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VOL. 49, NO. 4

Page 1: FUSS Holds district-wide Talent Show. mission: sos hosts three guest speakers on student stress. crossing guard expands service to mission creek drive. Page 2: girls who code comes to fremont main library and msj club offers coding classes. students run Charity drives and fundraisers for season of giving.


December 20, 2013


FUSD’s Got Talent

By Grace Dong Staff Writer Fremont Unified Student Store (FUSS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds for the needs of FUSD schools, held its second annual FUSD’s Got Talent Show on December 7 in C-120. From 1 pm to 5 pm, students and staff members from 27 FUSD schools showcased their talents to a sold-out audience and esteemed panel


The Smoke Signal thanks Senior Jeffrey Chen for performing a host transfer and upgrading our website, In Loving Memory of Yoko Young: remembering Yoko’s Dance and Performing Arts director yoko young. Peer Resource T-shirt Campaign: MSJ Peer Resource distributes Stronger Than You Think t-shirts.

wallpaper from, photos by staff writer grace dong, layout by news editor kerrie wu

Mission: SOS unveils new stress reduction events By Megan Ren Staff Writer Mission: SOS is a campus club that focuses on helping students become less stressed and creating an open flow of communication between parents and students. Mission: SOS has hosted events such as “Surprise Stress Free Days” throughout the school year, days on which teachers are not to have tests or assign homework. This year, however, Mission SOS has included a variety of other events to its agenda, such as yoga classes and parent-student informational talks. The free yoga sessions started on November 6 and take place every Wednesday after school on the stage of C-120 for half an hour. Mats are provided for all students who attend. After a four-week trial period, participants have decided to continue these classes, with the next session starting mid-January. In an email sent out to parents and students, Mission: SOS advisor Zack Larsen wrote that these workshops will help students “learn tools that will help them with focus, concentration, memory, positive thinking, and above all stress management.”

Mission: SOS held its first parent/student outreach event of this year in C-120 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm on December 9. This talk featured MSJ Alumni Dr. Dan R. Tzuang and Dr. Alex Huang along with Dr. Susan Song from the field of child psychiatry. Whereas last year’s talk predominantly dealt with stress-related issues, this year’s talk focused more on the mental health concerns and emotional well-being of high school students, especially in the Asian American community. The presentation started with the specialists introducing themselves and their biographies. Having personally experienced what it’s like to be students at MSJ, Tzuang and Huang were able to understand well the specific problems that plague MSJ and relate their own stories to current issues. High levels of stress among students may lead to substance abuse, and as Tzuang said, parents are rightfully concerned. The specialists hope to lower parents’ anxiety by increasing awareness of the warning signs of depression to look for in their children, such as

See SOS NEWS Page 2

staff writer megan ren

Students practice yoga at the Mission: SOS workshop, held for half an hour on Wednesdays after school in C-120.

Crossing guard expands service

A volunteer mans the crosswalk at the intersection of Mission Creek Drive and Palm Avenue.

By Michael Hsiu Staff Writer The Mission Possible Parent and Faculty Association (MPPFA), a nonprofit organization that coordinates MSJ’s crossing guard program, extended its crossing guard service to the Mission Creek area on December 2. Planning and volunteer training for the service was a task run by former crossing guard program director Roshini Kingsley, a member of MPPFA. Kingsley coordinated the crossing guard service in the summer of 2012, but was unable to introduce the Mission Creek branch of the service until this year, despite much discussion at various crossing guard meetings. Concern over recent driving accidents involving MSJ students near Mission Creek led to the dispatch of the service expansion, which had been planned a year prior but had not yet been implemented due to a lack of volunteers. Before the change, the crossing guard service only covered two crosswalks along Palm Avenue. In regards to the purpose of the extension of the crossing guard service, Kingsley said, “At the end of last school year, we had nine members of the crossing guard team including the lead leave as their children graduated from MSJ. Much work was involved in putting together the current team; during the summer of 2013, I had envisioned a crossing guard at Mission Creek Road during last summer, but due to the lack of volunteers, I was unable to achieve this

staff writer michael hsiu

goal. The recent accident near Mission Creek served as the catalyst to expedite this extension of service. Mission Possible is delighted that we can provide this extension of service to our students.” Though leadership of the program has been passed on to crossing guard program coordinators Stella Hsu, Brijesh Jain, and Mac McQuade, Kingsley hopes that this expansion of the crossing guard service will be able to ensure the safety of students travelling to and from MSJ, particularly those coming north on Palm Avenue toward the school. MPPFA coordinators recruited parent crossing guard volunteers directly through crossing guard meetings and online through MSJTalk, a Yahoo group for parents and community members supporting activities at MSJ. Before beginning the program, volunteers went through training with preparatory techniques involving both on-the-job training and also the use of written instructions. MacQuade, a Fremont Police-approved crossing guard trainer, worked with parents, using his own skills and expertise to better educate volunteers on the role of the crossing guard. All new volunteers are paired with experienced crossing guards during the first few months of their service, and are eventually paired with other newly-trained volunteers after gaining enough experience working in the field. Effects of the crossing guard service’s expan-


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The Smoke Signal

Friday, December 20, 2013

Girls Who Code and MSJ ACM teach students to program By Apoorva Rajanala Staff Writer In order to spread the idea of girls getting more involved in engineering fields, Girls Who Code is holding classes at the Fremont Public Library for girls who are interested in coding. “It’s really surprising to see that such a small percentage of women go into the engineering field, especially after the feminist movements. I think women have the tendency of leaving the technical jobs to men and going into fields like medicine and law,” said Senior Sohini Ghosh, who has been taking these classes at the library. Girls Who Code also holds an eight- week course during the summer in which the girls work on projects, visit companies, and see presentations from entrepreneurs. Young women from all around the world have had their lives turned around by the multiple learn-

Students in a Girls Who Code class discuss a lesson.

ing opportunities that this program provides for them. According to their website, their program works to educate, inspire, and equip young women with the skills and resources to pursue academic and career opportunities in computing fields. The girls involved are mentored by leading educators, engineers, and entrepreneurs; with their help they have begun projects involving robotics, web design, mobile apps, and so much more. “It’s definitely a good thing that these classes are

staff writer apoorva rajanala

available because from what I’ve seen in class, most of the girls, including myself, enjoy coding. It’s great that more women are becoming prominent in computer science and engineering in general because it shows that just because we are women doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of doing the same thing as men. It’s a very interesting subject and the fact that it can be tricky sometimes shouldn’t be a setback for other women not to join that career path,” said Sophomore Neha

MSJ clubs come together for a cause By Alice Cheng & Hairol Ma Staff Writers MSJ’s clubs and organizations contributed to the season of giving by holding several fundraisers to donate to charity. The causes varied from donating to Typhoon Haiyan to collecting cans for Abode homeless shelter. MSJ’s annual canned food drive, organized by L2, gathered cans from third period classrooms. In total L2 collected 6,306 cans; Government Teacher Jaime Richards placed first with 385 cans, World History Teacher Risha Krishna placed second with 302 cans, and Government Teacher Tori Ha placed third with 262 cans. MSJ’s clubs were also responsible for donating cans. Each of MSJ’s clubs were required to bring in at least 30 cans. Service clubs contributed to L2’s canned food drive by holding an InterKeyLeo canned food drive. By the end of their canned food drive, 1,450 cans were collected between Interact, Key, and Leo Clubs through the efforts of 130 students. “Overall, I was really satisfied with the results because we were able to collect far more cans than we have gotten in recent years,” said Leo Club President Cynthia Jiang. MSJ Key Club hosted their annual Turkey Drive on December 7. From 10 am to 5 pm, they stood at Safeway to hand out flyers and collect donations. Leo Club and A La Mode Fashion Club hosted their third annual charity fashion show titled “I’ll be Home for the Holidays” on Friday, December

courtesy msj vams

MSJ students perform at the “Hope for Haiyan” Benefit concert, which raised $1612.19.

7 from 7 pm to 9 pm. Dance, performances, and covers were intermixed with models walking down the runway flashing their spirited wear. The Little Theatre was packed with an enthusiastic audience who cheered as models strutted across the stage in their wintry outfits. All proceeds went to the Jason Park Living Hope Fund, a nonprofit fund which will donate to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and many organizations that support homeless shelters, foster care, and educational scholarships. Peer Resource sold Turkey Grams for friends and teachers on November 21 and 22 in the Bell Tower Quad. A total of over 150 grams were sold and $300 was raised for the damage done in the Philippines. A donation of one dollar or more was recommended, and all proceeds went to victims of the typhoon in the Philippines. MSJ Interact also held date auctions. Proceeds went to “The Answer is Sun,” an international project which aims to provide solar cookers to those living in developing countries. Officers decked out in spirited or formal clothing and the MSJ community placed

high bids to win a date. “I personally really like this fundraiser because people really get into the spirit of giving back around Christmas and that’s always nice to see,” says Junior Board Member Nick Wu. On Friday, December 13, MSJ Visual Arts and Music for Society (VAMS) partnered with Irvington High School (IHS) Resonance to hold the “Hope for Haiyan” Benefit concert from 6 pm to 9 pm in C-120. The show featured performers and volunteers from MSJ and IHS, and all proceeds were donated to UNICEF to help fund areas struck by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. “With the recent typhoon in the Philippines, MSJ VAMS and IHS Resonance just wanted to hold an event where people can come to enjoy and help out with the relief of many people who were affected by Typhoon Haiyan,” says Junior Kevin Liu, public relations officer of VAMS. The event raised a total of $1612.19. Encouraged by the giving spirit of this season, MSJ students have successfully given back to the school, the community, and the world. ▪

that this soon-to-be club will help make the subject easier for students. In the future, ACM plans to get more students involved by holding Hackathons, coding competitions, and guest speakers. There are so many opportunities for students to get more involved in the field of engineering. Check out both programs, Girls Who Code and MSJ ACM for more information about local opportunities. ▪

Shah, another student participating in the program’s classes. The MSJ Association Computing Machinery (ACM) Chapter incorporates a similar idea. ACM is centered on increasing awareness and interest in computer science and coding. “In today’s world, everything incorporates technology so people need the basic understanding of how things work,” said Junior Abhinav Adduri, President of ACM at MSJ. Currently, the club has been tutoring students who wish to self-study AP Computer Science, as well as students in one of the MSJ classes. For the students to make the most out of the tutoring, ACM makes sure to choose well-informed tutors along with creating a good atmosphere so the students can understand what is being taught. ACM’s officers, many of whom have been coding for many years, know that computer science can come across as a very daunting, but they hope

A speaker addresses the Girls Who Code class.

SOS| Events

GUARD| Expands

withdrawal from social activity and weight loss. They also urged parents and students alike to take advantage of resources such as that help with understanding emotional stress in children and teenagers. The night ended with an interactive portion during which audience members could text in their answers on how they think students would respond in certain scenarios. Mission: SOS representatives then compared audience responses to student answers from a similarlystyled survey passed out in two English classes. The three specialists then discussed and analyzed the responses to help guide students and parents to make better decisions. After the event concluded, Senior Dinaz Bamji said, “I found it to be really helpful... and I think they did a great job showing us how we can balance our academic life with our social life.” Be it yoga classes or parent/ student talks, these sessions are meant to respond to problems in the community related to MSJ. The thematic focus of Mission: SOS this year is “Balance: A balanced lifestyle fosters integrity, resiliency, and success, which directly correlates to health and happiness.” The club’s efforts to stay true to its goal are evident in the many events that it has been holding, and MSJ can definitely look forward to even more to come. ▪

sion quickly drew a great deal of feedback. Most MSJ student pedestrians tended to see the crossing guard service’s presence in the Mission Creek area to be an important addition to an already well-developed program: Freshman Brenda Wu said, “I think it’s easier and safer to cross the street, especially with people actually stopping the cars when you cross.” Senior Michael Hou, a frequent bicyclist in the Mission Creek area, said, “For most pedestrians, the crossing guard service provides a safer way for kids to get across the crosswalk. The [Mission Creek] area is pretty hazardous to pedestrians and bikers alike.” In the future, Hsu, Jain, and McQuade plan to further expand the crossing guard service so that it will be available in both the morning and the afternoon (at this time, the service is only provided during the morning). According to McQuade, the service may also be expanded to the Mission Boulevard area in the future. On the impact of the crossing guard service on the MSJ community, Kingsley said, “Over the years, students and parents have learned to appreciate the valuable service that the crossing guard team provides; many stop to say thank you. I am incredibly grateful to the volunteers who have stepped up as crossing guards.” The MPPFA will continue to work with MSJ in the future to provide students with a safe travelling environment to and from school. ▪ Increase in the ObamaCare website’s success also resulted in an increase in Obama’s approval ratings. The plan passed through the Senate with a vote 16 to 13 in favor of Uruguay’s left-wing politics.

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staff writer apoorva rajanala

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for the nov. 22, 2013 issue

News page 1: Students grew plants without soil, with water. News page 1: The Zengs worked at the Nanotechnology Institute of the University of Louisville. News page 3: Peer Resource was misidentified. Feature page 10: Staff Writers Irisa Lee and Arti Patankar took photos for the Nanowrimo article. Feature page 11: Thanksgivukkah will not happen again for 79,000 years. A&E page 14: Band won the first ID unit. Photo page 24: Raquel Navarro and Sonia Prasad are pictured. The flashing reader-board sign outside John F. Kennedy High School shone the messages “Thank You Coach Webb for Everything, You Will be Missed.”

Compiled by Staff Writers Anand Balaji & Vivian Liu.

Community mourns former coach John F. Kennedy High School’s 76-year old retired football coach and athletic director John Webb passed away on November 23 after a car accident, according to a message sent out to FUSD. He worked with JFK for almost 30 years, teaching math, English and woodshop, and serving as adviser of student activities. Students set up a memorial outside JFK and held a candlelight vigil in his honor on November 26.

ObamaCare Back on Track

Following a very shaky release with a faulty website and numerous complaints, ObamaCare has been running much smoother in recent weeks with over 365,000 individuals having selected a plan and 7 million new customers. The number of people who have selected plans falls far below the projected 7 million mark but it is a step in the right direction for the Obama administration.

Uruguay first to legalize marijuana trade Uruguay’s Senate consented to the creation of the world’s first market place for legal marijuana on December 10 in a plan to suppress criminal drug trafficking.. With the approval of President Jose Mujica, the market place will be up and running by 2014, creating a system that allows every registered individual over the age of 18 to receive 40 grams a month from pharmacies, grow their own marijuana, or form smoking clubs.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Smoke Signal

TALENT| FUSD continued from page 1


of judges. One student act and one staff act from each school was allowed to compete, totaling 31 solo and group acts, each vying for first place in their respective categories. Perpetual trophies were presented to the winners at the end of the showcase, as well as cash prizes as high as $800. The acts ranged from elementary school choirs with more than 40 members to theatrical skits. The showcase was a mix of singers, dancers, actors, and musical instrument players. Highlights included Classical North Indian dancers from Warm Springs Elementary, a clarinet player from Thornton Junior High, and a teacher from Oliveira who sang a song written by a fellow staff member. Performers brought smiles and tears to the audience throughout the afternoon, with a third grade singer from Gomes Elementary dedicating his act to all the wonderful mothers in the audience and a singer from Mattos Elementary dedicating her performance to the victims and families in the Philippines. Representing Mission San Jose High in the staff category was Drama Teacher Tanya Roundy, who performed an original piano piece titled “Home.” Drama students, Senior Daniel Zopfi, Junior Aashka Pandya, and Sophomores Abhay Dewan, Vanessa Morales, and Sonya Wong, performed a song and dance routine to “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” from the musical, Hello Dolly. The MSJ students were the finale act for the showcase and delivered a truly entertaining Broadway-inspired performance. Roundy said, “I think this is awesome that they are encouraging the arts in this manner.” Roundy, with her past experience with show productions, plans to help organize the event in coming years. Ivy Wu, Founder and President of FUSS and Former FUSD School Board Trustee said, “What we hope to accomplish through FUSS is to bring our community together to support all of the schools, students, and

News 3

programs in our district through fundraising events and other activities.” FUSS’s mission is to provide a platform where people in the area can help raise money to support FUSD schools and programs. All net proceeds are designated for FUSD. Since its founding in April 2012, FUSS has raised and donated more than $9,000 to programs such as the FUSD anti-bullying campaign in August 2012 and the drama and arts programs of the six FUSD high schools. With the implementation of FUSD’s Got Talent, FUSS aims to leverage the talents of our community to benefit FUSD schools. Other related projects that FUSS has started are FUSS Cares and FUSS Focus. FUSS Cares is a Crisis Prevention and Intervention project that also includes a program against teen drinking and driving. FUSS Focus is a discussion group in partnership with Ding Ding TV, an Internet TV show that produces episodes based on the “focus” of any person in the community as long as it supports FUSD in an encouraging way. In the past, FUSS Focus has covered topics such as performing arts acts, product ideas, and creative skills. FUSD’s Got Talent is the first of many projects from FUSS that utilizes the artistic talents of Fremont to raise funds while encouraging the arts in a positive manner. Earlier this year, FUSS introduced their FUSD’s Got Artists competition, where the winners are featured in the 2013-14 FUSS calendar. Senior Nathan Nusaputra received a Special Recognition award for the contest in the high school level category. Wu and other FUSS members confirm that there is a bright future in store for FUSS. FUSS is setting a special example in the FUSD community, emphasizing the arts to help meet the needs of the district. Nina Moore, former Board Trustee of FUSD and emcee for FUSD’s Got Talent, said, “Art is becoming lost. FUSS had a vision to use the talent of our district and showcase it to raise funds, and to see all this talent here in Fremont is truly, truly wonderful.” ▪

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Opinion 5

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Mission San Jose High School Est. 1964 Vol. 49, No. 4 | December 20, 2013

41717 Palm Ave. Fremont, CA 94539 (510) 657-3600 Editors-in-Chief Jin Peng, Grace Wu News Nina Krishnan, Kerrie Wu Opinion Sanjay Sreekumar, Catherine Wang

Feature Vivian Jair, Anjali Kanthilal Centerspread Tingting Bi, Lindy Zeng A&E Tammy Tseng, Peter Xu Sports Leah Feuerman, Ishan Goyal Graphics Shirby Wang, Anna Zeng Web Laura Chen, Supriya Yelimeli Tech Peter Chew, Peter Qiu Business Aamir Rasheed Circulation Hannah Shih Ads Genevieve Huang, Tiffany Huang Events Irisa Lee, Hairol Ma Writers & Photographers Anand Balaji, Jacinta Chang, Kevin Chen, Alice Cheng, Katrina Cherk, Grace Dong, Purvi Goel, Michael Hsiu, Vivian Liu, Arti Patankar, Melissa Peng, Iyesha Puri, Tanvi Raja, Apoorva Rajanala, Nithya Rajeev, Megan Ren, Katie Sun, Andrea Tam, Hanson Wang, Abigail Wong, Rebecca Wu, Lillian Zhao, Madeline Zheng

Advisor Sandra Cohen Send letters to the editor to opinion@the 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, e-mail 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.

The Cat’s Meow

Sanjay Says Reading, Writing, and Coding?

NPS: Bombs Away

By Catherine Wang Opinion Editor

“The Atomic Age began at exactly 5:30 Mountain War Time on the morning of July 15, 1945, on a stretch of semi-desert land about 50 airline miles from Alamogordo, New Mexico. And just at that instance there rose from the bowels of the earth a light not of this world, the light of many suns in one.” So wrote New York Times journalist William L. Laurence 68 years ago, after witnessing the world’s first successful detonation of an atomic bomb. That Trinity Test was the first in a series of atomic tests by the Manhattan Project, America’s topsecret effort to build an atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project led to the controversial bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and ultimately the end of World War II. Hold up – why am I even pulling these drab, ho-hum dust bunnies from the closet of history? I’m bringing this up because the National Park Service (NPS) is currently asking the President and Congress to approve the creation of a new national park. The park would preserve Manhattan Project sites in New Mexico, Washington, and Tennessee. It’s a promising investment. Detractors, though, are aplenty. Antinuclear groups have been quick to point out that such an extensive, state-hopping national park glorifies the creation of a weapon responsible for horrific death and destruction. Some argue further that such a site would degrade the purpose of national parks. Greg Mello, member of a group lobbying against the Manhattan Project National Park, said to the New York Times, “Once you open the gate … a national park can be anything. Why

don’t we have a Disneyland national park or NASCAR national park; what’s the limit?” The main purpose of any national park is to protect the nation’s natural, cultural, and historical resources. Given the scenic spectacles of gems like Yosemite and Yellowstone, it’s not easy to accept that a rusting, out-of-service nuclear lab could also be a national park. But the reason the Manhattan Project sites stand out is their historical significance. The complex ‘40s project to build an atomic bomb had its ups and downs. The US won the war and opened the door to nuclear technology development, but the resulting human cost, from Hiroshima to Chernobyl, raised questions in ethics that won’t be answered for a long time. Whether we like it or not, no one can deny that the Manhattan Project was a turning point in World War II and that its impact is still felt today. The NPS has a responsibility to preserve the roots of the Atomic Age for the scrutiny of future generations. Why should we, as high school students or as Californians, even care about the fate of the Manhattan Project National Park? I can’t put it better than historian Richard Rhodes, who wrote, “When we lose parts of our physical past, we lose parts of our common social past as well.” As a student fascinated by history, I’ve always felt that history is best learned as a tangible, shared experience, more than an obscure topic confined to the textbook. From a broader perspective, this is an issue of national identity, of what we recognize as American and what we choose to cast aside and forget. It would be unwise to let such a pivotal portion of American history gather dust. ▪

EDITORIAL: Beyond STEM: Branch into Humanities The Opinion of the Smoke Signal Editorial Board MSJ has long worn the label of a mathand-science-driven school. Though our school offers a diverse range of courses, the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classes are overwhelmingly more popular than those covering humanities. Advanced-level humanities courses have been added in the past few years (such as AP Psychology and AP Human Geography) -- thus the main issue lies not with the number of classes offered, but with MSJ’s student body. Students should be more interested in studying humanities rather than limiting themselves to a narrow STEM-packed schedule, whether because they’ve decided that’s all they need to reach their intended career goal, or worse -- because choosing science and math classes over humanities classes is the norm at MSJ. Humanities teach a different type of critical thinking from math and science classes and should be taken just as seriously. Rounding out a course load with equally challenging humanities and STEM classes gives students an opportunity to explore a broader variety of different interests -- especially in high school, when they can try different classes and step out of their comfort zones without having to worry about factors like tuition or graduating on time. At MSJ, though, the assumption that STEM holds more weight than humanities prevails. For example, in the 2013-14 school year, there are 44 sections of AP math and science classes including Finite/Discrete Math and Multivariable

Calculus, while there are only 29 sections of AP humanities classes encompassing literature, arts, foreign language, and social science. Peer pressure, specifically the urge to take “hardcore” math and science classes, forces MSJ students interested in humanities to reconsider their schedules. Humanities courses are treated with less seriousness and consideration, and students are disinclined to select them for fear of their schedules deviating from the “usual” MSJ route. The argument can be made that students focus on STEM courses because these classes best relate to their desired major and career field. This is a valid point, but only to a certain extent. The mindset at MSJ has locked many students into math or science-related career paths, preventing them from even considering a humanities direction. By shunning the humanities, we as students are boxing ourselves in -- we’re narrowing both our course schedules and our mindsets. Achieving a broader education with high-level courses across all disciplines will only be possible after we stop placing math and science courses on a pedestal and ignoring the value of humanities courses. Once we lower the stigma against humanities, more students can take classes that appeal to different interests, explore a greater variety of career paths, and stimulate openminded intellectual discovery across all disciplines. ▪ Send letters to the editors to

By Sanjay Sreekumar Opinion Editor

I learned how to code my first program with the programming language BASIC. Being a naive eight year old, I decided to learn BASIC because it “sounded” easy, even though the language is nothing like its name. Some of my favorite childhood memories, however, were the hours that I spent in the summer, holed up at my computer, trying to explore this newly discovered world filled with 1’s and 0’s. Sadly, few kids are experiencing the type of joy that I had that eventful summer. Programming, despite its relevance in nearly every single professional field imaginable, is pretty much ignored in our public school curriculum. MSJ is no stranger to this fact; even though we consider ourselves to be tech “savvy”, 2013-2014 was the first year that our school offered any sort of programming class. But why should we all learn how to code? The late Steve Jobs probably put it best when he said, “Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” Programming is critical thinking and problem solving at its finest; qualities that many critics claim American students lack. Coding is accessible to anybody who has used a computer and it is easier to learn than any spoken language. It is also a widely expanding sector. Studies show that of the 1.4 million programming jobs available in the next ten years, only four hundred thousand of those are going to be filled with qualified individuals.

Celebrities in areas seemingly outside the realm of computers are attesting to the advantages of learning code. Chris Bosh, eight time NBA All-Star and two time world champion, wrote in a piece for Wired magazine that learning to code in college taught him how the world functioned. “I take comfort in having a basic understanding of how something as big as code works.” Kids can and should code at a very young age. The most advanced mathematics in most programs is simple addition and subtraction and the rules behind programming are rooted in basic logic. When I attended a “hackathon” last month, (an event where a large number of code enthusiasts get together to collaborate on projects), I learned first hand how accessible coding really is. I had the chance to meet a fifth grader named Ajith who came from a private school called Stratford, where programming is already a part of their curriculum. Ajith was an experienced programmer in Java, and by the end of the hackathon he created a flash game that rivaled projects done by some of the first year computer science majors at the event. This young “genius” is the perfect example of how we can change the future for our kids simply through computer science education Our world runs on technology nowadays and it’s insane that many of us don’t even know the underlying logic behind these devices. It is about time that we teach our youth a tool that not only empowers them in the future, but teaches them important academic skills right now. ▪

Letter to the Editors: Response to 11/22/13 Editorial “Opening Discussion about Alcohol” Great editorial in the November issue. You do deserve some straight talk about drinking, but will you listen to us teachers if we offer it? Our influence wanes once you leave our classrooms. As adults, we’re “others”—outsiders without any street cred. Despite present conditions that make it impossible to believe, we teachers were your age once. We waited to do homework until late at night, took tests that confused us, worried about fashion and looking good, and wondered how in the world we would ever find purpose in our lives. Boxed in by our parents’ rules, limited in resources because of our status as minors, yet determined to live wild and unfettered, we sometimes set out to test our boundaries. Sound familiar? Look at us closely and you will find few choirboys or nuns. But we won’t share the stories of our youthful indiscretions because that’s not the example we want to set for you. We’ve learned from our mistakes and from the mistakes of our friends, some of whom aren’t around anymore to say they wish they had made different decisions. We’ve laid bouquets down at memorials and wept goodbyes to dear friends who should have aged alongside of us. The fact that we’re even here at all means somehow we won the lottery. It might only be by dumb luck that we’re here to tell you not to drink. Okay…so maybe you’ll listen to us, and maybe you won’t. Maybe “one thing will lead to another” and you and your friends will end up with a buzz. Here’s where you need to trust us: Don’t get in a car when the driver has had a drink. Call a friend. Bite the bullet and call home. Throw your car keys in the pool and walk away. This is a winning lottery ticket we’re offering you. Will you accept it? Please? John Boegman Jean Dotson Jaime Richards

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Friday, December 20, 2013

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The Smoke Signal

Volunteering: \Not Just “Service Hours” Despite the lack of a graduation service requirement at most colleges, students transitioning from high school to college should continue to prioritize volunteering. The Smoke Signal interviewed MSJ alumni Sneha Jayaprakash, Albert Lee, Michelle Nguyen, Alex Qin, and Angela Zhu for more insights on the transition from high school to college volunteering. If there’s one thing all these alumni agree upon, it is that their dedication to service in high school changed them.

Colleges and universities offer campus shuttles that provide transportation to numerous volunteering destinations. Organizations affiliated with colleges encourage volunteering independently, and students who take initiative to become more deeply involved can find opportunities through professional experiences. Zhu, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, participated in a clinical volunteering program in which she delivered routine checkups as well as prescribed medication at a men’s shelter. “For me, this was something I had to proactively seek out the chance to join because the spots are usually open to medical students, not undergraduates,” she said. “The up-close experience proved fascinating and empowering.”

courtesy angela zhu

Alumnus Angela Zhu (right) helps construct houses while volunteering at Habitat for Humanity.

Several benefits of volunteering in college include having an edge in the professional world and having increased exposure to career possibilities. Students who have the self-motivation and discipline to seek out these opportunities reap benefits such as networking and experience in potential occupations. Students can slowly build a diverse web of contacts by bonding over service. Interacting with adults in a real world, professional manner also builds communication skills and forms valuable relationships. “The more you get involved in school organizations, the more people you rub shoulders with, and as a freshman, that’s really invaluable,” said Lee, a freshman at Georgetown University. Through contact with various careers, students may find their true passions for their major.

Additionally, the scope of volunteering experiences balloons in college. Lee currently helps low-income families and individuals file taxes and improve financial and tax code knowledge. Meanwhile, Qin, a sophomore at Northwestern University who majors in saxophone performance and neurobiology, has found a way to meld his passion for music into a contribution to the community. “I’m the Vice President of the Academy of Music and Arts for Special Education,” said Qin. “We work with special needs children

By Anand Balaji Staff Writer

ceptable. They write, “The Constitution both allows and protects the celebration of Christmas in public schools. We hope the materials … will help clear up the misinformation that groups attempting to cleanse all traces of religion from the public square have spread for far too long.” This has certainly not stopped them from trying. Every year trivial litigation pours into the court system ranging from Christmas carols to gift exchanges to school plays. These meaningless lawsuits waste the time of the courts and make a large issue of what is truly a minute disturbance. On November 18, a South Carolina charter school decided to cancel a toy drive out of threatened legal action by the American Humanist Association. This is simply one example of how an overemphasis on political correctness can, more often than not, hurt people. Because of the ease at which the humanists were offended, hundreds of children will wake up on Christmas morning without a toy. The lengths that we, as Americans, are willing to go to in order to avoid potential offense or legal backlash are extraordinary. Supporters of a secular holiday are fighting what is really an inconsequential battle. Changing “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays” truly doesn’t do anything remarkable for civil rights, but it does censor a very large part of American tradition and culture. ▪, layout by opinion editors sanjay sreekumar

& catherine wang

By Tingting Bi & Lillian Zhao Centerspread Editor and Staff Writer

competitive career advantage. Employers seek versatile individuals who can draw from diverse practical skill sets, often acquired through volunteer commitments. “Not a lot of people actually volunteer in college... mostly because they are busy with school or campus life, but since I want to work with children in the future volunteering helps me get a lot of real experience,” said Nguyen. If the purpose of attending college is to better prepare students to compete in the job market, then volunteering should be an integral part of this preparation. ▪

By the Numbers

55 %


The estimated percentage of high school students who actively volunteer.

50 %


courtesy alex qin

Alumnus Alex Qin (far left) volunteering with the Academy of Music and Arts for Special Education.

It’s Time to End the War on Christmas

The battle over the secularization of the holidays has been going on for decades. Atheists, agnostics, and civil liberties groups howl out against any use of the word “Christmas”, claiming its religious background makes it inappropriate as a government celebration. Meanwhile, more conservative groups bemoan the erosion of Christmas from American culture. Political pundit Bill O’Reilly appropriately dubbed the controversy the “War on Christmas,” and the war is raging on. Just this year the United States Postal Department refused to distribute any Christmas-themed stamps as part of their holiday collection. While it is important to recognize and respect the personal and political views of other people, censoring the religious aspects of the holiday season to appease offended groups is unnecessary and diminishes American culture. The first issue detractors bring up is the constitutional validity of having Christmas-related events in the public school systems. In recent years, several schools have voluntarily censored Christmas carols and school plays in order to avoid any potential legal action by upset parents and students. In response to these actions, the Alliance Defending Freedom (a group of legal experts) issued a statement on November 21 to 13,000 school districts stating that the celebration of Christmas within school grounds is constitutionally ac-

from the Chicago area on their musical abilities.” Through volunteering in college, MSJ students can broaden their perspectives and explore beyond the staple career fields they are exposed to in high school, such as medicine, law, and engineering. Alongside internships, volunteering opportunities also allow students to get a taste of certain fields before graduation, saving them much time and money if they realize that their true passions differ. Jayaprakash, a sophomore at UC San Diego, won the 2013 YouthSpark Challenge for Change contest and traveled to Kenya on a volunteering trip, where she helped build a schoolroom and learned about advances in social empowerment. She said, “College is the time to try all of the crazy things that you were not mature enough to tackle in high school, and that you will not have time to do once you have a stable job and a family.” Exploration defines the college experience, and volunteering should be part of that exploration.

Opinion 7

The estimated percentage of colleges that have formal service Learning Programs. courtesy meghan shea

Alumnus Sneha Jayaprakash volunteers in Kenya to help build a schoolroom.

The well-known reason why the high school service requirement exists and why prestigious colleges value consistent service revolves around the “ideal American” figure, who values making a lasting impact on society over short-lived personal gain. However, many students overlook volunteering as a

26 %


The estimated percentage of college students who actively volunteer. * Based on surveys conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service and USA Today.,, layout by opinion editors sanjay sreekumar


& catherine wang

Issue in Focus:


GMOs: Understand the Label

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been a topic of heated debate for the past several years. The growing use of genetic engineering to manipulate the traits of certain organisms has become a matter of great interest and importance in our society. The use of GMOs in agriculture has raised concerns about the implications of such alterations of food. However, in this technologically advanced day and age, we must accept the responsibility to be educated about the presence and uses of GMOs and recognize the enormous potential of genetic modification. One of the major issues with the societal perception of genetically modified food is misconception. Consumers may have the erroneous idea that genetically modified crops have been dramatically transformed and stripped of their natural qualities. However, this is not the case. Farmers may choose to grow certain crops that have been altered to be resistant to disease, drought, and pests or to enhance their nutritional value. This does not mean that the food has been changed to the point of no return. Genetically modified crops are not Transformers; they are simply altered to make the growing process more fruitful. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carefully evaluates genetically modified food to ensure consumer safety. As stated on, “Foods from genetically engineered plants must meet the same requirements, including safety requirements, as foods from traditionally bred plants.” There is another side to this problem:

By Arti Patankar Staff Writer

the marketing distinction between conventionally grown food and genetically modified food. In recent years, the idea of labeling genetically modified foods has gathered support among consumers, and for good reasons. As customers, we have the right to know what we are buying. Regardless of whether or not genetically modified food and conventionally grown food are actually different in terms of safety and quality standards, they must be distinguished in the store. Proper judgment of genetically modified foods comes through education and information. Therefore, consumers should say no to any outlandish science fiction notions and take the time to understand what the term “genetically modified” truly means. As advancements in science are made, we move torward a future dominated by innovations such as GMOs. Fear not! This technological evolution is one to embrace. Products like GMOs have the potential to change the world by making food more nutritious and accessible for the world’s population. Only through widespread awareness will the rumors and fallacies about GMOs be set straight. Through education and honest labeling, people will be able to adequately judge the use of genetic modification in food. Of course, the longterm environmental and health effects of GMOs must be continuously examined and studied. With an open and informed perspective, we will have the knowledge we need to make healthy decisions regarding what we see on the label. After all, you are what you eat. ▪, layout by opinion editor catherine wang

8 Feature

The Smoke Signal

Friday, December 20, 2013

As Winter Break approaches, students find themselves desperately looking for places to go or things to do, anything to rid one’s mind of the stress of finals week and the consequent return of report cards. Now with 10 new stores, featuring everything from salons to sandwiches, the Block at Pacific Commons has everything one needs to wipe away stress. The Smoke Signal has visited each of these new shops, stores, and eateries, and now lays out your options. Whether it is a laid-back hangout at the newest burger joint or a spiffy suit for the next school dance, there is something for every Warrior to go see at Pacific Commons’s newest additions! Which Wich Superior Sandwiches whisks in with an impressive selection of over 50 different customizable sandwiches. The quirky sandwich shop’s unique menu system involves choosing one of ten different paper bags or sandwich types and checking off whichever ingredients suit your fancy, from spices and sauces to meats and veggies. Enjoy their free wifi while relishing their chicken pesto sandwich, turkeywich, Green Eggs and Ham sandwich, or Philly Cheesesteak, the newest addition to their expansive menu board. Verdict: Whichever sandwich you want, there is sure to be something for every sandwich lover at this customizable-sandwich joint. Opening: Late December Past Locations: San Jose, Burlingame, Belmont Address: 43839 Pacific Commons Blvd. Price Range: $ Now you no longer have to drive to Union City to pick up your favorite doughnuts because Krispy Kreme Doughnuts has opened in Pacific Commons! From red velvet to original glazed topped with sprinkles, Krispy Kreme has doughnuts for everyone. This month, their featured treats are the Snowman shaped doughnut and the holiday themed chocolate doughnut decked in red and green sprinkles. In addition to the sweet snacks, Krispy Kreme also offers iced drinks, Kool Kreme milkshakes and sundaes, hot coffees, and espressos. Also, watch their doughnut-making process behind a huge glass window by the counter, and you might see some of their doughnuts passing through a curtain of rich white glaze! Verdict: This shop is sure to satisfy that sweet tooth of yours with its delicious doughnuts and is a great place to hang out with friends. Opening Date: December 3 Other Locations: Union City (Union Landing) Address: 43835 Pacific Commons Blvd. Price Range: $

Looking for a laid-back sandwich stop to relax at and satisfy your sandwich cravings? The Habit Burger Grill boasts a wide range of toasty sandwiches, as well as a selection of side orders, including salads, fries, onion rings, shakes, and malts. Charburgers, their crowning glory, are grilled over an open flame for their mouthwatering smoky flavor. After a couple Habit Burger runs, you might just find you’ve made it a habit to stop by for their good ol’ classic American burgers, diner style. Verdict: The Habit’s toasty American charburgers and complimentary sides remain true to the classics’ standard. Opening Date: December 7 Other Locations: Pleasanton, Sunnyvale, San Ramon Address: 43830 Pacific Commons Blvd. Price Range: $

Men’s Wearhouse provides a closer location to rent tuxedos when dance season rolls around. It boasts a wide range of men’s formal wear, including dress shirts, pressed pants, and dressy jackets. Compared to similar tuxedo and suit rental places located in nearby malls, Men’s Wearhouse’s variety presents the option for a multitude of different looks. It also offers custom tailoring with a purchase to ensure a fit as close to perfect as possible. Verdict: Looking for a suit? This is the place to go. Opening Date: November 1 Past Locations: NewPark Mall Address: 43805 Pacific Commons Blvd. Price Range: $-$$

From foundation to fragrances, Ulta presents a wide variety of beauty supplies. Known for its high-quality stock, Ulta houses many different designer brand products, including Conair hair supplies, Clinique perfumes, and CoverGirl makeup. If there’s a beauty product that you’ve scoured other store’s shelves for but haven’t found, it’s sure to be sold in this superstore. Also, although a bit pricey, their salon is open on Wednesdays and Fridays if you ever feel like primping up. Verdict: Ulta is the ultimate place to pick up your cosmetics or simply relax and hang out with friends! Opening Date: November 8 Other Locations: Fremont Hub Address: 43806 Pacific Commons Blvd. Price Range: $ -$$$

The only kind in the area, Firehouse Subs serves many types of sandwiches with signature smoky tastes. Founded by two firemen, this shop features a variety of hot and cold subs, each having a large spread of meats, veggies, and dressings to choose from. The featured sandwiches Hook & Ladder and New York Steamer are sure to satisfy the meat-lover’s appetite! In addition, they offer salads, soups, and other sweet sides to accompany the main meals. The staff is warm and friendly; the interior decor is on point, from the hand-painted Mission mural at the back to the firemen jackets hanging on the wall by the door. Verdict: Visit this joint for savory and smoky sandwiches whenever you’re feeling hungry. Opening Date: December 13 Other Locations: 700 locations around the United States (first one in the Bay Area) Address: 43344 Boscell Rd. Price Range: $$

The Counter, a popular custom burger store, will also be opening early 2014, near Sweet Tomatoes at 39350 Paseo Padre Parkway.

If you’re looking for clothes, designer brands, furniture, bedding, home/kitchen products, or pretty much anything home or apparel-related, T.J. Maxx is a good stop for those with limited time or money. Previously located in New Park Mall, T.J. Maxx is now even closer to MSJ and shares its location with sister store HomeGoods. The bargain prices for designer brands and one-of-a-kind, handcrafted merchandise are especially worthwhile. With aisles brimming with items from picture frames to jackets, one is sure to find what is needed. While stopping by, it may be prudent to try on their warm winter coats or invest in some flannel blankets to snuggle up in front of the fire this chilly winter season. Verdict: T.J. Maxx is a convenient stop to pick up almost anything ordinarily expensive at lower prices. Opening Date: October 24 Past Locations: New Park Mall Address: 43519 Boscell Rd. Price Range: $-$$

photos by staff writers nithya rajeev, katie sun, & andrea tam,,,,, layout by feature editors vivian jair & anjali kanthilal

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Smoke Signal

Feature 9

graphics by staff writers irisa lee, jacinta chang, grace dong, lillian zhao, & graphics editor shirby wang,, layout by feature editor vivian jair

Farewell to Staff History teacher James Nation will be leaving MSJ in January 2014 after serving as a US History and World History teacher at MSJ for over a year. During his time at MSJ, he has served as club advisor for Guitar Mundo and Interact. Though his stay at MSJ was short, he is often remembered by students for his friendliness and unique perspectives. He will be moving to Sweden, where he plans to teach history or English.

Cindy Stoorza, MSJ’s accounting clerk, will be retiring on Dec. 20, 2013 after more than 12 years at MSJ. Stoorza became the manager of financial affairs at MSJ after working in the private sector in accounting. She has served an indispensable role in organizing the ASB and donation funds and managing part of the expenses of running a school. She hopes to finish a few projects and spend more time with her baby granddaughters after her retirement. “Working with some amazing ASB officers, especially the treasurers, and the wonderful ladies in the office, who could always make me laugh even during hectic multi-cultural week, are some of my fondest memories,” said Stoorza.

Cindy Stoorza

“The best part of my experience here at MSJ was being able to interact with the bright, polite, and hardworking students of MSJ,” said Nation.

James Nation

Merri Blum

MSJ said goodbye to Counselor Merri Blum on Nov. 21, 2013 as she retired after over 20 years of working at the school. Blum, who served as one of the school’s four counselors, has helped hundreds of students navigate through some of high school’s most difficult obstacles. As a counselor for students with last names from Gi-Ln, she has guided students through both personal and academic issues. “We will miss her a lot, since she was at MSJ for a long time. She [Blum] was very knowledgeable and was my go-to person to talk to,” said Counselor Lindsay Rotter.

By Tiffany Huang Staff Writer

photos by staff writer tiffany huang & sports editor ishan goyal,, layout by feature editor anjali kanthilal

10 Centerspread

The Smoke Signal

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Smoke Signal

Centerspread 11

12 Feature

The Smoke Signal

Friday, December 20, 2013

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF... A Librarian

To investigate what a librarian does on a daily basis, the Smoke Signal recently went beyond the bookshelves and interviewed MSJ’s librarian, Shelley Hulseman. Ms. Hulseman is the library’s media technician and is one of the two librarians that oversee the library’s operations.

Librarian Shelley Hulseman working at the check-out desk.

7:30am I open up the library at this time every day, even on late start Wednesdays. Usually students come in to print, research, check out books, study, or just to stay warm. I help them with computers, printing and opening files. A student also volunteers to check out books in the morning. Teachers check out portable

technology in the morning as well. iPad and netbooks are available whenever needed, although teachers usually schedule for them beforehand to check availability. 8:00am Sometimes the library will have as many as two classes come in at once, and teachers usually schedule time slots in advance. One class will occupy the tables closest to the library front desk while the other class will use the computers, and on those days, Ms. Ferreira and I are very busy helping students through-


out the day. We collaborate to keep the library running smoothly.

Maile Ferreira is a district-wide teacher librarian. Her main focus is to teach, and she prepares lessons that help students find the best information for their research topics. Sometimes, teachers will request sites for a certain research topic, and Ms. Ferreira will then compile and upload a variety of substantial links onto the MSJ library webpage. As long as the research topic’s page is activated, students are free to use this collage of valuable resources. Meanwhile, when there are no classes in, I work on projects such as researching what materials we should buy for the library, which is a whole school year endeavor. I am constantly on the look-out for new items and books, whether it be non-fiction books or graphic novels, which we can buy when enough funding is available. I also look at journals for libraries that recommend books. I use this as a resource to go back to after I look at sites like for what’s popular. 9:53am Break is the second busiest time in the library after lunch. Students quickly come in and out after printing or looking something up because they need to get to class. Again, I am just there to help if students have any questions or problems with the technology. 9:57am I take this time to help classes if they


Disclaimer: The following satirical introductions are completely fictitious and any resemblance to a real essay is completely coincidental. However, the prompts used are all real. University of California Freshman Prompt: Describe the world you come from - for example, your family, community or school and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations. I was born and raised in the hood and I will forever be a true gangsta. You can find me cruisin’ the streets of ‘frisco in my beamer blasting my ratchet tunes. After being brought up in such an environment, I know that my true ambition is to pursue a field in medicine.

I grew up under the wing of mentors like Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, and the twerk goddess herself, Miley Cyrus. Cyrus, my personal role model, once said, “People like controversy because that’s what sells.” Fame is my one goal in life and the reason why I want to become a professional musician. I’ve already started designing the many meat dresses I’ll wear in future performances. Stanford University Supplement: What matters to you, and why? Urban Dictionary defines happiness as peeing in your pants. Everyone can see it but only you can feel the warmth. Being happy is an integral part of my identity and is an emotion I strive to achieve every day. This blithe attitude and my damp pants are what set me apart from my peers. University of Southern California Supplement: In a short paragraph, please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. The fields of justice have become my second home. Autolocking Heimerdinger and cruising down to mid lane has become second nature for me. Playing League of Legends has become more than a hobby for me, it has become a way of living. The game has taught me values such as teamwork and has truly improved my judgment calls, especially when I am placed in sticky situations. Tufts University Supplement: The ancient Romans started it when they coined the phrase “Carpe diem.” Jonathan Larson proclaimed “No day but today!” and most

By Abigail Wong Staff Writer are in, just like in the earlier morning, or go requests from teachers, we also look at research back to projects. At times, the TAs need help trends of our students in a variety of subjects, checking out books or shelving, and we are and we take this information and brainstorm there to guide them. Periodically, Ms. Ferreira for possible book and technology purchases and I will check if books are placed appropriin response to these studies. TAs also use this ately. This allows us to gauge whether the TAs time to update certain applications on the need a few more lessons on how to shelve iPads. They are usually quite good at this. books. Overall, our thirteen TAs are great. 3:00pm Studentscome into the library after Sometimes I will give them special projects school to use the computers, study, check out like making displays or hanging decorations; books, or print. I am there to assist anybody just something fun and relaxing. who needs help, especially with the technology. We also have a student who volunteers after 12:22pm Lunchtime is by far the busiest time of the day. Approximately 200 to 400 students school to help us check out books. are in the library at a time. Lots of students 3:45pm When the library closes, we push in use the computers, print, check out books, or all the chairs and collect all student belongings study, and I help them if they have any difthat are left behind. We put these items into ficulties. Helping students and staff solve any our lost-and-found box. Then we put all the issues they have, whether it be finding a book computers into sleep mode or turn them off if they like or solving a problem of any form, is we are going on a long holiday break. Finally, my favorite thing about being a librarian. we lock up all the technology back into the carts, and that’s the end of the day. ■ 12:58pm After lunch, the TAs and I help clean up the library and rearrange the chairs and tables back to their original positions. During 5th and 6th period, I continue with the projects unless there is a class that is scheduled to be in the library. One interesting project that we once undertook was accumulating and purchasing materials for new English language learners per request of an English teacher, Ms. Weed-Wolnick. In the first shelf closest to the magazines, you can see the books that we invested in for this project. These are mainly English classics translated Teacher Librarian Maile Ferreira. into several different languages. In addition to PHOTOS BY STAFF WRITER ABIGAIL WONG

By Ishan Goyal & Melissa Peng Sports Editor & Staff Writer

BAY AREA DRIVING SCHOOL Driver’s Education & Training

recently, Drake explained You Only Live Once (YOLO). Have you ever seized the day? Lived like there was no tomorrow? Or perhaps you plan to shout YOLO while jumping into something in the future. What does #YOLO mean to you? I consider myself to be an erratic risk taker. Just last week I turned in my math test without triple checking it and today on my way home I almost drove at the speed limit. Whether it’s staying up past my 10:00pm bedtime or sneaking an extra serving of pudding for dessert even though I’m watching my diet, I believe that I am the true embodiment of #YOLO. #YOLO to me means the complete lack of any motivation whatsoever. My terrible grades, lack of extracurricular activities, and extensive criminal record all prove that I don’t care about my education or my future at all. I promise to maintain the #YOLO habit—nay, lifestyle—once in college. I will never once turn in homework on time or pay attention to lectures. I might not even show up to class at all until second semester. Research Science Institute at Massachusetts Institute of Technology prompt: What are your long-range goals? My only goal in life is to marry rich, but, alas, the resources at my high school are disheartening. If I were accepted into RSI, I would use the program as an opportunity to practice picking up highly motivated geniuses who are clearly going places. This highly prestigious institution is a chance for me to prepare my game for the big leagues: college. Garcia MRSEC (Materials Research Science and Engineering Center) prompt: If you had the opportunities to do research in any area of engineering, what would you do? While some people try to find cures for terminal diseases, I know that engineering a spontaneous food creator would be more widely accepted by the American public. In the esteemed film, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, the protagonist is able to invent a flawless machine that manipulates the weather to precipitate food. My creation is not only plausible, but it puts an end to world wide problems like famine and shortage.,, layout by feature editor vivian jair



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Friday, December 20, 2013

Britney’s ‘C’omeback

The Smoke Signal

Arts & Entertainment 13

The Hobbit: Not Desolate

‘B’ecause the Internet

By Hannah Shih Staff Writer

With the tantalizing claim of releasing her most personal album yet, Britney Spears does what she does best — reveal all and nothing at all. Britney Jean, Spear’s latest album released on December 3, 2013, marks the pop star’s return to the music scene, and as always, she has carefully crafted her image to fit the demands of popular culture. The album caters to the desire of the public to gain some insight into the 32-year-old’s tumultuous life. Her last few post-breakdown albums have been affairs in shaky club pop, touching upon the usual themes of sex and love. Britney Jean proves no different. “Alien” begins the album promisingly, the synth beats and deceivingly revealing lyrics showcasing Spears in her prime, luring her audience seductively in within a carefully crafted electronic pop song. “Perfume”, one of the lead singles revealed prior to the album release, tells of a love triangle that drives Spears to “mark my territory”, a lyric that is touching despite seeming almost like an endorsement for her signature fragrances. “Passenger,” co-written by Katy Perry and Sia, continues the trend of songs that seem personal more in concept than real insight into the singer’s life. The rest of the album is marked by a few awkward tries at club pop, “It Should Be Easy” featuring Will. I.Am., standing out among them as the worst. With its strange crescendos and drops of beats and electronic synths, the try at EDM fails to distract from cliche and almost cringingly lazy lyrics like “it should be easy/ it shouldn’t be complicated”. “Tik Tik Boom” coproduced with T.I. features some of Spear’s most disturbing lines as well, “...beat her, beat her/Treat her like an animal somebody call PETA,” bringing in a touch of masochism to a string of tracks already dedicated to Spear’s sexuality. Britney launched into pop stardom fifteen years ago, capturing the title of America’s sweetheart in her Catholic school uniform. Her vocals have never been her strength. She has always been a blank canvas upon which producers and fans alike have been able craft the public persona of a sensual, real person. Who is Britney Spears? We still don’t know. There’s nothing groundbreaking about Britney Jean, but we have learned one new thing about her. She likes red wine. Grade: C-

By Supriya Yelimeli Web Editor

By Kerrie Wu & Lindy Zeng News Editor & Centerspread Editor

Director Peter Jackson returns once again with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second installment of the trilogy. The story follows their journey through Mirkwood and Lake-town to reach their destination, the Lonely Mountain, where they attempt to reclaim the mountain from the dragon Smaug. While its predecessor suffered from overly drawn out battle scenes, the movie remedied the problem by weaving ample comedy relief into the action. The battle scenes are an improvement from the long staring contests that seemed to dominate the first movie. The scene where Bilbo unintentionally wakens Smaug (Benedict

Cumberbatch) does not disappoint as the movie finally reveals the computer graphic masterpiece dragon that had been kept under wraps for so long. Breaking away from the dwarves to follow Gandalf (Ian McKellen) asserts the trilogy not only as an adventure in its own right, but also as a prequel. Detailing the return to power of Sauron, Gandalf ’s quest to uncover the source of the monstrous orcs fleshes out the beginnings of the conflict to emerge in The Lord of the Rings. Nevertheless, the movie maintains the aura of a whimsical children’s fantasy. Elements of the movie delight the imagination, such as a brief reappearance of Radagast’s beloved rabbit-sled. Sweeping shots of the beautiful frigid scenery of Lake-

town offset the ugliness of orcs and sinister darkness present in Dol Guldur, Sauron’s stronghold. The greatest deviation from the novel was a romantic subplot, which introduces Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and the elven warrior Tauriel (Evangeline Lily), the sole female character to play a significant part. The subplot also helps break up the adventure storyline with heartwarming fluff for viewers to take a break from the nonstop action. Overall, The Desolation of Smaug improves upon the first part of the film trilogy by breaking up the different plotlines through clever transitions. It ended once more at a cliffhanger, leaving the audience eager for the third and last film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again. ▪ Grade: A

Hot Out the Furnace

By Kevin Chen Staff Writer

Christian Bale returns to the silver screen without his cape, mask, and wealth in Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace, portraying a steelworker who investigates the mysterious disappearance of his brother. Cooper does an excellent job producing an emotional and painfully grim story, but unfortunately leaves the audience without anything notable. The film centers around Russell Baze (Christian Bale), a blue collar worker at a local steel mill. Laboring during the day and tending to his dying father at night, he leads his rough life according to the principles of loyalty, compassion, and justice. These principles are tested when Russell’s brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) returns home from his tour of duty in Iraq. Rodney, upset with how the country has repaid him for his service, develops a gambling addiction and eventually finds himself deeply in debt with John Petty (Willem Da-

foe). In order to pay off his debts, Rodney decides to participate in a dangerous network of bare-knuckle brawling matches. His risky behavior and encounter with gang leader Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson) result in a disappearance that Russell desperately tries to solve. Numerous star actors appear in the film, each one displaying their impressive ability to realistically portray assigned personas. Affleck’s raw anger when Rodney argues with Russell is convincing. Harrelson’s depiction of DeGroat’s vile and immoral nature beckons the audience to hate the character. The talent provided by the star cast is well utilized and satisfactorily delivers. The film’s cinematography properly conveys the depressing setting, with plenty of B-roll footage showing views of Russell’s dying town. A stationary shot at the introduction of the town overlooks a once bustling but now derelict land littered with train tracks and dilapidated buildings, rem-

nants of an old era of industrial production. Russell’s drive down a street passes by ramshackle houses with boarded up windows. Color filters lend a majority of the film a washed out mood. From the very first frame at a dark drive-in movie theater, viewers can see what the tone of the film will be. Despite its merits, the film suffers from several plot shortcomings. The ending is abrupt, and the final confrontation underwhelming. No clear climax is present, and the ending leaves viewers confused with many questions that a minute or two more of film could have answered. Overall, Out of the Furnace is an exemplary film that does a skillful job at conveying a dark story. For those who prefer slower films that portray the darker and harsher side of human life, Out of the Furnace is highly recommended. ▪ Rating: B+

For the past year, Childish Gambino has been creating a vast multimedia platform to promote his new album Because the Internet. In pairing with the album, Gambino has published a screenplay by the same name that stars a main character, “Boy” who makes a living trolling celebrities and hosting huge parties to fill a void. After seeing Gambino embrace the role of the elusive “Boy” for a year, fans were eager to hear the tracks that aim to satirize and target the purpose of the ever-increasing media frenzy, and the album finally dropped on December 10. The new album begins with a short introduction track titled “The Library” that sets the mood for the album with electronic ticks and beeps, modeled to sound like the inner workings of a computer. The new album contains fresh singles like “Earth: 3005”, “WORLDSTAR”, and “Dial Up” and it also includes songs featuring popular artists such as Macklemore (“Earth”), Jhene AIko (“Pink Toes”), and Lloyd (“Telegraph Avenue”). As with his previous albums, Gambino has continued to use his music as an outlet for his political and societal views. In “Zealots of Stockholm”, he voices concern over the increasing availability of the 3D Printing business, mentioning, “And wait until I’m walking in it with a gun that they 3D printed and I finish it”. Gambino is well-versed in making an enjoyable experience for fans. In “Life: The Biggest Troll (Andrew Auernheimer)”, Gambino pauses the track before it really ends, leaving listeners frustrated about glitchy computers for ten seconds before the song begins again. The album is exciting and fresh, revealing fresh mixtures of bass, vocals, and wordplay, but it doesn’t completely satisfy fans who expected answers to the numerous flaws of media As it is meant to be paired with the screenplay, the album feels disconnected at times. A few tracks include abrupt tune switches within the song, creating a more experimental feel for the album. Gambino has created a voice for himself with Because the Internet, straying from the mimicry that littered Camp and EP. He has paved the way for more experimentation in the genre and exciting prospects for the future of music. Grade: B+

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The Smoke Signal

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Smoke Signal

Holiday Favorites

The Smokie Awards By Tanvi Raja & Peter Qiu Staff Writers

As 2013 winds down, the Smoke Signal decided to take a look at the best and worst movies and music of the year. From movies to singles, albums to performances, the choices were definitely limitless, but we’ve narrowed it down to two for each category.


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Host

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Favori te Holi day Cloth ing Ha

Worst Movie


.89% 25

cks 23.8


r 6.71% the

“Chinese Food” by Alison Gold

Favorite Holiday Candies 32.92% Peppermint bark 24.86% Candy canes 17.01% Truffles 5.72% Gumdrops 4.13% Other

Other 10.74% Love Actually 5.37% It’s a Wonderful Life 4.69%

Favor i te

da Holi

Favorite Holiday Drink s

y Foods s Latke



Other 3.10% Eggnog 6.20%



Fr 9.56%

Apple Cider 14.96%


10.5 Other


ngerb % Gi


Wolf on Wall Street

R 12/25/13 Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, and Matthew McConaughey, Wolf on Wall Street follows the life of a New York stockbroker and his extreme self-indulgent lifestyle.

PG-13 12/25/13 Two boxers, retired with one victory each against each other, rekindle their rivalry after 30 years to finally settle the score. Starring Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, and Kevin Hart.

Peppermint Mocha

kin Pump 33.18% Pie

Grudge Match

That Girl

AE UPDATES BOX By Abigail Wong Staff Writer

Santa Claus 29.17%

Other 9.50%

The Polar Express 26.17%

To see the runner-ups, go to!

y Charac

Frosty 12.49%

Home Alone 42.69%

This song, though we hope it was made in good humor, became viral for all the wrong reasons. Stereotypical references to “popular” Chinese food bordered on racism and outraged listeners. The lyrics were infantile, and the song in general seemed to be formulaic and made for 15 minutes of fame; let’s not get started on pronunciation and the music video. Patrice Wilson wrote the lyrics for this song and other similarly infamous singles like “Friday” and “It’s Thanksgiving.” Though he may not write songs of the highest quality, he does have a knack for getting the highest quantity of viewers.

ida Hol

Scrooge 15.95%

Favorite Wintertime Movies

Worst Song


Rudolph 21.53%

Ugly Sweaters 14.62%


It Snow” - 26.

“All I Want for Christmas Is You” 32.07%

Scar ves


The Host is a futuristic romantic scifi that follows Melanie Stryder (Saoirse Ronan), a girl fighting for her loved ones against an enemy who poses a threat to mankind. It follows through to be boring and unsatisfactory. Many romantic shots were poorly written and cheesy, providing more humor than the intended angst. Overall, The Host did not meet any expectations set by the audience.


Ariana Grande, backed by four doowop singers, blew the audience away at the American Music Awards with her raw, powerful, rendition of “Tattooed Heart” from her album Yours Truly. The flawless performance drew comparisons to Mariah Carey, received largely positive responses on social media, and stood in contrast to the wild shows put on by Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. Grande later won the New Artist of the Year Award and has been called the “best voice out in music right now” by Lady Gaga.


It’s Cold Outside by, ”a 11.2 “B 0% r - 12.43% e h t O

“Tattooed Heart” by Ariana Grande at 2013 AMA

Best Song

*Percentages of abstainee ballots are not displayed.

18 . 8 5 % ts

Based upon the popular book, this widely anticipated release does not fail to impress. Through superb acting and great direction, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire combines the beloved plotline of the book along with accurate effects that show the futuristic setting. Mixed with the cinematography that captures the atmosphere of the arena, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire can easily be named one of the best releases of 2013.

i te Holiday Favor igh Ride” - Songs

s ter

Best Movie

Every year after a month of pumpkin flavored lattes and vibrant autumn leaves, the passage of Thanksgiving marks the entrance of winter holiday songs on the radio 24/7 and colorful lights strung across every house in sight. Shopping malls are filled with decorations; people at home celebrate the winter season and find tradition in an enormous variety of holiday enjoyments, whether it be watching holiday specials on television or indulging in tasty wintertime treats. Year after year, however, we all seem to find ourselves coming back to our all-time holiday favorites. The Smoke Signal conducted a school wide survey to find out the opinions of MSJ students, and here, brings you a collection of holiday arts and entertainment classics—the timeless marvels that we appreciate the most here at MSJ.



By Rebecca Wu & Madeline Zheng Staff Writers

Fuzzy S


Arts & Entertainment 15

Favori te

Friday, December 20, 2013


Hot Chocolate 48.93%

Jennifer Nettles 1/14/14 Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles will be releasing her debut solo album on January 14. The album features popular hit “That Girl.”

High Hopes

Bruce Springsteen 1/14/14 40 years after his debut album, Springsteen will be releasing his new album, a collection of covers and originals. The album includes performed hits “High Hopes” and “American Skin (41 Shots).”,,,,,,,,,, layout by arts & entertainment editors tammy tseng & peter xu

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The Smoke Signal

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Smoke Signal

Sports 17

Sports 27

By Leah Feuerman & Ishan Goyal Sports Editors

If you type “sports fights” into a Google search, one of the top links will be “Best Sports Fights of All Time”. The next searches will be some variation of that, with titles like “Top Ten Epic Brawls” and “The Greatest Fights of All Time.” Not worst fights. Best fights. Not the most horrific fights of all time. The greatest ones. Violence in sports, even today, still has positive connotations. People consider it not only a part of the game, but one of their favorite parts to watch. Getting into a fight makes you tough, being an instigator gets you YouTube hits. Is it any wonder that that this kind of culture has also harbored other forms of violence including hazing, riots, and coaching abuse? Violence and abuse in sports has dated as far back as the sports themselves. There are a lot of factors that contribute to this: athletes are trained to be competitive, tough, and passionate, and sometimes these positive traits can manifest themselves in a negative way when frustrations boil over. But there is little excuse for the type of physical and verbal brutality that has increasingly occurred in the sports world, even within the last year. Richie Incognito of the Miami Dolphins, for example, was recently suspended for hazing a fellow teammate by leaving disturbing

messages on his answering machine. Despite previous incidents of violent and abusive behavior on other teams, many of Incognito’s teammates still defended him and publicly. As Mike Wallace said to Fox Sports, “When you have a guy like that who’s always loud, always talking, a leader, you’re always going to miss a guy like that, no matter the situ-

Miami Dolphins Richie Incognito takes the field prior to a game before his suspension.

ation...We definitely want him back. He’s a great guy to have on the field.” This reflects a common attitude amongst professional athletes and fans: If you’re a winner, it shouldn’t matter what hazard you pose to other players. Coaches have also been guilty of this attitude in some incidents. Rutgers University fired basketball coach Mike Rice this past year when videos of him physically and verbally abusing players during practice sessions were leaked. After an initial warning where Rice was fined $75,000, suspended for three days, and required to take anger management

classes, the Rutgers coach was finally kicked out of the program. When Cal basketball coach Mike Montgomery wanted to send his leading scorer a message early in February, he let his emotions flare and proceeded to shove Allen Crabbe. After he was reprimanded by the Pac-12, Montgomery said in an interview with CNN, “I have great passion for this game and tonight, I let my emotions get away from me in the heat of the moment. While my intent was to motivate our student-athletes, my behavior was inappropriate and I apologize for my actions.” The motivation behind these outbreaks, however, was the same; an unreasonable zeal to win the game even if it meant physically or verbally harming their players. In a study conducted by PhD researchers Elizabeth Allan and Mary Madden from the University of Maine, over 1.5 million high school students are hazed annually. Moreover, 40% of athletes who reported being involved in hazing behaviors stated that a coach or advisor was aware of the activity while 22% said that the coach was directly involved. In no way is hazing or violence actually beneficial to the athlete. Although it may seem like a motivation technique, it often emotionally mars the recipient. When a player has coaches or teammates with the kind of mindset that promotes winning as the only objective, violence within the team almost seems inevitable. There are several contributing factors that instill this kind of mindset in the players and coaches, especially at higher levels. If the

team begins to perform poorly, it’s obvious that there are going to be roster changes and at the end of the day, everyone values their job security. Secondly, fans come to games for action and amusement, and when there isn’t any physical aggression or trash talking between the opposing teams, attendance has the potential to decrease. This leads to a decline in the team’s popularity and once again jobs are at risk. Lastly, the players and coaches only accept victory as compensation for all the work and time they have invested into the game. Nonetheless, player safety should absolutely be the most emphasized factor in any team, professional or otherwise. Too many members of the sports community have lost sight of this, and when winning is placed above all else, athletes end up getting hurt or worse. While the desire to win is essential, it is crucial not to lose perspective on what is really important. Athletes should not have to fear for their personal well-being because teams take extreme measures without reprehension. There are definitely better ways to improve an athlete’s performance than shoving them around or sending them hateful messages. With the NCAA basketball playoffs approaching, and the fight to compete in the Bowl Championship Series underway, the stakes will certainly be higher for some teams in the coming months. However, the well-being of the athletes should remain the most important goal of all the people involved. ▪

By Jacinta Chang Staff Writer With the colder weather setting in during the winter months, you may have the temptation to curl up at home and hibernate by the fire. Though this idea may seem appeasing at first, boredom is sure to set in at a certain point. Sports and fun physical activities may seem impossible out in the frosty weather, but the Smoke Signal is here to present some unique alternative indoor activities that will keep you from the cold shoulder of Mother Nature this winter. Although you may or may not have a license and a car to drive, karting offers an entirely new experience. Karting is a form of racing where four-wheeled vehicles are driven on circuits. Now, you can actually get a feel of karting for real, and not just from your Mario Kart games. Slow and steady may win the race, but in this scenario, it’s time to speed up. Nearby Locations: Umigo Indoor Kart Racing (6538 Patterson Pass Rd, Livermore, CA 94550) LeMans Karting (45957 Hotchkiss St, Fremont, CA 94539)

If you walk with an extra spring in your step, and talk with a bit of extra bubbliness, you may want to try out some trampoline parks. Trampoline parks make for a fun and bouncy hangout spot with friends and family. After your first time there, you’ll be jumping with joy. Nearby Locations: Great Jump Sports (616 S Main St., Milpitas, CA 95035) Sky High Sports (2880 Mead Ave, Santa Clara, CA 95051)

If you’ve ever hoped and dreamed of “catching fire” like Katniss Everdeen, you may want to try out her go-to weapon, the bow. Although you won’t have access to the arena, archery ranges are quite accessible. Archery is a great way to train your hand-eye coordination while getting to enjoy a unique experience. Remember to always keep your eye on the target. Nearby Locations: Archery Only (37300 Cedar Blvd, Newark, CA 94560) Palomo Archery (4022 Transport, Palo Alto, CA 94303) graphics by staff writer jacinta chang

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The Smoke Signal

Friday,December 20, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Smoke Signal

Sports 19

Student Athlete Infographic By Melissa Peng & Hanson Wang Staff Writers

At a school as academically prestigious as MSJ, student-athletes tend to be an overlooked minority, but they're just like the rest of us- balancing schoolwork and social lives, only with the addition of practices after school every day. To get a general idea of the every day routine of student-athletes, the Smoke Signal distributed a survey to all the varsity winter sports athletes. A total of 50 responses were collected.

Sleep Distribution (Hours)

Mile Time Distribution (Minutes)

9+ (2%) %) 4-5

8-9 (6%)








9+ (2%)




7-8 (34%) 6-7 (43%)

7-8 (29%)

6-7 (31%)

Number of Sports 35

Number of People

The recommended average for teens is 9 hours a night

Playing In College 26

10 12



1 Fou








Number of Sports

Ma ybe






Average Time Spent Practicing: 2.275 Hours/Day layout by sports editors leah feurerman & ishan goyal

By Iyesha Puri Staff Writer

MSJ is well known for its fierce wrestling program, which thrives each year. “Easier is not always better, that’s what we tell our kids every day. It’s better to push yourself and make it harder, because that’s what will help you later,” said Wrestling head coach, Tom Thomsen. With pep talks like these, MSJ always manages to be among the top teams out there. In the past 26 years, the Warriors have had more than three teams win MVALS, and have been in the top 10 in NCS more than 10 times. In addition, MSJ has had many state and league champions. These accomplishments are attributed to two things: the tremendous work put in by the wrestlers as well as the dedication of the coaches. This year, MSJ is fortunate to have the support of seven coaches, each of whom are specialized in a different weight class. These specialties allow the coaches to help all different kinds of wrestlers. Ever since the beginning of November, the coaches have been working with the wrestlers on their specific weight events during the vigorous conditioning sessions. Since many seniors went off to college last year, there are only about thirty wrestlers on the team this year: 27 boys and three girls. There are usually forty on the team, and the coaches hope that more people will come out and wrestle in future years. The captains selected by the coaches this year are Seniors Enrique Green and Zeki Yasar, and Sophomore Eric Yang. The captains work closely with the coaches to ensure that everything runs smoothly, and with the help of the captains as well as the coaches, there is promising hope for the team to be successful.

“[Practice is all about] intensity, urgency and hard work,” said Yang. Every day, the wrestlers go in and warm-up, go through technique with the coaches, drill the techniques, and drill on each position: top, standing, and bottom. After the drills have been solidified, the wrestlers wrestle live for about half an hour. They then condition some more with running, pushups, sit-ups, rope climbing, and all kinds of strengthening exercises. This routine will continue until March, the end of the season, when the team will compete at the State level. The team has participated in many other tournaments. There will be three before Winter Break: a dual meet tournament at Newark, a larger tournament in Madera, and another dual meet tournament in Heilsburg. MSJ also holds its very own wrestling tournament each year. It is one of the oldest continuously running tournaments in Northern California and the season’s latest elite level tournament in the entire state. Most of the top ranked teams in both the North Coast and Central Coast are present along with representation from the Central Section and Nevada as well. With all the hard work put in by the coaches and the athletes, it is important that MSJ students go out and support their fellow Warriors at their next home meet on January 22. ▪

smoke signal archives

Sophomore Eric Yang (left) on last year’s wrestling team.

Fall Sports Statistics By Rebecca Wu Staff Writer


League Record (W-L)

Place in MVALs

Qualified for NCS




Boys’ Waterpolo:








Girls’ Cross Country:




Girls’ Golf:




Girls’ Tennis:













Boys’ Cross Country:

Girls’ Volleyball: Girls’ Waterpolo: Gymnastics:,

By Peter Chew Staff Writer The sport of Disc Ultimate, also known as Ultimate Frisbee, is making a return to MSJ with the new Ultimate Frisbee Club. Despite the disbanding of the previous club in 2008, MSJ Ultimate, the sport’s simplicity and availability to all types of players has spurred its revival at MSJ. “It doesn’t require any previous skill, just an interest in the sport,” says Ultimate Frisbee club officer Rishabh Malhotra, who was inspired to start playing Disc Ultimate competitively after participating in a disc tournament hosted by L2 last spring. Malhotra teamed up with current officers Benjamin Lin, Tarun Sivakumar, Calvin Chen, Usman Ahmed, and Anish Kanaan to found the club. They also recruited Geography teacher Jeffery Alves to be the club’s advisor. Restarting MSJ’s involvement in Disc Ultimate from scratch was a daunting task. But with strong support from established Disc Ultimate clubs at other schools such as Irvington High, Ultimate Frisbee club is already well on its way. Currently, the club has around 20 active members and club officers expect that number to grow rapidly. MSJ regularly plays games with Irvington either head to head or with mixed teams. The club envisions organizing large-scale tournaments with disc clubs from American and Washington as well in the future. Disc Ultimate started in 1967, when three high school students at Colombia High School in New Jersey proposed the formation of a frisbee team. Originally, games were played with the rules of American football. The rules were later modified so that players could not run with the disc and could only pivot to pass. Possession of the disc changes every time there is an incomplete pass, interception, or when the player holding the disc

fails to throw within a time limit. In order to score, a team must complete a pass into the opponent’s endzone as in football. Teams are usually 20 to 30 players on each side. The sport of Disc Ultimate quickly drew the interest of athletic and non-athletic students alike due to its freeform style of play and competitive spirit. When the original New Jersey high school players went to college, they brought Disc Ultimate along. Rutgers and Princeton played the first collegiate game of frisbee in 1972. Since then, the sport has spread across the nation. MSJ’s Ultimate Frisbee club meets every Tuesday and Thursday in room N-4, and it always welcomes new members. They offer training sessions to teach new players how to handle a disc and team strategy. Games are intense but always friendly. Throwing frisbees, it turns out, can be quite a fun workout when someone on defense is guarding you. With smiles on their faces and plenty of spirit to dish out, these players aim to bring together the MSJ community in a game anyone can pick up, one throw at a time. ▪

staff writer peter chew

20 Photo

The Smoke Signal

Friday, December 20, 2013


Volume XLIX, No.4  

December 20, 2013

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