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VOL. 54 NO. 8

MISSION SAN JOSE HIGH SCHOOL

April 18, 2019

41717 PALM AVENUE, FREMONT, CA 94539

More than 3,000 people attend RANA Holi Hungama held at MSJ The By Alisha Chhangani & Riya Chopra Rajasthan AsStaff Writers sociation of North America (RANA) celRANA ebrated its 32nd annual Holi is a non-profit Hungama event on March 30 organization headquartered at the MSJ softball field. With in San Francisco and founded in more than 3,000 attendees, 1986 with the mission to promote and it was named one of the preserve the culture of Rajasthan, a state in Lynbrook largest Holi color fesNorthern India. RANA specifically chose March High School tivals in the Bay 30 not only to celebrate Holi, an annual Hindu Freshman Deeya Jain throws Area. festival that celebrates the arrival of spring, but red powder in also to commemorate Rajasthan Day, or the day the celebration of Holi. state of Rajasthan was formed and merged into the dominion of India. Extensive preparation went into planning this event; according to RANA President Deepak Sisodia, “Planning took over two months with immense help from volunteers. As we have been coordinating this event year after year, we have become more experienced in organizing it, and we understand what people want to enjoy at Holi.” The softball field was completely transformed to offer attendees an authentic Rajasthani Holi experience. Around the field were several photo booth areas where people could pose in front of banners majestic Rajasthani temples printed on them or pretend to ride a camel, an official Rajasthan state animal. Families and friends occupied the entire field, throwing heaps of colored powder, dancing in circles, and singing along to famous Bollywood tracks. Additionally, professional dancers from companies like Dance Identity, Bombay Jam, and Bollywood Dance Connection performed on a stage in the field and a musician played the dhol, a double-headed drum widely used in Indian festivities. Attendees that weren’t dancing and throwing powder enjoyed a meal of traditional Indian food including paratha (Indian flatbread), As pulao (vegetable rice), gatte ki sabji (cura short break from ry), and dhoda (a sweet). There was the dancing, Sisodia gave also unlimited Thandhai, which is a a speech about the importance traditional cold beverage of the of RANA and the event. A few council festival of Holi. Sophomore Isha members, including Fremont Mayor Lily Salwan said, “I thought the Mei and Fremont Vice Mayor Raj Salwan came food was really great and to the event as well. Sisodia applied a red mark Fremont the DJ really knows what Mayor Lily to Mei’s forehead – a Rajasthani tradition that he’s doing. There’s a lot Mei, city counacts as a sign of blessing, greeting or auspiciouscil members, and of energy, and everythe RANA executive ness. Raj Salwan spoke about the importance of body’s spirits are committee address keeping traditions alive in the Fremont communithe crowd. really high.” ty, and Mei presented RANA with a certificate of recognition honoring their diversity. Mei said, “The highlight has been spending time with the community, getting the chance to In relax, and [enjoying] the beautiful the past, RANA heritage being shared.” has held other events such as camping retreats, picnics, and Diwali dinners. They are currently planning events for two Indian festivals later in the year — Diwali and Dussehra. Through their efforts, RANA is uniting the Indian community of Fremont while promoting the cultural heritage of Rajasthan. Mei said, “The cultural significance of this event is to recognize that wherever we come from throughout the world, we have different heritages and holidays. Being able to share that with one another is what makes Fremont so great.”

People dance and listen to the live music of the dhol, a double-headed drum used widely in Indian festivities.

Orange and yellow powder diffuses over the large group of attendees.

PHOTOS BY STAFF WRITERS ALISHA CHHANGANI & RIYA CHOPRA

CHARITY FASHION SHOW GALLERY

MAP OF THE SOUL: PERSONA REVIEW

Want to reminisce about a night of breathtaking outfits and inspiring performances? Check out the photo coverage of the show!

Haven’t had a chance to listen to BTS’s latest release? Read the Smoke Signal’s review of world-renowned K-Pop group’s new album.

FOR MORE COVERAGE,

VISIT www.THESMOKESIGNAL.ORG


2 News

www.thesmokesignal.org

The Smoke Signal

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Drum Majors, Winter Guard, and Winter Percussion finish season on a high note MSJ places top in almost every event and wins three Grand Championship titles at NCBA Winter Championships ing fifth place, fourth place, second place, and Grand Champion, respectively. Competing in the Mace Scholastic division, sophomores Gokul Ramapriyan and Eashwar Sridharan won seventh and 18th place, respectively. Senior Drum Major Edward Chang and his brother, Hopkins Junior High School eighth grader, Jerry Chang, each won Grand Champion in the Mace Open and Middle School divisions, respectively. Edward Chang said, “Nathaniel stood out because he had the highest difficulty [score] for his category ... I’m very proud of him for trying this in his last year of high school and performing so well.” Winter Guard places seventh for their performance “Warriors,” depicting the transformation of villagers into warriors.

By Sreetama Chowdhury & Gokul Ramapriyan Staff Writers Drum Majors, Winter Guard, and Winter Percussion competed at the Northern CA Band Association (NCBA) Winter Championships in Stockton on March 30. Each team performed extremely well, finishing off the winter season on a high note. The NCBA Winter Championships were the culmination of a season of hard work and numerous after-school practices. Members of the winter events competed at three other, smaller winter reviews over the course of February and March. However, Winter Championships featured entries from all over Northern CA and parts of Nevada, which raised the stakes for MSJ.

Still, despite the tough competition, MSJ performed admirably at Winter Championships, placing top in almost every event and even winning three Grand Championships, a title for individuals, who received the highest score in their division, across 92 schools. MSJ was not entirely confident entering Winter Championships; while each team improved massively over time, the season had its ups and downs. Color Guard Captain Senior Sophie Lee said, “It’s really difficult for us ... for guard, for example, there are so many of us, and we only have two instructors ... Some of our competitions have definitely been a lot better than others.” Drum Majors Freshmen Grace Feng, Kaushik Muthukrishnan, Kelly Yan, as well as Senior Nathaniel Chang, all competed in the Mace Novice division. Each competitor won a title, achiev-

depicts once-peaceful villagers’ transformation into warriors after an attack, Winter Guard placed seventh out of fourteen schools in the Intermediate Guard division. Lee said, “We’ve honestly improved so much over the season. We started out with a show that wasn’t even complete, but we just kept adding work and practicing.” Overall, MSJ ended its season with a triumphant final performance. Looking forward, Band Director Monica Kraft said, “We want to expand our skills with music, movement, storytelling, performance, getting physically stronger, and doing what we do [best] – which is being creative.” ▪

“We want to expand our skills with music, movement, storytelling, performance, getting physically stronger, and doing what we do [best] – which is being creative.”

— Band Director Monica Kraft

Winter Percussion, which consists of 17 members, placed third in the Intermediate Percussion division. Their 2019 show, “Left Brain, Right Brain,” explored the difference between the creativity of the right brain and the analytical and methodical thinking of the left brain. Drum Captain Senior Tiffany Tan said, “I think this [year’s performance] ... was weaker compared to last year’s. We had a smaller group ... and we definitely scored lower. We did perform better than our expectations, [though], thanks to the outstanding leadership of Ms. Kraft.” Performing their 2019 show “Warriors,” which

Drum Major Senior Edward Chang wins Grand Champion in the Mace Open division. PHOTOS BY STAFF WRITERS SREETAMA CHOWDHURY & GOKUL RAMAPRIYAN

San Jose high schoolers organize rally against gun violence Inspired by Parkland youth March for Our Lives movement, hundreds of youth come together to speak up against gun violence By Anisa Kundu & Sabrina Wu Staff Writers The March For Our Lives San Jose chapter hosted Rally for Change: Youth Voices for the Future on March 30 at Arena Green East to spread awareness about gun violence. The outdoor event featured several anti-gun organizations and youth speakers, artists, and politicians to discuss this issue. Hundreds of attendees, ranging from adults to teens to children, approached rows of informational booths lining the edges of a central stage. The event brought in activist groups such as the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ+ Youth Center, Moms Demand Action, and QueenHype, representing both youth against gun violence and the Black Lives Matter movement. People of all ages and ethnicities armed with protest signs hopped from organization to organization to learn how gun violence has impacted different communities across the nation and how upstanding and outspoken citizens have impacted how society views the issue. Inspired by the Parkland youth March for Our Lives movement in 2018 after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year, this event aimed to encourage the youth to voice their opinions on gun violence. Rachel Michelson, a member of Moms Demand Action, said, “Do not listen to anyone that tells you that your voice doesn’t

matter, because it absolutely does ... We are here today, and the movement has gotten louder, and we are able to have the very first congressional hearing on gun violence for the first time in eight years as a result of what you youth are doing.” The event employed many interactive performances, from music to speeches, on the political issue. Starting off the event, QueenHype Founder and CEO LaToya Fernandez performed her original songs “Black Lives Matter” and “Fight,” prompting audience members to sing along and hold up their signs. Her lyrics reflected her work with QueenHype, which is a community-based organization that empowers marginalized youth. Fernandez reminded attendees with her song that “this is not a sit-down war.” Many local youths and politicians spoke extensively on the incompetence of current gun legislation. Notably, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo of California’s 18th district spoke on the power of the youth when they take a stand. Eshoo said, “Our caucus looks like you ... each of you are not only marching for your lives, you’re marching to make this actually happen,” pumping her fists in the air as she spoke. Other politicians who spoke at the rally included Santa Clara County Chief Assistant District Attorney Jay Boyarsky, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, and Dr. Dean Winslow, veteran and former President Donald Trump nominated Assistant

STAFF WRITER ANISA KUNDU

Student attendees pose with their signs.

Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. Following Eshoo was Westmont High School junior Madeleine MacWilliamson, who fought back tears as she shared her story about her family friend who had been murdered at gunpoint by her schizophrenic neighbor. The audience fell silent as MacWilliamson explained how a man with a diagnosed mental illness had been able to purchase a gun without issue. She said, “We must take action to close the legal loopholes in purchasing firearms that have taken the lives of the people who we care for.” MacWilliamson was among a number of youth speakers who shared their experiences with gun violence and how it affected them.

One of the biggest goals of the rally was leaving students with the message that their opinions held value in politics, despite the fact that they cannot vote yet. According to the organization’s Media Coordinator and Webmaster Hana Tzou, the event’s Call to Action Alley, a lineup of several activist organizations aiming to recruit students as volunteers, served this purpose. “We hope that students will reach out to the political groups we featured at the rally, stay attentive towards the news and local political issues, contact their local representatives about issues they care about, and use their voices to fight for the change they wish to see in the world,” Tzou said. ▪

corrections

for the March 29, 2019 issue News Page 2: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is misspelled. Opinion Page 5: John Delaney is the Maryland Representative. Feature Page 7: 36-minute naps improve alertness by 54%. Feature Page 9: Staff Writer Monisha Saxena is misspelled. Centerspread Page 12: Girls Who Code was founded in 2012. Special Page 23: Last sentence should say “Both stimulants and depressants are highly depressive.”

NEWS IN

brief

Compiled by Jonathan Liu, Meera Sehgal & Mingjia Wang Staff Writers

energy.ca.gov The renewable 10-year power purchase agreement will reduce utility bills by at least $250,000.

cbsnews.com US Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen steps down from her post amid tensions with the administration.

Fremont fire stations are first in US Homeland Security Secretary resigns with solar microgrid system as border disputes rage on US Secretary of Homeland Security On April 2, Fremont became the Kirstjen Nielsen announced her resignafirst city in the US to complete a solar tion on April 7. Nielsen had toured the microgrid system with battery backUS-Mexico border with President Donup for a fire station, equipping three ald Trump on April 5 and visited the fire stations with 110-kilowatt-hour White House on the day of her resignabattery energy storage systems and tion for a meeting with Trump. Her exit car canopies with 40-kilowatt solar comes two days after he announced he arrays. The project was developed in wants to go in a tougher “direction” on partnership with Gridscape Solutions and the Fremont Chamber of Com- immigration. She will be replaced by US merce, serving as a means for fire sta- Customs and Border Protection Comtions to resist wildfires, utility black- missioner Kevin McAleenan, who will serve as acting head of the department. outs, hurricanes, or other disasters.

apnews.com Self-proclaimed Interim President Juan Guaidó speaks to supporters at a rally.

Venezuelan crisis deepens political divides Members of the Venezuelan National Guard fired tear gas at anti-government protesters during protests in Maracaibo on April 6. Power failures left most of the country without running water or phone service for days. President Nicólas Maduro and Juan Guaidó are currently locked in a battle for political power, deepening divides throughout the country and attracting international attention. Supporters said that the blackout was another failure of the socialist government.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Smoke Signal

toshali's take

The Smoke Signal Mission San Jose High School Est. 1964 Vol. 54, No. 8 | April 18, 2019 www.thesmokesignal.org

How virality is becoming a true virus

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vic ki’s voice

Junior year: where thinking goes to die

By Toshali Goel Opinion Editor

41717 Palm Ave. Fremont, CA 94539 510-657-3600, ext. 37088 MISSION STATEMENT The Smoke Signal’s mission is to represent the voices of the MSJ community and serve the public by providing accurate, meaningful, and engaging information presented through print and digital mediums. SCHOOL POPULATION 2043 students EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Amy Chen, Jonathan Ko NEWS Gloria Chang, Joelle Chuang OPINION Toshali Goel, Vicki Xu FEATURE Kikue Higuchi, Maggie Zhao CENTERSPREAD Karen Li, Kelly Yang A&E Stephanie Dutra, Shray Vaidya SPORTS Hannah Chou, Michael Ren GRAPHICS Evangeline Chang, Lucia Li WEB Rishi Chillara, Shiantel Chiang TECH Tylor Wu, Jennifer Xiang BUSINESS Ian Hsu CIRCULATION Jonathan Liu ADVERTISING Katherine Guo, Shreya Sridhar EVENTS Anisa Kundu, Sahana Sridhar SPECIAL PROJECTS Riya Chopra WRITERS & PHOTOGRAPHERS Anika Arora, Sabrina Cai, Thomas Chen, Josephine Chew, Alisha Chhangani, Sreetama Chowdhury, Christine Dong, Kimberly Huang, Samir Jain, Aria Lakhmani, Seong Jin (Ian) Park, Carolyn Qian, Gokul Ramapriyan, Yusuf Rasheed, Monisha Saxena, Meera Sehgal, Shreya Srinivasan, Mingjia Wang, Gregory Wu, Sabrina Wu, Jessica Xu, Selina Yang

ADVISER Sandra Cohen Send letters to the editor to opinion@ thesmokesignal.org. Letters under 300 words may be considered for publication and must include a full name and school affiliation. The Smoke Signal reserves the right to edit for clarity and length. To advertise in the Smoke Signal, email ads@ thesmokesignal.org. Advertising that is included on the pages of, or carried within, the Smoke Signal, is paid advertising, and as such is independent of the news and feature content. The Smoke Signal’s right to freedom of speech and press is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. All policies on distribution, corrections, and bylines can be found at www.thesmokesignal.org/about.

In this digital age, we are often cautioned to protect our privacy and of the various pitfalls of the Internet, but the growing ability to abuse the Internet to promote violence and hate is grossly overlooked. People are inherently attracted to the outrageous, which leads to bold and often reckless activities going viral — and, in extreme cases, even causing outright violence. Virality on the Internet is generally harmless. As high school students, the websites and posts on social media we gravitate towards are rarely dangerous or damaging. The content that goes viral is usually humorous or cute, from the “Peanut Butter Baby” Vine to the “Student Athlete” dialogue meme. However, the five minutes of Internet fame that are granted to creators of viral content can incite radical ideas, with groups relying on the shock value of extremism to carry their voices. And even worse, virality can be weaponized by members of society looking to take advantage of the platform. In the devastating shootings at the Christchurch mosques on March 15, the perpetrator live-streamed the violent spectacle in what The New York Times declared to be a crime “made to go viral.” The shooter even mentioned famed YouTuber PewDiePie in his live-stream, indicating his familiarity with the internet and meme culture. This rapidly rising viral culture can unintentionally promote negative content just as vehemently as positive, feel-good content — he wanted attention, which is exactly what he received. The Christchurch shootings are not isolated incidents of terrorism amplified by social media. Fatal encounters with policemen, brutal torture, and murders can be shared on social media for all to see — the murder of

By Vicki Xu Opinion Editor Robert Godwin, for example, was broadcast live on Facebook, and the murder of two reporters in Roanoke was posted on Twitter. Just as concerning as the fame-hungry culture viral sensations foster is the lack of ability to police the system. The footage of the shooting slipped past content moderators, who are responsible for making the decision as to whether content falls within a platform’s set of rules or not. The sheer breadth of material on the Internet makes it nearly impossible to monitor all activity, which further ensures that anything — no matter how heinous the act — has the power to go viral. The growing importance and pressure of virality has spread a plague of sorts across the web that is rapidly spiraling out of control, in the truest sense of the word “viral.” The onus lies on both Internet users and social media platforms to deweaponize virality and bring it back to its roots of relatability and humor. Viewers need to consume more ethically and be mindful of their role in perpetuating crime through the Internet, and companies need to prioritize content moderation. A report by The Verge detailed the dismal treatment of content moderators at Facebook, where employees are subject to micromanaged bathroom breaks and trauma from viewing disturbing content. These companies need to invest more time, energy, and money into apt content moderation, which may be the only way to prevent the “whatever it takes to make it” attitude of viral Internet that has proven several times over to be much darker than we as readers can believe. ▪

The Opinion of the Smoke Signal Editorial Board

The Smoke Signal SMASHES clickbait! The world runs on sensationalism. From the questionable headlines of fake news to the instant gratification of social media, modern-day culture seems to value the glittering allure of appearance over accuracy and content. Take the viral video of a Catholic schoolboy’s silent standoff with an elderly Native American man in Kentucky. When the story broke, many interpreted the boy as smugly smirking; outrage followed as thousands of social media users and media outlets rushed to defend the Native American man, Nathan Phillips. However, the sympathetic narrative was quickly proven to be wildly misleading — a longer video later revealed that the conflict was originally incited by a group known as the Black Hebrew Israelites. They had hurled insults at the boy — Nick Sandmann — and his group of student protestors, both for their faith in Catholicism and evident support of President Donald Trump. As more details emerged, Phillips himself clarified to The New York Times that he had approached the boys himself to intervene between the Black Hebrew Israelites and the Catholic schoolboys. And yet when the story first broke, even reputable sources such as The New York Times and The Washington Post used sensationalized, clickbait-like headlines such as “Boys in ‘Make America Great Again’ Hats Mob Native Elder at Indigenous Peoples March.” In today’s digital age, people search for easily digestible information. We assume we’ve read the whole story just from the headlines and do not bother to delve deeper before championing a viewpoint, however polarized, or joining in on outrage. A 2016 study by Columbia University and French National Institute computer scientists revealed that 59% of links shared on social media were never clicked on — the majority of

Opinion 3

people who repost these stories have not even read them. Thus, the emphasis lies more on appearing informed and on trend (be it on the Mueller report, #MeToo, minority oppression, or the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community), and less on actually being informed. Political meme accounts play their part in this — digestible, memorable photos that align with a social media-goer’s political views are so easily shared, even if the content’s veracity is questionable. So, surface impressions matter more than content. Social media is geared toward shorter attention spans, leaving little room for rumination. On Twitter, where each idea is limited to 280 characters, even threaded tweets must have eye-catching openings to pique interest. For Facebook, a typical user’s newsfeed is already saturated with links: a title must pop out to draw attention. As a result, we get op-eds and pundits prematurely denouncing Sandmann. We get armchair pundits declaring what the Mueller report must lead to without having read a word of it. Clearly, clickbait and sensationalism have far-reaching negative impacts. We must step back to evaluate the information we consume and spread: are we actually contributing to a dialogue, or just noisily scattering information? What we say, post, or do should be based on our answer to that question. ▪

I firmly believe in the capacity of sounds to bend time. My least favorite sound is the iPhone “radar” alarm. Every time I hear it — someone’s timer going off, a jingle, a recording from a movie or video — I’m transported back to waking up in junior year, caught in the suspension between wakefulness and slumber, groggy and disoriented with a headache from chronic sleep deprivation. In junior year, going to bed late at night was quite a common occurrence. But even on days I finished my work early, I felt a slow, mounting, awful push to work, work, work, building off an understanding that if I don’t miss out on sleep I’m doing something wrong, that if I go to bed before one I’m not trying as hard as I should. The pressure wasn’t just self-induced: when I went to bed at 11 for a couple days in a row, my mom noted, “You have so much free time to sleep! Are you sure you’re trying hard enough in school?” Unfortunately, lack of sleep and work overload meant I had to be productive at all hours of the day. So I got rid of “unproductive habits”: time I spent laying in bed and studying the ceiling, time I spent taking walks around the neighborhood, time I spent painting for fun. I wasn’t in Economics but I had already solidly boxed my life into choices and opportunity costs. Absorbing material deeply? There was hardly time for that. Get a surface understanding, get the procedures, go. The other tasks won’t complete themselves. I began viewing class in terms of checking assignments off as quickly as possible instead of taking the time to learn from each one. Ironically however,

through a fatal combination of sleep-deprived mental muddiness and workaholism, I got way less value out of my studies, the very thing I sacrificed a balanced junior-year lifestyle for. And topics I used to find exciting — art, music, Olga Grushin’s books — no longer fascinated me. I was only concerned with getting to the next thing, and then the thing after that. And so junior year passed. I didn’t realize how much of an impact this had on me until I sat down to write my college essays and realized I hadn’t thought seriously deeply about myself, or anything in particular, for months. My brain worked pretty well on the surface level, but not much beyond that. Our community’s drive for success sacrifices curiosity and critical thinking. After all, both take time. When you’re packed to the brim, you don’t really have that much time to spare — especially if you get credit for just completing assignments instead of thinking deeply about them. Sectioning off all 24 hours on Google Calendar for schoolwork, extracurriculars, and sleep may be a good time management tactic, but we often forget to include time to just reflect on ourselves and what we learned. Critical thinking is the first casualty of an academics-focused life. This year my sleeping schedule has stabilized a bit. I’m not taking as many weighted classes — putting the time-tested advice “Students should not take more than three AP or weighted classes per semester” to good use (thanks, Mr. Bellotti!). I remember to leave breathing room. I have a lot more time to myself, and I’m slowly working on being curious again. I guess this is rehab. ▪

By Christine Dong & Kimberly Huang Staff Writers

staff writer christine dong

staff writer kimberly huang


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Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Smoke Signal

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Feature 5

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: JONAS KOH By Katherine Guo, Ian Hsu & Mingjia Wang Staff Writers

Senior Jonas Koh, an accomplished percussionist, was recently admitted to several music conservatories across the US for college. He plans on studying at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, one of the top music conservatories in the world. The Smoke Signal interviewed him to gain insight into how he first entered the world of percussion and his musical journey since.

Background: Koh began playing percussion when he moved to the US from Korea in third grade. He chose percussion because of its gentle learning curve. Koh said, “If you hear a beginner play violin, it’s going to sound terrible ... for percussion, it’s so intuitive at the beginning and I was so young, so I was like ‘Hey, this is fun, and this is easy, so I’m going to keep doing it.’ ” He primarily performed with his friends in a local percussion ensemble and in the Hopkins Junior High School band, playing for fun, but after he was accepted to the world-renowned San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO) his sophomore year, the possibility of a career in percussion became very real. Koh decided to pursue music professionally midway through his junior year, and became fully committed after he pulled off a chain of firstplace competition finishes that very summer. Inspired by his mother, who holds a master’s degree in cello performance, and his teacher, Jacob Nissly, the principal percussionist of the San Francisco Symphony, Koh applied to a slew of prestigious music schools, receiving acceptances to nearly all of them. Recalling his most memorable percussion experiences, Koh said, “We played a piece that called for ... putting tin foil on a bass drum to make a sizzling effect while having a rumbling noise ... New composers love trying out new sounds with percussion, because you can’t do it with any other instrument. So percussion is probably the most ancient instrument, but it’s also the most modern ... Your role is so diverse, it’s so different, and you have to be prepared for anything.”

Lessons Learned:

Accomplishments:

Koh has participated in a variety of competitions over the past five years, taking first place overall in five of them. Some of his most memorable competitions are the Great Plains International Marimba Competition 2018 and the SFSYO 2018 Concerto Competition, both of which he finished first in. Taking the top prize in the concerto competition gave him the opportunity to perform as a soloist with SFSYO in their annual concerto showcase series. Performing with any youth orchestra is considered a large accomplishment, and SFSYO’s annual concerto competition is considered one of the most prestigious in the Bay Area. Koh’s passion for competitions grew over time as he looked for ways to enrich his experiences as a percussionist. Koh said, “I’ll never really get the exhilaration I get from competitions by just performing ... Competitions are really where I can just pit myself against other people my age and ... really engage myself, not [just] in my local community, but in the global community.”

From his illustrious career as a percussionist, Koh has learned that every moment spent performing is a moment to be cherished. In particular, Koh has developed a love for competing, viewing each competition as an opportunity to push himself harder. But most importantly, Koh says that deciding on a career in music has helped him learn how to think independently. At first, Koh struggled to juggle both school and his passion for music, but he eventually decided to prioritize music over academics, taking less intensive classes in order to maintain his high level of musical performance. Koh says that his parents were at first apprehensive about a career in music, but warmed to the idea after seeing him work hard to improve his musical skills. Koh is confident in his decision to enter a career in music and believes that the continued support from his family and friends will help him grow as an individual. Koh said, “Maybe five years ago ... I wasn’t good enough to become a musician. So, by improving myself in my musical skills I was able to make a statement to my parents that this is what I’m good at, that this is what I want to do, and I want their support in my decision.”

Moving Forward:

At the Eastman School of Music, Koh hopes to round out his musical skills to better encompass all percussion instruments. Though he is currently best on marimba, he recognizes the need to master a variety of instruments and plans to improve on his weaknesses throughout his time in college. After college, Koh hopes to perform with a large symphony, and he says that playing for the San Francisco Symphony is among his top goals. However, Koh remains open to other jobs in the music industry. Koh said, “I don’t know where my journey is going to take me ... [but] if anything changes, I’m sure I’ll be able to choose something [in the music field] that I’m passionate about.

photos courtesy jonas koh, graphics by musescore.com


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Thursday, April 18, 2019


Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Smoke Signal

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Arts & Entertainment 7

C R I T I C S’ C O R N E R Under the radar

MusiC: symon, billie eilish | Film: dumbo, five feet apart

Music review

five feet apart pulls audience closer

Symon

Billie eilish

By Aria Lakhmani Staff Writer Symon says, “Check out my music!” As a burgeoning pop star, this 26-yearold Los Angeles native uses music as a medium to express ideas of self-love and confidence. With assertive and inspirational lyrics, catchy house beats, and a sultry voice, Symon has established herself as a creator of empowerment anthems. Symon made her musical debut as the lead singer of the band The New Officials. After exploding on the pop scene, the band got the opportunity to open tours for renowned artists like Demi Lovato and Becky G. These experiences led Symon to pursue a solo music career, and in 2016, she put out her debut single, “Say,” which racked up more than 3 million streams on Spotify. Citing a range of pop revolutionaries from Lady Gaga to Rihanna as influences, Symon strives to create music that resonates with people and conveys her message to be bold. Confidence is a recurring motif in her lyrics, which push listeners to reclaim their bodies and their courage. In an interview, Symon said, “I want people to feel like they can relate, and I want to help people. I want to move people in a bigger way.” In 2017, she released three singles, whichall showcased her unique musical style. Silvery vocals and EDM bass drops blend together smoothly in her music, making for songs that feel perfect to blast when driving around with the windows down on a late summer night. Symon also incorporates her unique personality in her music, using her experiences and passions to fuel her art. Though Symon has not yet announced any plans for the future yet, her music and her drive to be a voice for those who have been silenced is promising and indicates that she’s here to make waves. ▪

By Sahana Sridhar Staff Writer While 17-year-old Billie Eilish hads already made a name for herself with her trademark dark lyrics and soft vocals, her new album, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? presents her in a newly unfiltered and vulnerable light. Eilish plays with the difficult balance between emphasizing her hauntingly beautiful vocals with minimal instrumentals and sounding like an enhanced audiobook. Nevertheless, the sentiment in her debut album tells a moving story of a girl who was forced to grow up all too quickly. She sings of themes like the inevitability of death and the loneliness she can’t seem to escape, highlighting the degree of her maturity in the process. Eilish rose to stardom in under a year after the release of the track “ocean eyes” in 2016, appearing on billboards and booking interviews almost overnight. Contrary to the glamorous façade that glorifies nearly all aspects of stardom, Eilish’s chilling lyrics, inarguably the most powerful component of the album, discuss the dark side of fame. In a featured track for example, she sings of drug abuse in the industry, a strong sense of pain laced in her voice. Unfortunately, the depth of the album’s sentiment is far too often overlooked by her vocals. Her strikingly smooth and sultry voice initially leaves more of an impact than the lyrics through which she conveys her pain and loneliness. In doing so, it seems to prove Eilish’s commentary on the reality of fame — it is both easily concealed and easily ignored. While this album is generally consistent in tone and style, one particular track, “8”, is oddly reminiscent of Eilish’s previous EP, dont smile at me. Although the reference to her roots as an artist was likely meant to comment on her growth, the jarring shift in tone interrupts the flow of the album, harming its overall sound rather than promoting it. “8” begins with ukulele chords and a muted EDM beat while her voice, childlike and whimsical, chimes in. The rest of the album continues to conform with the low melodies, dark sentiments, and harrowing tone, as if “8” was but a momentary lapse in placement. Perhaps the most notable aspect of WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? is the lack of variety in instrumentals. The album relies heavily on bass and padded drum beats, besides which the album is simply Eilish’s low voice. Occasional moments of silence, interrupted by scratching noises and static, are not unusual in the soundtrack. Without instrumentals, Eilish’s voice sounds bare and empty, as if something went wrong in production. While the effort to emphasize the depth of emotion in her voice is notable, ultimately the lack of instrumentals serves less to bring out the beauty in Eilish’s voice than to reveal the flaws in her performance. Despite its shortcomings, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? serves as an effective medium between Eilish and her audience through which she communicates a heart-wrenchingly beautiful tale of loneliness, exhaustion, and pain. At only 17 years old, she proves to her audience once again that she is wise beyond her years, and if nothing else, deserves recognition for transforming the depths of her emotions into art. ▪

G a m e By t e s lifeafter By Samir Jain Staff Writer

polygon.com

By Shreya Sridhar Staff Writer Fans of teen romance dramas swarmed into theaters to catch a first glimpse of the latest young adult book-to-film adaptation: Five Feet Apart, inspired by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry, and Tobias Iaconis’ novel of the same name and directed by actor and activist Justin Baldoni. By the end of the 116-minute runtime, not a single eye in the theater was dry. The phenomenal acting and emotional storyline save the movie’s otherwise lackluster plot. The movie centers around two teenagers in love, Stella Grant (Haley Lu Richardson) and Will Newman (Cole Sprouse), who have cystic fibrosis (CF), a hereditary disease which significantly decreases a patient’s lifespan. In general, CF patients are not allowed to be within six feet of each other due to the risk of cross-contamination. The plot surrounds how the star-crossed lovers cope with not being able to touch each other as they reevaluate what love means. Stella decides to “steal one foot back” so she can be closer to Will, thereby giving the movie its title. Although Five Feet Apart seems like just another cheesy romantic

drama, it distinguishes itself from other films with its realistic circumstances. The entire movie is set in a hospital and authentically illustrates the lives of CF patients. Baldoni doesn’t shy away from showing the gruesome and less glamorous parts of the disease. While filming, the cast spent many days with Claire Wineland, a 21-year-old activist who was born with cystic fibrosis. Baldoni hired Wineland as an on-set consultant to ensure that the CF community was being accurately represented in media. The dedication of the cast to capture the reality of the disease shines through in meticulous details such as the use of AffloVests, vibrating vests used to clear airways, or methods of communication between CF patients as they rely heavily on video chat. Richardson steals the show with her charisma and quirkiness. She brings the perfect amount of humor to her character while also showing her vulnerability in emotional scenes. In one heartwrenching scene when a character dies, Richardson performs passionately as she expresses her anger at the world. Throughout the film, Richardson evokes empathy from viewers, occasionally bringing the audience to tears. Although the story focuses

more on Stella’s point of view, Sprouse also puts up an incredible performance. He perfectly embodies his role as Will and shows his wit and charm through concise, sarcastic remarks. Both Sprouse and Richardson showcase their seasoned acting skills by displaying affection without physical touch. In one scene, the couple shows each other their scars from past surgeries; through this gesture of vulnerability as well as the longing looks in their eyes, they make the scene just as intimate as one with physical affection. Between Will’s bold behavior and Stella’s reluctance to break rules, the duo provides plenty of dynamic conversations, showing genuine chemistry between the two. Although each scene is well thought out, the overall story arc falls short of the acting. The latter half of the movie especially falls prey to boring clichés and predictable behavior. Overall, Five Feet Apart doesn’t disappoint and is the perfect movie for those who like romantic dramas. While the inevitable clichés weaken the plot, the emotive acting and realistic setting more than make up for it. ▪ Rating: B+

dumbo flaps its ears, but fails to fly

overall:4/5

LifeAfter, NetEase’s latest mobile game, is a classic setup of zombies and survivors in a ruined rural world where players try to build a homestead for their party and hunt for food. The game is extremely visually appealing and has rather interactive gameplay, but the lack of realism and plot development detracts from the overall experience. storyline: 2/5

While the plot has enough substance for a thorough campaign, it has a rather cliché premise of a post-apocalyptic universe infested with zombies. While NetEase has made a tremendous effort to provide varying dialogue options, the actual text itself is poorly written, and unrealistic. gameplay: 5/5

The primary draw of LifeAfter’s gameplay is its emphasis on player customization and synthesis. The controls are also rather smooth, with a joystick and shoot, crouch, and swap weapon buttons. There are even context-sensitive buttons that only appear when you need them, like opening doors. MUSIC: 5/5

The sound and music of the game are cleverly synchronized with the plot and gameplay, transforming LifeAfter from a mere mobile game to pass the time into a complex and multifaceted game that feels worthy of a console. In cases of extreme melee sequences, the music is dynamic and fast-paced, but slow and evocative in adventure cutscenes with little action. ambience:4/5

LifeAfter’s ambience is visually appealing, but lacks the realistic elements present in other similar games. The responses to player actions need updating, as low impact animations ruin potentially satisfying melee animations, such as the player falling off a waterfall and ending up standing beside a river. ▪

imdb.com

By Tylor Wu Staff Writer Dumbo is the latest in a series of live-action reboots of Disney classics. With a star-studded cast featuring the likes of Colin Farrell and Danny DeVito, Dumbo promised to be a reimagining of old Disney magic. However, with nearly none of the character and songs of the 1941 version and almost twice the runtime, Tim Burton’s modern rendition fails to live up to its predecessor in every way. Timothy Mouse, Dumbo’s friend and later manager, was cut from the film in favor of two siblings, Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe Farrier (Finley Hobbins), who are a poor substitute for the anthropomorphic mouse. All of the other animals are removed entirely from the movie, and the other elephants are reduced from being major characters to being background elements. Worse still, the host of human circus performers that replaces them lacks any background or depth. In fact, besides the title, Disney’s live action Dumbo shares

nothing with its namesake besides a flying elephant. Dumbo wants to be focused on the relationship between Dumbo and his mother and its parallel in Holt and his children, but both bonds feel scattered and underdeveloped.. Holt is shown to be uncommunicative and misunderstanding of his children at the beginning of the film, but no real development is shown — he just abruptly changes to be more responsive halfway through the film. Toward the end of the movie, things get much more bizarre as it tries to pivot toward the idea of “you had it in you the whole time.” The later parts tack on the one-dimensional villain of V. A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), whose confounding presence felt like an unnecessary afterthought. By the end of the film, it is difficult to say what Dumbo wanted to say since it stretched itself so thin. Things seem to just happen with no buildup in the film, with each event more contrived than the last. From Dumbo’s circus performances to a bizarre heist

scene at the end, Dumbo feels like blocks of filler designed to get from one flight scene to the next. The cinematography during the flight scenes is stunning, complemented by an inspiring soundtrack, but these elements alone are not enough to carry the film. Dumbo himself is beautifully animated but still lies in an uncanny valley of realism, a problem that plagues many of the live-action Disney remakes. As a whole, Dumbo feels like an unnecessary adaptation. With an extended runtime somehow filled with less substance, the movie feels hollow and uninspired. Although many believe the new Disney live-action recreations are necessary, Dumbo kills the old story in favor of one that is drawn-out and confused — the others at least attempt to capture the original stories of their predecessors. Burton may have brought Dumbo to a three-dimensional world, but he has downgraded the characters to a one-dimensional one. ▪

Rating: B

Rating: D itunes.com


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Leap to the Future

Holographic Augmented Reality

What would you like to do next in the future? Interested in creating a Holographic AR portfolio that shows up your creativity to stand out in your college admission? Holographic AR is a new kind of media and provides students great opportunity to pioneer in AI, 3D movies, 3D game design, digital art/Comic, and interactive news reporting, etc. Join the #1 AR camp to turn your ideas into creative designs. Kickstart your dream career now!

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Invest In Your Future Program, Design, and Innovate with Future Tech What You Will Learn:

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-Holographic AR Programming -Creative Thinking -Design Thinking -UI/UX -Interactive Storytelling -Design Art -Computer Animation

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-Logic -Public Speaking -Visual Communication -Game Design -Movie Creation -News Reporting -Broadcasting Engineering -Innovation Artificial Intelligence (AI) -Empathy -STEAM

ABC Quote: “ Holographic AR is a new kind of media that provides students great opportunity to be a pioneer in AI, Movie, Game design, digital art, and news reporting, etc. ” CBS Quote: “ Learning the Holographic AR technology enables high school students to innovate and pioneer in their interested fields, which are key for their future

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“I liked the way the software was introduced to us, starting with simple projects and gradually becoming more complicated. I felt like I really understood after only a few days of experience. I would definitely be interested in creating more projects such as games in the future. I think the ability to make interactive games has a lot of potential, and I am interested in experimenting further.”

Student Used Holographic AR to Create Video Resume to Stand Out in Her College Application Lee struggled academically in her early years of high school and was even held back a grade but striving to gain academic success. Given the opportunity, she created a Holographic AR video resume to tell admission officers how she had failed, struggled, fought, and risen. A high-quality video resume would have cost her $50,000 or more, but with Holographic AR it cost next to nothing in time and money. She was admitted to the Univ. of California, Berkeley. It was her fighting spirit, hard work and dedication as well as her later academic achievements that won the hearts of the admission officers. And Holographic AR made it possible for her to engage with admission officers emotionally and helped them empathize with what she had gone through in her life.

-Alex

Register Now: camp.integem.com Space is Limited Only 8 Students Per Class

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Seniors to m e et

By Josephine Chew, Alisha Chhangani, Jonathan Liu, Gokul Ramapriyan,Yusuf Rasheed & Shreya Sridhar

Staff Writers

COMMUNITY SERVICE

STEM

literary arts

visual  peforming arts

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LEADERSHIP

club involve ment

athletics

all around

hobbies

Each year, the Smoke Signal spotlights exceptional seniors based on peer and teacher nominations. To gather student feedback, we posted a Google form in the senior class Facebook group so seniors could nominate the students they believe deserve recognition in various areas of expertise. After we compiled a list of student nominations, we sent the list to teachers to collect their input. Each teacher vote counted as three points, and each student vote counted as one point. The 19 seniors with the most points are featured below.

kanav kalucha

Throughout his high school career, Kanav Kalucha has been heavily involved in STEM and community work. As the Co-President of Math and Science Education (MASE), an organization in collaboration with the Fremont Library, he hosts educational camps for elementary school students to nurture an early interest in STEM-related subjects. Kalucha believes that exposing young students to various subjects will help them pave their own path in high school and beyond. Kalucha also serves as a chapter officer for MSJ Technology Student Association (TSA). TSA allows him to develop his leadership skills while pursuing his own interest in STEM through interdisciplinary competitive events such as Biotechnology Design and Music Production. When Kalucha isn’t exploring STEM or teaching younger students, he loves to fence as a hobby to clear his head and enter a “zen mode.� In college, Kalucha hopes to dive into the field of computational linguistics while continuing to serve as a leader for young kids in his community.

FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: In-N-Out MOVIE:  SUPERPOWER: Having more time

SPIRIT ANIMAL: Cat PLANT: Mango tree

Whether she’s singing acapella, promoting her bullet journaling Instagram account, or pursuing her academic studies, Amy Chen accomplishes whatever she sets out to do. She joined the as a sophomore who loved writing opinion pieces, became Opinion Editor the following year, and is now Editor-in-Chief. Her dedication to the performing arts shines through her love for music, and she now sings in the nationally recognized Crystal Children’s Choir and directs MSJ Syncopasians. Bullet journaling, a form of self-care for her, provides an opportunity to sit back, be creative, and find her artistic side. Chen has also honed her leadership skills as President of MSJ Mock Trial, an organization which she has worked hard to grow. Her biggest dream is to become an architect and design an entire apartment complex while cultivating an alpaca farm.

amy chen

MOVIE:     SPIRIT ANIMAL: Eagle

FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: Chipotle SUPERPOWER: Flying PLANT: Aloe

Whether it’s jumping in track and field or dunking in basketball, Sidarth Raman’s love for athletics forms the basis of his career. Raman has been playing basketball for nine years, participating in the MSJ Varsity Basketball team since junior year. This past year, he was the captain and made All-League, a recognition given to the ten best players in MVAL. In track, Raman competes in the triple jump, long jump, and high jump events and recently qualified to the Arcadia Track and Field Invitational. In addition to sports, Raman pursues different fields of entrepreneurship in DECA as a member since freshman year. He is especially proud of winning three separate events at the DECA state level. Raman attributes much of his success to his peers, who push him to strive for the best while maintaining a balanced and diverse lifestyle. Ultimately, Code Day Bay Area, a programming competition introduced to him by his friends, fueled his interest for computer science. As Raman enters college, he hopes to maintain his well-balanced lifestyle with track and computer science while exploring business.

sidarth raman

MOVIE:  FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: Taco Bell SUPERPOWER: Ability to Fly

SPIRIT ANIMAL: Bear PLANT: Redwood tree

Since her freshman year in high school, Stephanie Dutra has been an active community member, dedicating herself to social service, writing, and STEM. One of Stephanie’s deepest commitments is Key Club, which she fell in love with after attending Fall Rally North as a freshman. Motivated by its inclusiveness, she ascended the club’s officer ranks and currently serves as president. Struggling with anxiety early on in high school, Dutra decided to speak at the Mental Health Panel during her junior year, where she expressed her vulnerable side to advocate self-acceptance and positivity. Dutra has also been the s Arts & Entertainment editor for two years, which reinforced her growth as a leader and public speaker. During her junior summer, she interned at the   , working in a collegiate newspaper environment to write stories and meet a diversity of students and professors. Outside of the humanities, Dutra is very passionate about STEM, particularly math and physics. She plans to major in aerospace MOVIE:   engineering, with a minor in either math or journalism.

stephanie dutra

SPIRIT ANIMAL: Samoyed dog

FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: Chipotle PLANT: Cactus SUPERPOWER: Teleportation photos by staff wriiters josephine chew, alisha chhangani & yusuf rasheed


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laura savio

In the face of adversity, Laura Savio has blossomed into a leader, using her voice to advocate for marginalized communities. While dealing with family issues in eighth grade, Savio saw first-hand the importance of mental health and healthy relationships. She channeled these personal experiences into her work with organizations such as the Mental Health Committee, which provided her with a platform through which she empowered others and spearheaded influential events like MSJ’s first LGBTQ+ Workshop. Savio also helped host Fremont’s first youth empowerment summit, Symbiosis, as part of Team Stronger Than You Think, a youth empowerment group from the domestic violence prevention agency Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments (SAVE). During the summer of 2018, she traveled to Ecuador in the Global Glimpse program to aid underserved communities. For her countless contributions to her community, Savio was honored in the third annual Community Hero Award Ceremony of the 25th State Assembly District and was inducted into the 26th annual Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame.

MOVIE:  FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: In-N-Out Burger SPIRIT ANIMAL: Munchkin Cat SUPERPOWER: Speaking any language PLANT: v

Throughout high school, Kikue Higuchi has always been at the forefront of athletics, literary arts, and community service. Higuchi has dedicated four years on the Varsity Water Polo team and led the team as the Varsity Water Polo Captain for her junior and senior years. She was recognized for her commitment and skill by receiving coaches awards both those years. Water Polo has shaped who she is today as she said, “It has helped me be more confident in myself as a leader and has taught me necessary skills like delegating and communicating with others.â€? Since junior year, Higuchi has been a part of the  and is currently a Feature Editor for the paper. She says that the has allowed her to pursue her passion for writing and journalism even further. It also directly relates to the path Higuchi plans on pursuing in the future as she has decided to attend the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. As a part of community service, Higuchi participated in a major project in Ecuador for two weeks where she built medical complexes for those in need and interacted with locals about the problems they were facing. Higuchi said if there is one thing she could change about the world, she would make sure that people who looked in the mirror always saw themselves as someone beautiful. MOVIE:  FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: In-N-Out Burger SPIRIT ANIMAL: Moorish Idol

kikue higuchi

SUPERPOWER: Telekinesis

andrew chen

MOVIE:   SPIRIT ANIMAL: Cat

PLANT: Coastal Wood Fern

Andrew Chen’s love for problem solving has pushed him to dive into the fields of math and science. At MSJ, Andrew is the Co-Vice President for Academic Challenge, Co-President for Math Club, and the Captain for Science Bowl. These three organizations give him the opportunity to lead his fellow students in STEM subjects while pursuing his own interests. Chen gives back to his roots by coaching Science Bowl for elementary and middle school students, and he hopes to spark a passion in them which they can pursue in high school. Outside of STEM, Chen has been part of Water Polo and Swimming since sophomore year. For Water Polo specifically, he loves working together with a team to win a match. In college, Chen will participate in intramural sports to stay fit and may compete in club sports if he has free time. As he leaves high school, Chen is excited to gain new experiences in college and potentially explore the East Coast for a completely different lifestyle.

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Throughout high school, Thomas Chen has worked at the forefront of STEM, applying innovative research to numerous fields. Beyond qualifying for the American Invitational Math Examination (AIME) for four years and earning two silver medals from the US National Physics Olympiad (USAPhO), Chen explored the real-life applications of science through the Garcia Summer Research Program. During his sophomore summer there, he investigated the potential of an agent to prevent blood clotting and mitigate the threat of fatal illnesses like thrombosis. Through his success in this research project, Chen became a regional finalist in the Siemens Competition, one of the nation’s most prestigious STEM competitions. Chen has also written research papers on perovskite solar cells and machine learning, which revolve around aspects of computer science, his intended field of study in college. Another one of Chen’s achievements was co-founding the Mission Valley Elementary School math club, in which he prepares sixth-grade students for competition math. Outside of STEM, Chen is part of MSJ’s varsity badminton and cross country teams. MOVIE: �

thomas chen

FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: McDonald’s SUPERPOWER: AI learning capabilities

jessica wang

MOVIE:  Â?Â? FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: Chic-Fil-A SUPERPOWER: Flying

SPIRIT ANIMAL: Polar bear PLANT: Baby’s-Breath

A two-time State Qualifier, three-time NCS Placer, two-time MVAL Champion, and second-year wrestling captain, Nikita Dhaliwal dominates the sport. When she’s not wrestling you can most likely find her in the gym, as working out is one of her hobbies. Wrestling Coach Tom Thomsen has had a pivotal role in her life, mentoring her for the past four years and pushing her to be the very best wrestler she could be. Dhaliwal‘s success did not go unnoticed as she was scouted by one of the best womens’ wrestling program in the nation — Menlo College, where she plans on attending. Her immediate goal is to get on the starting line up of the Menlo College team. Dhaliwal plans to study marketing and wants to create her own fitnessed-based company or active-wear clothing line. Dhaliwal believes in the mantra “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,� which keeps her focused on achieving all of her goals.

Nikita Dhaliwal

MOVIE: Â?  Â  FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: Chic-Fil-A SPIRIT ANIMAL: Unicorn PLANT: Medical Marijuana for medical applications SUPERPOWER: Flying

From being a five time American Invitational Mathematics Examination qualifier to a three-time US Pacific Coast Sectionals figure skating qualifier, Jonathan Ko has no discernible bounds to his skill-set. His interest in math led him to start the Technology Student Association in freshman year. In his sophomore year, Ko did a project on the Impostor Phenomenon, achieving a second place at the National Junior Science & Humanities Symposium, with the intent of helping his peers cope with stress. He also attended the Research Science Institute in the summer of 2018 to conduct a fully-funded independent research project. Ko’s experience with figure skating, an activity he began at the age of four, taught him resilience, and his proudest accomplishments include being the Editor-in-Chief of the  and balancing school with his competitive figure skating career. Ko also prides himself on leading his team, Mantis Shrimps, to win the Test of Engineering, Aptitude, Math, and Science competition twice. He plans to involve himself with large people-centric projects, specifically in the fields of engineering, cognitive science, and psychology in the future. MOVIE: 

jonathan ko

SPIRIT ANIMAL: Pacific Parrotlet

MOVIE: 

SPIRIT ANIMAL: Condor

FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: Chipotle SUPERPOWER: Teleportation PLANT: Redwood tree

Michael Ren has been avid in math and computer science since elementary school, cultivating his passion for them through STEM competitions, immersion programs, and community involvement. Having scored in the top percentile of the American Mathematics Competitions (AMC) test and qualified for the American Invitational Math Examination (AIME) every year in high school, Ren has consistently challenged himself in competition math. However, he branched out to pure math through his two years as part of the Ross Mathematics Program, which introduced him to concepts beyond the limitations of high school and competition math. Connecting his passion for math to a growing fascination with computer science, Ren eventually discovered his niche in theoretical computer science, a field that stems from mathematical concepts and a possible career path. Ren’s other accomplishments include co-founding a math club at Mission Valley Elementary School and serving as MSJ Math Club’s Vice President and the ’s Sports Editor.

FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: In-N-Out Burger SUPERPOWER: Empathy PLANT: Fennel

SPIRIT ANIMAL: Eagle PLANT: Christmas tree

Whether it be community service or leadership, Jessica Wang, attributes her success to various organizations including DECA, L2, and Interact. As a freshman, Wang was afraid of public speaking and going outside of her comfort zone. She joined DECA to overcome that fear and went to conferences starting her freshman year. Throughout her years in DECA, she won various awards but describes her true accomplishment as overcoming her fear of public speaking. Wang also serves as the Senior Class Secretary and has helped with publicity for L2 by leading decorations for Multicultural Week. Graphic design is one of her main hobbies, and Wang has designed flyers and screensavers for nonprofit organizations outside of school as well as for L2 and Relay for Life. She is also Co-President of MSJ Interact and hopes to continue community service throughout college. Whether Wang decides to major in finance or social entrepreneurship, she aims to stay rooted to who she is.

FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: Taco Bell PLANT: Aloe SUPERPOWER: Teleportation

michael ren

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From hosting a hackathon to illustrating a published book, Ashley Wang has it covered. Computer science and math have also has been a big part of her life, and she attributes her interest to her brother, who works as a software engineer in San Francisco. Through much hard work, she was able to qualify for AIME in her junior year. Last year, she was an organizer of an all-girls hackathon and created an app that connects mentors and mentees. She also had an internship at Branchspot in 2018, where she helped increase monthly revenues by $4,000. Wang is a stellar pianist receiving the National Piano Guild Audition 2017 High School Diploma of Social Music. Aside from the performing arts, Wang has dedicated herself to the community and received the President’s Volunteer Service Award: Gold for more than 250 hours of volunteering in 2017. Wang also had an online jewelry business that she started in her freshman year. Complimenting her interests in drawing, Wang had the opportunity in 2016 to illustrate a children’s book,. However, her most memorable creation was a poem called “Tulip Lady,â€? which won a national competition and got published in a book in 2017. In the future, Wang plans to continue studying FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: Chic-Fil-A computer science and hopefully get a cat named Peeve.

Ashley Wang

MOVIE/SHOW: ­  €‚ƒ SPIRIT ANIMAL: none SUPERPOWER: none

PLANT: Sunflower reaching for the sun

Between running her Instagram art page, churning out edits as the     ’s Opinion Editor, and pursuing various areas of science, Vicki Xu excels in both STEM and humanities. She earned High Honors in the US National Chemistry Olympiad, and she and her team won the Pete Conrad Scholars award in the 2018 Conrad Challenge, an entrepreneurship competition. To combat the effects of declining smoking rates on tobacco farmers, her team proposed a unique skincare cream that utilizes tobacco instead of a commonly used shark liver compound. Since junior year, Xu has also been a member of      , serving as an art editor and now Editor-in-Chief; she credits   with introducing her to a new group of people and helping her improve her own artwork. With a reference to  Â?  by Aldous Huxley, Xu said that if she could change one thing in the world, she would eliminate elitism, a belief centered around self-righteousness. MOVIE: „……†‡ˆ

vicki xu

SPIRIT ANIMAL: Cat

FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: Charleys Philly Steaks SUPERPOWER: Mind-Reading PLANT: Orange Tree

photos by staff writers josephine chew, alisha chhangani, jonathan liu, gokul ramapriyan, yusuf rasheed, shreya sridhar & sabrina wu


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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Throughout her years at MSJ, Flora Chang has held student leadership positions year after year. She began her journey with student government starting in middle school and served as Freshman Class Treasurer, Sophomore Class President, Junior Class President, and now ASB President. In addition, Chang is co-captain of the Girls’ Wrestling Team and has placed at NCS for three consecutive years. She is proud of how she helped build up the Girls’ Wrestling Team from no girls before she joined to more than 20 girls today. Chang likes involving herself in community protests such as “Work to Rule� and “More Than a Distraction.� In her sophomore year, Chang helped lead the “More Than a Distraction� protest to change the FUSD dress code rules, which helped the Campus Supervisors and students come to an understanding. In her free time, Chang likes to go to the gym, practice her photography skills, and explore new foods. She hopes to study psychology and continue wrestling in college.

flora chang

MOVIE:      SUPERPOWER: Flying

FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: Chipotle

SPIRIT ANIMAL: Dog PLANT: Flora

Ananya Verma has consistently had an active role in her community through her various leadership roles, including dance, student government, and summer camps. As ASB Activities Coordinator, Verma works in a fast-paced environment and plans Friday activities and spirit days for the whole school. In addition to student government, she excels at the performing arts; she has been dancing since the age of five. Throughout her high school years, she has served as airband leader for Homecoming Bollywood, Multicultural Week Raas, and Multicultural Week Bhangra. To embrace her heritage, Verma also founded the Indian Alliance Club, though which she donated money to various charities such as the Sankara Eye Foundation. She defines one of her formative leadership experiences as being a camp counselor for three years at the India Community Center (ICC). Verma looks up to Leslie Knope, a character from  , and aims to have a fast-paced job that she loves.

ananya verma

MOVIE:   FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: In-N-Out Burger SPIRIT ANIMAL: Cheetah SUPERPOWER: Selective mind reading PLANT: Tree

Senior Class President Anuja Konda’s tile outside N-7 says “LEAD by Example� — and she’s done exactly that. As a Leadership 2 member, a SURFBoardE representative, and Vice President of Key Club, Konda has learned what it means to represent people in a positive way and take everyone’s opinions into account. She also excels in the performing arts; she started dancing when she was five, became the youngest graduate from her dance school as a freshman, and continues to teach and choreograph there. Driven by a love for public speaking, she hosted a radio show from freshman to junior year and enjoys emceeing for different events. Her passion shines through on campus too, where she’s involved with dance groups like MSJ Ishaara and Multicultural Week Hip-hop. In the future, Konda aims to become a pediatrician and play a role in healthcare legislation, representing others and ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard. Besides interning at the City of Hope National Medical Center last summer and conducting independent research, she also volunteers at a pediatric clinic and shadows a pediatrician. SPIRIT ANIMAL: Bear

anuja konda

MOVIE:   FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: Five Guys SUPERPOWER: Teleportation

PLANT: Sunflower

Over 13 years of playing sports, Sierra Raha grew into the seasoned athlete she is today. In particular, softball has had a significant impact on her. Coming from a family with a rich history of baseball and softball, Raha began playing when she was five and has been a Varsity softball player all four years of high school. Currently, she is the MSJ team captain. She has also played volleyball for four years and has played Varsity for two. She credits learning new leadership skills as well as becoming a better person to her softball and volleyball experience. Raha said, “I get to see how people respond to certain things which has helped me grow as a leader.� Raha mentions her biggest strength is her ability to understand others and put herself into their shoes; however, she says that she wishes she were more confident in herself. The most significant obstacle Raha had to face throughout her high school career was her chronic stomach pain. However, that has not stopped her from engaging in sports. Raha will be studying Biology at Oregon University with the hopes of becoming an athletic trainer and aspires to study and work in the sports medicine field as well. If there is one thing Raha could change about the world, she would make sure that everybody was kind to one another and never doubted themselves.

Sierra Raha

MOVIE:   FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: Panda Express SUPERPOWER: Telekinesis

SPIRIT ANIMAL: Wolf PLANT: Blossom

Being L2’s Green Team head and Boys Volleyball Captain, Austin Yu has put in a lot of hard work to balance his selfless dedication to the community and determined approach to academics. Yu received the President’s Volunteer Service Award: Gold for volunteering more than 180 hours as a teaching assistant for Wisdom, a Chinese cultural camp. As a National Merit Finalist, AP Scholar with Distinction, and First Team Outside Hitter, Yu is highly decorated and well-rounded. He plans to help the school even after he graduates, with a project from Green Team, by changing the plastic utensils at MSJ to completely compostable. Yu is also Co-President of Pen In A Box, which donates stationery to the underprivileged. Beyond high school, Yu is on the pre-med track and will study psychobiology at UCLA and wants to be a part-time emergency medical technician too. His interests in the medical field were sparked after the various summer internships he attended, such as the Academic Talent Development Program and the medical/health section of the National Student Leadership Conference. Yu is a leader on and off the court, and volleyball has been an integral part of his high school experience. He plans to continue it at UCLA by joining an MOVIE:  Â? FAST FOOD RESTAURANT: Panda Express intramural club and playing beach volleyball. PLANT: Blossom SPIRIT ANIMAL: Golden Retriever SUPERPOWER: Telekinesis

Austin yu

photos by staff writers josephine chew, alisha chhangani, gokul ramapriyan, & shreya sridhar


Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Smoke Signal

www.thesmokesignal.org

cgI CGI through Through film film history History

Arts & Entertainment 13

By Thomas Chen, Kimberly Huang & Gregory Wu Staff Writers

Computer-generated imagery (CGI) is a tool that has long been used in the film industry to add realistically impossible objects and characters to the silver screen. CGI’s long history begins with manual techniques like rotoscoping and basic body markers; however, with recent advancements in technology, it now consists of more complicated processes like facial capture to recreate everything from dinosaurs to the Terminator. The Smoke Signal has collected information about landmark films that are notable for their use of revolutionary CGI techniques at the time.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day was, like many of James Cameron’s other works, a landmark in its use of CGI. It featured over 300 shots with special effects applied, and its liquid metal antagonist was the first leading movie character created using solely CGI. The movie’s success with audiences galvanized the CGI industry, inspiring countless other usages of computer-generated special effects.

Oscar-winning trilogy The Lord of the Rings was a masterpiece in its use of CGI to emphasize its fantastic and grandiose world. The movies feature massive CGI armies with small details like individual soldiers fighting, as well as the impressive animation of the first character ever fully animated with motion capture, Gollum.

terminator terminator 22

the the lord lord of of the the rings rings

1970

2010

1990 2000

1980

westworld westworld

Westworld, a sci-fi film released in 1973, was the first feature film to incorporate computer animation and graphics. In its two minutes of CGI-related effects, Westworld used 2D pixelation techniques. The film’s sequel, three years later, used more advanced 3D techniques to animate individual body parts.

jurassic park

Released in 1993, Jurassic Park was a major cinematic achievement in CGI, making use of Industrial Light & Magic’s computer animation techniques to be the first film to feature realistic computer-generated animals. The film set a precedent for CGI-heavy films dominated with effects and computer-generated creatures.

1991

Avatar Avatar

Avatar, directed by James Cameron and released in 2009, became the first full-length film to use CGI and motion capture technology to combine both 3D characters and an entire world together. In addition to being a technical achievement, Avatar became the highest grossing film in history.

graphics by businessinsider.com, imdb.com, mirror.co.uk, & newyorker.com


14 Sports

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The Smoke Signal

Sports Graphics By Shreya Srinivasan & Selina Yang Staff Writers

spor t sby t es M 29

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A for participation!

graphic by staff writer selina yang

graphic by staff writer shreya sriniivasan

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Baseball vs Kennedy 4:00 p.m. @ Kennedy

Softball vs American 4:00 p.m. @ American

Baseball vs Kennedy 4:00 p.m. @ MSJ

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Softball vs Kennedy 4:00 p.m. @ MSJ

Baseball vs. Moreau 4:00 p.m. @ MSJ


Thursday, April 18, 2019

www.thesmokesignal.org

The Smoke Signal

y ele

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The Mark Green Sports Center TRYathlon draws in many people with a welcoming environment that promotes effort over competition. Participants swim in a pool, bike on a spin bike, and ��� with a run. Unlike typical triathlons, the race is divided into three 15-minute timed intervals instead of distances. The 2nd Mark Green Sports Center TRYathlon will be held on July 14, 2019 at the Dan Oden Swim Complex in Union City. The registration fee, which includes a free shirt, is $30 for youth 17 years old or younger and $35 for all other ages.

Mark G reen

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The Berkeley Bearathlon is a great opportunity for up-and-coming triathletes as it combines tough racing conditions with distances shorter than that of a traditional triathlon. The race is divided into a 750-meter swim in the Berkeley Bay, a 20 kilometer bike ride, and a 5-kilometer run. Competitors are placed in either a collegiate or open division and are then further divided into eight waves. The fourth annual Berkeley Bearathlon will tentatively be held on Sept. 29, 2019, and there is no registration fee.

Sports 15

Triathlons and Running

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The Western ���� provides runners with the option to run a 5-kilometer, 10-kilometer, half marathon, or full marathon. Participants start and ��� at the Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area and run along parts of the Alameda Creek Regional Trail and the Western ���� Trail — a route that was used to transport gravel for the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1800s. The shallow hills and forgiving surfaces present ideal circumstances for participants to meet their individual goals. This year the Western ���� will be held on April 27, and runners can qualify for the Boston Marathon through this race.

S eze e r f Bio

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Competing in triathlons and competitive runs is a great way to test your limits and try something unique. Although these races may be physically demanding, they provide participants with an unmatched sense of accomplishment, strength, and pride. Whether you’re a beginner athlete, a seasoned veteran, or anything in between, you'll be sure to ��a suitable race in the Smoke Signal’s list of exciting triathlons and races.

ara tho n

By Riya Chopra, Christine Dong & Yusuf Rasheed Staff Writers

c cis n Fra

The 42nd annual Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon will take place on July 28, 2019. The run takes participants along the Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf, Crissy Field, and the Golden Gate Bridge and offers a stunning view of the city as either a full marathon, half marathon, 10-kilometer, or 5-kilometer run. In addition, the race accommodates for athletes with disabilities through a partnership with Achilles International, a �����organization dedicated to supporting disabled athletes. This race is suitable for both experienced runners and athletes who want to try competitive racing for the ��� time. photos courtesy brazenracing.com, www.active.com, www.bearathlon.com & www.thesfmarathon.com

Boys Volleyball triumphs over Kennedy 3-1 By Meera Sehgal Staff Writer In an impressive display of depth and strategy, Boys Volleyball secured a 3-1 victory against Kennedy High School on April 2nd despite missing several key players. Both teams hustled hard right as the game started. Kennedy quickly scored the first point of the game with a serve, setting the tone for a game where the Warriors were repeatedly forced to scramble and adapt. Kennedy repeatedly aimed their hits for holes in the Warriors’ defense, putting pressure on the front line to score multiple points. However, the score remained tied throughout the majority of the first set as the Warriors responded with a myriad of their own spikes and well-aimed serves. In the end, Kennedy edged out MSJ in the first set 22-25 with strong play from both sides.

Going into the second set, MSJ tightened their defense considerably. Notably, the Warriors changed their blocking strategy from a single to a double block, sending up two front row players to block incoming spikes as opposed to just one. The Warriors’ offensive plays also improved as the players began to tweak their communication on the court, yelling encouraging remarks and using their body language to signal when one team member wanted to save the ball. The teams remained neck-and-neck throughout the majority of the match, with nail-biting stalemates that captivated the audience –all eyes were fixated on every move on the court as the scoreboard read 11-11. After a spike from Opposite Hitter and Defensive Specialist Senior Vinit Majumdar, the Warriors led 20-19. Finally, in the last rally of the set, a well-executed spike from Sophomore Shawn Hsu secured a strong lead for the WarOutside Hitter Senior Daniel Nguyen attempts to spike the ball past Kennedy’s block.

Middleblocker Junior William Chu prepares to spike the ball.

riors, allowing them to win the set 25-20. The Warriors maintained this momentum through the third set, leaving Kennedy scrambling to keep up. Outside Hitter Sophomore Bryce Talavera delivered a picture perfect set to Hsu, who spiked and scored on Kennedy. The continued excellent play of the Warriors allowed them to win the third set, 25-9. Eager to secure their win, the Warriors entered the fourth set with newfound fervor. Libero and Defensive Specialist Senior Wesley Hiroto’s skillful jump serves scored the team two consecutive points in the beginning of the fourth set, which drew cheers from the audience. Middle Blocker and Opposite Hitter Freshman Eddie Zoustood out in the fourth set, executing three kills in a span of 10 points. The Warriors defeated Kennedy with a strong 25-9 lead. The victory served as a testament to the

team’s ability to work well together regardless of their situations. Boys Volleyball Head Coach Thien Nguyen said, “We faced obstacles such as team members being absent due to illness, causing the team to have less chemistry on the court than usual.” Co-Captain Libero Senior Wesley Hiroto also commented on what he thought was a subpar performance for the Warriors. Hiroto said, “We didn’t do as well as we had hoped, losing our first set to Kennedy in almost 4 years. Because of this, we will work on improving our teamwork.” The Warriors plan to implement stronger communication in their upcoming match, which will be a home game against Irvington on April 19th. Hiroto said, “Going forward, we’re going to keep pushing strong and going into every game with high energy.” ▪ photos by staff writer meera sehgal


16 Special

www.thesmokesignal.org

The Smoke Signal

SUBSTANCE ABUSE:

Thursday, April 18, 2019

By Josephine Chew, Ian Park, Carolyn Qian, Monisha Saxena, Sabrina Wu & Jessica Xu Staff Writers

why people use

In part two of our three-part series about substance abuse, the Smoke Signal delves into some of the motivating factors behind this epidemic. Regardless of personal beliefs about drug use, every member of the MSJ community can benefit from greater understanding and awareness of the myriad of influences that lead to substance abuse. The Smoke Signal collected student input about this issue through an anonymous survey posted on Facebook, receiving 43 responses from 6 freshmen, 13 sophomores, 13 juniors, and 11 seniors between March 27 and April 3.

What reasons do you believe students have for using illicit substances? marijuana "The thing is, there’s a lot of people that do it, but that doesn’t necessarily influence people’s decision to try it. It’s not always about doing it for fun or making it a social activity, some people simply want to experience it. There are pretty good effects that you can get from these substances." — anonymous senior alcohol "Students probably think that it would be a good way to let go of some stress. I guess they have misconceptions about how it will feel … or how it won’t feel. They see other people doing it and they see how happy they were so they think that it will make them happy as well." — anonymous senior

Have you seen recreational use turn into addiction? If so what factors have you seen contribute to or exacerbate student addiction? “No, I can smoke every day for a month straight and then not smoke for a month and it doesn’t affect me. Y’all wild thinkin this shit[sic] actually bad for you.”

— anonymous senior

“I’ve watched upperclassmen become addicted and constantly have to go to the bathroom during class to get a hit, get a head rush.”

What influences outside of school do you think act on students who choose to use drugs? “I think it’s definitely like the celebrities who kind of publicize their use of marijuana and things like that, you know, the culture, the music. I would say celebrities would probably be the biggest influence … I have a lot of seniors … and a lot of seniors hang out with students that have graduated and gone on to college, and I know that there’s a lot of alcohol use in college and marijuana use in colwhat role or responsibility, if any, do you think teach- lege as well. So I know that a lot of ers have in preventing or addressing student drug use? my students still hang out with “I think we should be honest with students if they ask us questions. I kids that are in think we should help them understand how their actions can have consecollege now, and quences and how those consequences can become very severe very fast. I think that also And I think we should be honest with them, quite truthfully. Doesn’t mean might have some we tell them everything we’ve done in our own lives, but, you know, help kind of factor.” them understand that there are consequences and what these consequences might look like.” — anonymous — anonymous TEACHER teacher

— anonymous sophomore

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Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Smoke Signal

www.thesmokesignal.org

Special 17

surroundings

peer pressure

Peer pressure plays a larger role in decision-making for teenagers than any other age group. A 2005 Temple University study found that “exposure to peers during a risk-taking task doubled the amount of risky behavior among middle adolescents” but “had no impact at all among adults.” Students are not necessarily uneducated about the potential risks of using drugs; winning social acceptance from peers can often outweigh the perceived risk of experiencing adverse health effects. In an anonymous survey, 191 MSJ students were asked, “What do you think is the most common reason students at MSJ engage in this activity? Choose all that apply.” 64.40% of respondents selected, “To fit in with a specific group of students.” Students may be overtly pressured to use drugs when their peers offer them substances or encourage usage. In other instances, they might be indirectly pressured to use drugs at events where substance use is expected, even though no one directly tells them that they should. In either case, the desire to be accepted by peers is a major motivator of substance use at MSJ, coupled with the ease of access to susbtances via older friends or family and online sellers. Using drugs to increase social status, or “clout,” can also turn into a self-perpetuating cycle. As a student’s social standing rises, they may start to use drugs more heavily because they feel pressured to maintain or further bolster that status. In an anonymous survey, an MSJ junior wrote, “[some students] use drug abuse as an identity ... they want to be in a certain crowd so they use drug abuse as a common ground.” Escaping this “clout-chasing” cycle can be difficult as the instant gratification of receiving social acceptance outweighs the potential consequences of prolonged substance abuse.

normalization

what insights about drug use would you like to share? “The saddest thing to see at a party is to see someone who needs drugs to feel okay or to be a good person. It’s horrifying to talk to someone under the influence and think ‘I wish they could be like this all the time.’ That’s the worst part.” — anonymous senior “This school has a long history of kids struggling with mental health issues and often times another thing I hear from those abusing these substances is that they use drugs to forget about their depression and pain, just as a temporary release.” — anonymous senior “I find that some students do the drug to ‘show off’ to people, or they use drug abuse as an identity. They let drugs define who they are … Some students may associate themselves or want to be in a certain crowd so they use drug use as a common ground.” — anonymous junior

While peer pressure mainly affects people within certain social groups, school climate can influence students’ decisions to start or continue using drugs on a broader level. People who regularly hear about their peers’ experience with drugs may be more likely to try using substances, because they have seen that drug use does not always significantly harm their peers’ health. In addition, popular music videos, movies, and television shows have increasingly depicted or referenced drug use in recent years. For example, songs such as “Dope” and “We Found Love” by pop icons Lady Gaga and Rihanna, respectively, have charted on Billboard’s top ten list. In response to the question “What influences outside of school do you think act on students who choose to use drugs?”, an anonymous MSJ student said, “Media normalized the use of drugs, and ... that small slice of perspective without seeing the adverse effects makes drugs seem harmless.” However, normalizing the use of certain substances is not always damaging; doing so can help reduce negative stereotypes around drug users. The idea that drug users are “lazy” or “shady” can make it more difficult for people who want to quit to reach out to others. Being able to speak openly about their experiences can help drug users feel that they have more options. Being able to talk about these substances in day-to-day conversations can also help people who use them for medicinal purposes feel less ostracized. The disconnect between drug users and non-drug users can make drug users feel alienated and further stigmatize substance use, which harms both parties.

ACADEMIC PROBLEMS In a competitive school environment where students often take on more activities and classes than they can handle, students may turn to performance-enhancing drugs like Adderall or Ritalin in hopes that these stimulants will energize them and help them focus or stay awake. With heavy pressure to excel in school from peers, parents, or themselves, substance use can seem like an alluring way to help fulfill those expectations. Those who use “study drugs” might feel overwhelmed by incessant stress, an overloaded schedule, or unrelenting piles of schoolwork. At MSJ specifically, there exists a pervasive belief that grades define you. Students compare themselves to other students, or their parents compare them to other students, reinforcing the idea that great grades, a schedule crowded with APs, and a long list of extracurriculars are the only keys to success and happiness. Students feel like they have to do whatever it takes to get an “A,” and they push themselves to work harder, sleep less, and study more, sometimes with the help of drugs. Oftentimes, students use drugs as a way to blow off steam because they feel burnt out from trying to keep up with their frantic schedules; they believe that drugs will enable them to “let loose ... have fun, [and] forget about everything” for a while, an anonymous MSJ student said.

FAMILIAL PROBLEMS For students dealing with painful family experiences, drugs may provide joy or peace in an otherwise bleak and disheartening environment. According to the 2013 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, 27% of teens used marijuana “to help deal with problems at home.” At home, students might face anything from divorce and broken family dynamics to verbal or physical abuse to death, sickness, or mental illness of family members; or they might agonize over pressure from family members to look or act a certain way. In any of these situations, drained students might find temporary solace in the altered reality that drugs offer. Well-meaning but distrustful parents who try to control what their children do and what they are exposed to can also play into substance use. Feeling sheltered or overly restricted, students might simply want to explore on their own and make their own decisions in order to gain greater control over their lives. They might experiment with illicit substances as a way to step outside their usual boundaries and freely experience the world in their own way.

Self-medication The constant stress of being in a competitive environment like MSJ can manifest itself into long-term mental health issues that many students aren’t equipped to deal with. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the most common mental health issues teens face are anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Desperation to find a cure paired with easy accessibility make self-medication one of the most common reasons students start using drugs. According to the Child Mind Institute, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Sarper Taskiran, MD, said, “Almost half of kids with mental health disorders, if they’re not treated, will end up having a substance use disorder.” Long existing stigma around mental illness can further alienate students, forcing them to bear their problems alone. Those battling mental health problems often don’t reach out for help; they might think that their struggles are a sign of weakness or that they will be a burden to others. Without the support or resources to properly work out their issues, students will often turn to drugs like marijuana or Xanax to “forget about their depression and pain, just as a temporary release,” as one anonymous senior said. Someone with depression may feel hopeless, fatigued, and empty, and may try drugs to regain a sense of fulfillment or to experience something other than numbness. Another student with anxiety might start using drugs to quiet their worries or to ground themselves. Many drugs momentarily alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression because they affect the same parts of the brain as the disorders. In one extreme case, an anonymous senior reported hearing a student say, “I’d rather use drugs than kill myself.”

Addiction and student substance use The cycle of addiction begins with initial use, where users experience feelings of euphoria in rushes or highs. Normally, the brain has a reward circuit that releases small bursts of dopamine and endorphins, the body’s opioids, but under the influence, drugs mimic natural chemical messengers to release surges of these natural opioids at levels much higher than normal. Next comes substance abuse, which when repeated, eventually leads to a built-up tolerance of substances, numbing the brain to the effects of the drug at lower dosages. The penultimate phase of the cycle is substance dependence, where the brain and body rely on and crave a substance to function properly, which eventually ends with a full-fledged addiction. As the reward circuits that release dopamine and endorphins become more and more desensitized, drugs must be taken in higher and higher doses to have the same effect. Not only does consuming higher doses increase the risk of drug overdoses and possible death, but it also requires users to take drugs just to raise dopamine levels to normal. Simply put, an addiction is emotionally, physically, and financially draining. Addictions may affect the addict’s relationship with friends and family, and the growing distance can feed right back into a vicious cycle where addicts use to forget the pains of social, familial, and academic problems. According a National Institute on Drug Abuse study conducted in 2018, 32.2% of 10th graders reported vaping in the past year, and 43.0% of 10th graders reported having consumed alcohol in the past year. Students who begin using substances earlier in life are at a higher risk of developing an addiction. This is because areas of the brain that discourage impulsive behavior aren’t fully developed, while reward circuits that reinforce drug use are up and running. Furthermore, substance use can affect the growth and development of teens by rewiring the brain, impairing areas of the brain that control decision-making and self-control. That’s why experimentation with substances early can increase the risk for dependence or addiction later on in life. layout by opinion editor vicki xu & feature editor maggie zhao. coverage led by opinion editors toshali goel & vicki xu, feature editors kikue higuchi & maggie zhao. graphics by feature editor maggie zhao, centerspread editors karen li & kelly yang.


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Thursday, April 18, 2019


Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Smoke Signal

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Photo 19

By Anika Arora, Sabrina Cai, Ian Park, Selina Yang & Jennifer Xiang Staff Writers

“I’m wearing a suit. I’m Punjabi, so it’s like a state in India. In India, it used to be worn every day, made of a cotton material because it was really hot, but now people mostly wear them for holidays, or going to a Gurdwara, which is like a Punjabi church for Sikh people.” — Navdeep Sandhu, 12

Multicultural Week transforms MSJ into a buzzing center of activity, as clubs raise funds at the horseshoe, airbands prepare scintillating performances, and students from diverse backgrounds showcase their culture. Students crowd the horseshoe with plates of Pad Thai and samosas. New, colorful continent-inspired backdrops in the Bell Tower Quad allow students to take pictures with their friends and showcase their ethnic garments.

“Egg puffs, because I had nothing to buy, and it matches the fruit tea that I bought.” — Rayna Tsai, 9

“This is a Kurta, or a Shalwar Kurta, as the whole outfit is called, but I’m only wearing the Kurta, the top. I got this from Pakistan, when I went there for my cousin’s wedding. This is actually a traditional, multi-purpose kind of formalwear that you would wear to religious ceremonies, weddings, just any kind of formal occasion.” — Shayan Panjwani, 12 “I found that the spam musubis taste the best, but I’m also going to get myself some milk tea. I bought this spam musubi because last year I bought them and they tasted really good.” — Jonathan Pan, 11

“I’m holding ice cream, pretzels, and noodles because I like ice cream and I had three tickets left so I got the pretzel nuggets and I like the noodles.” — Ani Tonoyan, 10

“I got guac and chips because I really like it, and I also got Ramune because I like to get a different drink every time.” — Anasuya Sarkar, 10

“I’ve never tried the musubi before, and I’ve also never tired Korean fried chicken, which was super cool. It tastes different from what I thought it would taste like.” — Sanskriti Bebortha, 11

“It’s a hanfu, a Chinese traditional [garmet]. People wore it a thousand years ago in China. This is just one kind of traditional dress, there is a lot more, at least 10 types of clothes. The clothes are made of silk, which also has a really long history in China. It’s pretty.” — Katherine Jin, 10 (left) “This is a cheongsam, it’s kind of a Chinese traditional dress. I’m Malaysian Chinese, so it’s kind of what Malaysian Chinese wear when it’s Chinese new year.” — Zi Ching Ooi, 10 (right)

“The food I’m holding is beef noodles because they’re very good and I’m hungry. It’s one of the most consistently good foods.” — Luke Zhao, 10

photos by staff writers anika arora, sabrina cai, ian park, jennifer xiang & selina yang


20 Photo

The Smoke Signal

www.thesmokesignal.org

Thursday, April 18, 2019

By Anika Arora, Sabrina Cai, Ian Park, Selina Yang & Jennifer Xiang Staff Writers

The Multicultural Assembly on Friday April 12, concluded the lively, foo d-filled week. With vibrant performances ran ging from Bhangra to Taekwondo, students showcased their talents and honored ma ny different cultures through their crowd-pleasi ng acts. Each act represented a different cultural performance and introduced a lively array of diverse backgrounds and history to the students. Look back at the thrilling event and explore MSJ’s unique cultural tradition and heritage with photos of each group.

“The Specia with l and I Ed studen t get t he o think it’s s were su pp ch re comm unity. ortunity t ally impo a joy to w rtant o pa There ork rtic th really are am ipate in at they the M azing SJ kid — Riy s.” a Cho pra, 1 1

“Watching Mr. Hu i perform make s me see him more than just as my history teac her.” — Anika Arora,

10

“When I see ho get to see w muc [the p h entire time w they have im erformers’] faces e’re te me ha proved ppy to a a see th ching them, throughout nd at the t the h at rea y have succe lly makes ed — Anu ed.” ja Kon da, 12

“I think the most rewar ding to showcase [our perform aspect is being able an outside ance]. All of studio, so us dance at most of th able to show e time we case any of aren’t outside.” the things we practice — Emily Le

e, 12

I love rform, and d my love to pe an ly al ow on kn rs I t “I just pe people wha ow sh to e lik applause. I ” 10 d what not. Polishchuk, practice an — Daniella

“[Preparing is] very difficult. Because Mission’s academics are very hard and very busy, we take time on the weekends [to practice]. Everyone works very hard.” — Silin Meng, 12

me, celebrating Week, means to “Performing at MC udents at MSJ.”” the st the diversity of — Anita Sun, 11

“There’s a lot of work that goes into it th don’t see, bu at people t it’s also a great experie a group and se nce leading eing everyone grow as a da also be able ncer and to bond with everyone you’ with and grow re working as a dance fa mily.” — Evangelin e Gao, 12

“[...] Knowing how many weeks and months are put behind the dance and how many hours people spent into making it perfect, that’s really rewarding for me.” — Ananya Verma, 12

known as Tahiti nce, (otherwise “The Tahitian da at Mission for re he ion a tradit Ori) has been te to be given na tu incredibly for several years. I am re at Mission. he nd ba air e th lead the opportunity to a story. “ lls te rm rfo that we pe Santo, 11 Each dance piece lia Ma —

for me Week means a lot “Performing in MC people ow sh to y nit rtu the oppo n if because I am given eve , me to important it is my culture and how it.” of rt pa they only see a small — Priya Vyas, 12

“The most rewarding aspect would probably be that since Kpop has become popularized within our school especially, it’s fun seeing people sing along or do chants according to the lyrics.” — Alison Chan, 12

“It’s one of the only times that we, as a choir, get to perform in front of the entire school, so because of that, I feel like we can show the school who we are and let them know we can [perform].” — Jessica Yang, 12

t is that] I get to see the “[The most rewarding par n they see us perform. whe e reactions of everyon work, and though during Even though it was a lot of ten people perform, ost alm had we Winter Rally it’s so rewarding.” us, for [...] when people cheer — Emma Wang, 9

very bviously eek] is o p of people W l ra u lt grou ulticu gether ng for M have this “[Prepari ’s really nice to d and put that to it te t busy, bu incredibly talen ood.” all yg umar, 12 who are omething prett Shreya K — s to create

ur skills, wing off o art is] sho p pecially g s in e rd rs a ce t rew ballet dan ink it’s just r fo “[The mos re ra ple th ’s really . Most peo ot that.” because it t ballet is n a h lly w a re w o ’s h it h, 11 to s rning, but tu nielle Hsie s a D tu tu — girls in

r, Jill, o leade s my c en we hit a w t a h th ugh. W ate with so glad me tho nic nestly “I’m ho y side to help asy to commu e m 2 was by s, it was really m.” hang, 1 ck the Joyce Z roadblo r and resolve — he each ot

a part of who I am and “To me, martial arts is show a part of identity through MC, I am able to ” to the school. — Junho Lee, 10

nearly ion for at Miss rformance r o t c a pe instru really nt and ver had a stude nd we’ve ne ich I think is rams s a w I “ g a of, wh ipe pro rs now 20 yea that I know le to offer p b ” a r. is e h like t that we are first time ev ructor jor Inst e g a h in M t it r m c fo x e t Dru Fremon Cheng, here in — Harrison

photos by feature editor kikue higuchi & staff writers anika arora, sabrina cai, ian park, jennifer xiang & selina yang

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Volume LIV, No. 8  

Volume LIV, No. 8  

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