 2014

Soccer bids senior girls farewell

Photos by Simon Greenhill

Varsity girls soccer had its senior game against Carlmont Thursday, Feb. 20, closing the team’s season in the PAL Bay League. The team will lose seven seniors to college next year. As a parting gift, the rest of the team provided the seniors with gift bags and white v-neck t-shirts that said, “I’m the Schmidt.” By CLAIRE BUGOS Photo Editor It was a bittersweet end to four years of long practices, team dinners and sweaty hugs. The Sequoia varsity girls soccer team lost 3-0 to Carlmont Thursday, Feb. 20. The team’s seven seniors tied off their high school soccer careers and said goodbye to the field they have called home for so long. They were honored with posters and cheering crowds who came to support the team through the intense match. “I remember at the end of our last senior game, all of us juniors looked at each other and just said, ‘We are the leaders next year—there’s no one above us. We have to be the seniors that we used to look

up to,’” senior defender Giannina Cadenas said. The time came for Cadenas, along with Araceli Efigenio, Jackie Ahern, Alana Puerto, Jackie Hutchison, Kate Boudreau and Kate Elliott to pass on the same responsibility they received last year. Four of them—Cadenas, Efigenio, Hutchison and Boudreau have been on the varsity team since their freshman year. For the seniors, being leaders on the field meant remaining positive and supportive, even throughout a rough season. “We have to build everyone up—that’s our job,” Cadenas said. This year’s varsity team consisted of seven seniors, one freshman and 12 juniors—a relatively young team for what the program is used to. “We all get along really well, there’s no

cliques or anything. The girls are great to be around, and I think that’s part of the reason we’ve all stuck together. Although it hasn’t been a winning season, it’s not like we’re yelling at each other on the field. It’s just been fun being out there with them,” center midfielder Hutchison said. This year, the team moved from Ocean Division to the Bay League—a spot they have worked hard to attain. The team had a final record of 2-17-2 after its defeat against Carlmont (11-5-3). “Our competition was a lot harder this year, so our biggest challenge was that we had to play hard the whole game,” Hutchison said. “Last year we could get by with playing 60 or 70 minutes, but this season we’ve had to go hard all 80 minutes.” Additional reporting by Abigail Wang

Gmail accounts enable further collaboration By EMMA PEYTON Staff Reporter This year Gmail accounts ending with were created for each student and staff member, allowing its users to work more collaboratively from various portals. The accounts will follow students for their high school career and are expected to be used for homework, classwork and college application purposes. The initiative started last year when physics teachers Ben Canning and Jack West used the system for their classes. Since then, it has been introduced to freshmen and has been adopted by most classes in the Health Career and Electronic Arts Academies. “I don’t see this being an overnight shift. It’s going to be a gradual transition,” Canning said. Google’s Gmail system allows users to create, edit and store documents, photos and more. One of its best features is that it allows users to access their files by logging into their account on any internet-enabled device. “Anybody can write up a paper anywhere, anytime,” computer science and video production teacher Cameron Dodge said. Such accessibility is valuable not only to teachers, who can view and grade students’ work from home, but also for students like senior and IB Physics student Gareth Wang, who uses his Gmail account in IB Physics and ITGS. “When we’re collecting data, See GMAIL, page 2

Intruder drill evokes mixed feelings among students By LILY FRIEBEL Staff Reporter Sequoia practiced its first intruder drill Thursday, Feb. 8, leaving some students and teachers uneasy about their safety. Administrators and Redwood City police officers walked around the school during the drill to make sure students had locked doors, turned off lights and built barricades. “[I’ve] had intruder drills before [in middle school], so I didn’t think it would be different; then I heard we were going to be making barricades, so I was kind of confused about what that was going to be


like,” junior Alex Croft said. Biology teacher Catherine Lemmi had a barricade fall in her classroom, Room LL-3, but no one was injured. Both doors opened when administrators checked Allison Stafford’s physics class, Room 118. Though students locked the door of Meg Diepenbrock’s history class, Room 43, administrators were still able to open its door. “I wasn’t super nervous, since it was just a drill,” sophomore Abby Hartzell said. “My teacher didn’t really say anything about it, which was kind of a missed opportunity because I think that she could have explained to us what the importance

Homelessness in our hallways


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Drop your phones

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was and what could happen.” Some teachers sat down with their class to talk about the importance and the seriousness of this drill, but the only schoolwide instructions were Administrative Vice Principal Mike Kuliga’s at the beginning of the drill. Schools in Sequoia’s district have had intruder drills in recent years; with the help of a new AVP, Carlmont is working on improving its safety as well. “I don’t think you’re ever going to feel safe after you’ve completed [an intruder drill],” Carlmont AVP Grant Steunenberg said. “You do a fire drill or an evacuation drill you feel fine you’re like ‘I got out

of the building’ you’re out there where it’s safe. When you’re locked down in a classroom, it’s hard to feel safe because in reality there’s so many things that can happen and you’re talking about people that have pre-planned to do as much damage as possible. It’s sad, scary and the schools do as much as they can to guard against that.” Other schools in the Bay Area have had an intruder on campus, but no deaths or major injuries were sustained. In 2009, a 17-year-old former student entered Hillsdale High School armed with pipe bombs and other weapons, intending to produce mass damage. Now, schools nationwide are preparing for similar events.

By the Numbers


Biggest shoe size on the varsity boys basketball team



March 5, 2014

Aguirre siblings bond over complex dance moves By MATVARI MAHARAJ Opinion Editor

Sometimes blood is the only bond that exists between siblings. This, however, isn’t true for junior Edgar Aguirre and freshman Joscelin Aguirre. The passion for dance wasn’t obvious to either Aguirre until attending John Gill, a performing arts elementary school. “When it was offered to me, I naturally connected to it, and I really liked it,” Edgar said. Edgar started dancing in first grade. Joscelin, who is two years younger, quickly followed in her brother’s footsteps by watching him practice and adopting his dance moves. “I would teach her the dances because we basically do everything together,” Edgar said. In 2011, the theater director saw potential in both Edgar and Joscelin and wanted to continue to work with them by asking them to audition for a small local TV show related to dance.

Photo courtesy of Stacy Morell

At Homecoming, Edgar and Joscelin danced next to one another. The pair practices at home together on a daily basis, and they spend every lunch period in the dance studio. Their cousin, a Sequoia alumnus, introduced Edgar to Sequoia’s dance program when she was a performer. After looking at the other schools dance programs, Edgar realized that his true passion was offered at Sequoia. He then decided to transfer from Carlmont.


from page 1 instead of having to hand write it down, we can just do it in Google spreadsheets,” Wang said. Because they are all connected to a single school-wide domain, the emails are uniform and professional. “If a student is sending an email to a college and their current email is ‘hotstuff91,’ that probably is not a good idea,” Dodge said. “Students can now use their Gmail account because it has their name and it tells me that it’s coming from Sequoia High School.” While the Gmail accounts have already proven to be efficient and professional, this technological movement could bring potential problems. “Like with many things, when you


“I searched up Sequoia Advanced Dance and saw Ms. White’s page and looked through all her videos and realized it’s what I wanted to do,” Edgar said. As a freshman, Edgar auditioned and was placed in Advanced Dance. He continued to teach his sister the techniques he

start rolling it out to a large system you hit roadblocks,” Canning said. One foreseen issue is the dependency that classes could have on these accounts by assigning most or all work to be done online. This could be disadvantageous to students who have trouble typing or those who do not have easy access to the internet. For teachers like Dodge, whose class takes place in a computer lab, this is not a big problem. But for other teachers, ways to ensure efficient and fair use of the accounts are being developed. “If I do [assign online work], I usually give a week so they can go to a library or someplace else where they have internet access,” Canning said. Because the system is brand new, modifications are inevitable as teachers and students learn to use and master this new mode of sharing and turning in work.

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was learning while she was still in middle school. Joscelin also auditioned and placed into Advanced Dance when she arrived in high school. “I remember it was two in the morning when she sent the email. I just saw Advanced Dance and was like, ‘oh my gosh,

no way,’ and I woke up my mom,” Joscelin said. Joscelin was a cheerleader in middle school and continued in high school. It has helped her with her performance skills and flexibility for dance. Edgar and Joscelin converted their garage into a studio with mirrors and a stereo system to practice. Both parents are really supportive of the Aguirre’s passion for dance, but they are trying to make them understand that there is more to the world than dance. “They don’t want us to get carried away and only focus on dance,” Edgar said. “They want us to minor in it but not major in it because you can’t make a living off of dance,” Joscelin added. Either way, the two will share a hobby, if not a career, as siblings. “He’s always been right there with advice and he’s the person I want to be,” Joscelin said.

Hardworking Jack-of-all-trades now fills role of Campus Aide job opportunity at Sequoia Adult School as a tutor on Saturdays for the GED program, where he also worked for night seWhen Matt Kelly first graduated from curity. Four years later, he was transferred high school, he had no idea what he’d be- to Sequoia High School as a full-time come. With no college education, Kelly campus aide. set out to find a job as soon as possible. “I was never a straight-A student. Over the course of 17 years, Kelly went Looking back on it, I wish I had tried through a total of seven more,” Kelly said. jobs ranging from meat “I don’t measure success by Despite his struggles, delivery to countertop the dollar. I never saw his strong work ethic and marketing. determination have driven myself in a suit and tie.” “I started off as a manhim to go the extra mile on —Matt Kelly, ager at Macy’s in the shoe everything he does. Campus Aide department,” Kelly said. “I don’t measure success “From there I worked for by the dollar,” said Kelly. “I Automatic Data Processing as a delivery really feel that here, I can make a differdriver, and after that I worked with coun- ence. Do I see myself [at Sequoia for] the tertops and bathrooms. Finally, I worked next 20 years? Possibly. for another delivery company based in I can’t say that it’s going to happen, but San Francisco that delivered meat.” I don’t mind if I’m here for the rest of my Kelly’s connections eventually led to a working life.” By XAVI BOLUÑA Staff Reporter

Confused about applying to colleges? Peninsula Young Writers offers College Consultation and Personal Statement Coaching Call Beth at 650-743-1959 or email

The PTSA is offering scholarships to Sequoia juniors who have demonstrated academic and/or community accomplishments. Instructions and applications are on the PTSA website, Applications are due by 4pm on March 25.

March 5, 2014



Sequoia’s best kept secret:

Bussey’s clothing class inspires creativity and perseverance By ARACELI EFIGENIO Feature Editor She slowly lifts the scissors to the fabric, and everyone yells in terror. The collective “no” from the class resonates in Room 15. The sewing process has taken its toll; any hope for the garment is lost. In Lindsay Bussey’s clothing class, learning about the art of sewing can be a rewarding but stressful process. Due to the challenging nature of the process, Bussey has never sewn a garment for herself since she fell in love with fashion at the age of 17. “After working with it for so long you would rather light it on fire than put it on yourself. If you are making it for yourself, you will cut it up,” Bussey said. “People don’t realize how hard it is to sew. You are making something from nothing.” Despite her love for fashion, Bussey did not begin at Sequoia as a home economics teacher. She taught English for two years and was an instructional associate in special education for another three. She then decided to pursue the culinary arts and became a pastry chef. However, it did not take long for her return to Sequoia. “All I could think about was the students. I realized that I was hooked; I didn’t see it coming,” Bussey said. When clothing teacher Carolyn Frohlich decided to retire

Photo by Carlos Garcia

Italian foreign exhange student Giovanni Costa hopes to become a fashion designer. Sequoia has the only clothing class on the Peninsula; it has been running for over 25 years. in 2010, Bussey was an obvious candidate for the job as she had studied fashion and merchandising at CSU Long Beach and had interned for Nicole Miller before teaching. Bussey saw value in teaching students the fundamentals of sewing. “As an adult you need to know how to sew on a button, on the most basic level of life. It would be nice if you knew how to hem your own pants,” Bussey said. Sequoia has the last clothing class in the Peninsula; it has been running for more than 25 years. Although the program has been

long-standing, finding funds to has found that her students are not the only ones learning in the keep it going has been difficult. “The majority of the fabric classroom. “ T h e and notions thing you for this class the come out of “The thing you learn the most about learn teaching is the students teach you as most about my pocket. The kids need well, being open to the fact that I don’t teaching is stuff. They know everything. We’re putting the that the students teach can’t be ex- puzzle together, together,” —Lindsay Bussey, you as well. pected to pay Home Economics Teacher [I’m] open for the learnto the fact ing process at this level. They need it, I buy that I don’t know everything. it,” Bussey said. “The school does We’re putting the puzzle togeththe best that it can, but it’s an ex- er, together,” Bussey said. “It’s about them taking out a seam pensive program.” In spite of finances, Bussey three or five times because they

see it puckle. Them taking pride in what they are creating, that’s the best part for me.” Senior Noelle Rubas, who took Clothing and Fashion I last year, learned a lot about herself while creating useful pieces such as oven mitts with heat protection and an apron with a mini chef pattern. “I learned that if I really try to get something done, I can. I just need to have the patience and believe in myself than I know I can do it,” Rubas said. “I can really count on Ms. Bussey to get me through anything.” However, some boys in the class have a hard time overcoming the stereotype that sewing is only for girls. They are the minority in the class as there are about five male students in a class of about 25. Nonetheless, male students come to love the craft over time. “When they are able to see the technical side, the skill of it, it gives them a challenge,” Bussey said. Whether she is convincing her male students that sewing is actually cool or making pastries in her cooking class, Bussey is living proof that you can be whoever you want to be when you grow up. “You don’t have to pick one career, one passion, one love. You don’t have to pick one, so why not?” Bussey said. “Being able to teach home ec[onomics] made everything make sense.”

Photos courtesy of Matthew Merrill

Take a trip with “Fat American Food”: 11K followers and counting By CARLOS GARCIA Staff Reporter Eleven thousand Instagram followers and counting. That is way more followers than what I have, and probably way more than what most Sequoia students have. That student who has 11,000 followers is junior Matthew Merrill. Merrill’s Instagram name is @fatamericanfood, and as you can guess from the name, it’s all about food. His 130 photos of food can range from delicious hamburgers and fries to Chinese food to pizza to pasta. The description usually details what

type of food is in the picture, the restaurant and a handful of hashtags, including “#instagood,” “#hot” and “#instagram.” The meals are typically heavy in calories and fat. The question remains: does Merrill eat the whole meal? “I eat all that food. It’s not an everyday thing, but like weekly,” Merrill said. The profile picture relates to the username. It shows a fat person riding a motor-powered scooter while the person shoots a machine gun. The background reads “‘Murica.” The sad truth, however, is that food consumption here in America can be little disturbing. An infographic done by stated that the av-

erage American eats 42 pounds of corn syrup and 85.5 fats and oils per year. That is kind of disturbing, but hey, this is ‘Murica. When Merrill started using Instagram, his page wasn’t all about food—it was an ordinary Instagram page. “When I first started, I was just doing what everyone did. I then started to post food, and that got me a few likes. So I did more and more and people started liking [it],” Merrill said. What is still surprising is how Merrill got so many followers. In a photo that dated back to Jun. 13, 2013, Merrill thanked his followers for getting him to over 1,000 followers.

Seven days later, his follower count reached over 6,000 followers. Merrill claims that the way he got so many followers was by going to other pages and liking their photos, and by using hashtags. This started a chain reaction which ended up with Merrill receiving a lot of followers. Many of the comments that his followers say are about how good the food looks, or how great America is. “Americans have such good food compared to over here in England!!” commented Instagram user shoniboltxx. With great fame, comes great responsibility. Even though Merrill has 11,000 followers, he doesn’t feel too famous. “I feel a little famous, but I don’t want




Coping with the challenges of homelessness gives student strength tops so I wear jackets every day, and all my By LILY HARTZELL sweats are my boyfriend’s sweats, so I kind Managing Editor of have to dress like that.” Like many students at Sequoia, Rose Many of Rose’s problems stem from prefers English over math. She grew up her family. Her mom has battled with watching Disney movies and she loves her drug addictions, and her dad is an alcopet turtle. holic. Her parents often put their own Unlike most of her peers, however, she wants before Rose’s needs, and she is eager is homeless. to get a job as soon as she turns sixteen to “It’s funny because some people think, have an income of her own. ‘20 bucks to go to the movies? That’s “[My dad] will do anything to buy nothing.’ I get five bucks and I’m like, ‘Oh that pack of beer, but when it comes to my God, yes, I can go to the store and get me needing clothes, or me needing a new myself a full meal,’” Rose said. toothbrush, or me needing shampoo and R o s e ’s conditioner, mom lives in he just doesn’t motels and do it. He re-sells things won’t try his she collects hardest, even “I’m kind of glad not a lot of from garage if he tries his people know, just because I sales at farmhardest for evdon’t want it to define me.” ers’ markets, erything else. —Rose while her dad It’s the same is a plumber thing with my who works mom,” Rose without a lisaid. cense. Rose is W h e n currently livRose was in ing with her seventh grade sister, her dad her mom was and his girlfriend’s family of five. How- put in prison, then a program called Hope ever, fights over everything from smok- House, for drug-related offenses, and ing inside to substance abuse occur fre- Rose went to live with her aunt. She felt quently, so Rose often stays with friends abandoned by her family, so she turned to or moves between her parents’ places. self-harm as a release. For many people, the word “homeless” “I used to write a lot in my diary, and brings to mind panhandlers and addicts honestly I wrote everything that was on living on the streets. Rose considers her- my mind, everything that was truly goself homeless because she is at her house ing on. I wrote exactly how I was feeling. around two nights a week; the other five I wrote suicide letters, I wrote letters to she is forced to move around because she my mom while she was in the program, gets kicked out of where she is currently I wrote letters to my dad asking him why living. Some nights she walks around for he just left. I wrote every single time that I hours with nowhere to go. cut myself,” Rose said. “After school today I’m going to go Her aunt found the diary and Rose home and I’ll have a home for now, but was hospitalized and sent to therapy. She if my dad’s drinking, or me and my sister eventually moved out and went to live get in a fight, then yes, I’ll be homeless,” with her dad. Rose said. “That’s when I started realizing, OK, According to the National Alliance to I’m just going to concentrate on school End Homelessness, 222,197 families are and friends. I’m not gonna focus on famihomeless on any given night in the US. ly, as bad as that sounds, I just didn’t think About 40 percent of the homeless popu- that was the best thing for me. That’s lation is under the age of 18. when I kinda cleaned up my self harmRose faces difficulties with daily needs: ing phase and I just moved on,” Rose said. she has nowhere to do laundry, and she “My mom didn’t show up to the court has to resort to the frozen aisle because date [to settle custody] even though she healthy food is too expensive. Finding had the chance. My parents just kind of clothes is one of her biggest challenges. let me go so it took me a long time to just “It’s kind of funny because I’ll usually realize ‘OK, you’re by yourself but that come to school and I’m wearing sweats doesn’t mean you’re fully alone.’” and a jacket, and people are [sarcasticalRose now turns to books, walks, music ly] like ‘Oh, you tried today,’” Rose said. and hot showers when she needs a break. “Honestly, it’s not that, it’s that every pair “One challenge [for youth] is the of jeans I own is ripped, and I have no stigma behind homelessness. Feeling like

you’re not as good as your peers because you don’t have the kind of things that others have. I know people get teased because of it,” said Laura Sunseri, Children’s Services Coordinator for InnVision Shelter Network’s Redwood Family House. “People in our community don’t understand homelessness and [that] it can happen to a variety of people for a lot of reasons.” Last year, Rose met with a counselor at the Teen Resource Center for help with schoolwork and to talk things over when her situation at home got rough. Aside from that, however, Rose rarely shares her problems with her teachers or friends. “In some kind of way I feel like the only reason people think I don’t have problems is because I look like a typical white girl,” Rose said. “On the other hand, I’m kind of glad not a lot of people know, just because I don’t want it to define me.” Rose knows that if she really needs help, she can always turn to her grandmother, but she usually fends for herself. “I feel really weird asking [my grandma] for money. She always tells me ‘Hey, you know you can ask for money,’ but I can’t help but think about after she buys me clothes and has to tell the whole family that ‘Oh, I had to buy Rose clothes today because her parents are too poor.’ I hate that feeling,” Rose said. Looking to the future, Rose plans to go to a community college then transfer to a four year university. She is interested in business, or perhaps psychology. “For now, I just want to keep doing what I’m doing. Trust me, it is hard at home, but I have a place to do homework, I have a place to make myself food, I have really good friends, so I want to just keep going with that,” Rose said. “It’s so hard when you have two things that are positive and you have 50,000 things that are negative and you’re just like, ‘Oh gosh, OK, let’s think about those two things even though all these other things are crashing through my mind.’ I just try to use the little things to keep myself up and going.” Rose sees coping with homelessness as an experience that will help her in the future, even if it makes her life in high school fraught with difficulties. “I’m actually really proud of myself. I’m proud that I haven’t turned out to be a high school dropout, [that] I’ve learned to take care of myself at a young age,” Rose said. “I’m really proud that I got to have this kind of experience because I know it will help me in the long run, even though it’s still hard. I know once I’m older and I have my own life I’m going to be good.” The name Rose is a pseudonym granted to the interviewee, a Sequoia High School



Homelessness is a seemingly distant students within our community wh at Sequoia and the effects it has o


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Over 640,000 people are homelessness on any given night in the U.S.

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There are approximately 1.7 million homeless teens in the U.S.

Photo by Lily Hartzell Photo by Lily Hartzell

Homelessness is not a joke, don’t make it one

our house away. My mom developed Parkinson’s disease—a chronic illness that made it impossible to work, and disability payments ran out much quicker than Think about planned. None of this was due to poor a time when judgement. you, a friend, or One of the greatest struggles of being even a stranger homeless was trying to find help, particumade a rude larly since my mom was unable to work. comment about According to the Redwood Gospel Miswelfare or a sion, only one in four people are actually person on the able to find shelter, but even shelters do corner asking for money. You probably not keep roofs over peoples’ heads forevdidn’t ask them to stop, and you might’ve er: you’re given a limited amount of time, even laughed along with them. One thing then you’re back on the street to make you didn’t do is think about whether or room for the next family who needs it. not the people around you were offended As if the situation wasn’t painful by that comment. While I’ve never been enough, I had to go to school and enthat person standing on the corner, I have dure being called more names that I ever faced homelessness, and quite frankly, thought were possible by people that I your jokes offend me. thought were my friends. I’m not the I’ll admit, I was once involved with only one who faces this problem. Rose, a a group who didn’t care about those in student who also faces homelessness, deneed. My friends made jokes about food scribed how she had been accused of using stamps and welfare, and I couldn’t care a friend just because the friend paid for neless until one cessities Rose day in Aug. “This generation is just so different. People don’t couldn’t af2012, when realize they can be walking right next to someone ford. my mom and who is not going back to a house that is their own.” Not only —Sally, I were evicthave I been acRose’s best friend ed from our cused of using apartment my friends, but of 13 years and transitioned to a variety I’ve been called names such as poor, lessof hotels, shelters and houses of friends fortunate, and shelter rat. Just because I’m and family. I moved so many times, I lost homeless doesn’t mean I expect people count. I entered a world where welfare to help me out. If I was desperate for my and financial aid was all there was to de- friends’ help, I wouldn’t have kept my life pend on. Suddenly, the jokes stopped be- a secret for so long. ing funny. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for What especially gets to me is when you to feel bad for people facing poverty. people say that all homeless people are The last thing we want is your pity. Howalcoholics or druggies and that they put ever, my strength and ability to handle my themselves in that situation because it is own struggles does not give you an excuse far from the truth. to make disrespectful comments about My mom had two jobs and worked something just because you think you night and day as a single mother raising know what you’re talking about. Odds me, and she still managed to keep food are, you will never understand the impact on the table and spend quality time with of your words until you’re the topic of me. It wasn’t substance abuse that took conversation. By SABRINA VILLANUEVA AVALOS Staff Reporter

Parent Center aids wider Sequoia community By CLAIRE HARKOLA Staff Reporter Sure, you’ve probably seen the sign that hangs above the entrance, or maybe you’ve seen the piles of food or supplies on the table when the door was open, but not many people really know what the Parent Center has to offer. It provides families and students with basic necessities such as clothes and food and instructional classes that give parents the tools to help their student thrive in high school. “I really encourage the students and staff to take advantage of the resources we offer to the families and the kids and feel free to stop and ask for help,” Parent Center Coordinator Mayela Ramirez said.

Ramirez has been with the Parent Center since its opening in 2000, and has been an essential part of its operation ever since. She has inspired the growth of the program, as now both Menlo-Atherton and Woodside have Parent Centers on their campuses. “I love my position, I love my work. This is one of my dreams. And I work so hard to keep going and open more opportunities for the parents and the kids,” Ramirez said. Ramirez has been recognized by Redwood City and the San Francisco Mexican Consulate for her service to the community and has received a Purple Patriot Award from the Sequoia Alumni Association for her service to the greater Sequoia community.

In the past, the Parent Center has supplied food, clothes and jackets to families and students in need of aid. They are able to support most of these families through their Adopt-a-Family program during the winter months. The Adopt-a-Family program finds families in need to receive donations of clothes, food, and gifts for the holidays. Since 2001, The Adopt-a-Family program has been able to help upwards of 20 families per cycle. One event the Parent Center puts on once a year is a Christmas feast during the holiday season. All the families supported by the Adopt-a-Family program are fed a magnificent feast of classic Christmas-time foods, and the adults get to socialize while the

children are entertained by a piñata and activities put on by volunteer Leadership students. “Santa Claus [comes] and [the families] provide a lot of gifts […] Santa is always one of the activities [where] students have a great time,” Ramirez said. They’re able to feed and entertain all these families through support from Sequoia’s Leadership program and donations from Safeway and the Second Harvest Food Bank. Among the other things, the Parent Center offers access to legal services once a month, computer classes to assist parents in understanding Infinite Campus, gift cards for youth to buy clothes, classes to help parents finish their high school education and help for families who

recently immigrated to the U.S. to navigate high school. Sequoia students can help the Parent Center’s efforts by contributing to the canned food drive, as a portion of the donations feed the Adopt-a-Family participants. Also, Ramirez is open to any student who would like to lead a donation initiative or create a club in service to the Parent Center. “Unfortunately, [at] Sequoia we have a lot of students with a lot of economic issues, like homelessness. They don’t have anyone in this world who can help,” Ramirez said. With the help of Ramirez, the Parent Center is able to help 6070 families a week, leading the fight against economic inequality in the Sequoia community.



March 5, 2014

Turn off your phone; try out the real world That would be the lost art of verbal face-to-face communication, my friends. I agree that in some reWhat w o u l d spects phones make us more you do social because they connect if you us to each other and the world couldn’t around us, making meeting up use your with friends or family easier phone for than ever before. But to people a week? who use this as an excuse for For many of you this question using their phones at all times, may induce visions of lying in I respond by asking, is it really bed and weeping softly into ‘social’ interaction if the only your pillow or sitting on your time you see your friends’ faces kitchen floor, surrounded by at that party you planned is piles of empty Ben and Jerry’s when you open the Snapchats cartons. And that’s exactly the they send you from across the table? Are you really spendproblem. As teenagers growing up ing valuable time with family in a digital age dominated by when you’re too busy trying glowing screens, our lives have to beat your high score on slowly come to revolve around Flappy Bird to look up from your phone? What’s the point our phones. In the United States, 78 of having your best friend over for dinner if all percent of teens have a So put the phone away. either of you are phone, and 47 Even better, turn it off and going to do is percent own forget about it for an hour text under the table? smar tphones or two. There is a According to time and place a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study of for technology, but events spe8-18 year olds, American teen- cifically planned for spending agers average around seven valuable time with the people and a half hours of media con- you care about are neither the sumption per day via technol- right time nor place for attempting to break the Guinogy. Most of us have owned ness World Record for most phones since middle or even texts sent by a single person in elementary school, and as they 60 minutes. So put the phone away. take over more and more aspects of our lives, we start to Even better, turn it off and forforget what it really means to get about it for an hour or two. Spend the time you norbe social. Did you know that there’s mally would checking your something even cooler than phone meeting a new friend, an app, and it lets you commu- getting to know an old one nicate with friends and fam- again or making real memoily just like they’re there in the ries. I promise it won’t kill you, room with you? It’s so high def that it’s real. What strange and and it might even give you magical invention do I speak some perspective on what really matters. of ? By CARMEN VESCIA Feature Editor

Cartoon by Morayma Quezadas

Staff Editorial

Don’t cower from reality:

Intruder drill needs improvement

We have grown up learning to stop, drop and roll; hide under tables or doorframes; get out of the building as fast as possible. In light of recent school shootings we now have to prepare for another kind of emergency: a campus intruder. While it’s hard to imagine this kind of trauma at Sequoia, we have to face reality: there is no way to be certain that Sequoia won’t join the growing list of schools affected by gun violence. School shootings are still rare, but their frequency has blunted our initial response. They no longer have that jaw-dropping, heart melting impact of Columbine or Virginia Tech. According to a New York Times editorial, more people have been killed in school buildings than in terrorist attacks in the United States since Sept. 11. This is the world we live in—rather than hide from the scary truth, we have to prepare for it. We’re not saying students should feel paranoid every time they go to the bathroom, but they should be prepared to make smart decisions that won’t compromise their safety. Unlike other drills, there are no metrics for an intruder drill, making it difficult to quantify

success. Although it’s a qualitative measure, the general sentiment was that Sequoia’s Feb. 8 drill did not leave students feeling prepared or confident. The drill was the first time many students made barricades out of desks and chairs. However, they had no instructions on how to make the barricades effectively while under pressure. An assembly or even a video to teach students how to build barricades would help us feel more prepared and confident for the next drill. Because the drill took place during third period, students only know how to protect themselves in one of their six or seven classrooms. Many students take classes in computer labs, the ceramics studio or the woodshop, where unconventional desks and furniture require different lockdown procedures. Teachers, aided by administrators, should present each period with their classroom’s most effective protocol. That way, students can feel prepared in any of their classes even if they don’t get to perform a lockdown drill in all of them. There are many situations that students do not know how to react to during a lockdown. We have not been told what to

do if a lockdown occurs during lunch, a time when many students are outside of the building. Similarly, many don’t know what to do if they aren’t in a classroom at the time of a lockdown. Teachers and administrators know the protocol for these scenarios, and they need to communicate that information to students. Having these difficult but important conversations would help students make smart decisions if their life is threatened. The first fire and earthquake drills, like our first intruder drill, were probably imperfect. Over time, the drills evolved into effective procedures. In due course, the same will go for intruder drills; in a few years, every child will know how to make barricades in silence with the lights off just as they know how to stop, drop and roll. Sequoia has already taken a major step in preparing for an intruder. However, we need to follow up with another drill that doesn’t leave students wondering about what could have gone wrong. The administration opened the door to getting Sequoia prepared for an intruder, but it’s time to walk through that door and be ready for a frighteningly possible event.

Sequoia High School

Raven Report 2013-2014

Editor-in-Chief Simon Greenhill Managing Editors Laurel Dearborn Lily Hartzell News Editor Dalia Jude Feature Editors Araceli Efigenio Carmen Vescia Opinion Editor Matvari Maharaj Sports Editor Jarrett Crowell Photo Editor Claire Bugos Online Editor Caroline Lempert Layout Editor Anna Dagum

The Raven Report is supported by a generous grant from the Sequoia High School Education Foundation.

Staff Reporters Xavi Boluña Julio Cortez Emily Ducker Lily Friebel Carlos Garcia Claire Harkola Evan Isenstein-Brand Emma Peyton Cam Rebosio Sabrina Villanueva Avalos Abigail Wang Adviser Kim Vinh


March 5, 2014


Appreciate every school, no matter how prestigious

Success stems from second chances

I see this happen everyday: one friend gets into a safety school, usually a CSU. A school he knew he was going to get into; he was just Every assignment I did, waiting for the letter to come in. Once he got every test I took, every the letter, he didn’t care much about it because class I signed up for, every he knew it was coming. He casually put it to grade I worked for, they’re the side as if it was daily mail and moved on all for that one acceptance. with his life. Another friend has the same school as his For that one envelope in reach school and to this day he still hasn’t gotthe mail. I come from a family ten a letter. He is anxiously waiting every day to that emigrated from Fiji. Both of my parents hear from the college and fears for a rejection. College is a big deal for those who pursue it. have a foreign high school diploma and never attended college. Going to college, let alone I know some people are more intelligent than in America, is a dream, one that’s difficult to others. It’s the way the world works, but as sefulfill when I’ve had to learn the school system niors get their acceptances, we all must underon my own. My parents had very little involve- stand that getting into a college, any college at ment with my path to college. They trusted me all, is a success. A senior accepted to Chico should be equalto know what I’m doing to graduate on time ly celebrated as a senior accepted to Harvard. and get into college. So it’s hard for me to see my classmates set We live in a biased country where the ‘big name’ schools get more attenaside an acceptance from tion, more praise, more everyChico State and ask their “A senior accepted to Chico should be equally celebrated as a thing. parents to fill out certain senior accepted to Harvard. We People tend to forget that forms that they should be live in a biased country where for some, getting into a CSU doing themselves. is a huge accomplishment. It Seniors have to legally fill the ‘big name’ schools get more attention, more praise, more was for me because I now have out the college application the choice of going to college. on their own, but we know everything.” I made it. I may not get into a many get help from college super prestigious school and quite frankly, I’m counselors or their parents. Financial aid is a different story. I have okay with that. At the end of the day, I made friends who had their parents do it for them, it to college. Just like those who were accepted which frustrates me. I had to get my parents’ to the big names, to the UCs and to the CSUs. tax returns from 2012 and spend six hours We all made it. So don’t just put aside the safety answering every question carefully, fearing I school acceptances. Be thankful for it because everyone is waiting for that one acceptance. would do something wrong.

By JULIO CORTEZ Staff Reporter


Ways I don’t want to hear about your acceptance: “Got in! #threeforthree”

“Monsters University Class of 2018!”

A l though failing a class or dropping out of school altog ether may seem like the only option if you started off your first or second year at Sequoia with a low GPA, you are wrong for thinking so. I say that with experience, because I started my first two years at Sequoia with below average grades and plenty of cuts in all my classes, but I am now on track to graduate and earn a degree in four years. There was a point at which I thought that I wouldn’t be able to go to college after high school because I was in danger of not graduating. It took a series of misdemeanors and probation for me to get back up and put my head in the “school game.” I was raised in an environment full of gangs and drugs, which caused me to believe that a life on the streets was my only option, so it was only natural for me to believe that I wouldn’t make it past high school. The teachers all saw me as a troubled student with the potential, (because everyone has the potential) to overcome my problems and succeed in my classes. The problem began with me not caring about school at all, which took a chunk out of my GPA. Additionally, I stopped paying attention in class plenty of times, and the problem with that was that when you try to catch up after so long, it starts

off difficult because you can miss out on so much in so little time. It takes the same amount of effort for either of the two problems, because only you can help yourself to the resources, and to the dedication of staying every day after school to get help on what was going on in class. It was not easy to go from having failed all my classes my sophomore year to being a straight-A student my junior year. It takes hours, days, weeks of dedication to overcome such struggles. Luckily, Sequoia has plenty of resources students can take advantage of to keep and/or catch up with their studies: from the library being open every day until 5:45, afterschool programs that give students the opportunity to earn the credits they require to graduate and go to college if they so desire, to teachers who care about you passing their class that will let you work before or after school. I take advantage of the APEX program every Tuesday and Thursday until 8 p.m. because it gives me the opportunity to make up the credits I need. As students, we are lucky to have teachers and staff who really care about the future education of everyone here. It’s understandable if you have troubles outside of school, because many students have struggles they go through that none of their peers or teachers know about, such as poverty and drugs. It helps if you talk about it, so you know that people will care. If not, use your disadvantages like having troubles outside of school as an inspiration to better yourself in school, which will help you better shape your future.

We need to keep homophobia out of the locker room By EMILY DUCKER Sports Editor In 75 countries around the world, being gay is punishable by law. In the United States, you can’t be jailed for your sexuality, but there are still places where it’s socially unacceptable to be gay. Being an openly gay athlete, especially in a team sport, can lead to awful name-calling, discrimination and even physical violence from teammates and coaches. These are hate crimes, and the fact that they happen even in our nation of “equality” is appalling.

In recent months, many ath- commonplace. It’d chemically letes have come out, including imbalance an NFL locker room British diver Tom Daley, NBA and meeting room [if there was player Jason Collins and most an openly gay athlete].” recently, college football star and Imagine if someone said NFL draft that about prospect any other “In our culture, we are taught from a Michael “minoriyoung age that sporting is a display of Sam. While ty” group masculinity and muscle content, and this is great in sports. there’s no room in that narrow scope for news for If someone the possibility that one teammate could LGBTQ said having be attracted to another.” athletes, a black athhomopholete would bia still often goes unchecked in “chemically imbalance” the locklocker rooms around the world, er room, there would be huge and Sequoia students need to be repercussions. So why isn’t it the aware of it. same in the case of homophobia? An anonymous NFL player We’re taught as kids that personnel assistant told Sports sporting is a display of mascuIllustrated magazine that “to call linity and muscle content, and somebody a [gay slur] is still so there’s no room in that narrow

scope for the possibility that one teammate could be attracted to another. In past years, this culture has started to change as people become more open-minded and tolerant, and there’s no way we can expect such an ingrained aspect of society to change all at once. However, this is no excuse for mean-spirited and degrading comments based on a person’s perceived or actual sexuality. The sports world is a place where a person should be judged based solely on his or her athletic ability, not on his or her sexuality. At Sequoia, people tend to be a little more open-minded and accepting. Our football program has a charac-

ter-building program called Man Up, in which coaches and athletes discuss homophobia and other issues that the athletes face in sports as well as day-to-day life. However, students still say things without thinking that make other students feel unsafe. Using a slur in the locker room, even without mal-intent, has potential for making a fellow athlete feel like who they are isn’t okay. As a school, we need to work hard to make sure that all of our students feel safe and welcome in our school. By removing offensive slurs and phrases from our vocabulary, we can truly become “Unaliyi,” a place of friends.



March 5, 2014

D-I prospect and underdog team exceed expectations

By SIMON GREENHILL Editor-in-Chief Before the game, junior Chris Bene sits in the locker room, purple Beats headphones over his head. His legs stretch out in front of him; his lanky 6-foot-6, 175-pound frame dwarfs his seat. Five minutes later, Bene is on the court, towering over his opponents as he rises up for an emphatic dunk. For an instant, Bene’s pregame calm is replaced by visceral elation: as soon as his feet touch the ground, he dances, sticks his tongue out and celebrates with teammates. A split-second later, the moment is over, and Bene is calm again, readying himself for the team’s next play. “I’m not a type of player that gets pumped up for games,” Bene said. “A lot of my teammates dance before our games. I like to sit in a chair. When you’re relaxed you’re going to play your best.” As one of the Peninsula Athletic League’s (PAL) standout players, Bene was second in MVP voting and achieved First Team All-League honors. He led Sequoia’s varsity boys basketball team through a successful season which included an 8-4 league record and a spot in PAL Playoffs. After a first round win against Monta Vista, Sequoia fell to Palo Alto in the second round. This year is the first time in the pro-

Photo by Simon Greenhill

Junior Chris Bene averages 19.4 points per game, including one to two dunks. He hopes to play basketball on a Division I collegiate squad after graduating next year. gram’s history that the team has won CCS games in back-to-back seasons. This is due in large part to Bene, who was a starter on both teams and this year averaged 19.4 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Though Bene was undoubtedly the team’s star, other players and their own talents—junior Brady Stubblefield’s free throw mettle, seniors and co-captains Jarrett Crowell and Jonathan Padilla’s leadership, Tommy Lopip-

aro’s lockdown defense—held the team together. “[This team] is basically Chris and a bunch of solid players around him, but we all do our jobs, play our roles, don’t get too far ahead of ourselves, and it works,” said senior Albert Smith, who was in his second varsity season. Bene, meanwhile, stays modest. Though he plays for individual goals during club season, he knows that this team is about more than his own ambitions.

“Our team chemistry is really high this season, and I think it translates to the court,” Bene said. “We play for our team instead of for ourselves. I think that’s the main reason we’ve gotten as far as we have.” But Bene’s ability didn’t go unnoticed by his opponents. When he got the ball, he was swarmed—and occasionally brutally fouled—by the other team. Since he was five years old, Bene has been playing basketball. Through elementary and middle

school, Bene was a strong player, but when he hit his growth spurt—shooting from 5-foot-7 to 6-foot-3 in a single year—his game changed. “[When I] was brought up to varsity, that’s when I realized how much I wanted to play,” he said. Now, Bene hopes to land a spot on a Division I collegiate squad after graduating from Sequoia next year. “Right now, there’s a lot of scouts out there that are just learning about Chris, but there’s plenty of room for improvement in his game if he really wants to get to Division I,” Lauese said. While still at Sequoia, though, half of Bene’s job is keeping his team together. “It’s easy for a kid like [Bene], with so much hype around him, with all his flashy dunks and all that, to get a little carried away, but he’s always encouraging the rest of us,” Smith said. “I’ve definitely seen players where it’s too much about themselves, and I don’t see that in Chris. He’s a good influence on the team.” And, Lauese said, Bene never fails to impress—as the top player on a underdog team, his skill was just as astonishing as the team’s season was. “He surprises a lot of people. I hear stuff, ‘who’s that kid? He’s good!’” Lauese said. “He works hard. He’s always going to do what he can do to help us win.”

Let’s be honest: dancing is harder than it looks By LAUREL DEARBORN Managing Editor The parking lot was empty, the fog was still abundant and I was arriving at school to join the zero period advanced dance class for the morning. We started with warm-ups. I did some grapevines, watched people do jumpy thingies and, due to my confusion, turned a second later than everyone else when we did chaînés turns. Advanced Dance teacher Taylor White was moving and grooving at the front of the room, and I was standing there with no idea of what was going on or if my body could ever move in that fashion. White’s morning announcements finally came, and I got to sit on the studio floor where I almost fit in. No longer was I having to pitifully abstain from the splits. After, we moved down to the small gym to dance to J-Lo’s “Follow the Leader,” where the choreography included a plentitude of hip action. The Schmidt twins, the notorious cheerleaders, laughed as I moved my shoulders more than I moved my hips like I was a wannabe in Shakira’s Waka Waka music video. In truth, I made it harder for myself by attempting the highest level of dance offered at Sequoia. I had my time in PEDance where it was noted that I “improved” but still was not invited to join

Photos by Simon Greenhill

Which one is not like the others? Laurel participated in warm-ups and dance routines. the next level. Thank you freshman year for making it clear that I was never going to be a dancer. Back in class, I finally felt up to speed with a variation of the pop and lock, but when we put it to the music, I was lost and reverted back to my inner-Shakira. So, I put my hands above my head and waited for the choreographed hair flip. Awkward when no one else flipped their hair. Okay, I guess it was ponytail time. The dancers’ class grades are based on participation points, so, if they are absent, their grades can plummet. So, even though senior Joy Robinson, who has been dancing basically for forever, was sick, she was

present in class wearing her snowflake pajamas with tea in hand. Robinson told me that she would dance alongside me. In the moment, I appreciated the gesture, but in truth I think it made me stand out even more. #fail. Most of the dance that I was participating in had already been choreographed. When a new move did come along though, there was pretty much only one demonstration of it before we were asked if we had got it down. Everyone else in the room nodded and was still trying to grasp the move from three minutes ago. I silently whispered that no, I haven’t got it, because it

was only explained once and I needed it shown more like 10 times before I can remotely move in the proper way. The music went again and we brought it up to full speed. Yeah, there was no way that this was happening. At least I can laugh at myself. I think the main difference between people who are dancers and people who are not, is that even the most confident people who don’t dance can immediately feel self-conscious when prompted to move their body in a new way. The Advanced Dance class isn’t fazed by stuff like that. They have no hesitation. They are fearless. They are divas.

Issue 6  

Sequoia High School Raven Report Issue 6 2013-2014

Issue 6  

Sequoia High School Raven Report Issue 6 2013-2014