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VOL. 54 NO. 4


December 20, 2018

Student volunteers pull together to restore Sabercat Creek Historical Park By Yusuf Rasheed & Sabrina Wu Staff Writers

Volunteers trim invasive Himalayan blackberry bushes. Student volunteers collect weeds and invasive species into disposable bags.

On December 1 and 8, student volunteers pulled out weeds, cut down invasive plants, and collected acorns and buckeye seeds to replant native trees as part of a restoration project at Sabercat Creek Historical Park.

Students work in the pouring rain to remove invasive Himalayan blackberry plants. A CA scrub-jay perches on a tree branch by the creek.

As part of a 10-year project to restore Sabercat Creek, volunteers participated in work days on December 1 and 8 to give back to the Fremont community. In the pouring rain, students from various high schools across Fremont took out invasive plant species, installed mulching, and collected seeds of native trees, all in an effort to rehabilitate this historical park. With funding of $1.2 million from the Resource Agency CA River Parkway Program, this project aims to reduce erosion, remove invasive plants, and provide an ideal habitat for wildlife. The 98-acre park itself holds much historical significance, having served as a home for mammoths, sabertooth cats, and horses during the Ice Age, as well as a grape-growing area for the first wine industry in California in the mid 1800s. Informational signs and labelled sites installed as part of the project educate the Fremont community on its remarkable history. As a previous fossil site, Sabercat

Creek acts as a time capsule of wildlife and nature. Walkways along the park were paved and connected to be wheelchair accessible as a part of the project. This improved public access also benefits the creek’s many runners and walkers, including the MSJ Cross Country Team, which utilizes the Sabercat Creek Trail on their workouts. “Whether it’s coming through there after a long, tiring run or doing speedy intervals up the hills, [Sabercat Creek] has always shaped our cross country team for the better. I think the restoration of the creek trail is really important for the safety of all the runners. It will be a relaxing path for not only MSJ runners, but also for others to enjoy the serene view,” Cross Country Captain Senior Shyam Sethi said. He isn’t alone in this sentiment. Fremont community members Don and Sally Christian also expressed their appreciation for the project, and said, “We walk on this trail nearly every day ... long before there was a creek trail at all, and we’ve

Workday Supervisor Sabrina Siebert gives an overview of the restoration project and a safety briefing to volunteers.

been familiar with every step of the process.” Don Christian shares his extensive knowledge of the creek, pointing out areas with a natural spring and wildlife like the native salamander. Seasoned trailgoers like Sethi and Christian represent a larger Fremont community that values the volunteers’ restoration efforts. “[The restoration] is very worthwhile. We need to … have a safe place for our children and our families to ride our bikes, to walk, and to just be in nature.”

— Resident Susie M.

With five more years of the project remaining, volunteers will continue to meet on a monthly basis. Each work day tackles the independent goals of one out of five restoration sites along the creek trail. Before starting work, Supervisor Sabrina Siebert instructed volunteers on safety procedures. Students then split into groups to pull

The Sabercat Creek Trail is home to countless plant and animal species, and is popular among locals for walking and running on.

out weeds, cut down invasive Himalayan blackberry bushes along with other target invasives, and collect acorns and buckeye seeds in order to replant native trees in the future. These volunteers work to fight a history of erosion damage and to repair damage caused by the city when it hacked down 46 trees in an incident dubbed the “Fremont Chainsaw Massacre.” Additional funding of an estimated $1 million from the Clean Water Protection Fee and the Alameda County Flood Control District helped the Sabercat Creek restoration team invite environmental consultants to perform plant counts and provide a city-owned truck for tool and supply transportation. Siebert is optimistic for the project’s future, which has been largely successful due its highly dedicated volunteers. She said, “I’m really impressed with how well [the student volunteers] did, especially given that it was such a rainy day. They worked really hard, and I appreciate their efforts.” ▪ photos by staff writers yusuf rasheed & sabrina wu



The Crimes of Grindelwald had big shoes to fill, but was plagued with controversy from the release date. Go online to read the Smoke Signal’s review on this exciting film!

Want to relive “A Whole New World”? Check out the Smoke Signal’s online photo coverage of the exhilarating night at Winterball!



2 News

The Smoke Signal

Thursday, December 20, 2018

MSJ MUN shines at EBMUN Conference, takes home 13 awards MSJ Model United Nations attends East Bay Model United Nations Conference at California High

MSJ MUN members pose with their awards at the East Bay Model United Nations conference.

By Riya Chopra & Gregory Wu Staff Writers The fifth annual East Bay Model United Nations (EBMUN) Conference took place from December 1 to 2 at California High School. Even though MSJ Model United Nations (MUN) had many first-year members this year, the club displayed an impressive performance and won 13 awards. MUN is a worldwide educational simulation where students members learn about diplomacy, international relations, and social skills. At MUN conferences, students act as delegates representing a person or country and participate in debates within specific committees. Students can compete and debate in a number of different committees, where they draft resolutions and handle crisis situ-

ations. Resolutions are written in a standardized format and target a committee’s topic, making changes to or passing new legislation. Crisis situations are fictional events that are designed to refresh debate and pose challenges to compromise. MSJ MUN President Junior Rishi Jain said, “[MUN] really challenges critical thinking ... and encourages you to tap into your teamwork skills, cooperation, and ability to understand complex topics.” The conference began with an opening ceremony and a guest speaker. Following the ceremony, student delegates broke off into their respective committees to commence the two-day competition. Throughout conference, students showcased their skills in negotiating, public speaking, resolution writing, and diplomacy. During the closing ceremony, the Best Delegate, Outstanding Delegate, and Honorable

Mention titles were presented to competitors who exhibited notable performance in committee sessions. Additional awards were given to competitors who showed exemplary verbal performance and research skills. Junior Catherine Tseng won Best Delegate as a part of the Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee, and Sophomore Ashish Basetty, Vice President Junior Sanjay Rangavajjhala, and Jain won Outstanding Delegate in the Disarmament and International Security Committee, Warsaw Pact, and Security Council committees, respectively. Many other MSJ MUN members were presented with Honorable Mention, Best Research, and Verbal Commendations. Rangavajjhala said, “I think this is one of the best performances we’ve had at EBMUN in years ... the large number of new members that came this year helped to boost our success, and this

really shows promising signs for the future.” This year, MSJ MUN is comprised mostly of first-year members, so the officers hope that EBMUN provided a training ground for larger and more competitive conferences to come. The team participated in the Stanford MUN Conference last month, and won three awards there. They plan to attend the Berkeley MUN Conference and the Claremont MUN Conference later this school year. In addition to improving at future conferences, MSJ MUN officers also hope to promote basic life building skills, like communicating and problem-solving. Jain said, “[MUN] encourages students to expand their boundaries and to work with other people. You can’t just function alone and you have to persuade other people to agree with you, to work in collaboration, and to really come to a solid solution.” ▪

Rapporteurs from each committee summarize what happened during the conference, humorously performing raps and songs. photos by staff writer gregory wu

FUSD Seminar Series to help parents with kids’ digital lives Common Sense Media presents student screen time presentation as first segment of four-part series By Meera Sehgal & Jennifer Xiang Staff Writers FUSD partnered with Common Sense Media to host a four-part Community Education Series on digital citizenship, technology, and online safety. The first installment took place on December 4 at the FUSD Professional Development Center. Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization headquartered in San Francisco, presented this series as part of their education

division, which unites educators and families across the globe and promotes healthy development. The seminar covered topics ranging from online safety and technology addiction to the connection between sleep deprivation and technology use. Common Sense Media’s most popular service is their website, which posts reviews of popular media to determine their educational quality and to serve as a parental guide for identifying age-appropriate content. Following a grant from Fremont Unified Stu-

staff writer jennifer xiang

Jamie Nunez from Common Sense Media discusses strategies for improving students’ relationship with technology, as a sign language interpreter, on his right, translates.

dent Store, the FUSD Board of Trustees decided to create this event as a collaboration between Common Sense Media and other schools in the Bay Area. The goal of the grant is to help parents better understand, empathize with, and communicate with their children. The first event, titled “Help! My Child is Addicted to Technology,” will be followed by seminars on digital drama and footprints, and educational technology. The presentation revealed that the average teenager spends 6.5 hours a day using technology for recreational purposes. The presentation was led by Common Sense Media Bay Area Regional Manager Jamie Nunez, who has spent more than 15 years working with young adults to understand the addictive impact that technology has on the developing mind. The presentation’s agenda focused on helping parents understand the roots of their children’s addictive habits, explore tools and tips to reinforce family values, and practice utilizing these skills. Nunez also shared materials, including a screen-time contract for

to balance their child’s technology usage. The presentation revealed that the average teenager spends 6.5 hours a day using technology for recreational purposes. Nunez also traced many of these statistics to the technology usage of parents themselves, who on average spend nine hours using technology each day. Nunez also warned parents about the growing concern and adverse effects of targeted advertisements directed towards younger children. He urged parents to understand the deeper purpose of their child’s relationship with technology, which he said “stems from the desire to communicate and be validated by their peers.” The event also featured interactive activities to engage its audience, most of whom are parents of FUSD students, and to allow parents to share their solutions to common parenting issues. “We had a good turnout,” FUSD Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Debbie Ashmore said. A parent who attended the event said, “As a first event out of a series of four events, it’s a good place to start.” In the hopes of continuing the discussion, FUSD will upload the presentation slides, supplemental materials, and video recording of all four events to their website for students and parents to explore. ▪


for the Nov. 16, 2018 issue News Pg. 1: Anjali Patel is misspelled. News Pg. 2: The STEM Discovery Day is biannual. Centerspread Pg. 9: American Press Institution should be American Press Institute. A&E Pg. 11: Jenny Beavan is misspelled. A&E Pg. 11: “A Whole New World” is also by Peabo Bryson. A&E Pg. 11: “Never Enough” is by Loren Allred. A&E Pg. 11: The closing set at Berlin’s Panorama bar was five hours. Sports Pg. 14: Seniors Sashank Rao and Diane Shan are members of their respective sports. Sports Pg. 15: Seniors Kikue Higuchi, Connor Sayle, and Brittany Tran are co-captains of their respective sports. Graphics Pg. 16: The artist Marshmello is misspelled. Graphics Pg. 16: Krysta Rodriguez is misspelled.



Compiled by Kimberly Huang, Jonathan Liu & Yusuf Rasheed Staff Writers Milpitas Walmart robbery suspects crash their getaway vehicle on I-880 on December 14. Courtroom sketch artist Jane Rosenburg depicts Michael Cohen receiving his sentence.

Walmart robbery suspects taken into custody after crashing getaway vehicle Two Walmart robbery suspects were found with minor injuries after crashing their getaway vehicle north of Mowry Avenue on December 14 right after midnight. Milpitas police received a report of a robbery at the retail store on 301 Ranch Drive on December 13. The suspects’ car had flipped over while under police pursuit on northbound I-880, where the driver lost control of the vehicle. Police took two suspects into custody. It was reported that there were no injuries at Walmart.

Trump’s former lawyer sentenced to three years in jail Michael Cohen, former lawyer of President Donald Trump, was sentenced to three years of prison on December 12 for a slew of crimes that include lying to Congress and using “hush money” to take silence Trump’s affairs. These actions have also been described by federal authorities as a violation of campaign finance law. Cohen pleaded guilty to the charges leveled at him, and will be paying $1.39 million in restitution, $500,000 in forfeiture, and $100,000 in fines. He will report to prison on March 6. A house destroyed by the war in Yemen, which is currently considered the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Houthi rebels resume attack hours after cease-fire deal with Yemen govenment On December 13, Houthi rebels attacked a southern Hodeidah village hours after the rebels and the Yemen government agreed upon a cease-fire in Hodeidah. The deal was a result of a week of United Nations-brokered talks. The war in Yemen, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, is estimated to have killed at least 85,000 Yemeni children from malnutrition. On the same day, the US Senate voted to approve a resolution calling for an end to US involvement in the Saudi-United Arab Emirates military campaign in Yemen.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Smoke Signal

The Smoke Signal Mission San Jose High School Est. 1964 Vol. 54, No. 4 | December 20, 2018

toshali's take

Spend some time on now

vic ki’s voice

Almost-SSS thoughts By Vicki Xu Opinion Editor

By Toshali Goel Opinion Editor

41717 Palm Ave. Fremont, CA 94539 510-657-3600, ext. 37088 MISSION STATEMENT The Smoke Signal’s mission is to represent the voices of the MSJ community and serve the public by providing accurate, meaningful, and engaging information presented through print and digital mediums.

SCHOOL POPULATION 2051 students EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Amy Chen, Jonathan Ko NEWS Gloria Chang, Joelle Chuang OPINION Toshali Goel, Vicki Xu FEATURE Kikue Higuchi, Maggie Zhao CENTERSPREAD Karen Li, Kelly Yang A&E Stephanie Dutra, Shray Vaidya SPORTS Hannah Chou, Michael Ren GRAPHICS Evangeline Chang, Lucia Li WEB Rishi Chillara, Shiantel Chiang TECH Tylor Wu, Jennifer Xiang BUSINESS Ian Hsu CIRCULATION Christine Dong ADVERTISING Katherine Guo, Shreya Sridhar EVENTS Anisa Kundu, Sahana Sridhar SPECIAL PROJECTS Riya Chopra WRITERS & PHOTOGRAPHERS Anika Arora, Sabrina Cai, Thomas Chen, Josephine Chew, Alisha Chhangani, Sreetama Chowdhury, Kimberly Huang, Samir Jain, Aria Lakhmani, Jonathan Liu, Seong Jin (Ian) Park, Carolyn Qian, Gokul Ramapriyan, Yusuf Rasheed, Monisha Saxena, Meera Sehgal, Shreya Srinivasan, Mingjia Wang, Gregory Wu, Sabrina Wu, Jessica Xu, Selina Yang

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

Like many other students, I’ve spent much of my high school career trying to build up a profile that would secure me a “good” future. I’ve treated high school more like pre-college than its own individual experience, as though I am spending most of my time here trying to get out. My attitude isn’t just restricted to high school. The motivation behind everything I do lies in some way in the future. There is nothing wrong with planning for your life or building up a safety net to try and make your future as comfortable as possible: but in the college-centric craze that I was surrounded by, I found myself obsessing over not just thinking about my future, but actively trying to advance it — or even work towards completing it. My dad once asked me why I bothered taking AP classes in my senior year, if it won’t matter to most schools. While most classes I had some level of baseline interest in, I couldn’t deny it: I had taken them to get college credits and finish my general education requirements as soon as possible. “Why are you trying to finish college in high school?” he replied. “You can take college classes when you’re in college. Don’t worry about it right now.” It was true — why was I already working on my future, when I could be enjoying my high school experience to the fullest? All around me, people were starting clubs they didn’t care about to put it on their applications, or structuring plans that would allow them to graduate college in three years instead of four. We came into high school ready to build a profile, knowing that these were the years that would be scrutinized the most by college officials

or even employers. We spent junior high school joining clubs that we could continue in high school or starting on the language requirement that we knew was going to be required of us soon, missing out on classes we could have taken for fun. This isn’t to say being ambitious or wanting the best for ourselves is negative. But when that ambition becomes the root cause behind our every move, life reduces itself to a plan, a formula. We start looking for formulas in all aspects of our lives: online interpretations for complex novels, memorizing equations instead of learning concepts. Life is not formulaic — there isn’t just one definition of a “good” future, and working your whole life towards creating that textbook definition of an ideal life will lead to countless wasted opportunities to enjoy the moment. I forgot how to be spontaneous, to do something just because I wanted to do it in that moment because I was so busy looking for the next step in my grand planned out scheme of life. I missed out on classes I was truly interested in because they wouldn’t give me credits for the future. I stopped taking time out of my life to paint once I finished AP Art, instead investing that time in some other activity that would bolster my applications or otherwise help me in the future. It’s easier said than done, but live in the now. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rat race, spending your whole life preparing for the future. Take the classes you really want to, whether they have AP tests or not. Take some time out of looking forward to look inward. ▪

The Opinion of the Smoke Signal Editorial Board

Seniority can lead to mediocrity It seems that in every organization, club, and sports team on campus, the idea that a student is more qualified for a leadership position simply by virtue of seniority runs rampant. This is an inherently flawed concept — effort and dedication should be the main determining factors for any such position of authority. This problem isn’t limited to just one specific club. In sports teams, awards and captain positions are often given to those who have participated in the sport the longest, rather than to those who actually have the skill and qualities that would make them a good fit. In clubs, officer positions tend to be given to those who have been involved for longer, or who are simply older, instead of those with the vision and responsibility to lead. While it is important to have leaders that are deeply familiar with the organization to help educate newer members, a student’s age or years of experience should not automatically dictate their access to leadership positions in school organizations. One of the biggest drawbacks of this emphasis on seniority is that it allows members to feel entitled to a leadership position solely because of the amount of time they have dedicated to an organization. This leads to a loss of commitment and effort, since they feel guaranteed a position regardless of whether or not they actively contribute. The result is that the overall club or team is weaker, and has a leadership that is not necessarily the most capable. This also discourages innovation and healthy change as members passively wait for their turn at the head of the organization and grow idle in that guarantee of stability. Making officer positions available

Opinion 3

to all members, regardless of experience, fosters a sense of healthy competition, and facilitates the growth of new and improved ideas, making all organizations better and better. Additionally, when seniority is prioritized over merit, especially in sports, younger members feel discouraged and may want to give up when their hard work isn’t rewarded. If they raise this complaint, they would likely be met with the argument of “waiting their turn,” but this only perpetuates the cycle further by reinforcing the idea that they will eventually assume a position once they are more senior. Instead, taking into account a variety of factors and making leadership decisions holistically ensures that engagement remains high and dedication does not wane. The only way to combat this issue is to gradually move towards a leadership application process that looks beyond just the years an applicant may have under their belt. In the real world, seniority alone does not guarantee success, and to teach students now that it is viable to become complacent because they will reap benefits when they are older is a grave misstep. When deciding on the successor for a leadership position, weigh all aspects of a candidate’s profile, and do not discount effort and dedication in favor of experience. ▪

Getting my driver’s license always vaguely hung in the back of my mind throughout high school. As the years passed I watched my friends get theirs and enjoy newfound freedom. Yet for me there always seemed to be a more pressing issue: a project, an assignment, an extracurricular. The sixty-something hours I’d have to put toward getting a permit and driver’s education seemed enormously burdensome on top of my other work. Eventually I pushed this to second semester senior year — “I’ll have time to get it then.” My driver’s license isn’t the only thing I’ve procrastinated on. Now as a senior on the cusp of second semester, I have a whole laundry list of aspirations I’ve put off until now. Get a job. Leave the house more. Travel and explore. Learn to repurpose old clothes into new outfits. This list, which is presumably a fun agenda, now feels almost like my junior year homework planner: overloaded with things. This is a rather disappointing prospect. For one, my SSS bucket list is so long that I probably won’t be able to complete each item. There aren’t enough hours in the week to learn and master sewing, do Blogilates, and visit and explore nearby areas. I realize that I could’ve checked off many items if I spaced them throughout high school instead of cramming them all into a single semester. I indeed would’ve had time to, say, write a couple of short stories over the years instead of trying to rediscover creative writing as an

SSS. I think I ultimately would’ve arrived at the same place academics wise, only happier. The truth is, while being an SSS does typically come with more free time and less pressure (after all, we no longer worry about looking good for college), expecting to turn my life around in this short period was rather unreasonable. I’d gotten so used to putting off my SSS bucket list that its contents now seem more like a pleasant dream than tangible, actionable items. I’ve spent so much time putting things off for the right time. But now that I’ve nearly arrived at “the right time,” picking up the steam again is quite difficult, and I don’t even know where to start. It’s ironic, really: when I was a rising freshman, parents and family friends always told me to focus on my academics because I’d regret it otherwise, but now I regret not taking the time to do things that are more interesting and valuable to me. So don’t put off things you want to do. Make time for your hobbies and your personal goals. High school isn’t a series of finish lines or checkboxes, but often we do get caught up in tunnel vision, seeing only the tasks directly in front of us — and putting off the rest. If we keep putting things off for the “right time,” the right time may never come. After reviewing my SSS bucket list for a while, I decided to scrap it entirely. Instead I came up with a New Year’s Resolution: to simply make the most out of my last semester of high school, whatever that may be. ▪

By Sreetama Chowdhury & Kimberly Huang Staff Writers

staff writers sreetama chowdhury & kimberly huang

staff writers sreetama chowdhury & kimberly huang

4 Opinion

The Smoke Signal

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Corporations add fossil fuels to the fire This past month, 88 civilians perished in the Camp Fire that devastated Paradise, CA; it feels like wildfires are popping up every other day in the US. Large companies are major contributors to the increasing effects of global warming, but the US government hasn’t assigned enough blame to corpora- It is clear that self-regulation has tions. Instead, greenhouse gas emissions are been insufficient to deal with this allowed to pollute the atmosphere, encour- problem. aging global warming and natural disasters. comes to keeping these companies in check. This global warming, linked to As if this isn’t enough, an Obama-era the likelihood of wildfires burning rule known as the Clean Power Plan, aimed longer and stronger, is charged by to reduce emissions from coal-fired power some of the biggest fuel companies plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by in the US. 2030, is being rewritten by President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency According to a 2016 study by the Pro- (EPA) to give power plants more slack on ceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of pollution standards. The Trump administrathe United States of America, climate change tion’s actions targeting the first ever compreleads to drier and more flammable forests hensive federal regulations on power plants in the western US, nearly doubling fire- for repeal strip fossil fuel industry titans of prone areas in the last three decades. This accountability. This is no surprise, as the global warming, linked to the likelihood of wildfires burning longer and stronger, is The Trump administration’s accharged by some of the biggest fuel com- tions targeting the first ever companies in the US. A 2017 report published prehensive federal regulations on in the journal Climatic Change found that gi- power plants for repeal strip fossil ant corporations like ExxonMobil, Royal fuel industry titans of accountabilDutch Shell, BP, and Chevron Corporation ity. are among the 90 companies responsible head EPA chief at the time was Scott Pruitt, Clearly, corporations are major a longtime oil-ally who collected more than contributors of emissions, but the $325,000 in donations from energy compacurrent government does not have nies after becoming Oklahoma’s attorney a sense of urgency when it comes to general in 2011. Trump’s reimagination of keeping these companies in check. emission reduction is projected to lower emissions by only 1-2 percent by 2035 and is for 42-50 percent of the rise in global mean estimated to result in up to 1,400 premature temperature from 1880 to 2010. In addition, deaths annually by 2030, and up to 15,000 a Carbon Tracker Initiative study in 2015 new cases of upper respiratory problems,

according to research from his own administration. Those numbers still don’t include the irreversible damage from wildfires stoked by heightened carbon emissions, such as the 88

tor pockets. While energy executives rejoice as they cut costs, citizens across CA are left grieving for those who perished in the destructive wildfires in apprehension of this

While we as individuals still need to Coddling the fossil fuel industry review our own habits to stay eco- puts the lives of millions of Amerifriendly, it is vital for government cans at risk in order to line investor officials to hold corporations ac- pockets. countable for the extreme damage they cause. new era of environmental collapse. lives lost in early November. At the time of the reversal, Trump’s repeal is one of many environmental policy rollbacks that has defined his presidency. Friends of the oil industry with holds in the White House such as former Secretary of State and former ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson backed his decisions, attracted by the estimated $400 million a year in savings for the power sector with the rule. Coddling the fossil fuel industry puts the lives of millions of Americans at risk in order to line inves-

While we as individuals still need to review our own habits to stay eco-friendly, it is vital for government officials to hold corporations accountable for the extreme damage they cause. The government must enforce stricter laws in favor of the environment, but with such a fossil-fueled Capitol Hill, stronger regulation doesn’t seem to be in sight anytime soon. It’s time for energyendorsed representatives like Trump, Pruitt, and Tillerson to snap back to the reality of our fire-stricken lands and take responsibility. ▪

graphics editor lucia li

Saturday School

do you think saturday school effectively deters loitering in the parking lot after school, and why or why not?

ish Koth

a , 11



vesetti, De 1



“I think Saturday school is an effective deterrent because the time spent in Saturday school would outweigh the 20 extra minutes spent loitering in the parking lots. From personal experience, Saturday schools have been an effective deterrent at preventing me from getting tardies so I don't see any reason why it won't work in the parking lot.”

“I don’t think Saturday school is an effective deterrent because the administration has contended that the regulation to evacuate people out is to counteract vaping, but people can just vape at other places like the creek. I don’t think forcing people to leave the lot early is effective.”

in what situation is a saturday school or referral appropriate?

“Saturday school is okay if someone cheats, bullies someone else, or does drugs. Also [if they show] any disrespectful behavior to anyone.”

I sh

found that fossil fuel companies risk wasting more than two trillion dollars over the coming decade by pursuing coal, oil and gas projects, which would not align with efforts to switch to renewable sources of energy. Clearly, corporations are major contributors to emissions, but the current government does not have a sense of urgency when it

Tar u

By Yusuf Rasheed & Sabrina Wu Staff Writers

G ita

upta, 10

photos by opinion editor vicki xu

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Smoke Signal

Opinion 5

CRIMINAL JUSTICE The criminal justice system of the US is often criticized for its systemic problems such as racism, minimum sentencing, and police brutality. With the proposed First Step Act on the table, the possibility for reform is closer than ever. This informational spread compares and contrasts the justice systems and prisons of multiple other countries that are viewed as either effective or counter-effective, with an emphasis on the privatization of US prisons. By Josephine Chew, Alisha Chhangani & Ian Park Staff Writers

notable recent events 1973

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) founded. The organization lets corporations pay for membership and push for legislation that benefits them; ALEC then provides the resulting model bills for state legislators to use. Because of this, laws that support mandatory minimum sentencing have gained popularity.

2010 The Fair Sentencing Act reduced the sentencing disparity between crack and powdered cocaine from 100:1 to 18:1. The huge former difference justified overly harsh sentences for offenses involving crack, which is a cheaper but more potent form of cocaine. Crack’s lower price made it popular in lowincome communities, so the 100:1 sentencing rule disproportionately affected minorities.

2016 The Netflix documentary 13th, released in 2016, explains the Fair Sentencing Act as well as a myriad of other aspects of our criminal justice system. It delves into our country’s history of institutionalized racism, providing intricate coverage of politicians’ and corporations’ exploitation of the AfricanAmerican community.

2018 onwards As for the future, we may see a change in the sentencing process with President Donald Trump’s proposed Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act (FIRST STEP Act), which would give judges the power to reject mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines and allow some prisoners to earn credits to reduce their jail time.

comparing justice systems UNITED STATES

The US has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, with 655 prisoners per 100,000 people. This means that 2.3 million of the roughly 330 million people in the US are prisoners. Despite having only 5 percent of the world’s population, the US has more than a quarter of the world’s prisoners. Between 1980 and 2015, the number of people incarcerated increased from roughly 500,000 to the current number. The two types of US prisons are federal/state, and for-profit. Federal and state prisons make up most of the prison population, but as of 2015, there are 130 for-profit prisons in the US, with a total of 150,000 inmates. For-profit prisons earn billions from government contracts that guarantee near full occupancy in the prisons. (source: Institute for Criminal Policy Research)

Prisoners arriving at the military prison Guantanamo Bay.

The Suomenlinna prison, an open prison, in Finland.

Vietnamese prisoners preparing food for Tet.


According to The New York Times, the penal system in Vietnam is known as one of the most corrupt and despotical in the world. Prisons in Vietnam have high rates of executions, forced labor, and deaths in custody (Vietnam had the world’s third-highest execution rate, after China and Iran). With an incarceration rate of 137 per 100,000 in only 53 national institutions, overcrowding and lack of resources are very common. Submission practices and torture are the primary use of their prisons, and many are imprisoned for indefinite reasons.


Finland has one of the world’s lowest incarceration rates, at just 52 per 100,000 people. This Nordic country abolished capital punishment entirely in 1972. Finland is known for its 13 “open prisons,” where prisoners are employed to work full-time for up to $9.50 an hour, and can have limited interactions with neighbouring cities. The prisoners pay for their own utilities, housing, and entertainment amenities. These prisons are meant to reintegrate prisoners into society, and to assist in the rehabilitation of substance abuse and mental illnesses.

graphics by,,,,,

the Smoke Signal's perspective Imagine yourself as a prisoner in one of the 130 government-funded private prisons in 27 states. Unlike federal or state prisons, which often have more resources at their disposal ($31,000 per prisoner in state vs. $22,000 in private), “services” at private prisons aren’t held to the same standards. The food may be rotten and substandard, the beds second-rate, or the safety inadequate. For the roughly 130,000 prisoners currently incarcerated in private prisons, this is an everyday reality. Private prisons in the US are just one example of the flawed criminal justice system. These private corrections corporations funnel $45 million annually to lobby for legislation that would ensure the prisons stay full yearround, leading to a vicious cycle in which private prison corporations receive more and more business from more and more arrests under stricter laws, which increases profit margins and enables even more lobbying. Growing up, the lesson we learned was clear: criminals ended up where they were because of their own ill judgement. They deserved and were expected to be locked up since they were the “bad guys.” However, the reality of the US punitive system is very different. The punitive system is rife with oppression and inequity. Racial disparity in US prisons is especially prominent, with the incarceration rate of African-Americans a whopping 5.1 times more than that of white Americans. This imbalance has roots tracing all the way back to the abolition of slavery and the 13th Amendment, which prohibits slavery and other involuntary servitude except as punishment for crime. In other words, it legalizes forced and unpaid prison labor. This loophole means that we simply exchanged one form of slavery for another — we never truly abolished it. Most Americans don’t realize this truth, however, because once people are locked up, they’re so far removed from our regular society that we can conveniently ignore what’s happening to them. In order to find a viable solution for the broken criminal justice system, we have to look to several European countries. For example, the Netherlands have some of the lowest crime and highest rehabilitation rates in the world. The government has been making active efforts to focus on social integration, which contributes to the Netherlands being the country with one of the lowest recidivism rates (the number of people returning to prison) in the world. Next, look to Finland. Finland has several open prisons, a concept that, to many, seems like an oxymoron. Wouldn’t giving prisoners more freedom be counterproductive to curbing crime? On the contrary, the objective of open prisons is to allow prisoners more access to society so that when they return, they will not feel so estranged and won’t commit more crimes. Such rehabilitative and restorative methods have contributed to Finland being named one of the safest countries in the world, with a NationMaster crime level of 22.92, ranking 81st out of 92 countries. The punitive justice system of the US isn’t doing anything to solve the root causes of crime and vice in America. When drug abusers are released without proper care and treatment (80-85 percent of prisoners do not have access to monitoring, supervision, and rehabilitative therapy in specialized facilities), they are inevitably going to return to drugs and end up back in jail. It’s systemic flaws like these in the criminal justice system that contribute to some of the highest recidivism rates (76.6 percent for all prisoners after five years) and incarceration rates per capita in the world. Private companies that want more people in jail aren’t helping either. The US criminal justice system leaves space for abuse and unjust treatment toward prisoners, thwarting the very ideal, equality, that a judicial system is supposed to ensure. Our government needs to stop blatantly ignoring the system’s flaws and fight for equal treatment of all our country’s people, whether they be white or black, convicted or not. ▪ & photos by, & thanhniennews.

6 Opinion

The Smoke Signal

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The ethics of gene editing By Aria Lakhmani & Gokul Ramapriyan Staff Writers Chinese scientist He Jiankui shocked the world when he reported on November 26 that he had genetically edited a set of twin girls using CRISPR-Cas9, or simply CRISPR. Whilst He clarified that his experiment was conducted with the goal of making the babies resistant to infection with HIV, his announcement has sparked a controversy that marks a new chapter in the debate regarding gene editing in humans and the very real fear that it could lead to genetic manipulation. He's whereabouts have been unknown since his controversial claim. He’s experiment demonstrates the field’s failure to effectively self-regulate. It’s time to move forward from debates about ethical permissibility and begin outlining the path to clinical translation in order for this technology to be leveraged safely and positively. What is needed now is new comprehensive national regulation. This should have the ability to be responsive to

He’s experiment demonstrates the field’s failure to effectively self-regulate.

public sentiment and be influenced by experts. Gene editing is a technology that enables scientists to change an organism's DNA by allowing genetic material to be added, removed, or altered at particular locations in the genome. While other genome editing techniques exist, the most recent one known as CRISPR has generated excitement in the scientific community because it is more accurate and more efficient than other technologies.

While CRISPR can be used for noble causes ... there are a variety of safety, ethical, and social considerations that have not yet been fully debated or understood. He’s announcement sparked discussions between scientists who believe that CRISPR isn’t yet safe and precise enough to be used in human embryos given the lack of research about its long-term impacts. While CRISPR can be used for noble causes, such as eliminating genetic diseases, there are a variety of safety, ethical, and social considerations that have not yet been fully debated or understood. In germline gene editing, where sperm or egg cells are edited to prevent passing on dis-

eases to children, the side effects or long term consequence to the edited fetus are unknown, leading to the risk of irrevocable, harmful consequences to future generations. Scientists do not yet fully understand the scope of the unintended damage CRISPR does to DNA elsewhere in the genome or how it might leave you vulnerable to other diseases. According to the American Chemical Society, gene editing may, for instance, make death from flu more likely. Use of CRISPR before proper medical trials have been successfully completed could have disastrous effects.

There is also a geopolitical side to this — there are very different attitudes towards this technology all over the globe. We are in a competitive global environment, and the possibility of a genetically superior race is not remote. This type of development could very well lead to an “If we don’t, others still will” attitude that might be difficult to balance or contain. The capacity for genetic engineering is concen-

It’s time to move forward from debates about ethical permissibility and begin outlining the path to clinical translation in order for this technology to be leveraged safely and positively.

trated in the hands of a few wealthy nations. The invention of the atomic bomb gave the US a temporary virtual monopoly over nuclear weapons resulting in the use of atomic bombs against the Japanese in World War II. When America’s nuclear monopoly was broken up by Soviet Union and Chinese nuclear weapon tests, a dangerous but effective balance of power that has prevailed for decades emerged. This regulation, complemented by effective systems for responsible oversight and conditions on research grants, will be the solution to stopping rogue implementation of CRISPR technology. A similar balance will be required for biotechnology, a technology so powerful and with implications so profound that it may redefine our very humanity. Human gene editing is not just a scientific issue but also a social issue. Genetic engineering may lead to a society in which scientists are essentially “playing god”. The need for a global regulatory framework around this research is now urgent. Such regulation should be driven by the goal that gene-editing should not increase disadvantage, discrimination, or division in society and that such changes should not harm the welfare of the person. ▪

Further, use of this technology for genetically engineering babies for certain traits — like athletic or intellectual prowess — that have nothing to do with preventing genetic medical conditions is a common fear, popularized by media over the years. The popular 1997 sci-fi Gattaca shows a future society where children are conceived through genetic selection to ensure they possess the best hereditary traits of their parents, and if gene editing technology is misused, our society may well end up like the one in Gattaca. If He has already edited parts of an unborn baby’s genome, what’s stopping other scientists from using this technology to edit physical fitness or intellectual prowess? Where should we stop?

Human gene editing is not just a scientific issue but also a social issue. graphics editor lucia li

The capacity for genetic engineering is concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy nations.

Thursday, December 20, 2018


The Smoke Signal

By Carolyn Qian, Shreya Sridhar, Gregory Wu & Tylor Wu Staff Writers




Feature 7

Stock market simulation games are a safe opportunity for people who can’t afford to lose any money (like the DieHard TryHards) to hone their investing skills and feel the rush of a risky gamble. Putting their skills to the test, The DieHard TryHards made their best effort to turn a quick profit in a week with StockMarketSim-Stock Simulator, a mobile app available on Android and iOS. Players begin with $10,000 and assess a company’s trend throughout a day, week, month, or six months to determine whether or not they will bring in profit. Read on to learn more about the DieHard TryHard’s volatile financial endeavors.



I have played my fair share of stock market games in the past, and seen success in another simulation app by investing all my seed money into Bitcoin, before they were worth $1,000 each. My strategy will mostly consist of buying and selling stocks quickly every few days, with investments that can make a small turnaround. These buying habits could cause my performance to either be a splendid victory, or a boring show of little net profit. The prospect of $10,000 in seed money is exciting and I will definitely invest all of it immediately, but I promise that I won’t be too impulsive. A week isn’t a very long time to make a profit, but I am staying optimistic and hoping that it will end well for me.

With next to no knowledge about the stock market, I am probably the worst contender for this challenge. Nevertheless, I approach this game with unrivaled passion, envisioning the blooming success that will render my opponents awestruck. I can already imagine my ascension from my clueless, humble beginnings to become the richest investor to hit the stock market. I have a simple “strategy”: type in a random letter in the search bar and assess the first few companies that appear. Like any gambling game, there can never be a sense of security, and my strategy should be as good as any other.





As someone who currently has real money invested in stocks, one would think my chances are somewhat good. However, don’t place all your bets on me. I have only invested in mutual funds and have no experience in day trading. In fact, I am one of the most unlucky people I know and therefore don’t like gambling — even if it is fake money. Although the odds aren’t exactly "stocked" against me, I am definitely apprehensive about the coming week. Hopefully I won’t be glued to my phone, constantly monitoring the app as my heart rate fluctuates along with the stock market graph.

My investing career has consisted of a wide and shallow portfolio of cryptocurrency with a couple hundred lost on a corrupted hard drive somewhere. If there’s one thing I learned from it though, it’s to not touch day trading. Unfortunately, it’s what the game is all about. The one week time frame means that I might be able to steal a victory by going for safe, modest gains. Although I’d like to think I’m a master of candlestick charts, I should probably leave the risky investments to others. Hopefully my slow strategy will pay off in the long run.


I was pretty satisfied by how the week went after the markets closed on Friday. There were lots of disruptions in the market, with a large crash on Tuesday and the market closing on Wednesday, but I managed to close out with a small amount of profit. In the end, only few positive stocks saved me from encountering losses. I think the main takeaway for me here was to remember to sell quickly, as really anything could happen to the market and cause my shares to drop. Another change I would make to my strategy would be to distribute more money on the stocks I had trust in. Overall, with $96 earned, there was little profit during the week but many lessons learned.

As clueless as ever, I assumed that the markets had closed on Saturday instead of Friday. At the end of the day, I am glad to have lost less than $40 even though nearly all of my stocks’ values dropped. While my initial prediction for my success may have been slightly off, I must say, I did land a few redeeming investments among my sea of red. My second place win was utterly unexpected; I expected to land in last place. Learning from this week of anticipation (and disappointment), I will probably reserve bragging rights for another day. After all, perhaps the stars didn’t align in this unfortunate week to allow my innate investing abilities to shine.





As I walked home from school on Friday, I was scared to open the app, knowing that I had made some pretty poor decisions and the stock market was now closed. As I opened my app, I was met with an unsightly wall of red and an even more ghastly sight of a $300 loss. At least one thing came out of this week: I narrowed down my list of possible professions. Day trading and gambling are not my forte. As I ended the week, I can safely say that I won’t be investing in high risk stocks anytime soon.


At the end of Friday, I had lost almost 6 percent of my initial investment. With the overall market sinking throughout most of the week, my diverse portfolio fared poorly. I was expecting that placing most of my money into index funds, a portfolio designed to match a market index, would allow me to avoid too much risk, and it did, except it also meant that when the market fell, my entire portfolio fell. Over a longer period of time, my strategy may have been more successful, but it was a failure during the week, and I found myself $600 in the hole.


graphics by stockmarketsim-stock simulator, photo by feature editor kikue higuchi

10Feature Feature 8

www .org www .thesmokesignal

The Smoke Signal Friday, May20, 4, 2018 The Smoke Signal Thursday, December 2018

Letters to SantA By Ian Park Staff Writer

Dear Santa Claws, Santa! My name is Jared, and I am four years old! I hope you were listeng to my wishies at the mall! I have been a good boy this year. I listan to my parnts vary well and make them proud. I pramise I won’t hide behind the sofa and wait for you all nite like I did last year. Please, please, leave me a golden puppy in the backyard. Love, Jared Dec. 12, 2008 Dear Santa Claus, I really hope you liked the milk and cookies from last year, because you may not get any this year! I’m not very happy with my gift number from last year. I only received five presants, and none of them was a dog. This year, our family buyed a Christmas tree to fit more presents! In addition to the normal toys, I want you to leave me one of your raindeer in my backyard. Either Vixen or Prancer is okay because I know Rudolph is very important to you. Love, Jared Dec. 15, 2009 Dear Santa Claus, Apparently the Christmas tree didn’t work, because it only ended up fitting more ugly clothes and useless books. Seriously, have you ever opened a huge package only to find an encyclopedia and a sweater?! Santa, please, I beg you, no more subscriptions to Politico ... you have the wrong person. I am very disappointed, and I will come to the North Pole personally and kidnap one of your elves if you do not get me a bb or nerf gun this year. Take me seriously Santa. You better watch out!! From, Jared Dec. 15, 2011

Dear Santa, You have some explaining to do. All of my friends are telling me that you are a fraud. My parents insist that you are real, but for me to truly know, I want you to send me a selfie of yourself outside of your Igloo in the North Pole. All I want for Christmas is you ... and a brand new Schwinn bike. From, Jared Dec. 16, 2013 Dear Santa, If you really are the man of miracles, please write my father a check for $200.00, and I will make sure to put it to good use. My dad has some sense at least, and buys me a few toys here and there whenever my mom doesn’t come shopping with us. Thanks, Jared Dec. 20, 2014 Dear Santa, Please, anything, anything, but another ugly sweater. Thanks, Jared Dec. 24, 2015 Dear Mom and Dad, I can’t believe you have been playing these games on me for 13 years. Thirteen. Although Santa definitely was not the most generous of fictitious figures, he was what made Christmas so special for me. Thank you sooo much for ruining the spirit of Christmas for me! Now that I know the secret of “Santa,” I will go and ruin Christmas for everyone else I know, unless you buy me the new iPhone 8+. Love, Jared Dec. 24, 2017 graphics by graphics editor eva chang

Multicultural Comfort Food By Tylor Wu & Josephine Chew Staff Writers

This dish is composed of flaky layers of dough stuffed with a soft cheesy filling, often containing feta mixed with parsley. Around Christmas time, Armenians collaborate to cook sou boreg because the process is so complex and time-consuming. Cooks carefully boil and cool each sheet of dough and then brush it with butter during the lasagna-like assembly. The resulting crispy, mouthwatering deliciousness is well worth the extra work. You don’t even have to go to Armenia to taste this divine pastry, as it’s available at the restaurant Tawla in San Francisco.

Sou boreg — Armenia Pavlova — Australia, New Zealand The meringue cake was named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova and created after her tour of New Zealand and Australia. Australians and New Zealanders have fought over which country the cake originated in, without a definitive answer. Pavlova, a meringue filled with cream and topped with fruits, is often made for Christmas. Lotta’s Bakery in San Francisco sells the dessert, providing a perfect chance to have the cake dance across your taste buds.

This classic pie originated in England in the late 1700s and is a popular St. Patrick’s Day dish in Ireland. It likely began as a way for families to use leftovers and subsequently developed into the tasty meal it is today. The pie contains a juicy filling of minced lamb and vegetables, such as onions, carrots, and peas in gravy; all sealed in with a thick layer of velvety mashed potatoes. This gorgeous dish is easy to make at home, but you can also find it at Pot Pie Paradise & Deli in Hayward.

Shepherd’s pie — Ireland

Tourtière — Canada Tourtière is a meat pie that originated in Quebec in the 1600s. It is generally filled with ground pork or beef, although there are reports that passenger pigeon was originally used. In Quebec, tourtiere is usually made for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The rich, savory pie is difficult to find outside of Quebec, but you can always break out your rolling pin and bake your own.

With its luscious flavor and simple baking process, this indulgent dessert has been a Christmas-time favorite among South Africans since the 1980s. Apricot jam and brown vinegar lend the cake a hearty flavor, which is further complemented by a heavy cream sauce that is poured in after baking. The rich syrup saturates the cake, transforming it into a gooey, heavenly pudding. If you aren’t interested in baking one yourself, you can also pick up one of these beauties from the frozen dessert section at Whole Foods.

Malva pudding — South Africa Alfajores — Latin America Alfajores first came to South America when Spanish immigrants brought them over in the 16th century. The sweet treat made of a cream filling sandwiched between two cookies is popular all over Latin America and is often made for Christmas or New Year’s Eve. You can satisfy your sweet tooth with these treats at Rosi’s Alfajores in San Mateo and Chavez Supermarket in Hayward. photos by,, & cooking.nyt

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Smoke Signal

Feature 9

Alumni Spotlight: Sanil Chawla By Thomas Chen, Aria Lakhmani & Gokul Ramapriyan Staff Writers

MSJ Class of 2018 Alumnus Sanil Chawla was recently featured in the 2019 Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in the category of education, a prestigious annual list of society’s youngest, brightest, and most successful innovators and entrepreneurs.

EARLY ROOTS Since a young age, Chawla has been interested in starting his own business. Throughout middle school, he created mini-ventures as side projects and used his programming skills to build websites for them. Chawla said, “My dad started his own company, and he’s been an entrepreneur for a while now. When I was a kid, I’d look at what he was doing as an entrepreneur, and I’d really get inspired by that.”

INSPIRATION In high school Chawla began founding his own organizations and encountered the many barriers that young entrepreneurs face. Minors can’t have independent bank accounts, are forced use Paypal as an alternative, and can’t sign legal paperwork, so their organization has no legal infrastructure. During his senior year, these obstacles inspired him to found Hack+, a nonprofit organization that enables students to navigate legal and financial aspects to start their own organizations. Since its founding in August 2017, Hack+ has assisted over 50,000 students in the 2017-18 school year, enabling the founding of over 50 organizations.

FORBES' 30 UNDER 30 According to Chawla, his Forbes’ 30 under 30 list nomination served as a huge motivational factor for himself and his team. Chawla said, “It felt like a validation of the work I’ve been doing in Hack+ over the years. It was great to be recognized alongside people I’ve worked with and people who inspire me.”

Extracurriculars Working alongside numerous organizations, such as HSHacks and SRND, Chawla directed CodeDay and hackathons all over the Bay Area to spark student interest in computer science. The hackathons were aimed toward low income and underrepresented students who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to experiment with computer science. Chawla said, “Through Hack+ and other organizations, the impact I’ve seen myself having is amazing ... it feels very exciting and rewarding.”

Bay Area students listen to Chawla speak at CodeDay Bay Area

HIGH SCHOOL YEARS Chawla says his success as a young entrepreneur was augmented through his involvement in Leadership 2 and DECA during his high school years. In his freshman and sophomore years, DECA gave Chawla hands-on experience creating and leading enterprises. Through DECA, Chawla developed a business growth plan for Hack+, which he presented with his DECA partners at the 2016 International Career Development Conference. Chawla has also used his tech experience to create various products: Twentyei Chawla (a chatbot designed using artificial intelligence), ClubsChat (a companion app used to broadcast messages to members within an organization), and DateFinder (an app created to find the user a date to Winter Ball using a Tinder-like system).

Chawla speaking at CodeDay Bay Area at the Make school in San Francisco.

ADVICE Chawla encourages young entrepreneurs to keep developing their business portfolios and continue making a positive impact, the same way he did to gain the attention of tech giants like Google and Amazon. Chawla’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is all about passion. He said, “If you stay determined ... people are going to take notice ... and you’re going to be able to grow what you want to grow ... If there’s something you’re passionate about and it’s worth pursuing, find events locally that talk about the topic or even start your own organization.” photos courtesy sanil chawla

10 Centerspread

The Smoke Signal

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Thursday, December 20, 2018


These major fires are becoming the norm ... What happened in Paradise is a concern for everybody, as it should be ... There is always room for improvement. — Assistant Principal Jeana Nightengale

The past fall was the most destructive wildfire season in state history, resulting in devastating casualties, damaged infrastructure, and destroyed land. Wildfires are becoming a central part of the the Californian lifestyle. With the threat of natural disasters looming over us, it is more important than ever that Fremont citizens take measures to combat wildfires, understand how to control such situations, and practice safety procedures at school. To address this issue, the Smoke Signal presents a compiled history of CA wildfires, MSJ’s cautionary protocol, and steps we can take to a more informed and prepared community.

By Jonathan Liu, Gokul Ramapriyan, Sahana Sridhar & Jessica Xu Sttaff Writers

San Diego County’s Witch Fire was a raging disaster, lasting nearly 30 days in October 2007. Medic team helicopters lifted 22 severe burn victims from the debris, and many more were injured or killed. Nearly 375,000 acres of land were consumed, leaving 1,300 homes destroyed. Approximately 500,000 were evacuated, and property damage totaled $1.6 billion. According to County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, however, San Diego County is now much better equipped to deal with wildfires; the county made improvements in evacuation policy and resident emergency preparedness training.

guide to school evacuation procedure 1

Sound the fire alarm and evacuate the affected building as quickly and safely as possible to the predetermined evacuation location.

Leave the door CLOSED. Watch the wind and avoid any smoke. Call 911 to report the incident.

2 3 4

The Smoke Signal


Wildfire Escalation In recent years, CA wildfires have seen an increase in both frequency and intensity. Ten of the deadliest fires in CA history occurred after 2010, and five of those happened after 2010. According to the New York Times, the lack of rainfall in the spring and summer months dries out vegetation and makes CA more susceptible to fires. Climate change plays a role in CA’s susceptibility to wildfires, as Columbia University Lamont Assistant Research Professor Park Williams said, “temperatures ... are ... about two to three degrees Fahrenheit warmer now than they would’ve been without global warming,� which further exacerbates wildfire risks. In addition, many current residents are unknowingly moving into fire-prone areas at an exponential rate; more than 25 percent of Californians live in “moderate or high-risk fire corridors.� Fires that occur in these areas are likely to result in more loss of life.

Something sparked realization that we as a student leadership group should do something. So I talked with the ASB officers and ... we came up with the ‘$1 per student to make a difference’ idea.

One of MSJ Safety Committee's main goals is to make both students and faculty prepared for the event of a wildfire. This year, we hosted a shed clean up, ... [and] are also working with Fremont's Emergency Services Manager from the Fremont Fire Department to host a fire safety presentation to the MSJ community. During the 2018 CA wildďŹ re season, the total acreage of land burned was

1.9 million The Thomas Fire started on Dec. 4, 2017, feeding on 281,893 acres of the Ventura and Santa Barbara counties until Jan. 12, 2018. The fire consumed more than 1,000 structures throughout southern CA, killing 2 people. With the help of government relief programs and donations, approximately $177 million went to extinguishing the Thomas Fire alone.

— Leadership Adviser Ben Breazeale

wildfire knowledge BEWARE

of fire-prone areas

Stay up-to-date on current ďŹ res by using websites like CAL FIRE’s site, ďŹ

Make a plan



with a radio, a ashlight, toiletries, food medication, and non-perishable food.

how to prepare yourself

Always have a contingency plan for situations like being trapped at school or at other areas.

Make an emergency contact list in case you lose communication with family, friends, and others. identify several safe and convenient evacuation routes in our city


such as dry leaves, branches, and wood piles.


Remain responsible for your campďŹ res

— MSJ Safety Committee Student Representative Yusuf Rasheed

any signs of possible ďŹ re as soon as possible

“During school hours, we are adequately prepared because we have had enough fire drills ... But at home, people in the Bay Area not affected by the recent fires have the mindset of any onlooker, where they think it’s not going to affect them. If it happens, we will be very unprepared.� — Serena Mao, 10 “We all have done the drills and we know where to exit. However, I think [people are] not able to put themselves in the actual fire situation ... If we had better routes that were laid out for us, that would be better because right now, students just kind of exit and walk towards the field and cut through any buildings, but in reality, when the whole place is on fire, that’s not the safest place.� — Anuja Konda, 12 “I believe we are not very prepared for a fire since other than basic evacuation knowledge, which is only practiced once every year, no students in school have [any] knowledge of what to do if, for example, a fire is close at hand.� — Patrick Liu, 11 “I think because of the school’s [open] design, it’s much easier for us to escape [from a fire]. I would say we’re about a 7/10 [prepared] because the closest fire station is pretty far away, but the school’s design and fire extinguishers means we’re decently prepared.� — Dylan Zhang, 11

student voices

“I don't think we are prepared for a fire, especially me ... people here ... have never experienced such tragedies that we are often unprepared and forget to understand the dangers of real life as we are busy with technology and grinding studies.� — Anish Aerrabotu, 10

student involvement Leadership 2 (L2) announced a fundraiser for the victims of the Camp Fire on November 15, collecting donations during parent-teacher conferences on the same day. Leadership Advisor Ben Breazeale and L2 students worked together to implement the fundraiser action plan one day after its conception. Originally, they had planned to collect money during read period on November 16. Since school was cancelled that day, they collected donations during parent-teacher conferences and after Thanksgiving break. The MSJ community raised a total of $2,603.

Centerspread 11

Beginning in the Cleveland National Forest and destroying a total of 280,278 acres of land, the Cedar Fire burned through San Diego County from October 25 to November 5 of 2003. Started by a signal flare set by a lost hunter, the Cedar Fire resulted in the destruction of 2,232 residences and the deaths of 14 civilians and one firefighter. The fire cost $27 million in damages. It was the fourth-most destructive fire in California history in terms of damage to structures and the fifth-most destructive in terms of casualties.


The Santa Rosa Tubbs Fire in 2017 destroyed more than 36,000 acres of land. Leaving 22 people dead and thousands injured, the fire wreaked even more havoc as it spread down south. There are strong leads indicating that the fire was a result of unsafe PG&E power lines and equipment, but a definitive cause has not yet been established. The fire damaged nearly $8 billion of insured property.


What we have done is to try and create as much of a defensible space as possible. We will also get recommendations from our local fire department and the Alameda County Fire Department, so they can tell us what [we] should do in the event of these fires. — Principal Zack Larsen

The recent Camp Fire was the deadliest wildfire in CA history and the fifth-deadliest fire in the US, with 88 fatalities and $19 billion in damages. The fire started in Butte County but spread across 153,336 acres. After 17 days of relentless firefighting, firefighter efforts finally contained the fire on Nov. 25, 2018. However, as of December 11, local police departments are still continuing ongoing investigations for 3 missing people.


Unhealthy air quality index closes schools On November 15, FUSD Superintendent Kim Wallace and other Alameda County superintendents had a call with Alameda County Superintendent L. Karen Monroe to discuss the air quality. After conferring, they made the decision to close all schools within Alameda County on November 16. Thus, all schools, premises, and the FUSD Office were closed on Friday.

12 Advertisement

The Smoke Signal

Thursday, December, 2018


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Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Smoke Signal

Arts & Entertainment 13

C R I T I C S’ C O R N E R MusiC: lauren aquilina, the 1975 | Film: ralph breaks the internet, spider-man: into the spider-verse

Under the radar into the spider-verse is a multiverse of fun Music review lauren aquilina

the 1975

By Josephine Chew Staff Writer After a two-year hiatus from the music industry, singer-songwriter Lauren Aquilina recently reentered the scene this fall with a dazzling new single, “Psycho,” featuring irresistible, bouncy beats and a colorful melody. Growing up in England, Aquilina nourished her musical interest by singing, playing piano, and writing songs. She uploaded recordings on YouTube as a teen, building up a loyal fanbase, and released three EPs — Fools, Sinners, and Liars — between 2012 and 2014. Aquilina’s lyrics are pure, honest, and insightful, often diving into deep territory involving mental health and other personal struggles, especially in her earlier songs. Her warm, angelic voice and enchanting high notes are reminiscent of Gabrielle Aplin’s, weaving an aura of raw emotion into her music. Aquilina opened for Taylor Swift’s tour in 2015, and the following year, she released her first full album, Isn’t It Strange. Following this release, Aquilina left the music industry because she was struggling with her mental health. She returned to the music industry in 2017, however, and began to write with and for other artists. The unexpected release of “Psycho,” which possesses a sound wildly different from that of her previous songs, shows just how far Aquilina has come in terms of developing her own unique style and has fans eagerly anticipating her next release, an EP set for the beginning of next year. ▪

By Jennifer Xiang Staff Writer English pop band The 1975’s third album A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships defines its purpose clearly with just its title. The album pivots from the more pop and alternative-rock stylings of their previous two albums, featuring a variety of tracks that land all over the board and yet manage to pull the album coherently. Despite its title, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is not very brief. It clocks in at just under one hour, the product of a few long instrumental interludes that set the atmosphere for many tracks. They help bridge the large genre gap between certain tracks, as the album segues from jazzy ballads to pop-rock anthems to 80s-inspired tracks. These long soundscapes keep the album moving through its runtime, making sure never to use up listeners’ time. The inquiry that it does make is brief, however, as the album does not really confront its subject matter directly, instead dancing around it, exploring its unspoken and tangential effects. Lead singer and frontman Matthew Healy sings in a rambling style at times, touching upon his reactions to aging, race relations, and current events all in the first half of the album. In these tracks, technology is always an addendum, something he flippantly rejects or makes fun of. It’s reminiscent of a reaction all too familiar — that of a pretentious Luddite uselessly longing for a lost analog time in hopes of a deeper human connection. Further through the album, Healy makes it clear through his lyrics that he is not scapegoating technology and culture for many societal or personal problems but is poking deeper into ways it exposes raw, human emotions. Even as he sings “And irony is okay, I suppose, culture is to blame/You try and mask your pain in the most postmodern way” on the up-tempo “Sincerity is Scary,” he follows up with a plea for a relationship in the chorus. The relationships the band seemingly deigned to inquire after are no longer just between people, too, as Healy sings of his past addiction to heroin in a seemingly happy love song. He also sings of his experiences in drug rehabilitation, and, subtly, of the ways modern culture, intrinsically related to technology, affected it. The album slows down in its final minutes, with trumpets, guitar solos, and languid, hurt vocals stretching out the time. The closer track “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” is retrostyled power-pop that feels made to be played at the end of a coming-ofage film, its existential sadness accompanied by soaring vocals that end the album on a perfect note. The song and the album as a whole succeed because it never claims to be universal or a panacea. The lyrics and experiences are deeply personal, and Healy never pretends otherwise. These times are full of different ways to hurt, and technology to make it paradoxically better and worse. Yet by examining and tearing apart how he manages — or doesn’t manage — to exist in the modern world, Healy, and the rest of the band, don’t spoon-feed their solution as a roadmap of what to hate and what to love but instead offer an empathizing experience to others. ▪

G a m e By t e s deltarune By Kimberly Huang Staff Writer overall: 4.5/5

Deltarune heralds the return of indie game developer Toby Fox as a spinoff of his hit game Undertale, coupled with refreshingly different characters, game mechanics, and environments. The pixelated RPG follows a human child and a classmate in their quest to return to their world after falling to the monsterinhabited “Dark World.” Deltarune was released on October 31, and the first chapter is available for free on Windows and MacOS.

By Sreetama Chowdhury Staff Writer Groundbreaking and original, Marvel and Sony’s much-anticipated SpiderMan: Into the Spider-Verse explodes onto the superhero movie scene armed to the teeth with creativity, humor, and heart. Unprecedented animation marries a brilliantly written script to spawn a story that seems to have leapt directly out of the pages of a comic book. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse plot flows smoothly throughout the movie, with edge-of-your-seat action scenes tempered by quieter, more emotional interludes. Based loosely on the 2014 Spider-Verse comics event, which features various alternate versions of SpiderMan coming together to defeat a common enemy, the movie provides quick but thorough exposition before diving into the plot. It’s immediately clear that the writers strategically calculated every line of dialogue to develop each character’s psyche. After just a few minutes of the movie, the protagonists become easily relatable and human characters. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is equal parts superhero flick and coming-of-age drama, a peculiar combination reflected by its main characters. Protagonist Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is an ordinary middle schooler who is dragged headfirst into an interdimensional crisis when he is bitten by a radioactive spider and is forced to take on the mantle of a superhero. Scrambling to understand his newfound role as Spider-Man, he must work

with other Spider-People from across the multiverse, including alternate versions of Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) and Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfield), to avert multiversal doom. Morales undergoes a hero’s journey as the story unfolds, growing from a creative but aimless teenager to a true superhero confident in his ability to save the day. As he navigates the action-packed plot, Morales begins to fully embrace his identity, not just as a replacement for an older hero, but as a formidable Spider-Man in his own right. At Morales’s side are Parker and Stacy, two characters usually at the forefront of Spider-Man adaptations who take on the role of his teachers. Both undergo their own character arcs, growing into better heroes and friends without overshadowing Morales’s accomplishments. Rather than adopting the bright-eyed high schooler persona used by past films, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse presents a more mature adult version of Peter Parker. He arrives on the scene a jaded mess of a hero, undergoing a midlife crisis of sorts. Parker grudgingly agrees to teach Morales how to be a proper hero, but ends up learning a thing or two himself, breaking out of his shell of apathy and becoming a sympathetic mentor figure. Similarly, Gwen Stacy, who is introduced as uber-competent and stoic, eventually reveals that she avoids friendships because she fears emotional vulnerability. As she slowly befriends Morales and the other Spider-People, she gradually softens her tough exterior and even engages in playful banter with her new friends.

The movie focuses on Morales, Parker, and Stacy, so the audience feels less of an emotional connection to other characters. Overall, Spider-Man: Into the SpiderVerse is very character-driven, with each of the main characters’ motivations and arcs serving to move the plot forward. The movie’s true triumph, however, is its vibrant animation. Every frame is bursting with energy, incorporating comic-style panels, speech bubbles, and explosive colors to create the impression that the audience has stepped into a comic book. Notably, each of the Spider-People is drawn in a different style to represent their home dimension; the porcine Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), for example, is reminiscent of old cartoons. There are visual nods to previous animated adaptations, but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse drips with innovation; its animation draws inspiration from comics but combines several art styles to create something entirely new. As a whole, Spider-Man: Into the SpiderVerse is a love letter to comics. It embraces the creativity and the heart that form the essence of Spider-Man, bringing well-loved stories into a new light for all audiences, whether seasoned fan or newcomer, to enjoy. Playful animation and a well-structured plot add dimension to the movie, and although it is centered around the intersection of multiple universes, we as viewers should just be happy to be in the same one as SpiderMan: Into the Spider-Verse. ▪ Rating: A+

Ralph Breaks the Internet but Touches our Hearts

storyline: 4/5

Deltarune avoids being a rehashed version of its predecessor with its well-introduced, unique premise and introduction of new characters along with old ones from Undertale. The only point in which the story is lacking is how quickly it introduces these characters, which sometimes feels rushed. Nevertheless, the game’s masterfully woven points of humor and tension alike keep players gripped from start to finish. soundtrack: 5/5

Toby Fox became known through Undertale as a master composer of game music, and Deltarune’s soundtrack certainly does not disappoint. The 8-bit style music enhances the story or situation, adding undercurrents of fear or adventure that the dialogue alone cannot portray. atmosphere: 5/5

Deltarune pays great attention to detail in its environment, creating a world that feels alive despite being a pixelated game. While the soundtrack and graphics contribute to this effect, it is truly driven by interactions between the player and different objects or people that have an effect on the overworld. gameplay: 4/5

Deltarune follows the same bullet hell mechanics of Undertale, in which the player dodges projectiles from the enemy and chooses a course of action to subdue the opponent. However, Deltarune’s addition of team mechanics and other action options make the battle menu feel comparatively cluttered. Regardless, the non-battling puzzles scattered throughout the story keep gameplay from feeling overly repetitive. ▪

By Anisa Kundu Staff Writer In 2012, Wreck-It Ralph captured hearts with the kind-hearted nature of its titular character. Six years later, directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston deliver an enticing story where returning protagonists Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) use the power of friendship to conquer the challenges posed by an intimidating new world: the Internet. As the movie begins, Ralph and Vanellope navigate through the fast-paced Internet universe to reach eBay and find a replacement steering wheel controller for Vanellope’s arcade game Sugar Rush Speedway. Portrayed as a bustling city, the Internet is littered with human advertisers holding pop-up ads and surrounded by skyscrapers representing familiar websites like eBay, Google, and Facebook, as well as some platforms, unique to the movie, that parody BuzzFeed and YouTube. The use of vivid colors in every background and the particular at-

tention to detail in illustrating each Internet platform immerses the audience into each adventure. Each scene’s unique color scheme distinguishes its mood: dusty brown shades create the rugged appeal of the Internet game Slaughter Race in contrast to the vibrant rainbow palette that lends a kid-friendly atmosphere to the arcade game Sugar Rush Speedway. Ralph Breaks the Internet also has a prominent display of humor with references to YouTube sensations like Miranda Sings, other movies like Zootopia, and, most importantly, all the Disney princesses. Despite being affiliated with Disney, Moore and Johnston do not shy away from calling out Disney’s extreme domestication of female princesses with humor throughout the movie. The risk pays off — for the first time, young women are empowered and can relate to the princesses on a new level, as the princesses are clothed in t-shirts and sweatpants and prove their independence by saving the “big, strong man” (Ralph), instead of being saved. Aside from humor, Ralph Breaks

the Internet starts an important dialogue on the positive and negative aspects of the Internet. Despite helping Ralph earn money through his viral videos, the Internet also cultivates insecurity, as seen when Ralph reads comments on his videos and starts to develop an irrational fear of losing Vanellope’s friendship. With their effective use of Ralph’s story to warn of the danger of allowing negativity to build up and destroy the beneficial power of the Internet, the directors added an insightful message to their otherwise shallow children’s movie. Overall, Ralph Breaks the Internet accomplished Moore and Johnston’s goal of creating a story that emphasized that the power of friendship can overcome obstacles such as distance and uncertainty of the future. With a combination of humor and appeal to emotions, this movie serves as a compelling creative representation of the positive and negative effects of the Internet on the development of modern friendships. ▪ Rating: A-

Rating: A-

14 Arts & Entertainment

The Smoke Signal

Thursday, December 20, 2018

A Bronx Tale Wasted Its Talent By Kimberly Huang Staff Writer A Bronx Tale had big shoes to fill when it arrived in theaters on October 14. The third adaptation of the award-winning 1989 play by the same name, the musical follows a boy named Calogero as he decides the course of his future on the streets of the 1960’s New York Bronx. Unfortunately, with a myriad of both extraneous scenes and forgettable background characters, A Bronx Tale comes out as, at best, average. The musical begins on the doorstep of a young Calogero (Frankie Leoni), where he witnesses Sonny (Joe Barbara), the neighborhood mob boss, shoot a man. Calogero’s father (Richard H. Blake), a wellrespected but impoverished bus driver, immediately pulls his son away from the conflict, but the intrigued adolescent yet, Calogero (Joey Barreiro) spends the next eight years following in the footsteps of Sonny as a potential gangster. A Bronx Tale maintains a hyper focus on the relationship between Sonny and Calogero. While this provides insight about the growing familial bond between the two, it conversely leaves other characters fading out on the sidelines. The ephemeral nature of side characters is most problematic when they make sudden entrances after protracted absences, ultimately causing confusion and breaking the story’s flow. The plot is further muddled by the odd placement of scenes that seem uncharacteristic to the situation, such as a dance scene sandwiched between points of tension. Coupled with the sudden introductions and departures of unknown background characters, the story feels overly choppy all too often. A Bronx Tale also suffers from run-on dialogue that does too much telling and not enough showing. During a tense funeral

Sonny instructs a young Calogero on how to throw dice.

scene, silence would have better communicated the emotion behind what was said. A Bronx Tale has amazing potential just from its setting: the 1960s, rife with social issues, and a young Italian-American teenager who must make a decision between his family and the affluence that comes with crime. Tragically, the musical takes on far more than it can chew; the sheer number of themes and conflicts that it tries to address detracts from their impact. Perhaps worst handled is the Romeo-and-Julietesque romance between Calogero and Jane (Brianna-Marie Bell), an African-American girl from a different neighborhood. The attempted insertion of racial tension only distracts from the musical’s main ideas, and, at best, feels shooed-in.

Nevertheless, A Bronx Tale has a fair number of merits that help compensate for its shortcomings. The set’s subtly beautiful lighting, seamless background changes, and detailed props in part make up for the dragging plot. The musical’s masterful use of tension, aided by extremely wellcrafted sound effects and visuals, keeps the audience holding its breath. While the soundtrack isn’t spectacular, it certainly isn’t a demerit either. A Bronx Tale’s greatest success lies with the skill of its actors. Leoni portrays the childish innocence of Calogero perfectly and serves as an excellent comparison to Barreiro, who plays the older Calogero. Along with Barbara’s performance as Sonny, the actors successfully drive home the

development of each of the characters and the emotions that come with each change. Overall, A Bronx Tale’s excellent set and cast’s performances are mostly wasted on its confused, wandering script. However, while it fails to clearly portray the unique scenes it had the potential to, A Bronx Tale still makes for a performance that is in equal parts entertaining and emotional. ▪ Rating: C

The Smoke Signal features the winning review from a competition among all first-year journalists. photos by &

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Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Smoke Signal

Guide to Lo-Fi mUsic By Samir Jain, Aria Lakhmani & Tylor Wu Staff Writers

Lo-fi music first emerges as a genre after amateur musicians with low recording budgets start creating simple and easily digestible tracks. Despite the lack of quality of these early records, the distinct sound of lo-fi becomes extensively popular among the American population.


We’ve all been there: it’s the day before your essay is due, and before starting you put your favorite playlist on shuffle, unwittingly turning a homework session into a home jam session instead. Next time, try listening to a lo-fi mix. Low fidelity, or lo-fi, is a genre of music characterized by its intentionally lower quality production. The distorted sounds and low quality contribute toward the warm tones present in the music, making it the perfect background music for your next study session.

The raw, distorted sound of lo-fi becomes associated with the freelance, improvised style favored among the youth, and people begin to record songs using poor equipment on purpose. The concept of lo-fi, including its often discordant notes, is extended to include genres even as foreign as heavy metal, although this is not stereotypical of lo-fi’s current sound.

A form of ambient electronic music labeled “lo-fi hip hop” or “chillhop” becomes popular among YouTube music streamers, with their channels attracting millions of followers.


1950s 1970s


1980s 2000s

Johnny Ace’s “My Song,” widely regarded as the first real lo-fi song, is released. The song is written and recorded at a radio station, and despite its low quality and uneven mix, it stayed at number one on the Billboard’s R&B Chart in 1952 for nine weeks.

A new era of technology and auto-tune drastically increases the possibilities for music production and practices for recording. Music begins to avoid mimicking the sound of live music with acoustic instruments as was customary before, and instead, exclusively uses sounds created by computer software.

artists artists to to check check out: out: Often referred to as the godfather of modern day lo-fi, Ariel Pink is based in Los Angeles and began producing music in the late 1990s. Ariel Rosenberg, the man behind the project, originally went by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti before changing his stage name to Ariel Pink. His music often features high distortion and frequent use of older synthesizers, often with a slower tempo, and is recorded on cassette. The last albums released by Pink are Dedicated to Bobby Jameson (2017) and Pom Pom (2014).

ariel ariel pink pink the Mountain Goats began as a one man band with John Darnielle recording with amateur equipment in the 1990s, often collaborating with other artists. The band was originally created in Claremont, CA, but is now based in Durham, North Carolina. The four current members now record in a professional studio but leave Darnielle’s voice unprocessed as a lo-fi element. However, they have returned to the less polished sound in some more recent albums, notably Get Lonely (2006).

eevee, a 25-year-old Dutch music producer and DJ, pours her feelings into the melodic hip-hop beats she creates. Her music, which is often featured in popular lo-fi streams on YouTube, combines different instrumentals to form a product that is designed to convey a certain mood, place, or feeling. Some of her songs sample popular mainstream music, and eevee layers these upbeat vocals with lush, calming beats. Her latest songs can be found on beat tape 08.

eevee ChilledCow is a YouTube channel with 2.2 million subscribers that arose with YouTube’s introduction of 24/7 live streams. Its self-proclaimed mission is to promote under the radar lo-fi artists. Although the channel also hosts music videos for lo-fi music, it’s most famous for its livestream “lofi hip hop radio - beats to relax/study to,” easily identifiable by the image of a cartoon student studying. The songs featured on the live stream are primarily instrumental lo-fi music in the “chillhop” subgenre.

chilledcow chilledcow

the the mountain mountain goats goats

Song recommendations

When do you prefer to listen to music?

START HERE Do you like freestyle lyrics?

Arts & Entertainment 15


Do you prefer modern or old school music?

When studying

Do you prefer songs with fast or slow tempos?


slow yes


yes “Italy” by Samiyam

“sweatpants” by Elijah Who

“Girl,friend” by Vague003

old school

“a lily or rose” by lllangelo

no “Flowers” by In Love With A Ghost

"Again" by Wun Two

Do you like listening to music with distinguishable beats?

no “Jovial” by Limes


Do you like listening to music with distinguishable beats?


graphics by,,,

16 Arts & Entertainment & Sports

hot love cafe By Christine Dong & Selina Yang Staff Writers

Hot Love Cafe recently debuted on 36476 Fremont Blvd. It’s a unique Taiwanese snack and drink shop that uses all organic and fresh ingredients in its teas, smoothies, and specialty beverages. It will have its grand opening after Christmas, introducing hot snacks and patbingsu (Korean shaved ice) to its menu along with new furniture and decorations. Read all about the Smoke Signal’s thoughts on their recent soft opening.

overall: 4/5

The Smoke Signal

taste: 5/5

The quality of Hot Love Cafe’s ingredients shines through in the drinks. The sweetness of the drinks is well-balanced, allowing the natural flavor of the fruit or tea to shine. In particular, the plant milk tea, a black milk tea topped with whipped cream, chocolate cookie crumbs, and a sprig of mint, is quite delicious and very well-presented. The three varieties of boba for toppings — honey boba, brown sugar boba, and crystal agar boba — also all have distinct, unique flavors plus a nice, chewy texture. The impressive diversity of the menu coupled with the high-quality taste and ingredients make Hot Love Cafe a must-visit.

ambiance: 4/5

The interior of Hot Love Cafe expertly captures a warm, cozy atmosphere with its neutral, brown color scheme and plush couches. That, in addition to the smooth coffee shop jazz playing softly in the background, makes the boba shop a great place to relax and enjoy a drink. The cafe is also currently decorated for the holidays, adding a festive air. However, the cafe had few tables and couches, meaning that when it was full of customers, it felt uncomfortably crowded, and several people were left standing while waiting to receive their order.

value: 4/5

With base prices for drinks running between $3 and $5, Hot Love Cafe’s prices are similar to those of boba shops like T4 and Happy Lemon. However, considering the use of fresh fruits (including the ever rare real taro) and whole milk (rather than condensed or powdered), the prices are justified. A solid amount of toppings can be added to drinks for an extra 50 cents, but most do not come with any. Overall, while not a steal, their drinks are great as an occasional treat.

service: 4/5

The staff’s friendliness was noticeable from the start as customers were greeted with a smile from the cashier upon walking in. The staff was patient with any questions about ingredients and requests for toppings, while making sure that everyone was attended to. However, the cafe did seem understaffed. When there were more orders to juggle, wait times were significantly longer, although the staff’s friendliness and accommodating nature more than made up for it.


PE: How to assess for student success By Sabrina Cai Staff Writer

Although every PE teacher has a different grading system, there is one common denominator among them: the mile run. This type of grading is practical; mile runs are an objective way to evaluate student fitness. However, they are not necessarily the most accurate. Instead, PE classes should decrease the weight of mile runs in a student’s grade and account for excellence in other aspects of fitness shown through various PE units. This system would have a longer lasting impact on students and their decisions.

Under the current PE system, as much as 45 percent of a person’s grade is predetermined by genetics. If a student puts in their best effort, their grade still may display that they are supposedly unhealthy. Since different people excel in different aspects of fitness, a single exercise can’t accurately determine a person’s health. Because mile runs only measure endurance, it discounts excellence in other exercises. A student can take away more from PE if different exercises such as strength training or soccer held as much weight as mile runs. If this were the case, students could learn their strengths and weaknesses and determine the best way to exercise for themselves. Even top-tier athletes lack skills in other departments of fitness. According to Bleacher Report, six-time NBA Champion and all-time great basketball player Michael Jordan was subpar in baseball despite being a revolutionary athlete. Similarly, Jerry Rice, a Hall-of-Fame wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, finished second to last among 155 golfers in the Fresh Express Classic Golf Tournament.

Thursday, December 20 2018

photos by staff writers christine dong & selina yang

spor t sby t es M 31



T 1

By Aria Lakhmani & Yusuf Rasheed Staff Writers



These athletes excelled at their own sports, but we do not hold them accountable to be an expert at every type of sport. Similarly, a student’s slow mile time is not an indication that they lack in every other type of exercise.

4 Girls Basketball vs American High School 7 p.m. @ American High School

A student can take away more from PE if different exercises ... held as much weight as mile runs. If this were the case, students could learn their strengths and weaknesses and determine the best way to exercise for themselves. Additionally, much of an individual’s fitness is genetically inherited. According to the University of Maryland School of Public Health, Department of Kinesiology Professor Stephen Roth, Ph.D., said that aerobic fitness is about 40-50 percent genetics and muscle mass is about 50-60 percent genetics. Most notably, the mix of muscles that are used in endurance running or sprinting is nearly 45 percent genetics. Under the current PE system, as much as 45 percent of a person’s grade is predetermined by genetics. If a student puts in their best effort, their grade still may display that they are supposedly unhealthy. Using the mile run to grade students does not capture the entire picture of a student’s fitness. Although nobody can necessarily control where they start, giving students grades more heavily weighted towards different activities than the mile run can motivate them to discover their personal strengths and make healthier decisions. By diversifying athletic activities, PE can encourage students to nurture their other skills, providing them with other ways to stay fit. ▪


Boys Basketball vs American 7:30 p.m. @ MSJ






Girls Soccer vs American High School 7:45 p.m. @ TAK

Boys Soccer vs American 3:45 p.m. @ TAK

Girls Soccer vs Kennedy High School 5:45 p.m. @ TAK

Boys Soccer vs Kennedy 5:45 p.m. @ TAK

Boys Basketball vs Irvington 7:30 p.m. @ MSJ

Wrestling James Logan 5:30 p.m. @ MSJ

Girls Basketball vs Newark Memorial High School 7 p.m. @ MSJ Boys Basketball vs Newark 7:30 p.m. @ Newark

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Smoke Signal

Fitness YouTubers

Sports 17

By Katherine Guo, Monisha Saxena & Mingjia Wang Staff Writers


As the weather turns chilly, many may wish to stay indoors for their fitness workouts. Whether it’s lifting weights at a gym or doing Pilates at home, the Smoke Signal has found six fitness YouTubers who will fit any student’s criteria for a fitness role model in the winter months. Before starting any new exercise, be sure to get a doctor’s approval.

Stephanie Buttermore Fitness Blender Husband-and-wife duo Daniel and Kelli Segars started Fitness Blender as an online workout company to provide free, accurate fitness information to anyone looking to get in shape. Their YouTube channel features a wide array of simple but challenging home workouts, most of which are filmed in their very own garage. They’ve maintained a unique dedication to creating an authentic and accessible fitness platform: all of their workout videos have no music or fake models, and the exercises rarely require equipment. Fitness Blender’s content spans a wide array of workouts, including high-intensity interval training, Pilates, and even strength training. Viewers of their channel can expect a consistent, no-nonsense approach to working out and getting in shape.

Stephanie Buttermore, Ph.D., is an American YouTuber who posts videos on fitness, nutrition, and food reviews. She holds a doctorate in pathology and cell biology and is a cancer research scientist. The majority of her exercise videos feature weightlifting, but she also encourages cardio. Buttermore began her fitness journey as a competitive bodybuilder but eventually quit after realizing the extensive dieting and exercising made for an unsustainable lifestyle. Despite her emphasis on exercise, she actively encourages watchers not to limit their diets, even posting cheat day videos and 10,000 calorie challenges. In addition to fitness and nutrition videos, she has a series on women’s health. The majority of her videos also explain the nutritional science behind her choices.

Emi Wong Omar Isuf 22-year-old Canadian bodybuilder and YouTuber Omar Isuf began working out in his freshman year of college. After deciding he was out of shape, he started following a strict training regimen at the gym and at home. He began lifting weights and followed a diet, undergoing a startling transformation into the fit bodybuilder and fitness guru that he is today. He posts videos several times a week highlighting proper weightlifting technique, muscle anatomy, and demos for bench press, deadlift, and squat workouts. According to the website Greatest Physiques, Isuf often said, “Sometimes you gotta do your own thing and discover who you are. Find something you are passionate about.”

Emi Wong is a full-time YouTuber based in Hong Kong who posts videos on fitness tutorials, dieting tips, and vlogs on her channel. A large majority of these videos involve no-equipment, making them convenient. A few of her workouts can even be done in bed, with her “Best 10 min Lower Ab Workout in Bed to Burn Belly Fat!” video being one of them. Wong’s fitness videos are around 10 to 20 minutes long, with a mix of high intensity full body workouts and workouts that focus on specific areas like abs or thighs. She walks her viewers through the positions and has an on-screen timer to show the duration of each exercise and rest period. Her subscribers have seen good results with continuous use of her videos to aid their workouts according to her comment section, and are motivated by her frequent, encouraging messages.

Chloe Ting CeCe Olisa CeCe Olisa is a plus-size fitness and fashion icon based in New York. She has a blog and posts fitness workouts in which she alters some exercises to be more effective for plussized viewers. She started her blog in 2008 in order to discuss fashion and fitness in a body positive manner; her YouTube channel was created shortly afterwards. Many of her videos are designed to be home-workout friendly, featuring short lengths, minimal equipment, and rhythmic background music to keep viewers motivated. In addition to fitness videos, she frequently reviews plus-sized workout gear. She wishes to promote body positivity at all styles and live a healthy lifestyle free of health concerns and judgement.

Chloe Ting is an Australian YouTuber who posts videos on travel, fashion, and fitness, with a large majority of them being workout tutorials. Many of her videos feature short, high-intensity workouts which can be done with little to no equipment. She also has dance-based workouts to K-pop songs, such as “IDOL” by BTS and “Lullaby” by GOT7. Besides her workout videos, Ting has videos on healthy and easy meal ideas and what she personally eats in a week. When asked why she prefers making fitness content, Ting said in an interview with Husskie, “I get direct messages from people sharing before/after photos or images of their progress, or families doing my workouts in their living rooms. It’s a different kind of satisfaction level knowing that my content’s helped and inspired others that way.” photos by,,,


18 Sports

The Smoke Signal

Thursday, December 20 2018

Alumni Spotlight: Enrique Karenga ThomasChen Chen ByByThomas StaffWriter Writer Staff Amidst a flurry of soft punches, a figure makes a slow, calculated retreat. Suddenly, with speed and aggression, he lunges forward, head down, and executes a swift takedown that ignites the crowd’s chanting. The commentators fall off their seats. This is MSJ Class of 2015 alumnus Enrique Karenga. As of December 2018, Karenga is undefeated 2-0-0 in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) kickboxing. He currently holds a stunning record for a 22-year-old in the early stages of his fighting career, ranking 41st out of 333 among active California Amateur Featherweights, 42nd among California Amateur Lightweights, and 74th out of

680 US West Amateur Featherweights. Karenga has been featured multiple times on Dragon House’s Youtube channel, the Bay Area’s leading MMA organization. Karenga became interested in MMA through his MSJ Wrestling experience under Coach Thomas Thomsen. Karenga said, “In junior varsity, [I was] learning from the captain ... learning the basics ... building my foundations. Then in my sophomore year ... I made varsity team. Junior and senior year was when I became the captain of the team. I learned to lead by example. [My most memorable moment was] when I made the NCS finals, going to the state championships, going 4-2.” In his debut fight against Kaes Ihsun on March 24, 2018, commentators mentioned

MSJ alumnus Enrique Karenga poses inside the boxing ring.

Karenga wrestles his opponent at the 2015 Idaho Golden Gloves tournament as a member of the MSJ Wrestling team.

that Karenga’s fast-paced fighting typically tires out opposing fighters, leading to slower action as the match progresses. Karenga, however, carries on throughout his matches with persevering energy and vitality, which allowed him to clutch wins against Ihsun and his next opponent, Peter J. McGrane. He finished McGrane with a sudden lightning-fast knockout punch that left McGrane cold on the ground with the referee sprawled over him in protection. Karenga’s MSJ Wrestling experience laid the mental groundwork for all the challenges he would face in his professional career — challenges ranging from intensive physical training to recover-

ing from and paying for an unexpected car crash. From these challenges he’s learned what it takes to pursue his passion for kickboxing. Karenga said, “[My MSJ experience] helped me a lot ... he experience of ... trying to be the best every single day, [to] push yourself every day.” Karenga offers some advice for up-and-coming MSJ MMA fighters. He said, “Try to find a way to be passionate about whatever it is you do.” Karenga aims to turn pro by 2019 and win the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the largest MMA promotional company in the world, in three years. ▪ photos courtesy enrique karenga

Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Smoke Signal


Freshman Chloe Lin saves the ball from going out of bounds.

The 12th annual Junior Varsity (JV) Hardwood Classic Basketball Tournament took place at MSJ from December 6 to December 8. The tournament, a competition between junior varsity girls basketball teams in the Bay Area, is an MSJ tradition. Teams in the tournament are placed in four brackets and compete in games comprising four eight-minute quarters. This year, Valley Christian, Newark Memorial, Mills, Mountain View, Aragon, Campolindo, and Livermore High School participated with MSJ. On December 8, the teams competed for titles — “consolation” for seventh place, “friendship” for fifth place, third place, and “championship” for first place — based on their performance during the previous two days.

JV Girls Basketball Hardwood Classic

Sophomore Lucille Zhu dribbles the ball around the defense.


The tournament started in 2007 when Varsity Coach Doug Sakamoto suggested starting a JV tournament as a fundraiser. Today, the fundraiser raises money for team apparel, uniforms, tournament fees, and the end-of-season banquet. JV team parents planned the tournament, implementing changes based on previous tournament experiences. During the games, they oversaw the entrance and snack booths in addition to other areas. JV Coach Tan Tran said, “We are very blessed here to have so much support from our parents. In order to be successful every tournament, the parents ... chip in, and every year, this is one ... of the more well respected [tournaments] in the Bay Area.”

Day 1

The Warriors faced the Livermore High School Cowboys during their first game, scoring two layups within the first few minutes of the game. Despite some instances of fouling, the Warriors’ energy carried them throughout the game, resulting in multiple successful steals from the Cowboys’ possession. These steals allowed players to execute multiple fastbreaks across the court and past the Cowboys’ defense. Though the Cowboys kept up their energy and pace throughout the game, the Warriors’ score continued to climb as each quarter progressed, producing a home victory of 64 points to the Cowboys’ 24.

Sports 19

Day 3

Competing for third and fourth place, the Warriors faced the Mills High School Vikings on the final day By Anika Arora & Jonathan Liu of the tournament. MSJ maintained a strong lead Staff Writers from the beginning, forcing many turnovers with their aggressive defense and steals. They ended up winning the game 44-15 to place third out of the eight total teams competing in the tournament. After the game, Tran awarded SophThe Warriors played omore Amber Wu the All-tournament Award and Freshman Allyson Menagainst the Aragon High School doza the Sportsmanship Award. The Valley Christian High School Warriors took Dons in the semifinals of the tournament. the championship against the Aragon High School Dons 62-38, and the Livermore The game featured intense competition High School Cowboys won the consolation against the Newark Memorial Cougars. and cheering until the last second as the

Day 2

lead constantly changed between both teams. Although the Dons lost two of their players due to injury during the game, they still proved to be tough opponents for the Warriors. With 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Warriors trailed behind by five points. Sophomore Amy Quach scored a deep three pointer, bringing the score to 52-54 with four seconds left. However, time quickly ran out, and the Warriors fell just short of another win.

Freshman Allyson Mendoza plays perimeter defense.

photos by staff writers anika arora & jonathan liu

Student Spotlight: Arnav arora Arora began playing basketball when he was nine, and participated in a national-level tournament in 2015. Since then, he has been playing as a starting guard for the Varsity Boys Basketball team. Arora attributes his athletic success to his love for the outdoors and getting fit. Arora also said, “I always take good care of my body, and luckily, I haven’t been injured.” On running specifically, Arora said, “I go to the gym ... to work on my body to make sure it’s strong, because I think only running won’t get you as fast as if you were to work on your body, so that’s probably the most important thing. And make sure to sleep and rest a lot.” In his free time, Arora also enjoys

Junior Arnav Arora.

Junior Arnav Arora recently became the first cross country runner since 2006 to qualify for the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) State Cross Country Championship. Arora qualified as the fourth individual entry after coming in at ninth place at the Division II NCS meet. He said, “I felt pretty good, especially because I worked pretty hard the entire last year for those 3 seconds that cost me last year.” Arnav ended the season on a high note as he received the coaches’ honors for Varsity Boys MVP. Arora is a three-sport varsity athlete since his freshman year, having accumulated a total of seven varsity letters in cross country, basketball, and track & field. Arora runs competitively for both cross country and track-and-field. He began training competitively his freshman year, but he had received encouragement from

By Ian Park Staff Writer

playing soccer and cricket in addition to basketball with family and friends. Arora said, “I love being outside; I love to make sure I’m always exercising and keeping in pretty good shape.” He credits his brother for teaching him a lot about what he knows about sports, and his family for supporting him in whatever he does. Arora hopes that sports will continue to help him develop a sense for dedication, hard work, and other important life lessons. He said, “My goals are for sports to teach me how to live life properly and make sure to stay determined and focus on a certain goal at hand.” In college, he is considering running in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. ▪

photos by staff writer ian park

his Mission San Jose Elementary School PE coach Brian Singleton to try out running much earlier. At his very first cross country race at the Monte Vista Invitational, he unfortunately passed out just short of the finish. He said, “It was probably the toughest race I had to go through because I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared for running a race. But that race taught me that I could really be a good runner because I almost came first with almost no training.” In his very next race, the Farmer Invitational, he won the 2.25 mile freshman division. In track-and-field, Arora specializes in the 1600 and 3200 meter events, winning his 1600 heat at the NCS Bayshore Championships meet, and coming 17th at the NCS Meet of Champions (MOC) Trials. For the 3200, Arora came fourth at NCS Bayshore, and 19th at NCS MOC Finals.

photos courtesy cross country coach john hotchkiss

Junior Arnav Arora runs in the Varsity race at the Cross Country MVAL Finals.

20 Photo

The Smoke Signal

Lantern Light Festival

Thursday, December 20, 2018

By Shreya Srinivasan Staff Writer

Located at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, the Lantern Light Festival features a variety of Chinese cultural attractions from November 30 to January 20. The light show begins with an enormous, colorful arch at the entrance followed immediately by a 400-foot dragon statue spanning the length of the plaza. Beyond the gate are bright depictions of gardens, animals, zodiac symbols, and holiday-themed exhibits. Annually, a team of 30 artisans construct these ornate lanterns, carrying on a tradition that can be traced back to the Han Dynasty. The exhibition is fringed with street food stalls and features intermittent acrobatic performances, a Forbidden Maze, and rides for added entertainment.

photos by staff writer shreya srinivasan. graphics by

DIY Gifts

By Monisha Saxena & Sahana Sridhar Staff Writer

The holiday season: two straight months of peppermint hot chocolate and the smell of cinnamon. Despite the blissful excitement that comes with the holidays, those of us with parched bank accounts know that the holidays are even more thrilling for shopping malls and large corporations. To help those on a tight budget, the Smoke Signal has compiled and tested a selection of DIY presents, taking you one step closer towards giving your overused wallets a rest. Put sugar in a large bowl, and set it aside. Measure out 1/4 cup of coconut oil and place it in a microwave safe bowl. Heat coconut oil in the microwave for about 30 seconds, or until the oil is melted. Pour oil over sugar and mix to combine. Materials: - Mason Jar - 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar - 1/4 cup coconut oil (almond oil will also work) 1 1/2 Vanilla Extract - Holiday Tag

Layer the chicken noodle soup ingredients in the order listed below in a jar. Attach instructions on how to make the soup using a tag and string. Add a bow on top. Chicken Noodle Soup: (all dry ingredients) Materials: - 1 tablespoons dried chopped onions - Mason Jar - 1 tablespoon dried minced garlic - String - 1 bay leaf - Tag *Add when - 1/2 teaspoon each: - Measuring Cups - dried rosemary cooking: - Bow (optional) - 1 stalk each of - dried sage - celery - dried thyme - carrot - celery seed - 2 cups chopped - 1 chicken bouillon cube - 2 cups wide egg noodles chicken

Attach a figurine of choice (preferably something festive) to the bottom of a clear plastic jar and put water and glitter into the jar. Put lid on and glue it down. Materials: - Glitter - Water - Clear plastic ornament - Festive plastic figurine - Glycerin (optional: it makes the glitter float better) - Glue (hot glue gun or superglue)


Sugar Scrub

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. SautĂŠ one diced carrot and one diced stalk of celery until just tender, about 5 minutes. Unwrap the bouillon cube from the soup mix, and then add it, plus all remaining ingredients to the saucepan. Add in 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the noodles are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in 2 cups chopped cooked chicken before serving. Season to taste.

Soup in a Jar

Snow Globe

photos by staff writer sahana sridhar

& monisha saxena. graphics by

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