Volume LIV, No. 6

Page 1


VOL. 54, NO. 6

February 22, 2019


INVESTIGATIVE REPORT: ASB AND CLASS FUNDS By Alisha Chhangani, Riya Chopra, Kimberly Huang & Jonathan Liu Staff Writers


september 2018-present


L2 Fundraising committee

Homecoming and Homecoming Extravaganza Luncheons

Store and to a lesser extent, apparel and vari-

L2/Supplies Other


ASB expenditures are published on http://www.msjasb.org.

ous merchandise sold during Orientation.

Class of 2020 Expenses

Class of 2019 Expenses

The Class of 2019 makes the most profit from events, namely Waterworld CA and Winter Ball, Homecoming apparel, and senior lanyards. The main goals of fundraising are to lower the price of prom tickets and pay for the costs of graduation, such as venue costs, at the end of the year. The Waterworld tickets are received from Waterworld and resold to students for profit, with unsold tickets returned. Further funds are earned from sponsorships. Treasurer Senior Ishil Puri oversees and keeps track of expenditures for all events.

sPONSORSHIPS Class sponsorships are split into bronze, silver, and gold levels, valued at $250, $500, and $750, respectively. Class of 2019 sponsorships are valued at $250, $500, and $1,000. Each level offers a different means of sponsorship publicity depending on how much each sponsor pays. For example, bronze-level sponsors receive a promotion through Facebook, while gold-level sponsors receive publicity on banners or through announcements during Homecoming in addition to other benefits.

Class of 2022 Expenses






44.0% 77.8%


Winter Ball

Class of 2021 Expenses


2.8% 1.2% 0.7%


Homecoming Lanyards

The primary role of the Fundraising Committee is to plan various events throughout the year, such as alumni workshops and the Charity Fashion Show, find sponsors for the Brick Project, and raise money. Their sources of revenue include the snow cone and popcorn machines used during special events and on-campus fundraisers, such as their Valentine’s Grams. Funds from most events are allocated toward Leadership 2 (L2) activities, the sole exception being the Charity Fashion Show, from which all proceeds go to charity like the American Cancer Society and Kristi Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation.


ASB’s primary source of profit is the Student

Hurricane Harbor



ASB Treasurer Senior Benjamin Lam’s main duties are managing the Student Store by stocking items, depositing funds collected to Forsythe at the end of the week, helping students through the expenditure process, and making sure all money is accounted for. ASB’s primary source of profit is the Student Store and to a lesser extent, apparel and various merchandise sold during Orientation. Funds are allocated towards upkeep of facilities like the Student Store, DJ, decorations, and lights for events like Homecoming Extravaganza (HCX), and quarterly student-teacher relation lunches. A major ongoing ASB project is the Brick Project to construct a walkway of engraved bricks between the B and Cwings, which is also funded by the Mission Possible Parent and Faculty Association, Student Planner advertisements, and company sponsorships.


Account Clerk Michele Forsythe works with ASB to facilitate the funds process for MSJ clubs, classes, and teachers, and communicates with the district to answer any questions about the accounting process. Forsythe and ASB follow a financial guidebook of rules and regulations written by Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, and Interventionist Michael Ammermon from the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT), and each spring, MSJ undergoes an audit process to check for fraud and any other inconsistencies in the financial record. MSJ’s current auditor company, Nigro & Nigro, PC, tracks each transaction, starting from the pre-approved expenditure request to the mailing of the check, to confirm that the process has been carried out properly.


asb treasurer benjamin lam


Account Clerk Michele Forsythe


ASB and class finances are a significant aspect of MSJ that keeps clubs, classes, and events running year-round. The funding process, though vital to our school’s day-today operation, is largely a mystery to students. With this in mind, the Smoke Signal compiled an informative spread about the workings of MSJ’s financial sphere.


Homecoming Extravaganza

23.7% Homecoming Extravaganza




The Class of 2020 officers plan to raise most of their class’s money from selling apparel and obtaining sponsorships, which they modeled after receiving advice from the Class of 2019 officers that fundraisers were not substantially profitable. Class funds are allocated to prom and homecoming supplies. Treasurer Junior Nathan Tran makes periodic venue payments for both this year’s and next year’s prom. During Homecoming, his responsibility was to oversee the expenditure process for buying supplies like backdrops, paint, and streamers.

According to Class of 2021 Treasurer Sophomore Tavish Mohanti, the class’s financial stability is mainly due to funds from selling different items, such as apparel and food, and various sponsors. Selling class T-shirts during Homecoming and food at Winter Ball has also been a large source of income for the Class of 2021. Each major fundraising event raises $500 to $600 and most of this money is allocated to Homecoming expenditures like balloons and art supplies. The majority of their expenses goes toward their junior prom venue.


Maze Day

Fundraisers Homecoming Extravaganza

The Class of 2022 earns most of its profit from Homecoming merchandise sales and food sales. According to Class Treasurer Freshman Alvin Wang, the freshman class earned a total of $800 in sales during Homecoming. Most of that money was allocated to Homecoming decorations and supplies. Wang also hopes to earn funds by selling food during Multicultural Week. However, an issue with selling food is that, after reimbursement, the remaining profit is usually low. For example, during Orientation in September, the class only made $20 from selling food like chips and salsa as well as their staple item McFlurries.

In what ways would you like to see class officers or ASB share financial updates with students?

What would you like to see your class or ASB spend more or less money on? “I would like to see [ASB] spend money on things that students would probably appreciate more and not things that don’t affect student directly. I’m not sure where this stands, or if this stands within ASB capabilities, but facility development would be something I would like to see. It would make life a lot better considering we spend a lot of time at MSJ.”— Kriti Iyer, 11


I would like our class officers to create a page where they show us how much money our class has, what they’re spending it on and exactly how much it costs, how much money we’re earning and from what, and what we have now. Also, this page should be updated very often, so we have a realistic idea.” — Trini Leung, 12 “I think all ASB purchases are already accessible through the MSJ ASB website, but maybe creating an organized monthly update would make it easier for the general student body to understand.” — Ethan Wong, 12 graphics by alorica.com, cliipartmax.com, flaticon.com, kisspng.com



The Smoke Signal conducted an interview with Saila Kariat, director of feature film The Valley. The film focuses on a Silicon Valley family’s experience dealing with their daughter’s mental health issues.

Wondering if the well-acclaimed Halal Guys restaurant is worth trying out? Read the Smoke Signal’s review on the newly opened Pacific Commons restaurant.



2 News


The Smoke Signal

Friday, February 22, 2019

Students explore artificial intelligence at introductory workshop Computer Science Club and Artificial Intelligence Club co-host workshop for junior high and high school students By Tylor Wu & Jessica Xu Staff Writers On February 9, Computer Science Club and Artificial Intelligence Club cohosted an introductory artificial intelligence (AI) workshop for junior high and high school students in the Flex Room. The goal of the event was to introduce students to the basics of artificial intelligence, a topic with wide-ranging applications. To organize the workshop, club officers started coordinating panel speakers and activities in November. Computer Science Club Treasurer Sophomore Aria Lakhmani kicked off the workshop with a slideshow presentation explaining the definition of AI, using household names such as Siri and Alexa to relate concepts to an audience that was mostly unfamiliar with AI. Students learned about the field and its various branches, such as machine learning, deep learning, and supervised/unsupervised learning. Afterwards, attendees were divided into groups. Led by Computer Science Club mem-

bers, they utilized Google’s Teachable Machine, a web browser-based program that executes a particular command based on webcam input. For example, when students waved at their webcams, the program would play an audio clip or GIF. Attendees also learned how to build chatbots using Kore.ai’s chatbot platform and explored image recognition AI with Google Quick, Draw!, an online game that uses a neural network to identify users’ doodles. When asked whether he would like to pursue AI further, Junior Steven Xie said, “Before, I didn’t really know what it was at all. And now I have some idea on what it is, I think it’s pretty interesting.” Guest speakers Sankar Venkataraman and Chetana Bhaskar gave students insight into real-world uses of artificial intelligence, such as self-driving cars. Venkataraman and Bhaskar are Head of Algorithms, Machine Learning, and Computer Vision, eBeam Division and Principal Software Engineer, respectively, at semiconductor manufacturing company KLA-Tencor. Venkataraman said, “We often build shortcuts to navigate to the right desti-

staff writer jessica xu

Computer Science Club Member Sophomore Divya Koya explains an AI demonstration to attendees, teaching students how to use Google’s Teachable Machine program.

nations so we don’t have to think too much, and there are a lot of pitfalls in shortcuts. AI will enable us to overcome those pitfalls.” After lunch, panelists working in the AI field talked about their experience, expectations, and future goals, and students were invited to ask questions. Students interested in AI were encouraged to focus on developing their proficiency in math and science.. To end the workshop, AI Club President

Junior Ayush Dewan then gave a presentation on decision trees and their applications. The club was pleased with the outcome, and they plan to host similar events in the future. Computer Science Club Co-President Junior Christina Yu said, “We definitely have plans for maybe hosting workshops on different topics in the future. I think setting up this workshop has given us a lot of valuable experience and a framework that we can use for future events.” ▪

AlligatorZone connects students to startup founders Executives of Quizlet and PrinterPrezz speak about their journeys and demonstrate their products

A young boy observes PrinterPrezz Founder and CEO Shrinivas Shetty’s 3D printer making book holders.

By Thomas Chen & Sabrina Wu Staff Writers On February 4, an unlikely combination of tech company executives, students, and parents converged at Fremont Main Library. The occasion? The biannual AlligatorZone event, where high-level entrepreneurs aim to connect with school-age kids to foster an interest in entrepreneurship. Featured speakers included Founder and CEO of PrinterPrezz Shrinivas Shetty and Founder and CTO of Quizlet Andrew Sutherland. The free program was organized by the Fremont Main Library in conjunction with AlligatorZone, a nationwide face-to-face educational community platform that aims to help 7 to 17-year-olds meet the visionaries shaping the future. Each speaker was introduced by a group of elementary school-aged children deemed Alligator-

Zone ambassadors. Shetty presented his startup, which combines 3D printing and semiconductor technology to produce complex medical devices. Attendees marvelled at the 3D-printed body parts Shetty had brought in to show how his technology can be used for those with missing limbs. While he spoke, an AlligatorZone ambassador distributed 3D-printed book holders inscribed with the PrinterPrezz website. Next to present was Sutherland, who explained how his struggle to study for a French test in 10th grade led to the creation of the study app that allows anyone to study with learning tools and games. Sutherland demonstrated different features of the site, using flashcards and games to share more information on how Quizlet works. After these brief synopses of their startup, the speakers opened the floor for 20 minutes of questions. Parents and kids fired off questions, allow-

ing each speaker to discuss their entrepreneurial processes and startups more in depth. The enterprising atmosphere empowered kids to ask questions and take an interest in entrepreneurship. Parent participant Kavita shared her appreciation for the event and said, “I think [the event] is something that motivates them to create something on their own, something unique coming from them.” Since its founding in 2014, AlligatorZone’s mission has been to inspire and prepare the youth for careers that do not yet exist in a fast-changing world. AlligatorZone Co-Founder Ramesh Sambasivan hopes the event piques student interest in using technology to solve society’s problems and offers one-on-one conversations with entrepreneurs to seek advice — or even to find a mentor. Regarding entrepreneurs, Sambasivan said, “That willingness to go into uncharted waters is very valuable for any industry ... You need those kinds of pathfinders ... to experiment boldly so others can follow in their paths.” For aspiring entrepreneurs, Sutherland and Shetty each offered some parting advice. Sutherland noted that the best way to build a successful startup is to find a solution to your own problem.

He said, “I was using [Quizlet] the most ... so I had a really good system to figuring out what I wanted in the platform.” He also emphasized the importance of finding cooperative team members who share a passion for the problem the startup is addressing. However, building a successful startup also requires numerous skills in areas beyond technology. Shetty recommends first getting some exposure in the industry with books, volunteering, co-ops, and internships to learn as quickly as possible. He said, “It typically takes a second or third startup to be successful. The reason being, getting some skills outside technologies is useful in a company. Working a couple of years then starting a company would give you better perspective.” AlligatorZone plans to continue working together with the Fremont Main Library to bring successful entrepreneurs and students together. They hope to build more connections with local middle schools and high schools in coming months to be a better-known resource. Sambasivan said, “The knowledge being shared at an AlligatorZone event is not yet in research papers or textbooks because these startup companies are defining the future.” ▪

A group of elementary school children identify themselves as AlligatorZone Ambassadors. photos by staff writer sabrina wu


for the February 1, 2019 issue Feature Pg. 11: Pricing at Break Stuff ranges from $25 to $500. Feature Pg. 11: Agnes E. Van den Berg is misspelled. Sports Pg. 15: Photos by Staff Writer Yusuf Rasheed. Sports Pg. 15: The Wrestling MVAL is at Irvington High School. Graphics Pg. 16: Each mural usually takes 2 to 3 months to complete.



Compiled by Kimberly Huang, Ian Park & Yusuf Rasheed Staff Writers

sfgate.com A 2014 Tesla Model S 85 is being outfitted for patrol before being put into use with the Fremont Police Department.

latimes.com The US Treasury Department building in Washington is shown, publishing the total outstanding public debt.

apnews.com Architects and experts in restoration examine murals at the church known as the “Sistine Chapel of the Andes.”

Fremont Police to Use Zero-Emission Tesla as Patrol Car The Fremont Police Department will soon begin a pilot program using a electric vehicle as a patrol car. So far, the 2014 used model S 85 Tesla has cost the city $61,468.50, with an additional $4,447 on modifications that is expected to rise. A number of items, including sirens and a push bumper, are being added to the vehicle. With its use of the quiet and zero-emissions vehicle instead of the previous Dodge Charger, Fremont hopes to reduce both its carbon footprint and noise pollution.

Historically high national debt, tops $22 trillion The US Treasury Department announced on February 12 that national debt has exceeded $22 trillion for the first time in history. The historic rise in debt has followed President Donald Trump’s December $1.5 trillion tax cut and an increase in domestic and military spending. According to some economists, as the debt increases, the interest that must be paid for the loans also increases annually, and becomes harder to pay off. When Trump came into office in January 2017, the debt stood at $19.95 trillion.

Torrential Rain Almost Destroys Ancient Chapel Heavy rains in Bolivia almost caused the collapse of one of South America’s oldest churches, the “Sistine Chapel of the Andes.” One of the buttresses fell after the torrential downpour, threatening to end the chapel. However, officials are planning to meet to finalize how they can revive this ancient church. Since it is registered as a national monument, the government is required to take care of it. No plan has been formalized yet, but two architects visited the chapel to examine the wreckage.

Friday, February 22, 2019


President Gerald Ford, concerned about unrestrained government spending, was the first to enact a shutdown when he vetoed a funding bill for the current Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services.


Five funding lapses ranging from eight to 17 days happened during President Jimmy Carter’s time in office, all of which concerned a dispute over Medicaid funding for abortion.


Under President Ronald Reagan, eight one-to-threeday government shutdowns took place over domestic budget cuts, job creation, national defense funding, foreign aid, crime, water projects, and civil rights.


President George H.W. Bush’s refusal to sign legislation funding the government unless it included a deficit reduction plan discontinued the government for three days.


The longest government shutdown before the most recent lapse was the second of the two shutdowns under President Bill Clinton, which lasted for 21 days over a disagreement on how to balance the budget within seven years.


The US government under the administration of President Barack Obama experienced a 16-day shutdown over Democratic support for and Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare — an agreement to end the stalemate passed Obamacare with minor adjustments, among other measures.


The Smoke Signal


Opinion 3

on the government shutdown By Katherine Guo, Jonathan Liu & Monisha Saxena Staff Writers


The historic 34-day government shutdown, the result of an ensuing national dispute over funding for a $5 billion steel barrier against illegal immigration, brings to light concerns about what the future holds given the current crisis at hand. The shutdown, which lasted from Dec. 22, 2018 to Jan. 24, 2019, produced a deficit of $11 billion for the US economy and left 800,000 government workers without paychecks.


A government shutdown occurs when Congress is unable to approve the federal budget for the upcoming year. This plan allocates funding for government departments and programs. When the government is shut down, any federal programs that are “nonessential,” such as national parks or visa and passport application processing, are halted until the government reopens. Programs that are deemed “essential” are those that are involved in emergency work related to protecting life and property, such as the Secret Service, and will continue, but the workers will not be paid until the end of the shutdown. The 2018-19 government shutdown occurred primarily because President Donald Trump refused to sign a federal budget resolution that had only allocated $1.6 billion for a border wall as opposed to the $5.7 billion that he asked for. The government was consequently shut down from Dec. 22, 2018 to Jan. 25, 2019, during which Congress and Trump were not able to reach an agreement about the border wall funding. Trump repeatedly threatened to declare a state of emergency, which would give the president the ability to ignore legal limits to control the emergency at hand to appropriate the funds for the wall. In the past, a state of emergency had been declared during world wars or terrorist attacks, but in this case the emergency would be the supposed “immigration crisis” at the southern border. This option is widely unpopular across partisan lines, with Senator Mitch McConnell telling Trump in a meeting that declaring a state of emergency would spark rebellion in the Republican party and lead to a vote to overrule him. The 35-day shutdown, the longest in the history of the United States, was temporarily paused on January 25 once Trump approved a bill on that would open the government for three weeks, during which further negotiations are to take place.


The government shutdown had far-reaching consequences. During the shutdown, 380,000 federal workers were furloughed and 420,000 workers from government-affiliated agencies worked without pay, temporarily leaving them without jobs. In addition to losing paid holiday leave in late December, workers did not receive a paycheck in early January, forcing some workers’ families to turn to food stamps and charity. In one instance, workers in the Transportation Security Administration called in sick, bringing up concerns over flight security during the holiday season. While the stock markets generally remained stable, the government shutdown cost the US approximately $11 billion, a quarter of which is considered unrecoverable. That money comes from the paychecks that are owed to furloughed workers when the government reopens, despite services not rendered. Part of the $11 billion lost also comes from taxes not collected during the shutdown. Also, across the nation, the government shutdown especially affected schools and programs more dependent on federal funding. The 1,200 schools built on Native American reservations and military bases were forced to temporarily close. In rural areas, many schools rely on federal funding that requires continuous approval from Congress, creating the possibility that many rural schools will experience funding delays this year. While the federal financial aid was still processed during the shutdown, students requiring tax returns for federal financial aid applications were unable to access the Internal Revenue Service website, as 90 percent of their workers were furloughed.

in the future... A bipartisan budget plan was approved in Congress on February 14, narrowly averting a second government shutdown. The bill allocates $1.375 billion for a border wall, significantly less than the $5.7 billion Trump asked for. The next day, Trump declared a state of national emergency, citing the flow of drugs and crime from Mexico as an impending national crisis. This move allows the President to divert $3.6 billion from military construction programs, $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs, and $600 million from a Treasury Department fund. Trump will use a total of $8 billion for the border wall. He is currently facing backlash from both parties for this actions, with the state of California and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) both suing Trump for an abuse of executive power. Meanwhile, Trump’s approval ratings have been dropping due to the shutdown, leaving him in a precarious position for 2020.

Trump’s presidency has now experienced three funding lapses revolving around the immigration issue, the most recent of which has exacerbated the national deficit.

graphics by msnbc.com, dlpng.com, pngarts.com

4 Opinion


The Smoke Signal

Friday, February 22, 2019

Brand image doesn’t represent a company’s actions

According to a 2017 Cone Communications study, “87% [of Americans] will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about and 76% will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.” Because brand image has enormous potential to either help or hurt their bottom line, companies that want to maximize profits must be selective about what causes they endorse; they may choose to publicize certain social issues simply because they are popular at the time. Companies tell us what they think we want to hear in order to in-

breaking a glass ceiling with a golf ball seems to affirm KPMG's loyalty to social progress. However, behind the scenes, KPMG also settled a $400 million class-action lawsuit that accused the company of workplace gender discrimination. Corporate social responsibility is not a lost cause, however. By acting in ways consistent with their words, companies can benefit society and themselves simultaneously. For instance, the watch-making brand WeWOOD plants a tree for every watch it sells, and it uses recycled wood to build the watches. It works with nonprofit organizations like Trees for the Future and American Forests and has planted more than 600,000 trees since 2011. At the end of the day, every corporation’s primary concern is profit. As consumers, we cannot draw conclusions about a company’s humanitarian aims without considering its financial motives as well. We need to be aware that brand purpose is usually nothing more than a PR effort, and we must look beyond the marketing schemes to see whether a company's actions truly back up its ad campaigns. ▪

graphics editor evangeline chang

Corporate Social Good

do you believe companies should make it a major goal to benefit society?

Je s

Companies that advocate social movements may be applauded for their initiative, but their activism campaigns are often self-serving or damage the very causes that they appear to promote.

W ca i s



" I believe that the answer to this question is yes because companies, since they’re already making so much money from society, should find a way to contribute and give back to the community. At the same time, this is also helping them make more profits because community members will see these companies as socially responsible, and they will be more inclined to make purchases."


, 12 ang h C

Caleb Chia , ng

" Not every company, because some [can’t] take that financial risk yet. If the people don’t support this movement, then they’ll stop buying the company’s product, so as a result, especially small companies won’t be able to survive. It might not be the best idea for everyone. If [companies] can take that risk, it could really benefit society greatly. It’s worth going for."

Flor a

In January, razor brand Gillette sparked a firestorm of controversy with its ad about toxic masculinity. A 2017 Pepsi ad spotlighting racial protests provoked similar outrage. However, Gillette and Pepsi are not the only companies engaged in the growing trend of corporate activism. Corporate social responsibility is the idea that a company should operate in a way that enhances society, especially by taking responsibility for how they portray the social movements they use to advertise. In recent years, corporate social responsibility has become a massive part of company advertising and a major factor in building brand image. While the concept paints a rosy picture of business ethics, the profit-driven nature of companies renders it both unattainable and, too often, nothing more than a facade. Companies that advocate for social movements may be applauded for their initiative, but their activism campaigns are often self-serving or damage the very causes that they appear to promote.

By Josephine Chew & Kimberly Huang Staff Writers crease sales, not out of genuine concern for activ- protests are jovial, carefree events. ist causes. Pepsi's atrocious ad is simply a botched exAn example of the tie between corporate ample of the same method that countless other activism and profit is the personal care brand companies successfully implement. Using brand Dove. After they launched the Dove Campaign purpose to promote themselves as champions for Real Beauty in 2004, annual sales rose from of a social movement, companies tie their prod$2.5 billion to over $4 billion in 10 years. The ucts to the idea of social progressivism. For incampaign’s stated mission is to change the mes- and race-based wage gaps. Similarly, accounting sages that women receive from the media, which firm KPMG's ad depicting golfer Stacy Lewis often set unrealistic beauty standards and make women feel insecure about their own bodies. We need to be aware that brand purHowever, Dove’s parent company Unilever also pose is usually nothing more than owns the men’s grooming product brand Axe, a PR effort, and we must look bewhose sexualization of women clashes with yond the marketing schemes to see Dove’s theme of women’s empowerment. Uni- whether a company's actions truly lever does not care about the social effects of the back up its ad campaigns. ideas it promotes — it exploits whatever images are convenient and attract consumers. Dove’s stance, investment management company State commitment to body positivity stops at market- Street Global Advisors commissioned the statue ing strategies and surface-level corporate image. Fearless Girl in Wall Street under the guise of While Dove uses long-term social change as encouraging gender diversity in corporate leada brand pledge, companies often borrow activist ership. The statue itself was the subject of many movements for short-term usage. In Pepsi ad, a headlines and improved State Street's corporate crowd of protesters interrupts Kendall Jenner’s image; however, just a short time later, the corphotoshoot. Jenner sheds her lipstick and wig poration settled $5 million allegations on gender and saunters through the multitudes to deliver a can of Pepsi to a police officer, earning cheers and applause from her exuberant audience of protesters. The ad trivializes violence, police brutality, and serious social issues with a romanticized image of happy activists. It downplays the real dangers that protesters have historically faced in their battle for justice. Take Martin Luther King Jr. — he and other black protesters faced death threats, violence, and armed policemen, and their fight for racial equality continues in today’s Black Lives Matter movement. Contrast that with a supermodel who solves everyone’s problems with a can of Pepsi, and you start to understand why the ad is so distasteful. By filtering out the anger and passion that fuel real activist movements, the video implies that

" I do not think companies should be required to have a major goal to support social movements. After all, they are a business and sometimes it's more necessary to focus on themselves to survive. However, I believe that every human being has a moral and social obligation to help society grow as a whole and this can extend to the company."

photos by staff writer yusuf rasheed

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Smoke Signal

toshali's take

The Smoke Signal Mission San Jose High School Est. 1964 Vol. 54, No. 6 | February 22, 2019 www.thesmokesignal.org

Get comfortable with seeking help


vic ki’s voice

The hustle is disingenuous

By Toshali Goel Opinion Editor

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

SCHOOL POPULATION 2043 students EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Amy Chen, Jonathan Ko NEWS Gloria Chang, Joelle Chuang OPINION Toshali Goel, Vicki Xu FEATURE Kikue Higuchi, Maggie Zhao CENTERSPREAD Karen Li, Kelly Yang A&E Stephanie Dutra, Shray Vaidya SPORTS Hannah Chou, Michael Ren GRAPHICS Evangeline Chang, Lucia Li WEB Rishi Chillara, Shiantel Chiang TECH Tylor Wu, Jennifer Xiang BUSINESS Ian Hsu CIRCULATION Jonathan Liu ADVERTISING Katherine Guo, Shreya Sridhar EVENTS Anisa Kundu, Sahana Sridhar SPECIAL PROJECTS Riya Chopra WRITERS & PHOTOGRAPHERS Anika Arora, Sabrina Cai, Thomas Chen, Josephine Chew, Alisha Chhangani, Sreetama Chowdhury, Christine Dong, Kimberly Huang, Samir Jain, Aria Lakhmani, Seong Jin (Ian) Park, Carolyn Qian, Gokul Ramapriyan, Yusuf Rasheed, Monisha Saxena, Meera Sehgal, Shreya Srinivasan, Mingjia Wang, Gregory Wu, Sabrina Wu, Jessica Xu, Selina Yang

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

Over the summer, I took a course outside of school. Most of my peers were much older than me, a majority of them already a few years into college. While the material was captivating and the professor engaging, keeping up with the pace became more and more difficult as time progressed. And yet I hesitated to reach out and make my concerns known, scared of appearing stupid or otherwise inferior in comparison to my advanced classmates. So I kept it to myself — every day I worked harder than the previous day, determined to succeed without anybody’s help. My grade remained relatively unchanged, my exertion making a barely discernible inflation in the numbers I so desperately wanted to improve. A few weeks of struggling later, I realized working harder was doing me no favors — I had to work smarter, the first step of which would be to swallow my pride and approach my professor. The nightmarish scenario I had built up in my head, of him laughing at me for failing so miserably at a subject the others had no trouble in, could not have been further from reality. He graciously offered his assistance and helped me work through my issues, meeting with me for hours after class to ensure I had a solid grasp on the subject. I saw my grade rise and, more importantly, so did my understanding of the material and enjoyment of the class. My fear of appearing weak or lesser than in front of people I respected had hurt nobody but me, and I began noticing the detrimental effects of similar fears among my peers. Very few will raise

By Vicki Xu Opinion Editor a hand unless others have questions as well, afraid of seeming like the only ones having difficulty. As adolescents, we are often told that growing up means learning to be self-sufficient and independent, and thus we subconsciously begin to associate asking for help with immaturity. This realization prompted further reflection on my earlier hesitations. When all my classmates seemed to be floating through the class, I had begun questioning my own abilities, unable to accept that I was struggling in something many others deemed easy. I had let the fear of how others would perceive me affect my mental state. Admitting that I was struggling and deciding to work towards improving that was anything but the “weakness” it is often made out to be — it required more strength and courage than any other challenge I had faced in the course. I came to realize that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and we cannot judge our own aptitude for a subject based on another’s level of ease with it. Struggling is entirely natural, and even the best of us have those things that we are not so good at. There is no shame in accepting that you need help. Asking someone for assistance is often the best thing you can do for yourself, and the benefits will far outweigh the momentary discomfort or self-consciousness. We need to confront the false perceptions and faulty mindsets that surround asking for guidance, beginning with admitting our struggles to our most formidable opponents — ourselves. ▪

The Opinion of the Smoke Signal Editorial Board

The exclusivity in our inclusivity Through daily interaction with peers from the same backgrounds, our similar viewpoints and cultural experiences reinforce an environment of agreement and relatability. This bubble perpetuates the false perception that MSJ students understand and accept all people despite their differences. However, careless, hurtful language –– like the flippant use of the n-word –– shatters that image of inclusivity. To truly be inclusive, we must hold ourselves accountable for culturally disrespectful language and actively establish relationships with those different from MSJ’s heavily Asian-American population. Discriminatory attitudes are especially prevalent on public platforms. For instance, the use of the nword and other racial slurs in mainstream entertainment and social media desensitizes us to the words’ derogatory connotations. Rappers, whom teens look up to, include slurs in their music. Reposted tweets on meme pages frequently use the n-word. Seeing these words used online almost validates their use in everyday conversations, thus increasing our indifference towards them. Too often, students use the n-word to express surprise or anger about minor issues without understanding its weighty history. Our homogenous community also fails to hold us accountable for the use of such words, thinking that the absence of certain racial groups justifies our use of racial slurs. Students rarely call others out on the nonchalant use of these phrases. Jokes about racial stereotypes, rather than inciting controversy, are laughed off. By attempting to justify the usage of these slurs, students contribute to the polarization of different groups. Even with school clubs dedicated to supporting diversity, our cultural bubble limits students’ perspectives on groups outside the school, allowing both intentional and unintentional discriminatory attitudes. Although MSJ students don’t hatefully at-

Opinion 5

tack people who are different from the majority, our apathetic cultural insensitivity ultimately hurts our relationships with other ethnic groups. Slurs perpetuate a disrespect toward other ethnicities in general. Specifically, by channeling emotions with the n-word, our language attaches images of anger and outburst to African-American people without weighing their history of oppression. Failing to learn about their cultural struggles traps us in a narrow worldview, hurting our potential relationships with people of other cultures. The n-word is only an example; using any racial slur, no matter the context of the situation, will always hold the same derogatory implications, thus creating an exclusive environment. In reality, inclusivity embodies the active efforts to support those both within and outside our community. To address the issue head-on, we can stop using the n-word, call out people for making racist jokes, and consciously think about how our behavior can impact other racial groups. Moreover, in our interactions with people from different backgrounds, we must ask ourselves: Do we go out of our way to talk to people of different cultural identities to understand them better –– and respect the differences when we don’t understand their point of view? Do we recognize the damaging implications certain phrases hold and ensure that we never use them? Or immerse ourselves in new cultural experiences? With these small acts of inclusivity, we can spark a larger movement toward a more genuinely accepting community. ▪

While doing my college apps, I found choosing majors a greater source of anguish than I anticipated. I had thought seriously about my future many times, but actually moving toward that future lent a whole new terror to the situation. My life was an infinitely-branched decision tree where each major would lead me to a different path, and the experiences along the way would mold different mes at the end of each one. In the end I — and the millions of other seniors across the country — could only choose one me. Sometimes, however, the mes generate conflict between idealism and practicality. A particular idea that crops up often is “I want to do good in the world, but I also want to make money.” “Can’t you do both at once as a career?” I always ask in response. The answers are always along the lines of, “There’s no money in social work/human rights law/ clinical research. But there is money in finance/corporate consulting.” And in a couple notable instances, “I’ll sell out for a few years first and then get enough money, and then I’ll do the kind of work that actually helps people.” Astounding hypocrisy aside, this phenomenon stems from our own community — MSJ is fixated on prestige, and the easiest, most objective determiner of a successful life would be salary. In contrast, quantifying societal and personal value is much more difficult. Compounding this situation, however, is our hustle-centric pop culture. “Whoever said money can’t solve your problems / Must not have had enough money to solve 'em,” Ariana Grande croons in “7 rings.” And massive,

profligate displays of wealth are encouraged; “My dawg would probably do it for a Louis belt,” the esteemed Travis Scott notes in “SICKO MODE.” All factors considered, the appeal of money over purpose — often doing bad before doing good — isn’t really a surprise. Of course, there are reasonable concerns. Safety and security are terribly alluring in a time of accelerating wealth inequality and mushrooming student loan debt (which according to Bloomberg, hit a record of $1.456 trillion in November 2018). Aside from a handful of careers, such as being a doctor, doing tangible good really doesn’t pay much. Certainly an ExxonMobil consultant will have a far more stable career than a musician and earn more than a Child Protective Services worker. In the face of growing uncertainty, the thinking goes, maybe compromising values for external gain is worthwhile. Of course, it shouldn’t be. A couple years of “selling out” will turn into decades. Pulling yourself out of the system is much harder after acting within it awhile. If anything, start young while you still have the energy. But selling out does pay off, and who can measure the less financially tangible good of, say, being a pro bono lawyer? Yet the latter adds far more to collective happiness than the former. To draw people away from going for the highest earnings possible when making the choice, there needs to be a cultural shift that emphasizes principle and people over shiny displays of wealth. Over time, perhaps the dichotomy between doing good and making money will slowly fade. I kept this in mind as I chose the me I wanted to become. ▪

By Amy Chen, Kimberly Huang & Gokul Ramapriyan Editor-in-Chief and Staff Writers

editor-in-chief amy chen

staff writers kimberly huang & gokul ramapriyan


6 Feature


The Smoke Signal

LUnAr New YeAr's ResOlUtiOns

February 3, 2019 I have a confession to make. I failed all of my New Year’s resolutions more than a month ago. Actually, I failed most of them within the first few hours of 2019. But don’t worry. I’ve realized that New Year’s resolutions don’t mean anything. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone accomplishing their New Year’s resolutions. After 15 years of repeating “Gung Hay Fat Choy” to all my relatives, sitting down at massive family dinners with my 20 aunts and 15 cousins, and opening cash-stuffed red envelopes every February, I’ve learned that Lunar New Year is the only new year that matters. So, I’ve made some new resolutions. This Lunar New Year, with the blessings of the ancient Chinese gods and generations of my similarly-disgraced East Asian brethren at my back, I think I can do it. I will complete these resolutions. And I will finally bring honor to my family.

February 5, 2019 It’s 1:00 AM, currently one hour into the new year, and I’m still going strong. This is a very good sign. I couldn’t even make it 10 minutes without breaking my New Year’s resolutions. Also, I’ve been thinking: the fact that I’ve lived 15 years without completing a resolution is just shameful. Heck, even my dog has finished a couple. When we first got him, he kept

By Mingjia Wang Staff Writer

peeing on my bed, so he made a resolution to become potty trained. Technically, I made it for him, but ... Anyway, I used duct tape and superglue to attach a diaper to his furry behind for a few months, and he never peed on my bed again. Incredible! I guess I have a thing or two to learn from my dog. I will finish at least one resolution this year. I’ll do anything it takes.


Friday, February 22, 2019

February 9, 2019

the best possible feng shui. I’m going all Yesterday, I decided to break up with in. my girlfriend so I could focus all my time on completing this resolution. My mom February 10, 2019 Darn it! We just got our report cards, didn’t really like her that much, since she didn’t know how to use chopsticks cor- and I got a B+ in Chinese 2. My resolurectly and she played saxophone, which tion was to get an A, and I failed, big-time. isn’t a violin or a piano. I thought we re- Next year, I’m going to try following the ally had something going, though. I even Balinese Pawukon calendar. It only has thought we could possibly get married. 210 days, so New Year’s comes around But I have my priorities straight — it’s almost twice as often. Maybe then I’ll February 6, 2019 always family honor over happiness and be able to finally pass some resolutions. We’re two days in, baby! This Lunar personal well-being. This weekend, I also With so many second chances, there’s New Year, forget about “Gung Hay Fat moved my bed so that it faces north for no way I can fail again, right? Right? ▪ Choy!” I’m too busy being a “Gung Hay Gud Boi!” I’m gonna complete my resolutions!

February 8, 2019 Oh, god. I broke my first resolution: to go at least a week without getting explosive diarrhea. Don’t ask me why I felt the need to make that a resolution. It’s really nothing. Today I was eating hot pot with around 40 relatives to celebrate the Lunar New Year, and Aunt Mei poured too much chili sauce into my dipping bowl, saying I needed to “man up.” I went along with it, and I felt fine, but after I got home, my stomach just let it all out. It was messy. Really messy. But it’s no big deal — I still have one resolution left. I just have to pass this one. My family’s honor is at stake. graphic by graphics editor eva chang

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10 Feature thesmokesignal .org Signal Friday, February www 22, .2019 The Smoke

The Smoke Friday, 4, 20187 wwwSignal .thesmokesignal .org May Feature

Student Spotlight: Arnav Bindra By Sabrina Cai & Yusuf Rasheed Staff Writers

Sophomore Arnav Bindra has been selling sneakers for four years, and in 2018, he founded his own business, Arnavs Kicks, to take this hobby to the next level. In this spotlight, the Smoke Signal takes a closer look at Bindra’s journey through the sneakerhead world.

INSPIRATION: Bindra grew up playing basketball which motivated him to collect signature shoes from the brands of famous basketball players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James. Before Arnavs Kicks, he only collected sneakers for his personal collection, but this hobby soon became too expensive to continue. Thus, Arnavs Kicks was born. Bindra said, “At one point my parents didn’t want to fund this hobby because it was a waste of money, so I wanted to find something that would give me the ability to make my own money and pursue this passion.”

BUSINESS DEALS: Through Arnavs Kicks, Bindra has cut countless deals ranging between $10,000 and $20,000, and his largest purchase was just over $32,000. Many of his transactions are now made through his website, arnavskicks.com, which he started in the winter of 2017. Prior to the inception of his website, Bindra originally made deals through Facebook posts, but said, “I realized a website would be perfect because ... it definitely has a more professional look, especially when you’re going to events. People can find you easier. It's also allowed me to branch off and sell to people that I don’t even know.”

OBSTACLES: During his four years in the shoe trading industry, Bindra has faced a myriad of obstacles. As a full time student as well has having full entrepreneurial and creative control over his company, finding time to finish all his work has always been difficult. Bindra said, “I have school and basketball so it’s really hard to balance my schedule. Over the summer I was able to sell at least ten times the amount I was able to sell now because I had so much more time.” However, with dedication and perseverance, Bindra continued to grow his business, learning valuable lessons along the way. Bindra said, “It’s been eye-opening for me. Before I would spend money [on] no end, I would spend it immediately after I earned it. [But, now] I’ve worn the same shoe for the past year and it costs like 40 dollars. My money spending habits have definitely changed.”

Bindra gets ready to send out a shipment of over 70 sneakers to his customers.


Bindra displays his Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red October sneaker, which is worth around $6,000.

Last March, Bindra attended Sneaker Con Bay Area, a premier sneaker trading event where sneakerheads can sell, trade, and buy shoes. He sold 70 pairs of shoes as a vendor and earned $27,000 in revenue and $5,000 in profit. He said, “It’s really a good place for [sneakerheads] to come together ... everyone in the building shares the same love and passion.” In addition, Bindra spoke about his business at the annual TiE Inflect Youth event in May 2018, one of the world’s largest technology conferences dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship, and met other young entrepreneurs. He said, “It’s really cool to meet people that are interested not only in shoes but business in general to expand more and make new connections.”

FUTURE PLANS: In the near future, Bindra hopes to attend more conferences and conventions. He hopes that attending new conferences will benefit his future, potentially even providing him internship opportunities. In the long run, Bindra wants to study business in college and further make use of what he has learned so far. Bindra said, “Entrepreneurship is definitely something I want to do, whether it’s shoes or not, I don’t know, but I want to use my shoe business to channel into [something bigger in] the future.” photos courtesy arnav bindra

8 Feature


The Smoke Signal

Friday, February 22, 2019

Guide to Hiking By Anika Arora, Ian Park & Jessica Xu Staff Writers

Whether you’re in the mood for some breathtaking views a good exercise, or just some fresh air, Bay Area hiking trails have it all. The Bay Area is home to hidden gems of natural beauty that people often take for granted. With this in mind, the Smoke

Signal identified five local and easily accessible hiking routes for all to enjoy. Jordan Pond at Garin and Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park

Vargas Plateau Regional Park: Located a 4 mile drive from MSJ, Vargas Plateau Regional Park offers scenic views and hosts an abundance of wildlife, including deer, owls,

Garin Regional Park:

bobcats, and the threatened California red-legged frog. Originally home

Garin and Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park, with 4,794

to the Tuibun and Causen tribes, the land was later converted into a ranch

acres and over 20 miles of trails, serves as Moreau Catholic

before opening as a park in 2016. Today, visitors can hike, run, bike, or

High School’s cross country course. Garin Park’s main trail, the

even ride horses on six miles of trails. Nature lovers can explore more

Dry Creek Trail Loop, is a 3.3 mile moderate trail offering scenic

than 100 species of wildflowers that grow in the 1249 acre park, and

views. All Garin Park trails allow leashed dogs and some allow

birdwatchers can observe red-tailed hawks, white tailed kites, northern

equestrians. Garin is a 10 mile drive (or a three-hour walk, if you

harriers, and more. Since the park is relatively new, it does not include

feel so athletically inclined), from MSJ, and it offers a medley

many facilities; visitors who intend to embark on a long hike should pack

of unique activities and sights to see. Ranches and museums

their own food and water.

displaying antique farm equipment, an annual Garin Apple Festival, and a kite field that gives visitors a blast from the past.

Sunol Regional Wilderness: Sunol Regional Wilderness, located south-west of Fremont, is a vast 8,859 acreage of diverse terrain and wildlife. Before being converted to ranch land, it was home to Ohlone-speaking Taunan tribes. Now, the park offers free backpacking, picnicking, and a variety of hiking trails. One of the more well-known trails is the Canyon View Trail, a 4.8 mile dog-friendly hike featuring boulders, waterfalls, and canyon views. The trail encompasses a short detour to Little Yosemite, with small waterfalls and streams that hikers often dip their feet into. While on this moderate trek, be sure to notice the diverse flora and fauna including birds, butterflies, wildflowers, oak trees, and serpentine

Rock Wall along the Cliff trail at Vargas Plateau Regional Park

Sabercat Creek Trail: Sabercat Creek Trail, frequented by the MSJ Cross Country

rock outcrops.

Coyote Hills Regional Park:

team, includes two miles of both flat and hilly terrain, making it

Coyote Hills Regional Park’s 3.5 mile bike accessible Bayview

well-suited for running, walking, and biking for people of all fit-

Trail is the course for Irvington High School’s cross country team.

ness levels. The trail permits leashed dogs, and picnic tables are

This park is family-friendly, with two first-come-first-serve picnic ar-

also available. One offshoot leads up a small hill, where people

eas, and a bird and butterfly nectar garden. Park staff are avail-

can enjoy a view of Fremont below. An ongoing restoration effort

able year-round and offer a variety of programs, such as ecology

to remove invasive plant species, improve emergency vehicle

lessons and wildlife watches. The region was also home to the

access, and reduce erosion of trails is helping preserve the hab-

native Tuibun Ohlone Indian tribes, with several preserved 2000

itat around the trail.

year old sacred burial sites. photos by redwoodhikes.com & flikr.com

Friday, February 22, 2019


The Smoke Signal

Feature 9




Minimalism frees people from the buzz of our consumer-based culture by allowing people to live more consciously and purposefully. While the execution of minimalism itself is subjective to each person, it generally entails reducing material items and simply living with less. The Smoke Signal introduces the most popular minimalist habits to start the journey towards a life with more clarity.

By Sreetama Chowdhury, Kimberly Huang & Sabrina Wu Staff Writers

Types of Minimalists












Aesthetic minimalists focus on, as the name implies, aesthetics. Bare walls and neutral color palettes make for a more modern look while reducing the stress that accompanies a crowded space. As people say, a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind.















The sustainable minimalist focuses on cutting down on consumerism to improve the environment, often with a focus on zero-waste or using biodegradable products. By buying less goods that will eventually end up in landfills and oceans, sustainable minimalists save both money and the environment.


















Essentialist minimalism is centered around the idea of quality over quantity. Reducing material items to the bare necessities allows the essentialist to invest in items of personal value that will stand the test of time.

E X P E R I E N T I A L :


For experiential minimalist, collecting experiences takes priority over material items. The experientalist would rather spend resources on activities and memories than on physical possessions.

Mindful minimalism spotlights the joys of maintaining peace of mind. Moderation of material items allows this minimalist to live more peacefully and mindfully.

The KonMari Method


Japanese organization consultant and author Marie Kondo's mindful minimalism method has recently skyrocketed to popularity with the release of her new Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Known as the KonMari Method, it encourages mindfulness and introspection when decluttering. The KonMari Method has six basic rules:

1 4

Commit to tidying up: set aside time to clean all at once.

Tidy by category, not location.

2 5

Imagine your ideal lifestyle while tidying.

Follow the right order: clothes, books, paper, then miscellaneous objects.

3 6


Begin the tidying process by discarding what you don't need

Ask yourself if an object sparks joy before deciding whether or not to keep it

Capsule Wardrobe Capsule wardrobes are a recent trend for organizing and simplifying one of the most time and space-consuming aspects of life: clothing. Based around the concept of keeping less clothing, capsule wardrobes entail mixing and matching clothing for a wide variety of outfits. Among the most common methods is the "10-by-10 challenge," which entails using only 10 articles of clothing to create outfits in 10 day rotations. Creating a capsule wardrobe is fairly simple: take all your clothing and ask questions about each piece: how much you wore it in the last couple months or whether you actually like it. If you can't identify exactly why you have an article of clothing, donate it. Capsule wardrobes offer a simple way to declutter your closet and spend less time deciding what to wear.

tiny houses Tiny houses are small residences that allow for maximized usage of their limited space. Usually ranging from about 100 to 400 square feet, tiny houses are widely considered more affordable and less cluttered than their bigger counterparts. While this may seem difficult to execute as a high school student, you can actually make more use of tiny house techniques than you think. Rolling storage boxes under beds and behind furniture as well as careful use of vertical space are some of the most effective ways to maximize floor space. Aspects of tiny houses can be easily incorporated into your room to both better organize it and make it a comfortable haven for work and relaxation.

10 Centerspread


The Smoke Signal

Friday, February 22, 2019

Friday, February 22, 2019


The Smoke Signal

Centerspread 11

local library network By Aria Lakhmani, Ian Park, Carolyn Qian, Sahana Sridhar & Selina Yang Staff Writers

Fremont Libraries

With the rise of e-books, the Internet is replacing libraries as the mainstream way of accessing books. Although the primary function of libraries is to house books, libraries also host free, little-known student services. In Fremont, libraries are untapped resources; to highlight these libraries and their features, the Smoke Signal has compiled a list of local libraries, any of which you can make your next destination. The Smoke Signal surveyed eight classes across grade levels, with 186 student responses.



of students prefer paper books over e-books.

Progression of Libraries In the age of the Kindle and iBooks, it is easy to forget the simple yet enriching value that libraries add to our communities. According to the American Library Association, librarians in public libraries answer more than 6.5 million questions every week, preserving both the human interaction that is often lost in our increasingly digitized lifestyles and the palpable sense of community that can be found in any library building. An overlooked contribution, local libraries also add to economic enrichment; many libraries provide a workspace for telecommuters, free Internet service for the public to research job opportunities, and sometimes even offer job and interview training. While swiping across a brightly lit screen may be a convenient method to quickly access information, libraries provide both valuable services and otherwise inaccessible books. In the age of digitalization, we must not forget the value of these irreplaceable community centers.

Almost never

of students say they never read books outside of assigned reading.

How often do you visit any library per week? 1 time


of students say they read for pleasure a few times per week.

4+ times 2 times

3 times

45.2% 25.3% 8.1% 5.3% 16.1%


53.8% 53.8%




Read/ borrow books Study (alone or with friends)

Research for projects Tutoring * = mark all that apply

of students never read books outside of assigned reading.


of students read for pleasure once a week.

26.3% of students read for pleasure a few times per week.

Little Fre e rary Lib

Are you interested in sharing a love of literature in your community? Little Free Library is a nonprofit aiming to foster a love of reading and a sense of community. Resembling dollhouses, Little Free Libraries are informal book exchange centers, where anybody can pick up or drop off books for free. The libraries are managed by stewards who built or bought the library and officially registered it in the global network of Little Free Libraries. There are 14 Little Free Libraries in Fremont alone, and the libraries adorn the streets of more than 90 countries across the globe. Junior Michael Kania, who built and now runs the Little Free Library on 190 Anza St., said, “The creation of the Little Free Library has impacted our community by encouraging the love of reading ... and bringing the community together when people stop to talk while browsing the book selection in the Little Free Library.”

Print assignments


While students may be more than familiar with the MSJ library as a place to print last-minute assignments, study, and hang out during lunch, the majority of students are unaware of efforts made to update the library. Whether it be opening book request lists or helping with students’ research, District and Teacher Librarian Maile Ferreira and Library Media Technician Sherry Willer aim to make the library a space where students can be comfortable, whether that means reading or just relaxing during the lunch period. In recent years, the library has accommodated new technology as well, namely incorporating e-books. Willer said, “As there's a population of over 2,000 students here, to be able to pick what e-books would be the most valued by them would be difficult … We’ve tried them at some schools, but nobody looks at them.” In addition, both librarians are highly skilled and trained to help students seek out the most credible sources; Ferreira, a specialist in library research, teaches students to look beyond Google. Students can take advantage of the new databases purchased last year and librarians’ experience to navigate the system.

ibrary L in

ne Colle Ohlo g

f hes o branc ary o w br has t er Li ollege ark Cent library. C e Ohlon : its New -campus tance on es librari Fremont ch assis well ar s ts and i ffer rese ibrarians a for l o h s it They nts w database guides. ntme le i o y p d p u d t a p multi library s ervices an n s s d a g us i se ct-ba all tutorin g on-camp , and e j b u s ge in e, ere f char ermor n edit Furth applicatio are free o ations wh ffered. c k o r e o l a g ew he is colle and N one of t jects t n o sub Frem aries are ll a ibr r o the l f ng tutori

ibraries eL

Work on homework

ibrary L SJ

Fremont M a


What do you typically do at a library?*

a lamed the A ntent n i s o anche ry’s c ee br ain Libra e Tri-City r h t e ir ont M of th ides e ent rgest rary, Frem nearly th rary prov es a l e Th y Lib ves uniti n Lib Count lation ser mont Mai eer opport g to t u e lpin Fr lun circ The nd vo grams, he ith its a . a p l e e r h a ro nity w work ing p home h its read of commu ers a Job f g throu e a sense library of ic Educas e s a h a e T r B c ls . t l in vices linic, Adu puter Skil r e s C m o s n l free C a d il ops ng Sk Basic Seeki sses, and er worksh aimed re la th tion C mongst o services a munal m a e o e c r , f s k pa ts Lab ll of i nd build u tional boo a ; s e a a s n n s s r o a d e i l t t c n un . educa n annual i ckgro a e r b u t l r l a to nu so hosts ren of a l child rary a in Lib g among a M t in on Frem mote read . The o t r n p e nm nd enviro bolster a o t fair

26.3% of students read for pleasure daily.

photos by staff writers aria lakhmani, ian park, sahana sridhar & selina yang

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Friday, February 22, 2019


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Friday, February 22, 2019

The Smoke Signal


By Meera Sehgal, Sahana Sridhar, Shreya Srinivasan & Jennifer Xiang Staff Writers On February 5, the Smoke Signal surveyed eight classes on their video streaming habits. MSJ’s varied preferences are a reflection of its diverse student body; students spend their time binge-watching documentaries, streaming makeup tutorials, keeping up with daily vloggers, and meticulously watching live-streamed gaming adventures. The following data assesses trends in MSJ’s video streaming usage by gender, grade level, and more. Of the 181 respondents, 97 were female, 80 were male, and four were non-binary. Additionally, 53 were freshmen, 69 were sophomores, 39 were juniors, and 20 were seniors.



During school breaks



Over the summer


Whenever I want to

Twitch 8.64%


Sporadically/No pattern

Arts & Entertainment 13


21.6% 13.5%

I don’t binge-watch

Netflix 29.38% *Mark all that apply

report binge-watching more than once a week. 36.7% ofThissophomores is the grade level with the highest level of binge-watching. HOW MANY PAID SUBSCRIPTIONS DO YOU HAVE? 4.9% of



Amazon Prime 14.32%

*Mark all that apply




2 to

6 hours on streaming


Hulu 5.19%

YouTube 42.47%

FEMALE students

spend between



44.4% 44.4%



of males students believe that YouTube provides the best content of all the streaming services they use.

of students surveyed prefer YouTube over all other streaming services.

All upperclassmen responded that they use YouTube.



51 46 42 38







of FRESHMEN say they rarely binge-watch TV shows.





of JUNIORS say the same.

*Non-binary data






was inconclusive.


49.2% of SENIORS own at least one subscription to a video streaming service.

10 3.9



2 1.5 2.6 0






Amazon Prime

























Amazon Prime




3.3 0




10.3% 13.5%



*Mark all that apply









39.1% 17%


6-10 HOURS

10+ HOURS 25%

47.4% 31.6%


29% 5.2%




25% 5%

12 graphics by infogram.com

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The Smoke Signal

Friday, February 22, 2019

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Smoke Signal


Arts & Entertainment 15

C R I T I C S’ C O R N E R MusiC: ariana grande, alextbh| Film: the lego movie 2: The second part, What men want

Under the radar The Lego Movie 2: A Solid Addition to the LEGO Universe Music review alextbh

ariana grande

By Samir Jain Staff Writer 22-year-old queer Malaysian singer-songwriter Alex Bong, known as alextbh, combines the serenity of a waterfall with the evocative emotion of a raging fire in each one of his masterful tracks. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community in a very homophobic country, alextbh’s lyrics are deeply introspective and chronicle the struggles he has had with his identity and ambition. His warm and soothing voice coupled with his slow but steady rhythms strengthen alextbh’s R&B-infused pop style that mirrors that of Sam Smith. alextbh has gained a sizable following since releasing his first and only studio album to date, alive, in 2016. He has opened for prolific artists such as Iranian singer-songwriter Sevdaliza and mainstream R&B artist Khalid at the Malaysian festival Urbanscapes in 2018. The artist started writing songs at the age of 13 and taught himself music production using mere YouTube tutorials. alextbh’s first real brush with success was with the release of “Stoop So Low” on SoundCloud that established him in the pop genre. Through his music, alextbh seeks to create a future environment for queer individuals in Malaysia that is much safer than the one he was used to growing up. In addition, he hopes to widen his impact on addressing difficulties individuals face regarding sexuality or discrimination in other parts of the world through his planned 2019 EP. ▪

By Mingjia Wang Staff Writer Ariana Grande has become all too familiar with pain. In 2018, she navigated a breakup and the death of longtime boyfriend Mac Miller, as well as a rushed engagement and the bitter separation from now-ex Pete Davidson. Taking some time off to organize her thoughts seemed appropriate. But less than half a year after her life was torn apart, Grande has released her newest album, bravely articulating her struggles and thoughts amidst her stillhealing wounds. Authentic, poignant, and thematically brilliant, thank u, next is an emotional and musical triumph. thank u, next, which released just six months after Grande’s Grammywinning album Sweetener, contrasts sharply with its predecessor in almost every way. While Sweetener also tackled themes of loss (regarding the Manchester concert attack), it was relatively positive throughout — Grande concluded by encouraging listeners to stay strong. thank u, next is somber, and quite open about it; many tracks are deeply intimate and filled with longing and regret. The album is also rather soft and subdued for an Ariana Grande record, but it’s warranted, especially given the dark subject matter. A combination of delicate vocals, soft snare drum, and a hazy synth line gives the overall music a haunting and ethereal feel. The muted accompaniment and exposed vocals correspond well with the content of the album: since thank u, next is a portrayal of her pure, unadulterated emotions, the music itself backs off to allow her voice to come through, raw and unfiltered. However, the defining quality of thank u, next is the touching narrative that Grande weaves throughout the album. The track-by-track progression paints a timeline of the past six months of her life — the heartbreak, the tribulations, and the eventual transformation — without leaving any details out. Later tracks carve out a beautiful transformation for Grande, showing her maturity as an individual and a lover. “One taught me love / One taught me patience ... I’ve learned from the pain / I turned out amazing,” she sings in the title track, “thank u, next.” Rather than harboring resentment for her exes, she’s emerged from her experience with growth and a sense of selflove. “This one gon’ last / ‘Cause her name is Ari / And I’m so good with that,” she continues, noting that as she goes forward she will strengthen her relationship with herself. Throughout the album, Grande’s message remains incredibly consistent. Only one blemish is present — a puzzling track titled “bad idea” that toys with the idea of having fun with a lover just to numb the pain of losing her exes. The song is loud, bass-heavy, and a stark contrast to the rest of the tracks, both thematically and musically. The tracks afterward just pick up right where they left off, glossing over the song as if it was just an accident. With thank u, next, Grande tells a compelling story of love, loss, and recovery. The album is a powerful reminder that although struggle is painful, what matters most is how people move on from it — which, in Grande’s case, involves tremendous growth, selflove, and appreciation. ▪


By Anisa Kundu Staff Writer overall: 3/5

Taking players 30 years into the future to a society whose most pressing issues have allegedly been solved, Supposedly Wonderful Future, a story-based game by Dmitry Zagumennov, shares a story preaching a devastating lesson: the future of humanity is plagued with an entirely new genre of issues. Unfortunately, Zagumennov may have better illustrated his ideology through a novel instead of a game.

By Gregory Wu Staff Writer Five years ago, filmmaking duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller wrote and directed The LEGO Movie, a film that paired visually stunning animation with an ambitious script that touched upon deeper topics of self-identity. The film’s ingenuity in all-ages comedy set it apart, making it both critically acclaimed and a box office favorite. With Lord and Miller now serving as writers and producers, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part lives up to its predecessor’s reputation and is packed to the brim with songs, humor, and good old fun, even if it may have lost some of the magical novelty of the original. The Second Part picks up, quite literally, from the end of the first movie: LEGO DUPLO invaders from the Systar System terrorize the people of Bricksburg, turning it into a desolate desert town now known as Apocalypseburg. The citizens of Apocalypseburg have understandably grown tougher and more rugged through the periodic attacks; however, Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt), the idealistic, all-too cheery protagonist, remains unchanged, and Lucy (Elizabeth Banks) scolds him throughout the beginning of the film for not keeping up with the times. This idea of “becoming tough” is explored heavily throughout the rest of


the film, as Emmet goes on a mission to rescue Lucy and others, setting out to become somebody other than himself. Identity and belief were also a large part of the first movie, showing that anybody could be a hero, but The Second Part twists the message to prove a different point: that it’s alright to be who you are. The ability to deliver important morals to viewers in the form of a children’s film continues to be one of the LEGO movies’ strongest selling points, and it doesn’t take away from the thrilling action sequences or sacrifice the plot. Much like its predecessor, The Second Part has a whimsical, lighthearted atmosphere that lingers throughout the film, making sure to never take itself too seriously. Being a Lord and Miller film, it’s consistently light on its feet, injecting humorous jokes, raps, and songs into the storyline with ease. For instance, as Lucy and Batman (Will Arnett) are captured by Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish) of the Systar System, she instantly bursts into a medley of rap songs to convince the group to stay. Although the songs in The Second Part are mostly entertaining, they don’t compare to the genius of “Everything is AWESOME!!!,” the addicting pop single that became the embodiment of the first film. The Second Part constantly finds itself revisiting the song, almost as a reminder

that it’s unable to top “Everything Is AWESOME!!!” both sonically and creatively. This same principle somewhat applies to the LEGO animation style, which has lost some of its novelty after LEGO Batman and Ninjago, but that’s to be expected as they continue to expand their universe. The absolute brightest piece of The Second Part lies in its star-studded cast. Pratt, Banks, Haddish, and Arnett all compliment the animation extremely well, making their characters feel realistic and vibrant. Haddish’s performance as the shape-shifting Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi immediately stands out as a new face amongst Pratt, Banks, and Arnett, all of whom are returning members. As Haddish sings and raps her way through the hilarious track “Not Evil,” it’s hard not to crack a smile, and Pratt’s performance playing two characters, Emmet and Rex Dangervest, makes for an interesting character contrast. Overall, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part feels like a direct continuation of the first film in terms of humor and charm, and a worthy addition to the LEGO universe of films. Although the songs aren’t nearly as catchy as the original’s, The Second Part is still a joyride of fun for all ages. ▪ Rating: B+

What went wrong with What Men Want

Interface: 3/5

Because the game resembles a visual novel, there is limited control over the roleplaying game style dialogue and the movement of the characters. Although certain objects in each room are accessible for further exploration, most of the background is off-limits. Due to the lack of control, it is easy to lose interest early on in the game. plot: 4/5

The game follows one character: Michael, an elderly businessman in 2018. When a woman from the future asks him to time travel with her to 2048, Michael agrees and soon faces complex issues such as euthanasia, cyberbullying, and virtual reality addiction. The scenarios Michael deals with feel real and users can easily empathize with and learn from the characters’ pain. graphics: 3/5

Supposedly Wonderful Future utilizes 3D graphics but focuses very little on detail. For instance, unclear skin discoloration and an expressionless face on a kidney disease victim detract from the sincerity of the story. The creators could have better developed the 3D graphics to allow in-depth exploration of each scenario to captivate the audience. audio: 2/5

Minimal music and sound effects were used in the implementation of the video game. No voice-overs accompany the paragraphs of dialogue, disengaging and boring the players. The only clear sound effect, the bumpy footsteps as Michael changes rooms, ultimately disturbs the mood of the game. Even the obnoxious electronic music that plays in the background detracts from the severity of the issues being discussed. ▪

By Josephine Chew Staff Writer Fueled by cheap sexual jokes and rudimentary humor, What Men Want is chock-full of senseless dialogue and half-baked scenarios that should never have made it into the movie. It goes overboard on plot and profanity and also manages to sorely neglect character growth, making for a meaningless and uneven storyline. The recent release is a gender-swapped rehash of the 2000 film What Women Want and revolves around a woman who is passed up for a promotion at a male-dominated sports agency. After drinking some drug-laced tea from a shady psychic and bashing her head on the floor during a wild evening at the club, Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson) can suddenly hear men’s thoughts. What Men Want puts its protagonist through one ridiculous antic after another in an effort to be entertaining. However, the Hidden Figures star’s exaggerated acting enhances the comedy only in a handful of scenes — most of the time, it’s simply uncomfortable to watch. For instance, Ali dives onto a conference table and lets out a screeching

caterwaul, stilettos flailing around in midair, when she mistakenly believes she’s received a promotion. Soon after that, she screams profanity at her coworkers and storms out of the building. Her behavior is bizarrely inconsistent with the premise that she’s trying to advance her career. It feels like the producers sacrificed a cohesive character in favor of farcical, lowest common denominator humor, and Ali’s personality lacks any sort of depth. Instead, the film is saturated with overblown and unconvincing histrionics. That being said, What Men Want does acknowledge some real-world issues. It portrays Ali as one of the only two women in a conference room and illustrates the “stay in your lane” mentality that some men harbor toward women. Unfortunately, Director Adam Shankman, known for Hairspray, also abuses a fifthgrade level of humor. With fart jokes, genital-shaped balloons, and sexual references needlessly crammed into every second of screen time, the movie’s shallow humor overpowers any of its positive attributes and soon becomes tiresome. It seems like the producers use raunchy jokes as a crutch to compensate for the lack of


more substantial humor. Furthermore, What Men Want exploits negative stereotypes about men for crude humor. Most of the men that Ali interacts with are either misogynists or cheaters, or they’re thinking about something sexual. Her boyfriend Will (Aldis Hodge) is one of the few who don’t, and even he doesn’t have much character. He plays a typical good guy with a banal personality, and although he provides some slight relief from the coarse buffoonery of other male characters, he’s one-dimensional and perfectly predictable. The movie’s ending is about as interesting as Will is — the drama winds down quickly and folds itself into a neat little package. After bombarding viewers with terrible humor for the majority of two hours, the producers try to tack on a concluding moral lesson, but it just feels cheesy and artificial because the characters are so underdeveloped. What Men Want is tolerable for a quick laugh, but it’s ultimately more impressive for its absurdity than for any kind of quality content. ▪ Rating: D

Rating: A-


16 Arts & Entertainment


The Smoke Signal

Friday, February 22, 2019

Blood, Sweat, and Tears: K-pop stan culture cuts deep How K-pop stan culture constricts stars and perpetuates toxic mindsets

In the last few years, K-pop has become an inextricable part of life at MSJ. During Homecoming and Multicultural Week, Kpop airbands dance to upbeat music and resounding cheers from audience members. Students blast songs by BTS, TWICE, NCT, and more from the Bell Tower Quad during lunch. Its bright, catchy beats, lively choreography, effortlessly fashionable idols, and glamorous music videos have helped the industry grow to the global phenomenon it is today. Stans, diehard fans of a particular group or idol, exhibit almost religious devotion to their favorite singers. Behind flashy colors and dance moves, though, K-pop idols endure grueling conditions — and stan culture isn’t helping. Stans are much more devoted than casual fans: they idolize their favorite singers and stay up for late-night album releases; many take to social media platforms to post about their favorite groups. However, stan culture has also overlooked and perpetrated the flaws of the industry that hurts the stars they admire.

Stans, diehard fans of particular group or idol, exhibit almost religious devotion to their favorite singers. Behind flashy colors and dance moves, though, K-pop idols endure grueling conditions — and stan culture isnt helping. Idols often stick to severe diets — eating as few as 300 calories per day or abstaining from eating altogether — to maintain an ideal body, leading to a number of health problems: OH MY GIRL member JinE struggled with an eating disorder, while

By Christine Dong & Jessica Xu Staff Writers B.A.P.’s Kim Himchan fractured a rib due ing to a tweet by Instiz iChart. In response to sudden weight loss. Body shaming is a to the tweet, most fans focused entirely on driving factor behind this trend. TWICE’s their own happiness and delight at the sheer JIHYO was repeatedly told she was fat by amount of content, overlooking the overJ. Y. Park, the CEO of her entertainment working it would’ve taken to produce it. agency. Pristin’s Kyla received a deluge of Praising the results of over exhaustion perdisparaging comments on her weight, lead- petuates it, as idols will work even harder to ing to her eventual hiatus from the group. keep their fanbase happy. Fans can exacerbate such situations by romanticizing the extreme diets and resulting Praising the results of over exweight loss. “Jimins style is my inspo for haustion perpetuates it, as idols my diet,” wrote Twitter user graphicnamjin, will work even harder to keep referring to BTS’ Jimin, whose diet caused their fanbase happy. him to pass out multiple times in dance practices. Overlooking the severe flaws of Idols’ contracts also place many harsh the industry and its standards to glorify the restrictions on their personal lives to enresults they induce justifies the body sham- sure clean public images. Many contracts ing and starvation of idols, which encour- notoriously forbid idols from dating. After ages entertainment companies to continue singer HyunA’s relationship with fellow idol employing such tactics. E’Dawn became public, they faced backlash from both fans and company. HyunA’s conOverlooking the severe flaws of the tract was terminated by her agency, Cube industry and its standards to glo- Entertainment, despite her having worked rify the results they induce justifies there since 2008. Many fans felt betrayed the body shaming and starvation of and lied to. “E’Dawn has been deluding idols, which encourages entertain- his members and fans,” wrote Twitter user ment companies to continue em- daengiegu. Dating scandals expose another ploying such tactics. flaw in fan culture: possessiveness. K-pop idols are marketed as not just artists but Idols frequently overexert themselves as young heartthrob boyfriends and ideal through hours of dance practices and al- sweetheart girlfriends. Constant appearancmost daily performances, rarely taking es on variety and radio shows, livestreams, breaks. When discussing the prolificness fanmeets, and social media updates allow of idols, stans tend to pull the focus away fans to feel closer to them. When the illufrom the K-pop idols’ taxing schedules and sion of availability is damaged, they react toward the amount of content they receive. badly. Such backlash feeds a vicious cycle: While Western artists like Taylor Swift take to maintain popularity, more restrictions roughly two years to release new music, idol must be placed on idol’s behavior. group BTS released 71 songs within the The Sisyphean standards that stans place first nine months of 2018 alone, accord- on idols create a cesspool of mental health

problems. Discussing mental health is stigmatized in Korean culture — “the inclination for Koreans is to just bear with [depression] and get over it,” said Korean Psychologist Dr. Kim Hyong-soo. Most notably, former SHINee member JONGHYUN committed suicide in 2017. In his suicide note, he described the impossible standards he was held to and the immense pressure he suffered. Stan culture itself puts idols on pedestals. Fans expect their idols to be flawless — always perfect, always funny, always gracious, and always performing in peak condition — while magnifying their every mistake. These unrealistic expectations only add fuel to the fire.

Fans expect their idols to be flawless — always perfect, always funny, always gracious, and always performing in peak condition — while magnifying their every mistake. Fans should strive to strike a healthy balance between supporting their idols and the content they produce and staying aware of the pressures of the K-pop industry. They should not necessarily stop following their favorite groups or posting on social media but should be aware of what they say. Before gushing about a group’s umpteenth comeback this year, they should take a moment to think twice about what it implies. Stan culture is a deep-rooted problem, but acknowledging its problematic aspects and taking care to avoid perpetrating unhealthy behavior in the industry can help reduce the damage. ▪

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Smoke Signal


Arts & Entertainment & Sports 17


GUIDE TO WEBTOONS By Ian Hsu, Carolyn Qian & Monisha Saxena Staff Writers

As entertainment becomes increasingly digitalized, webtoons — webcomics originating from South Korea — have emerged as a prominent art and entertainment medium. The most popular webtoon portal, LINE WEBTOON, has developed an international following of over 17 million monthly users since the launch of its worldwide website and mobile app in 2014. Even at school, we see fellow classmates sneaking peeks at their phones to catch the newest episodes or heatedly discussing their favorite series. For those who are interested in joining the webtoons community, the Smoke Signal has compiled a list of standout comics from LINE WEBTOON.

In Lookism by Taejoon Park, Daniel Park is ostracized for being overweight and unattractive, so he leaves his high school and lives on his own to escape his situation. One day, he realizes that he has become a handsome and fit man. The webtoon explores how Park navigates his new high school looking drastically different and how he aims to improve himself after realizing how society treats his two bodies differently. The ongoing series is action-packed and oftentimes heartwarming, featuring striking artwork that improves throughout the more than 200 episodes.


UNORDINARY UnOrdinary by uru-chan adds a twist to the “ordinary main character” trope. Nearly everyone, aside from a select few, has a superpower, from healing abilities to shooting lasers. Those with stronger powers are the social elites, ruling society like royalty. The webtoon’s protagonist, John, is the only student without superpowers in his school; nevertheless, he decides to defend those who are just as weak as him, even if it means getting hurt in the process. The vibrant and animated artwork accompanies a fast-moving plot, keeping readers on the edge of their seats.



Power duo Youngchan Hwang and Carnby Kim established themselves in the thriller genre with their chart-topping debut series Bastard , and their second release Sweet Home does not disappoint. The protagonist Hyun Cha is a social recluse who decides to schedule his suicide after his entire family dies in a car accident. He leaves his family home for a new apartment complex, only to discover an interruption in his plans: monsters roam the building, preparing to eradicate humanity. The eerie, muted artwork creates an insanely creepy setting for a webcomic that definitely shouldn’t be read in the dark.




Although Fictional Skin by Kristina N. is currently on hiatus, it is one of the most popular series on LINE WEBTOON’s “Discover” section, in which amateur artists can publish their work and potentially become “Featured.” Jinsei, the new transfer student, is both the most popular student in class and the bane of Vivi’s existence — so it’s no wonder that they become unlikely friends. As Vivi’s relationship with Jinsei progresses, her cousin, Finn, battles with his fear of social ostracization. The coming-of-age web series steers away from convention and champions healthy social standards among teens. Its whimsical humor defines the childish tone, executing wild and fantastical scenarios in ways that are relatable to the audience.


I Love Yoo by Quimchee has remained on Webtoon’s most popular list since its initial release in April 2017, with nearly all of its episodes reaching more than 100,000 likes. The romance webtoon centers around ShinAe, whose tragic upbringing has led her to disregard friendships and focus on her studies. However, this resignation with life changes when a stranger becomes intrigued by her audacity. The popular series primarily revolves around a love triangle, yet what stands out is its detailed character development. It allows graduality and time for relationships — romantic and platonic — to build, creating a relatable coming-of-age narrative. photos by webtoons.com

Girls Basketball defeats Washington 69-42 Murillo weaved through the lane effortlessly, racking up points and freeing up pressure for sharpshooters on the wings. With two minutes left in the quarter, MSJ’s lead ballooned from eight to 18, leading 37-21 at halftime. Washington just couldn’t seem to regain their footing — sloppy turnovers and numerous missed shots halted their third quarter comeback attempts. Nearly every MSJ possession in the second half began on a fast break, and the lead quickly grew to a gamehigh 37 points halfway through the fourth. Washington’s fierce effort a few possessions later, which cut the lead to 26, hinting at a possible comeback. However, with three minutes left in the game, it was too little, too late. One possession with 2:30 to go perfectly captured the Warriors’ unwavering determination throughout the match. Despite missing several shot attempts, the Warriors suc-

cessfully grabbed four offensive rebounds to finally convert for two points off the possession. The same grit and perseverance shown in that possession defined their success and finalized the victory at 69-42. Parents and students swarmed the court after the game to celebrate a well-deserved win. Co-Captain power forward Senior Erin Zhu was elated at the victory but remained focused on the future. Zhu said, “Going forward, we want to clean up our turnovers and rebounding. We’re hoping to make it past the first round of NCS. ” Others were more reflective. Shooting guard Senior Jessie Yang said, “It’s really heartwarming to see our friends and family come out to support us. I’m so glad to have such great friends and family.” The team is currently preparing for their upcoming NCS playoffs, which begin on February 12. ▪

Co-Captain Power Forward Senior Erin Zhu jumps for the opening tip.

By Mingjia Wang Staff Writer As a cheering crowd looked on, Girls Basketball challenged Washington High School on MSJ’s home turf on February 7, looking to claim a win on the team’s senior night. The match featured intense fast break sequences, stellar three-point shooting, and constant battles in the low post. With tremendous teamwork and high spirits, the MSJ Warriors ended the game with a 69-42 victory. Considering that the team was entering the game with a 20-4 record, grabbing a win for the graduating seniors seemed perfectly attainable. Co-Captain Point Guard Senior Natalie Leung said, “Our goal [was] to play well, enjoy the game together, and have fun.” MSJ emerged with a six-point lead shortly after the opening tip. Power Forward Sophomore Isha Nambisan and shooting guard

Senior Karina Wu led the high-tempo Warriors offense, aggressively pushing the ball forward to look for open shooters and cutters. Cheers filled the gym every time a Warrior scored or drew a foul, and the players, fueled by the noise, translated the crowd energy into bold playmaking and hustle on the court. Washington didn’t back down, however, and they managed to tie the game at 15 apiece before a buzzer-beating floater from point guard Junior Meghna Nair put MSJ up two points to close the quarter. Neither team was willing to let up as play resumed, trading basket after basket in the opening minutes of the second. After the Warriors scored two quick points, Washington ramped up its own defense to get key stops and close the gap once again. But as either side made substitution after substitution in an attempt to break the defense, MSJ finally found an answer: Co-Captain Center Junior Starla Murillo.

Co-Captain Point Guard Senior Natalie Leung scans the court for her teammates.

photos by staff writer mingjia wang

18 Sports


Winter Sports Recap By Thomas Chen & Ian Park Staff Writers

What do BTS, pistachio ice cream, and MSJ Winter sports have in common? Yes, they’ve all had cold, hard success — literally. Here’s

coverage of each of our teams’ ardu-

ous journey and accomplishments through their seasons.

Girls Soccer thrived on their improvements this season, learning from their mistakes against tough opponents, and ending with a 4-14 record. Co-Captain Senior Rhea Guliani said, “After finally getting more comfortable with each other and learning which lineup works best for us we finally began to come together and improve.” This improvement served them well, as they went on to beat Washington High School after having lost to them in their first game of the season. For next season, although five seniors are graduating, Guliani is optimistic of the team’s chances of beating teams MSJ has lost to previously.

Friday, February 22, 2019

leah pan, 10

This winter season, Boys Soccer struggled with the loss of seven starters, finishing the season with a [record], many of the games close losses decided by only a few mistakes. Co-Captain Senior Drake Lin attributes some of the mistakes to the fact that the players were often overpowered physically by opposing players. However, Lin said that the team’s chemistry and efficient ball movement enabled them to split defenses and create opportunities. “I was really proud of a goal we scored against Washington, where we took the ball from our box into their goal in four passes” Lin said. Next year, the team hopes to continue developing teamwork and make strides to accomplish their goals.

Flora Chang, 12

Wrestling did not perform as well as they expected, going 3-3 in dual meets. However, Co-Captain Senior Flora Chang said, “We started off with over 60 people and we thought a lot of them would drop out ... But it’s the end of the season now but a majority of the people are still on the team.” Co-Captain Senior Aaron Mendoza commended several underclassmen for stepping up this season, including Junior Matthew Melnykov and Sophomore Gary Han. Co-Captain Senior Elias Khamisy was also highlighted as the MVAL League Champion and placed 2nd at the 44th annual Mission San Jose Invitational Wrestling Tournament. Wrestling performed well at NCS, with Khamisy and Co-Captain Senior Nikita Dhaliwal placing second at NCS. The two will be competing in the State CIF Championships from February 22-23.

Arnav Arora, 11

The Smoke Signal

Boys Basketball came into the season looking to qualify for NCS again. Co-Captain Senior Ishan Kulkarni said, “We started off a bit behind most teams since we didn’t participate in summer league, but we caught up and ended off our preseason with a strong 9-3 record.” The team struggled in the first half of the season, but picked up steam, ending with a 15-11 record. Kulkarni said, “Our main weakness was our depth, with only an eight man team.” For the future, Kulkarni said that it would be critical to build team chemistry between incoming varsity members to compensate for the four graduating seniors.

Anton Lin, 11

Jessie Yang, 12

Girls Basketball had a strong season, with a record of 19-4 in MVAL games. Throughout their season, they improved minute details of their game, such as team communication and maintaining optimism. This allowed them to perform better in games, most notably at the Wine Valley Tournament, where they placed first. For their last three MVAL games and NCS, Girls Basketball Co-Captain Senior Natalie Leung said, “We hope we will continue to do well and learn from the mistakes from past games and finish strong.” The team advanced to the second round of NCS, where they lost 71-78 against San Ramon Valley High School. photos by the smoke signal archives, courtesy flora chang & samrat ghosh

Friday, February 22, 2019


The Smoke Signal

Sports 19



Boys Golf


This year MSJ Badminton is anticipating the entrance of many new members, as half of the team graduated last year. For the upcoming season, Co-Captain Senior Vicky Lin hopes to enforce regular attendance at practices and games. The team aims to continue their 15-year long streak of being undefeated throughout the season and place at both MVAL and NCS, while fostering a strong team dynamic. Lin said, “We’re looking forward to getting to know new members of the team and forming closer bonds with returning members.” Their first game is on March 5 at Moreau Catholic High School.

Although many strong players from last season are no longer on the team, MSJ Softball is optimistic about their season and have paid special attention to its many freshmen. Senior Jenna Iwamiya said, “I’d really like to see JV pick up a lot of the skills that will be necessary to play at a higher level.” Through their several games, the softball team is determined to succeed. At the same time, the team hopes to improve both individual skills and team dynamics.

Boys Golf has high hopes for this season as they welcome six new freshmen to the team. The team is currently focused on instilling a strong work ethic among the newer members through intense practices. While the team has significantly less seniors than in previous years, Co-Captain Senior Alan Chen remains optimistic. Chen said, “I think we have what it takes to reach NCS and perhaps place well.” The team’s first match will be on March 7 against Washington High School.

With a new coach, Larry Price, and new incoming players, Baseball is looking forward to a more successful season this year. Senior Apurv Prabhakar said, “We have a new coach who’s gotten all the players really excited about playing. That combined with our relatively-young team is setting us up for a very interesting season.” The team has been participating in off-season since September and is currently working to improve their offense through hitting and getting players on the base. Their ultimate goal is to win MVAL, but first is focusing on winning their first game of the season against James Logan High School on March 20 at MSJ.

Spring Sports Preview

By Riya Chopra, Aria Lakhmani & Selina Yang Staff Writers

Despite losing half of their varsity team over the summer, Swimming hopes that they can maintain their long-running win streak of over 20 years, of over for MVAL and local meets. The turnout of team members increased 20 members from last season — many promising freshmen joined the ranks, some already qualifying for the varsity team. With an exciting schedule ahead, featuring a new Pentathlon with Dougherty Valley High School, and swim meet with Alameda High School, the team looks forward to pulling together and developing new talent.

“Big bang!” Track and Field’s motto for this season encapsulates their optimistic mindset as well as their goal to make a statement. With the addition of promising underclassmen, Track and Field anticipates a strong season. Distance Captain Junior Rachel Lau said, “I think we will be able to have more people qualify for NCS Bayshore, and hopefully move on to the championships.” Currently, Track and Field is busy preparing for the first meet of the season, the Skyline Invitational on February 23.

Boys Volleyball has consistently ranked well in tournaments, and this season, they are looking to carry that momentum forward and place first in MVAL. With the addition of new team members, Co-Captain Senior Austin Yu cites teamwork as one crucial aspect that the team aspires to improve upon: “We need to practice to make sure we can work together as a team and build that team dynamic.” Currently, the team is conditioning for their first match on March 5 against Washington High School.


Track and Field

boys volleyball

Boys Tennis consists of a much younger team this season. “Our freshmen are pretty impressive and a lot of our JV players got better too. I predict that we will have a very strong team this year,” said Boys Tennis Coach Michael Jan. In contrast to last year, when he taught at Washington High School but coached at MSJ, Jan is now a teacher as well as coach at MSJ and is hoping to building stronger relationships with the players. Boys Tennis hopes to win MVAL once again and advance even further at NCS than last season, when they made it to the second round. Their first game will be an away game against James Logan, one of their biggest rivals, on March 5.

Boys Tennis graphics by staff writer selina yang

TECH IN SPORTS By Anika Arora & Yusuf Rasheed Staff Writers

In this year’s Super Bowl, every player from the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams, as well as the football itself, was equipped with Radio Frequency Identification sensors. These quarter-sized electronic tags, implemented in the 201415 season, track important information including the speed, acceleration, separation distance between receivers and defenders, and jump height of the NFL players wearing them, providing valuable statistics to evaluate athletic performances. They work alongside 22 external sensors placed around each of the 32 NFL stadiums which track the players’ and football’s locations with an accuracy of six inches.

Game Ready Gr pro Game Ready’s GRPro is a small portable machine that performs cryotherapy (cold therapy) through adjustable compression sleeves. A central control unit spreads ice water through the compression sleeve, cooling injured tissue to reduce pain and stimulate flow of blood to the target site. Game Ready’s technology is used commonly by professional teams and sports medicine doctors to help athletes recover after games or injuries.


Today, technological innovations have transformed sports for the better. Both on and off the courts, new systems are being used to enhance overall athletic performance and provide analytics. In this spread, the Smoke Signal takes a closer look at five technological advancements used in professional sports today. Last year, the Federation Internationale de Football Association World Cup in Russia introduced new and innovative changes to soccer, with the most exciting one being video assisted referees (VAR). VAR comprises of a team of assistant officials located in an off-site video room who use instant video replays to help head officials make calls. The technology uses an automated three-dimensional line system (calibrated with lasers before the match begins) that helps referees spot infractions. In addition, it provides precise visual information to enable referees to make a decision on an obscure offsides call through the use of multiple cameras placed around the perimeter of the soccer stadium. VAR is currently being used in the Premier League and Champions League.

video assisted referees

Last February, Under Armour released the HOVR Connected shoe series, giving runners real-time data on their workouts. A system of built in sensors on the outsoles of the shoes track the distance, calories burned, measurement of strides, and pace during a run. These statistics sync with the company’s MapMyRun app, which has recently implemented a digital coaching feature that analyzes strides and running technique. Under Armour was the first company to produce these “smart” shoes, and is coming out with a new series in 2019.

HOVR Connected Shoe Series

daryl morey

Many NBA teams have transitioned from traditional shooting style of mid-range field goals to attempting many three-pointers, especially the Houston Rockets. In the past six years, Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Rockets, has drastically changed his team’s gameplay by analyzing the players’ shooting percentages. He noticed that the 50 percent increase in points from a two-point shot to a three-point shot was more mathematically efficient than any other type of shot once the field goal percentage of each shot was factored in. Morey altered gameplay accordingly, allowing the Rockets to break the record for three-pointers made both of the past two seasons. photos courtesy arstechnica.com, dailystar.co.uk, gameready.com, nba.com & zebra.com

20 Photo

The Smoke Signal


By Sreetama Chowdhury & Christine Dong Staff Writers

What are the differences between this pool and the old one? “In the old pool you couldn’t dive in because it had to be six feet deep to dive in. This is seven or eight feet deep. This pool has ten deep lanes, which is going to be great for water polo and swim meets. In the old pool, you couldn’t have swim meets, and it was really more of an instructional pool.” — Math Teacher Jan Frydendahl “On the sides of the old pool there were fiberglass things that people could get really hurt on. It wasn’t really a safe environment to swim in.” — Sophia He, 11

Friday, February 22, 2019

After two years of ongoing construction, the new and improved MSJ pool is finally open to use for students and teachers. Originally proposed in 2014, the design of the new pool was discussed by FUSD and the Division of the State Architect (DSA) for about three years. The pool was finally approved and construction was scheduled in December 2017. Construction on the project, which cost approximately $8 million, officially began on February 6, 2018. The existing pool, which was originally from 1965, had fallen into disrepair, and it was too shallow for student athletes to use during competitions and matches. Explaining the advantages of the new pool, Principal Zack Larsen said, “The depth allows for competitive swimming and water polo matches. It’s well-lit, much more secure, and it’ll be good for our student athletes and students taking P.E.”

Do you think this pool will be worth the cost of construction?

How do you think this will affect athletics or P.E. at MSJ?

“Honestly, in my opinion, no. Only like half the school gets to use it, and the money can be used on other things and on improving other parts of the campus.” — Danielle Hsieh, 11

“I think you could have more than one class in at a time for a swim unit, so that means while the weather is warm you can have more than one PE class in doing swimming instead of having to spread them out over a longer period of time and potentially getting into the winter months.” — English Teacher John Boegman

“I think it’s worth it because a lot of people have told me that it’s really nice and it’s really big. Honestly, our school’s athletic facilities, like our track, are subpar.” — Kristin Leung, 11

check out online

flyover drone coverage of the new pool

a photo timeline of pool construction

photos by staff writers sreetama chowdhury & christine dong. graphics by newvitruvian.com

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Application available online at www.thesmokesignal.org Due Wednesday, mar. 13 to M-2 by 4 p.m. Please bring your completed application package in person.

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