Page 1


VOL. 53 NO. 7

March 29, 2018


Alumni speak about happiness and success Six panelists share their stories at the second annual alumni panel By Riya Chopra, Ian Hsu, Shreya Sridhar & Evie Sun Staff Writers MSJ faculty invited six alumni to speak at a panel attended by the MSJ community on March 6 in C-120. The panelists have all chosen unconventional career paths and shared their accomplishments and failures throughout and after high school. This alumni panel is the second of a series of annual alumni panels supporting the theme that there are multiple paths to success. The panel, hosted by Assistant Principal Jeff Evans, welcomed six speakers: Class of 2008 Alumni Navreena Sahota and American Government & Economics Teacher Spenser Peterson, Class of 2009 Alumnus Jose Ruvalcaba, Class of 2010 Alumna Emmeline Wang, and Class of 2012 Alumni Matthew Farberov and Helina Wang. After a brief introduction from each speaker, Evans asked the panelists about a time when they felt like giving up and how they persevered. Helina Wang shared how others disapproved of her decision to drop out of college. She explained how in the end she knew it was the right choice as it helped her become the successful Oakland Raiders professional cheerleader and Lululemon Athletica store manager that she is today. Ruvalcaba shared that being a part of a sports team in high school helped him remain optimistic and encouraged him not

to give up. Evans went on to ask the panel members about the misconceptions they had about college as high school students. Peterson shared how he always believed that in order to be successful, he needed to go to a top school but later realized that the ability to communicate and interact with others is much more important that what school he attends. Farberov spoke about his experiences in transforming from a student who routinely spent time in detention to a US Special Forces Lieutenant. He shared that he began to learn more about himself after graduating from high school, finding happiness in making a difference and serving others. Farberov said, “Whether it be developing an intelligence report that saves a US soldier’s life or contributing to taking an enemy off the battlefield, the impact of my work makes me happy.” When Evans asked if the panelists faced any conflicts with their parents regarding the choices they have made, Sahota, who is now an accomplished dentist, responded saying that her parents always supported her through everything. She said, “What made me actually want to excel and succeed is that I didn’t have that pressure from my parents.” Farberov shared that his parents always had faith in him and allowed him the freedom to make mistakes, which helped him mature. Peterson emphasized that parents should allow students to explore a path that they love,


Class of 2010 Alumna Emmeline Wang discusses her experience as a barista and writing her coffee blog.

instead of pressuring them into a particular field. The last question Evans asked was, “What is your definition of success today?” Emmeline Wang, who owns her own coffee blog called EmmMeetsCoffee said, “I used to think in high school that happiness meant succeeding in all areas of my life, but I’ve come to realize that through the grit and sometimes even failures come the appreciation and gratitude for becoming stronger as an individual.” Sahota, Ruvalcaba, and Farberov all agreed that success comes from giving back to the world and serving others. Parents and students also had the opportunity to ask the alumni questions following

the panel. Sophomore Andrew Xu asked if they had a solution to going against the traditional belief at MSJ that success comes from being better than others. In response, Helina Wang stressed the importance of patience and said, “It’s not a race and you just have to focus on yourself and being happy.” At the end of the panel, Evans also talked with teachers, students, and parents in the audience about the importance of having alumni come back to MSJ and share their stories. He said, “We picked these kids because they’ve had struggles in life and we want students to see that it’s okay. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to change your mind ... There’s really a message for every student here.” ▪

MSJ Quiz Bowl succeeds in Cal Cup #4 Quiz Bowl teams place fifth and 11th at state tournament By Praveen Nair & Julia Park Staff Writers Two teams from MSJ Quiz Bowl competed in the Cal Cup #4 tournament held on March 3 at Bellarmine College Preparatory. The A-team finished with an 8-4 record and in fifth place, while the B-team placed 11th

with a 3-9 record. In Quiz Bowl rounds, two teams of five compete to answer 20 toss-up questions, usually a paragraph long, by buzzing in first with the correct answer; earlier buzzes are worth more points. The team who answered a toss-up correctly is asked three related bonus questions as well. The topics of these


Some Quiz Bowl members Freshmen Ashish Basetty, Avinash Iyer, and Vibhav Athreya, Seniors Vikshar Athreya and Gabriel Chuang, Juniors Suprav Goswami and Srikar Voleti, and Senior Prasana Guthy pose for a picture. STUDENTS TAKE PART IN NATIONAL SCHOOL WALKOUT

On March 14 at 10 a.m. sharp, hundreds of MSJ students flooded into the amphitheater to show solidarity for the 17 victims of the Parkland massacre.

tossups are diverse, covering history, literature, fine arts, science, and pop culture. “For the competition [we go] over old packets and find the clues that appeared the most often and tried to memorize them,” said B-team member Freshman Anika Wadhera. Most high school tournaments have preliminary rounds that determine placing in a final playoff bracket. Despite only recently resuming competition under the MSJ name, Quiz Bowl has existed at MSJ since 1999. This year, MSJ competed at a record number of tournaments, including the Early Fall Tournament, the Penn Bowl against college teams, and the Davis Classic, where the A-team was crowned undefeated champion. At the Cal Cup #4 tournament, MSJ’s Ateam consisted of Seniors Vikshar Athreya, Gabriel Chuang, Alex Tseng, and Prasana Guthy, while MSJ’s B-team consisted of Senior Chandan Hegde, Junior Amit Sant, and Freshmen Vibhav Athreya, Wadhera, and Riya Patel. Despite the fact that half of their usual team members were missing and that others had to be shuffled around for the tournament, Quiz Bowl still performed


At MSJ, it is not uncommon to hear the n-word tossed around casually. In this online opinion piece, we analyzed the history of the word and why we, as a school with a diverse student body, have a responsibility to respect it.

exceedingly well in the competition pool of 60 schools. “Although we didn’t do as well as expected, we put up a lot of close games against usually victorious opponents,” said Vikshar Athreya. The tournament also keeps track of which team member answered each question during the team’s rounds; Athreya won an individual award for being the sixth highest scorer in the tournament. Cal Cups #1 through #4 are used as qualifiers to the National Academic Quiz Tournament’s (NAQT) state and national tournaments; teams must place in the top 15 percent of the team pool. Both the Ateam and the B-team did so at Cal Cup #4, although they were already qualified to the national tournament through previous Cal Cups. Later this year, MSJ will attend the NAQT Northern CA State Championship, which MSJ has won for four years running. Two national tournaments, the NAQT High School National Championship from May 25 to 27 and the Partnership for Academic Excellence National Scholastic Championship from June 2 to 3, will finish MSJ Quiz Bowl’s incredibly successful season this year. ▪



2 News


The Smoke Signal

Thursday, March 29, 2018

By The Numbers: Student Learning By Shiantel Chiang, Kikue Higuchi, Michael Ren & Sahana Sridhar Staff Writers

Styles of Learning

Students’ educational preferences often heavily impact their academic career. With the diversity of courses offered, there are a variety of teaching styles that students are exposed to; along with the differences in teaching styles comes variation in learning preferences as well. To further analyze these dynamics within the community, the Smoke Signal investigated student learning at MSJ.

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Visu al










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4 Visual








45 40 35 35 35







45 37


36 27

25 20 15 10



5 Visual



“I’m a very visual learner so physical and visual learning help a lot, but I feel logical helps more with memorizing things. I prefer these because they engage me, and when I’m engaged, I’ll obviously be more focused. Reading out of a textbook does not help me at all because I will get distracted 90 percent of the time.” — Srija Bhattacharya, 10



Commonly Observed Methods of Teaching (Select all that apply)


Preferred Method by Grade Level




“For STEM courses, I prefer visual learning because seeing the images and mechanisms in front of me makes it much more intuitive for me. In humanities, I prefer social learning instead because there’s a greater stress on opinions, which discussions help to facilitate.” — Mingjia Wang, 11















4.5% 7.5%

By Gender



Lo g i c a l






Overall Preferred Learning Style




Percentage (%)



ms, Reasoning

Patterns, Models



Sys t e


ng ,D ra en wing t









Percentage (%)

Working individu ally












40 ine Podcasts Onl tures Lec

rk Wo


Students’ Preferred Learning Style

Vide os, Po Pre wer zis po in


Writers went to seven English classrooms and one Economics classroom — two classrooms per grade level — to hand out surveys to students during Read. A total of 135 responses were received.

4% 6%

STEM & Humanities










Female students overall preferred visual learning.

Male students overall preferred logical learning.


Percentage (%)









16 12

10 5


18 18






0 Aural





0 0 Written Logical Sophomores


16 14

14 10








Solitary Seniors

“I think that specifically, film is powerful because it brings together many different mediums including speech, moving images, and music. Since history is complex and there are many important documents that have been produced by influential thinkers, I also think that reading primary source texts in their original form and reflecting or responding to them through writing is very important for a thorough understanding of historical ideas.” — US History Teacher Toby Remmers

“My philosophy is something called metacognitive learning. Metacognitive learning is empowering a person — and it can be a person of any age — to learn about themselves … This is a process where a learner tries to know how best they learn. What I think is good for one student may not be really good for another student. For example, only a few students are visual learners, a few are auditory learners, and a few are kinesthetic learners. Some I have to do a combination of everything. So keeping that in mind, if I empower students with all equitable resources, like yearly lectures, yearly homework, the yearly calendar, yearly worksheets, past AP questions, … they can take ownership to design their own learning.” — AP Chemistry Teacher Sai Kumar GRAPHICS BY FLATICON.COM, FREEPIK.COM, ICONFINDER.COM, ICONS8.COM, & SHAREICON.COM


for the March. 2, 2018 issue News Pg. 1: MSJ hosted the Northern California Winter Review. News Pg. 2: Calexico is in CA, not Mexico. News Pg. 2: Before I Let Go is Author Marieke Nijkamp’s most recent release. Opinion Pg. 5: Programme for International Student Association is misspelled. Feature Pg. 9: Photos are by Staff Writer Julia Park, not Staff Writer Ian Hsu. Feature Pg. 10: Staff Writer Ashni Mathuria is misspelled. Centerspread Pg. 12: Junior Ashmita Guha is misspelled. Sports Pg. 19: Worlds Nano Fair should be Worlds Fair Nano. Sports Pg. 21: Maya Bernstein is a senior. Photo Pg. 24: Studio Ghibli is misspelled.



ASSOCIATEDPRESS.COM San Francisco Retailer Benjamin Lin owns a showroom with chinchilla, sable, fox, and Blackgama minx furs.

NBCNEWS.COM Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the annual Facebook developers conference in San Jose, CA in 2017.

BBC.COM A Russian voter exits a polling station after voting in the 67 percent turnout presidential Russian election.

San Francisco becomes first major US city to ban fur sales San Francisco became the largest US city to ban the sale of fur products on March 20. The ban goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, and gives retailers until January 2020 to sell off remaining fur items. The ban has been the source of controversy, with animals rights groups praising the decision as a “historic victory,” Compiled by Toshali Goel, Shray but fur retailers are angry that “a Vaidya & Kelly Yang board can tell retailers what they can Staff Writers sell, without a vote by the public,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Facebook under fire for alleged information abuse Facebook is currently being investigated for involvement in political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data. Cambridge Analytica has been linked to President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and the firm used social media data to target voters on various platforms. A report alleged that the firm obtained information for up to 50 million users in this way. Since the report surfaced, politicians around the country have been calling for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify.

Vladimir Putin is reelected for second consecutive term Russian President Vladimir Putin was re-elected for a fourth term on March 18, with 77 percent of voters backing him for president. Out of Russia’s 110 million eligible voters, more than 56 million of them voted Putin back into office. Out of the eight presidential candidates, Putin won by a landslide, with the second-highest vote for the Communist Party’s Pavel Grudinin, at 12 percent. Putin has served as president since 2000, stepping down for one term to fulfill term limits.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Smoke Signal

News & Opinion 3


MSJ students recognized in the FUSD Young Authors’ Contest Two students placed in the top three entries of local writing contest By Ashni Mathuria & Kelly Yang Staff Writers Junior Zahira Ghazali and Freshman Bernice Yin recently won awards for their submissions to FUSD’s biennial Young Authors’ Contest and were recognized at the Awards Ceremony, which was held at Centerville Junior High School on February 22. The FUSD Young Authors’ Contest is a district-wide student writing competition for fictional works. Teachers at each school judge submissions and send the top entries from every grade level to compete at the district level. Each year, FUSD receives more than 3,800 original works by students, and only the top three winners in each grade level receive awards. After participating in the competition consistently since elementary school, Yin

succeeded in winning first place in the ninth grade division, which was a pleasant surprise to her. Yin’s work, “Unconscious,” is set in a world in which “dream weavers” create dreams by manipulating the unconscious and night messengers deliver these dreams to people at night. In her story, Acten, a night messenger who is about to deliver a nightmare, is attacked, which causes the dream to fall apart. The monster within the nightmare comes to life, and Acten collaborates with the dream weaver to recover the strands of the dream and mend what was destroyed. The concept of dreams has always fascinated Yin, and she said, “I want to know why your unconscious brain can create so much, and I thought it would be interesting if depicted with people.” When writing her story, Yin pieced together several fragmented ideas involving dreams into one comprehensive piece and drew pic-


Junior Zahira Ghazali and Freshman Bernice Yin placed third and first respectively in their grade category of the FUSD Young Authors’ Contest.

tures to accompany her work. Yin faced many obstacles while trying to complete her story. She said, “I had trouble fitting in enough events to make the story flow well with the word limit ... Also, personally, I’m not very good at writing convincing dialogue, so I had to really build on my characters.” Ghazali’s short story, titled “X Machi-

“Even if I don't pursue writing as my main career, I'll still continue writing on the side, whether it be stories or even poems.” — F RESHMAN B ERNICE Y IN na,” is about a character named Ferin who struggles to survive on an apocalyptic Earth. Ghazali said she originally conceived the idea from watching WALL-E in her English class and imagining what would happen if a human had to live in such a society. Like Yin, the main challenge that Ghazali faced was the word limit. “Trying to condense it so that it’s a thousand five hundred words, while sticking to what I wanted to write, was really hard,” said Ghazali. “Because it’s only five pages, and you need five pages that actually go into what you wanted to write in the story ... that was probably the biggest challenge.” The 2017-18 FUSD Young Authors’ Contest was Ghazali’s third time entering the contest and her first time winning. Ghazali was proud to finally win third place in the 11th grade level because this was her last chance to win — FUSD alternates yearly between the Young Authors’ Contest and the Science Fair, and she will


Junior Zahira Ghazali poses with her work next to Principal Zack Larsen.

have graduated by the time the Young Authors’ Contest approaches again. Despite the challenges that Yin and Ghazali faced while writing their short stories, both winners hope to continue writing in the future. “Even if I don’t pursue writing as my main career, I’ll still continue writing on the side, whether it be stories or even poems,” Yin said. Similarly, Ghazali said, “I want to keep at it and improve a little ... I want to make coherent sense, and I think I’m getting to that point.” ▪

School Safety do you feel that gun violence is a leading threat to school safety? why or why not? Ian Pa rk , 9

“I don’t think that gun violence is too big a threat to school safety. Even though gun violence and shooting in schools dominate the headlines, I as a student know that there other issues that are often overlooked by people when they look at school. It’s the mental health and overall atmosphere of a school that I feel is the most important issue; many school shooters feel the school, faculty, or students have done them wrong in some way. Solving this and making schools a better place is most important.”

do you think teachers should be armed to protect students? why or why not? an Ahm e

d, 11

“I believe that teachers should only be armed with guns if they have the proper training, such as the new Florida law that allows teachers to own guns only after 144 hours of training.”

m lai u S



4 Opinion


The Smoke Signal

Thursday, March 29, 2018


RIGHTS By Rishi Chillara, Arpita Gaggar, Katherine Guo, & Shreya Srinivasan Staff Writers



By Arpita Gaggar In the 1700s, almost all Americans believed that all citizens required the right to bear arms in order to protect themselves against the British and any other countries that stood in the way of their independence. While many today still believe citizens should be able to have guns, many also believe some restrictions should be in place. As cited in the Mercury News on March 4, 2018, a 2017 Pew Research Center survey discovered that more than 80 percent of both Democrats and Republicans are in favor of preventing those with relevant mental illnesses from purchasing firearms. Just under 80 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats want universal background checks for gun purchasers. A minority of Americans (10 percent of Democrats, 30 percent of Republicans) are in favor of allowing concealed carry without a permit. However, Americans have by no means come to a consensus on this controversy. The same study found that Democrats and Republicans are split on high-capacity magazine bans, which includes magazines with a capacity of greater than ten rounds of ammunition. Approximately 80 percent of Democrats support the ban but just under 50 percent of Republicans do. In addition, around 70 percent of Republicans are in favor of allowing K-12 teachers and officials to carry firearms, while only 26 percent of Democrats favor the same. It is clear that gun control is an ongoing debate that will not have an easy solution anytime soon.

By Rishi Chillara When our founding fathers wrote the Second Amendment, the notion of “arms” was different. They did not have guns capable of killing hundreds with a single pull of the trigger or firing 600 rounds a minute. Yet gun owners and special groups ignore the reality of today’s gun violence and instead blindly use the Second Amendment as justification for placing weapons in the hands of those who wish to harm others. Due to the Second Amendment’s ambiguity, it is no longer a useful guiding mechanism for future weapons legislation. Guns are more dangerous in the 2000s than when the Bill of Rights was drafted, where the deadliest weapon at the time, the musket, took two minutes to reload before the next shot. Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence reported that in incidents when high capacity magazines were used, the death rate rose 63 percent and the injury rate rose 156 percent. Bump stocks allow a weapon to fire at nearly the rate of a machine gun without technically converting it to a fully automatic firearm. These modifications provide loopholes for shooters to bypass assault rifle bans, such as ones in place in CA, Connecticut, and New York, and make weapons deadlier, explaining why the five deadliest mass shootings have happened in the last 11 years.

Gun reform does not deny freedom; it ensures the safety of the public ... Every citizen will always have the right to bear arms, but changes are necessary to improve general safety. According to Mass Shooting Tracker, in 2015, there were more mass shootings as there were days in the year. These tragedies are becoming more and more common in the US, to the point where news of another shooting doesn't even surprise the public. According to the Gun Violence Archive, since Sandy Hook in 2012, the US has seen more than 1,600 mass shootings, with a combined death toll of 1,800 and 6,400 wounded. Yet change is not coming fast enough. Bump stock bans were not seriously considered until 58 people died on the Las Vegas Strip in October 2017. Students had to die in Parkland, Florida before a waiting period for firearm purchases was implemented in the state. While legislation is being drafted to improve these conditions, it shouldn’t take mass shootings to instigate gun reform. The power one person has when in possession of these high capacity rifles is too risky based on the potential damage they may inflict. In recent years, public opinion is starting to reflect these ideals. The Pew Research Center found in a 21 year long study that 51 percent of Americans support controlling gun ownership. Gun control does not deny freedom; it ensures the safety of the public. Background checks and the federal prohibition of semi-automatic weapons, bump stocks, assault rifles, and concealed carry licenses are provisions necessary in order to adapt to a changing world. Every citizen will always have the right to bear arms, but changes are necessary to improve general safety. ▪

THE HISTORY OF THE SECOND AMENDMENT By Katherine Guo The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”. The background of the Second Amendment lies in the colonies’ response to infringement of basic rights by England in the late 1700’s. Since then, not only has the political climate of the U.S. changed, but the advancement of modern weaponry has enabled just a single shooter to cause mass destruction. In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States John Paul Stevens said, “ ... right to keep and bear arms protects only a right to possess and use firearms in connection with service in a state-organized militia ... ”, arguing that the Second Amendment only allows for arms in relation to state militias.

GUN CONTROL AROUN D THE WORLD By Shreya Srinivasan Globally, the US far exceeds other countries in gun ownership and related deaths. Because of this, proponents for gun control have often referred to countries with successful gun policies as examples for the US to follow. In Japan, annual gun related deaths rarely exceed 10. This is partly because a 1958 law bans civilian ownership of firearms with the exception of hunting and sport shooting; both require a license. In addition, all gun owners must take a written test and class every three years, receive a near-perfect score on a shooting range, and pass a mental health evaluation. While these policies exist in some areas of the US, there are few uniform national gun policies. Similar to Japan, the Australian government implemented the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) following the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996, when 28 year-old Martin Bryant shot and killed 35 people and injured 23. The most effective program outlined in the NFA was the temporary gun buyback program, in which the government bought out privately owned guns. A study conducted by the Australian National University found that the buyback policy reduced firearm homicide by 35 to 50 percent. Many believe nationally standardized gun control can reduce the numerous shootings and gun related deaths in the US as it has in other countries.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Smoke Signal


amy's approach

The Smoke Signal Mission San Jose High School Est. 1964 Vol. 53, No. 7 | March 29, 2018

Echo chambers breed ignorance and hate


Do good for others, not just yourself

By Amy Chen 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 2020 students EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Carolyn Ge, Mallika Gupta NEWS Gloria Chang, Andrew Kan OPINION Amy Chen, Vicki Xu FEATURE Heather Gan, Helen Wang CENTERSPREAD Zen Thumparkkul, Richard Chenyu Zhou A&E Stephanie Dutra, Hana Sheikh SPORTS Hannah Chou, Cindy Yuan GRAPHICS Evangeline Chang, Victor Zhou WEB Ishika Chawla, Jonathan Ko TECH Julia Park, Michael Ren BUSINESS Ian Hsu CIRCULATION Anagha Mandayam ADVERTISING Shivani Avasarala, Katherine Guo EVENTS Evie Sun, Maggie Zhao SPECIAL PROJECTS Joelle Chuang WRITERS & PHOTOGRAPHERS Shiantel Chiang, Rishi Chillara, Riya Chopra, Christine Dong, Arpita Gaggar, Toshali Goel, Kikue Higuchi, Samir Jain, Anisa Kundu, Karen Li, Lucia Li, Ashni Mathuria, Praveen Nair, Sahana Sridhar, Shreya Sridhar, Shreya Srinivasan, Shray Vaidya, Tylor Wu, Jennifer Xiang, Kelly Yang ADVISER Sandra Cohen Send letters to the editor to opinion@ Letters under 300 words may be considered for publication and must include a full name and school affiliation. The Smoke Signal reserves the right to edit for clarity and length. To advertise in the Smoke Signal, email ads@ Advertising that is included on the pages of, or carried within, the Smoke Signal, is paid advertising, and as such is independent of the news and feature content. The Smoke Signal’s right to freedom of speech and press is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. All policies on distribution, corrections, and bylines can be found at

“sounds like your analysis needs a bit more nuance but ok.” “sounds fake but ok.” “wow thanks I’m cured.” These are the quirky Facebook group names that quickly caught my attention and introduced me to Leftbook, a network of groups and Facebook users with predominantly left-wing political views. The key to understanding Leftbook culture is the tag group. These groups vary in size, and often overlap in membership and content, generally relating to progressivism and social activism. Members communicate by tagging other groups, known as “tag groups,” in the community. Within these groups, users post memes and share posts to discuss with group members. For the most part, Leftbook members agree with each other’s ideas as they comment on various types of content. Initially, I appreciated the seemingly supportive and like-minded nature of the community. However, my time in Leftbook eventually taught me how excessive homogeneity can lead to intolerance and hatred. This echo chamber-like environment creates a false sense of ideological consensus, since everyone around seems to agree, and we get little experience with much else. We end up thinking only our ideas are correct, subsequently demonizing dissenters. In Leftbook, any non-leftists were essentially viewed as prejudiced and discriminatory. These groups consequently foster these same traits towards those who disagree with its members. Leftbook members come to think that any other ideas are objectively wrong and are ironically quick to label any dissenters intolerant bigots. In the groups I was in, conservative or even moderately lib-

#NeverAgain The #NeverAgain movement, led by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSDHS), did what the rest of the country once considered impossible: they convinced Florida’s Republican-led state legislature to pass a bill that raises the minimum age for gun ownership, keeps guns out of the hands of the mentally unfit, and increases teacher training for lockdown situations. But they’re not done yet. To the Parkland survivors, this bill is the first step to national gun control reform. Unfortunately, these young adults are the exception, not the rule. Our generation has not taken the action necessary to deserve the recognition of lawmakers to create political change. Student ideas are dismissed by politicians as ignorant, naive, and hollow due to our age and unwillingness to act upon them. Even in our community, we show support on social media platforms, but our actions often fail to mirror our language. From mental health to cheating, the community’s empty promises uphold our generation’s reputation of being unable to create tangible change. The MSDHS students, however, have proven that our youth can generate political action. Through protests, rallies, speeches, and $3.7 million dollars in donations to fight for stricter gun control, these students made significant progress in tackling an issue headon that most politicians have spent years avoiding. The National School Walkout on March 14 was intended to be much more than a political statement. It was an opportunity for students to get inspired by the solidarity of their peers to fight for gun control and their own safety. However, the fight should not end with a 17-minute scripted walkout. It is easy to forget about issues not within our immediate vicinity, especially when we

By Vicki Xu Opinion Editor

eral comments were immediately squashed, with little opportunity for rebuttal. Moderators notoriously banned anyone who didn’t agree with their views, with little warning. Evidently, only associating with people who agree with us skews our perceptions of the political climate and our opposition. Most of us aren’t in tag groups or Leftbook, but the effects of homogeneity apply outside of Facebook. After the 2016 presidential election, many of my peers were shocked at the outcome. Living in liberaldominated CA, my friends and I rarely interact with typical supporters of President Donald Trump. When I found out a family member supported Trump, I took precautions to interact less with that individual. By choosing to remain isolated from other views, we create echo chambers for ourselves. In my case, this gave me the false impression that Trump wasn’t in a position to win and cost me the opportunity to understand another perspective. After the election, I read more about the motivations behind Trump supporters and found that many of them weren’t the racist bigots we made them out to be. Rather, they were just regular people feeling desperate for a change in leadership. While it’s difficult to completely alter our environment, we can make sure we expose ourselves to more varied opinions. Listening to others repeating our own opinions is comfortable, but we must go outside our comfort zones to fully understand and maturely partake in our current political climate. So try reading an article from a news publication you generally disagree with. Have a respectful discussion with someone you know doesn’t share your political opinions. Maybe you’ll end up learning something in the process. ▪

The Opinion of the Smoke Signal Editorial Board

Opinion 5

In sophomore year, I truly began to appreciate messaging forums. They were a source of nifty miscellaneous knowledge and personal narratives that I found fascinating. Reddit, WordPress blogs, and other forumlike platforms soon became my daily entertainment. During this discovery process, I also came across some of the strangest commentary I had ever read. Here’s a sampling: minced statements like “Education is important to have but I don’t think I should be paying for that of others with my taxes” and “Oil companies can keep drilling because I’ll be dead by the time all the resources are gone” and “I love Granny but I don’t think it’s fair for me to sponsor her elderly pensions.” Surfing the Internet awakened me to just how much we selfishly value ourselves above others. Even if a reform hugely benefits the rest of society, we often shoot it down if we are personally disadvantaged. We easily justify this action: bad experiences with similar programs in the past, unnecessary inconveniences, or a mix of the two. However, doing so is incredibly callous. Personal experiences are certainly valid, but issues like healthcare, gun control, FUSD's sexual education curriculum, and teacher pay raises extend far beyond our own relationships. Marking off issues solely based on the impact on ourselves is incredibly reductive. Voting decisions affect a wide range of people, and

personal inconvenience or invective should not outweigh the opportunity to help many others. An additional, say, $10 in taxes per year to FUSD will not break most MSJ families but will keep numerous teachers in the district. In the same vein, bad experiences with individual teachers shouldn’t affect how you treat all of them; that’s simply petty. We shouldn’t evaluate reforms solely based on individual impact; good causes are worth supporting regardless of how much personal benefit is involved. After all, no basic sense of community or empathy exists in a society of people who look out for primarily themselves — yet those qualities have gotten us through some of the most difficult times in history, which tells us that they’re probably quite important. Thus we should try to value collective impact more than individual impact. Policy imperfections will always exist — for instance, not everyone contributes the same amount to Social Security payments. However, it’s better to implement a flawed but helpful program and address concerns directly after, rather than to avoid improvement entirely. We’re only minors for a couple more years. As we enter a world where our decisions hold greater weight, it’s necessary to remember that working for societal good is just as important, if not more, as working for ourselves. ▪

By Lucia Li & Shreya Srinivasan Staff Writers

see no direct effects from the tragedy. According to an estimate by the Washington Post, more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus since the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999. Each student is not simply a statistic; they are someone’s daughter, son, or best friend, and it is our responsibility to fight for their lives as well as our own. When 26 victims died at Sandy Hook and 13 victims died at Columbine, our fight for gun control lost its passion and disappeared into silence. We cannot afford for our current campaign to fail again. There are several actions that students in our community can take to create change. Write to legislators, call local representatives and demand that they push their colleagues to act, stay informed by reading national news, and volunteer with or donate to grassroots organizations that focus on gun control. It is our generation’s time to stand up for gun control. It is our obligation to use the respect that the victims of MSDHS have earned to finish the fight. As the Parkland survivors have said, #NeverAgain. ▪


WHAT YOU CAN DO Call local representatives through www.5calls. org. Write a letter to your local paper. Donate to or volunteer for grassroots organizations like The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence and States United To Prevent Gun Violence. Register to vote, and vote.


MARCH FOR OUR LIVES On March 24, 2018, several million people marched for comprehensive gun reform in the US and around the world. Although the event was primarily located in Washington, D.C., where organizers estimate up to 850,000 participants attended, more than 800 similar marches took place on the same day worldwide. With 2 million marchers just in the US, it was the largest student protest and second largest protest in US history.

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The Smoke Signal

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Smoke Signal


Opinion & Feature 7

Blocking websites in schools does not protect students By Toshali Goel & Lucia Li Staff Writers

teria, “access by minors to inappropriate matter on the internet and measures restricting minors’ access to materials harmful to them.” The language “WEB PAGE BLOCKED: The website of this act allows for open interpretation, resulting source has been blocked by your administrator” in arbitrary judgements often made by third paroften pops up on the monitors of phones, laptops, ties hired by school districts. and chromebooks connected to MSJ’s Internet. Whether it is on the screens of people casually Never really explained, the methodtrying to browse subreddits during passing period, ology and reasoning behind blockor those attempting to load videos in class for an ing websites remains largely obassignment, this message presents an exasperating scure to students and teachers. inconvenience to students and teachers alike. Never really explained, the methodology and A 2003 study by the Electronic Frontier Founreasoning behind blocking websites remains large- dation (EFF) and Online Policy Group on Interly obscure to students and teachers. While website net access in educational institutions found that bans may remove obstructions and distractions of all pages related to state-mandated curriculums from class time and protect the “purity” of the blocked by blocking products, only one to three school environment, cutting out huge portions of percent met the CIPA criteria. This would mean the Internet for student use often limits them to that the remaining 97 to 99 percent of content far narrower sources of information, negatively was blocked using criteria left up to the discreimpacting both the quality of the work students tion of Internet blocking software companies can complete and the convenience with which they or school districts. Such judgements could harm can do so. students if their institution chooses to be more In 2000, Congress passed the Children’s Internet restrictive with access, hindering their ability and Protection Act (CIPA) which mandates all public knowledge of properly conducting research for libraries and schools receiving federal funds for In- later years. In addition, blocking methods themselves While the effort is valiant, technol- are often faulty or overly restrictive and can subogy will never be able to screen and sequently impede access to useful, informative censor perfectly. Either the original content for students. One method of censoring goal of shielding from obscene ma- Internet access in schools is whitelists, in which terial will be dashed, or students and administrators select and restrict students to a teachers will miss out on a broad certain few websites. Whitelisting exemplifies the range of valuable information. issue — limiting access to a few reputed sources excludes a sizable chunk of the Internet with ternet access through the E-rate program to CIPA information just as valid. The EFF and Online must block or filter Internet access to pictures that Policy Group study also found that “even with are “obscene, child pornography, or harmful to the least restrictive settings, [blocking software] minors” for computers accessed by students. The blocks a minimum of tens of thousands of web CIPA also requires these schools to implement an pages inappropriately.” High school students ofInternet safety policy addressing, among other cri- ten use a variety of sources at school, since many

research assignments must be completed in class. Particularly at MSJ, students need to conduct a lot of research — whether it be for homework, projects, or the like. If their research is hindered at school, the quality and scope of their work will be limited as well. The inconvenience of the current Internet blocking methods extends to administration and even the websites themselves. In 2010, Canadian magazine The Beaver was forced changed its name to Canada’s History because the word “beaver” caused school computers to block the site due to an alternative vulgar connotation. Evidently, today’s Internet censoring systems are not yet advanced

Rather than shield students from the dangers of Internet use, we should provide them with proper training and education on how to safely navigate the Internet. enough to differentiate between harmless websites and genuinely inappropriate content. Even with the astronomical growth in artificial intelligence and machine learning, it is extremely difficult and costly to perfect software to such a degree where it would be able to detect such minute differences without any human assistance. FUSD has its own set of policies regarding internet use. FUSD must follow CIPA guidelines to be eligible to receive federal funds. To do so, the district has implemented industry-standard softwares and a careful screening process to filter inappropriate content. According to the “Internet Safe and Responsible Use” portion of the policies outline, after receiving a request to either ban or unban a website, the material will be reviewed by staff of the Technology Department and referred to the Chief Technology Officer, who may then authorize the site to be banned or unbanned. FUSD Technology Department Head Joseph Siam de-

Administration Spotlight: By Shivani Avasarala & Anisa Kundu Staff Writers Esther Chun is an intern counselor at MSJ who works with students on campus struggling with mental health issues. Chun is an intern from the City of Fremont Youth and Family Services, which MSJ works with in order to provide methods for students to cope with their mental health issues. Usually, Chun comes in to help these students come up with a more personalized plan to improve their mental health. She is one of four supporting mental health counselors on campus; each of these external counselors comes in on a

Even with the astronomical growth in artificial intelligence and machine learning, it is extremely difficult and costly to perfect software to such a degree where it would be able to detect such minute differences without any human assistance. proper training and education on how to safely navigate the Internet. After all, the Internet, one of the most influential aspects of today’s society, isn’t going away. In order for students to learn to navigate the Internet safely, and to the best of their ability in the future, it is up to the schools, and students themselves, to educate and learn, not censor and block. ▪


Esther Chun

school counselors, but they are always welcome to check into her office at any time. Because she is usually occupied with students during school hours, the best way to get in touch with Chun is dropping by at lunch or scheduling an appointment beforehand to meet either at school or in the clinic. Chun and the other counselors from the clinic are a great resource for MSJ students to use. In some ways, it may be easier for students to open up to these counselors, since Chun only has to break confidentiality when there is a clear Usually, Chun comes in to help indication of the student planning on threatenthese students come up with a ing their own life or others’ lives. In a typical meeting, Chun will go over the students’ conmore personalized plan to im- cerns regarding their mental health or personal prove their mental health. problems, formulate a plan to cope with the issues, and start involving the adults in their life certain day of the week. so that they can construct an effective support Chun comes on Tuesday every week for the system for themselves. full school day. Students begin working with Chun decided to be a mental health guidher through a reference from one of the four ance counselor rather unexpectedly while she was in college, where she initially aspired to become a lawyer with a specific interest in international law. After becoming pregnant with her first child, she reconsidered her plans and realized that traveling would not be feasible for her. She also realized she had always had a passion for helping people in need, especially with their mental health. As a counselor, Chun helps students with a variety of different issues, ranging from anxiety and depression to eating disorders. Chun explains that one of the most common issues she deals with is parents coming in with the expectation that Chun will be able to improve the student’s academic performance. Her job is not to help students maintain a stronger GPA but rathSTAFF WRITER SHIVANI AVASARALA er to assist them in learning better coping skills City of Fremont Youth and Family Services Intern Counselor for their mental health. However, she strongly Esther Chun

scribes websites that are under the ban as those containing “pornographic and violent content, ransomeware, cyberthreats, malicious software hidden in web pages, etc.” In this regard, Siam said, “While the content filter we use is very good and protects FUSD, no filter is 100 percent effective.” The Internet is expanding daily. It is immensely difficult to successfully filter it in its entirety. The restrictions placed on websites to preserve the school environment fall short of being helpful. While the effort is valiant, technology will never be able to screen and censor perfectly. Either the original goal of shielding from obscene material will be dashed, or students and teachers will miss out on a broad range of valuable information. The laws surrounding Internet access and restriction in schools need to be revisited. Changing their ambiguous language to firm rules of when and how censoring content is applicable would prevent Internet blocking software companies and school districts from blocking potentially useful tools for students. Rather than shield students from the dangers of Internet use, we should provide them with

by Officer Kelly Robinson



City of Fremont Youth and Family Services Logo

"I feel like a lot of the problems arise from being isolated and feeling a lot of non-communicated shame about stuff they [students] don’t talk about. I have seen some really powerful things happen because friends choose to share." — I NTERN C OUNSELOR E STHER C HUN believes from her years of experience that there is a correlation between a student’s mental health and their academic performance. Chun will remain at MSJ as an intern counselor for the rest of the school year, after which she will rotate to other schools in Fremont. Regarding her advice to students, Chun said, “Help each other, and don’t feel afraid to seek help. I feel like a lot of the problems arise from being isolated and feeling a lot of non-communicated shame about stuff they [students] don’t talk about. I have seen some really powerful things happen because friends choose to share.” Students can access Chun through scheduled appointments and can meet with her on Tuesdays in her temporary office. ▪

As a pedestrian (person walking on or along a roadway) it is imperative that you are aware of your surroundings, along with the vehicular traffic around you. Although pedestrians have the right-of-way in most circumstances on the road, drivers often have difficulty seeing them. This can result in serious pedestrian and vehicle collisions. Be sure to always use the sidewalk when it is available and know other drivers see you when you cross the street. There have been several complaints by drivers in the MSJ area regarding students riding bicycles recklessly through traffic. When riding a bicycle, you are to follow the same road rules as a vehicle. Unless under the age of 16, riding on the sidewalk is prohibited. And more importantly, bicyclists must ride WITH the flow of traffic, not against. Every year thousands bicyclists are seriously injured by vehicles, due to not following the bicyclists’ rules of the road. Stay safe out there! Thanks, Officer Robinson

8 Feature


The Smoke Signal



By Richard Chenyu Zhou, Samir Jain, Praveen Nair & Jennifer Xiang Centerspread Editor and Staff Writers In the sport of curling, two teams attempt to push stones across the ice onto a target, sweeping the ice along the way to regulate speed and direction. Curling has been a Winter Olympic sport since 1998, and with the US’ first ever curling gold medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the sport is rapidly gaining popularity in the US. While some have poked fun at the event, calling it unathletic, four Smoke Signal writers attended a curling training session to see if the sport is really as simple as the pros make it look.




Thursday, March 29, 2018

While I’ve known about curling before, I was never invested in the sport before the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. After seeing figure skaters and their dizzying spins or skeleton sliders screaming down the track, curling seemed like the only sport I could relate to. If four American dads who curled in their free time can win Olympic gold, why couldn’t I? Despite neither being a dad nor having any prior experience with curling, I am optimistic about my first time. I already climb granite, so throwing it over the ice doesn’t seem too difficult. No matter what happens, I’ll give curling my best shot.

For every Olympics in the last decade, I’ve spent most of my time glued to the TV watching every sport I can. So every four years, I develop a fascination with curling. I soon find myself yelling about the “house” and the “hammer.” Few moments in sports history have made me feel as patriotic as John Shuster’s fivepoint end to win the US’ first curling gold, despite knowing that I won’t watch curling again for four years. Yet, despite curling’s reputation as an easy sport requiring little athleticism, I doubt I’ll be much good at it. Did I mention I’ve never been on ice before?

Olympians definitely make it look easier than it really is. My first few slides were wobbly tries at staying on top of the Teflon slider, but I didn’t faceplant into the ice a single time which is a feat in itself. My true colors shone when it came to sweeping. I didn’t need the skip’s yells for “HARD” or “SWEEP” to encourage me — I polished that ice until I could practically see my reflection in it. However, my crowning achievement came at the end of the game. I managed to throw the hammer, the final stone of the game, and bounced it off two stones to score two points.

I was surprised by how little time it took to get used to curling, from throwing to sweeping. It helped to have all sorts of equipment: a slippery Teflon slider under the shoe to glide across the ice, a stabilizer to lean my weight on, and a starting block to push off of. I even managed to avoid falling down the entire time, although I came precariously close while first throwing the rock. But I obviously still lacked the curling touch, as I watched my shots sail out the back of the target or off the side of the lane. Sweeping was relatively easier, although I had no clue whether what I was doing actually made a meaningful difference.

I was amazed by how quickly I was able to grasp the essentials of the sport to where I could at least play consistently. After watching the instructor effortlessly demonstrate several nuances and basic techniques, such as throwing the stone with a stabilizer and sweeping the stone down the rink, I was able to miraculously copy his moves without noticeable difficulty. A particularly memorable exception is when I lagged behind the stone, sweeping behind it instead of in front, earning questionable and amused glances from my fellow competitors. I had significantly more success in throwing the stone, winning one point for the team out of a stroke of luck and alleviating my angst at playing a sport completely alien to me.

I spent the first hour trying my best not to slip on the ice, since we were all wearing sneakers. However, as I learned how to deliver the stone and sweep the path in front of it, I gradually lost that fear, an almost-fall from a misplaced slider notwithstanding. After a few tries I found myself competent at lunging and delivering the stone, though I had a habit of slowing myself and the stone down for stability. I also found sweeping, which I finally learned was to smooth the ice and direct the stone, very fun but obstinately tiring, which compounded my ineptitude at it. I also gained a habit of accidentally hitting the stone with my broom, which probably has the opposite effect on the stone.

My sheer incompetence in curling provided me with a stark sense of perspective. Despite how simple and fun it was to pick the game up, I’m still blown away by how skilled Olympic athletes have to be in curling. I treated it as a success whenever I made a shot in play, but Olympians need to thread the needle constantly, hitting tiny gaps and curling the rock around obstacles. The margin of error in curling is infinitesimal, and athletes have just seconds to execute complex game plans. As for myself, I wouldn’t be surprised if I gave the game another shot some time in the future.

Curling is an art form surprisingly easier to learn than expected, with my teammates and I acquainting ourselves with the fundamental skills needed in a mere two-hour whirlwind training session. After stepping onto the ice and, at first, barely holding my balance while I contemplated the ice melting underneath my feet, I definitely overcame my initial inhibitions and reservations about the sport. I was thus able to comfortably perform each of the facets of the game in a warm, lightly competitive atmosphere. While I do not foresee myself curling or even stepping onto an ice rink in the near future, it is definitely a sport I would be more than willing to give another try.

I don’t think I realized how much of an odd-duckling mishmash of skills curling involves before I tried it. Other sports require the fairly challenging yet innate skills of running, jumping, and throwing; curling required me to use skills that I never thought I’d have to use for an extended period of time before, like sweeping, lunging, and pushing off of something without rising up — not to mention the very important skill of sliding without falling on the ice. I’m impressed at how much professional curlers have honed these skills of theirs, now that I’ve realized just how specialized and difficult the sport they (and now I) enjoy so much is.

I can see why people love curling. From the complicated throwing strategy to the simple primal pleasure of yelling as loud as you can, there’s a part of curling for everybody. My limited success with the sport was most likely sheer luck, but I have gained a huge respect for Olympians who seem to defy physics with every throw. Being able to judge the speed and rotation of the stone is no easy task, and maybe with some more practice, I can start to consistently keep stones within the house. Watch out John Shuster — the Smokies are coming.


Given that I only watched a single day of the past Winter Olympics, paying attention only to the captivating and poignant freestyle figure skating performances by Nathan Chen that would be impossible to miss, I do not have high expectations for my curling aptitude. After only viewing snapshots of curling rounds on social media and never having even visited an ice rink before, I am going into the competition with little to no comprehension of the rules or gameplay of the sport. Nevertheless, I remain curious and open-minded about an experience that is sure to be unique!






To be honest, I’ve spent the past weeks during the Olympics pretending I know more about curling than I really do. I just found out a few days ago that curling doesn’t involve skating but sliding on ice. Moreover, no matter how often people explain what the sweepers are achieving, I still think they’re just sweeping the ice. All I know, therefore, is that curling appears fun, and I like to think of myself as pretty good at having fun. Thus I aim to be, in this competition, the best among these other three newcomers, as unrealistic as that expectation may turn out to be.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Smoke Signal


Spring Break Destinations Carmel-by-the-Sea

Feature 9

By Toshali Goel, Katherine Guo & Kikue Higuchi Staff Writers

Little Yosemite

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a small beach town located around 2 hours from Fremont. The town boasts European-style colorful architecture and is home to the famous white-sand beach. It also hosts the Carmel Art Walk, in which participating tourists tour 21 art galleries and get the chance to interact with the artists. The town also contains the famed Hog’s Breath Inn, a restaurant and bar once owned by actor and political figure Clint Eastwood. The 1 square mile village also has several parks, the most renowned being the centrally located Devendorf Park.

Nestled in the canyons of the Sunol Regional Wilderness, Little Yosemite offers adventure at a convenient distance. The landscape can be challenging to navigate, but the winding river and its rocky borders create interesting caves, cliffs, and pathways for visitors to traverse. The mini waterfall, which gives the gorge its name, is great for pictures, and the giant boulders are a great place to soak up the sunshine. With ample opportunities for exploration and adventure, Little Yosemite is a Springtime must.

San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers Located in Golden Gate Park, the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers is a botanical masterpiece. Vibrant flowers in aesthetic arrangements line the walkways into the iconic white building. The intricately designed greenhouse is filled to the brim with flora from all over the world, with a focus on the tropics. There are towering trees, shrubbery, flowers, and ponds, covered in perfectly round lily pads. They even showcase more sinister plants, like the stinky corpse flower and carnivorous pitcher plants. Entering the Conservatory is like stepping into a warm, steamy jungle, perfect for a chilly spring morning. PHOTOS BY CARMELCALIFORNIA.COM, CONSERVATORYOFFLOWERS.ORG & SFGATE.COM, GRAPHICS BY PINTEREST.COM & PIXART.COM

Team Spotlight: Roboknights

FTC Team 5220 RoboKnights, a robotics team consisting of students from MSJ, Fremont Christian School, Irvington High School, and Stanford Online High School, qualified for the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) World Championship, which is scheduled to take place from April 18 to 21 in Houston, Texas. The team qualified by placing 16th at the West Super-Regional Championship from March 8 to 11 in Spokane, WA. This nine-member team was the only MSJ team to qualify for the world championships. FTC is an international organization that challenges high school and junior high school students to design, build and program a robot to compete with other robots in a game-style format. It also encourages community outreach to promote STEM in underrepresented communities. Each year, teams build a robot to compete in a new challenge designed by FTC. This year’s challenge, called FIRST Relic Recovery, requires robots to

collect and stack foam blocks called glyphs, pick up a plastic figurine called a relic, and perform other tasks in a two-minute and 30-second time period. The challenge is divided into a 30-second autonomous mode, during which the robot performs tasks independent of human control, and a two-minute driver controlled segment called the TeleOp program. RoboKnights qualified for the super-regionals by winning the second place Inspire Award at the regional championships on February 18. The Inspire Award is granted to the team with exceptional overall performance, which includes robot reliability, outreach, documentation, team dynamics, and other factors. At the FTC Super-Regional Championship, RoboKnights competed against 71 other teams from the western US states, 34 of which advanced to the FTC World Championship. RoboKnights previously qualified for the FTC

Team RoboKnights fixes their robot in between matches at the West Super-Regional Championship.

By Joelle Chuang Staff Writer

FTC Team 5220 RoboKnights at the FTC Northern California Regional Championship (left to right): Seniors Zen Thumparkkul and Eric Zhu, Junior Jeffrey Lin, Fremont Christian High School Senior Alvin Kong, Stanford Online High School Senior Shalin Shah, Irvington High School Senior Tejas Polakam, Seniors Heather Gan and Niranjan Ramamurthy, and Irvington High School Senior Andey Ng

World Championship in 2014, 2016, and 2017. At the 2017 FTC World Championship, the team was a finalist in their division and ranked 11th overall. RoboKnights consists of nine members who specialize in a variety of skills, including software, hardware, outreach, and documentation. Software specialist Junior Jeffrey Lin said, “We put a lot of effort into the software to make our autonomous program consistently successful, and our TeleOp program intuitive and efficient for drivers.” The team’s robot, designed by hardware specialists Seniors Niranjan Ramamurthy and Eric Zhu, and Fremont Christian School Senior Alvin Kong, features cascading slides and tensioned intake mechanisms. The cascading slide mechanism is used to transport the relic, and the tensioned intake allows the robot to collect glyphs at any orientation. The rest of the team, including Seniors Heather Gan and Zen Thumparkkul, Irvington High School Seniors Andey Ng and Tejas Polakam, and Stanford Online High School Senior Shalin Shah, works on documentation and

outreach. All teams are required to create and update an engineering notebook, which presents the team’s designing and engineering process throughout the year. As for outreach, Zhu said, “We worked with the Mission San Jose Elementary School principal to start a program where students are allowed to join FIRST Lego League (FLL), which is a lower-level competition within FIRST … we teach them the basics of the programming language and the different parts that they use to build a robot.” One of the challenges that RoboKnights faced, especially during the FTC West Super-Regional Championship, was consistency. Their robot often disconnected from the controller and broke down during matches, preventing them from performing at their best. In regard to team dynamics, Zhu said that one of the challenges was building teamwork and communication, since there were many new members this year. Given that the team is mostly seniors, the future of the team is uncertain. Nonetheless, the team hopes to perform well at the FTC World Championship later this year. ▪


10 Special


The Smoke Signal

by the numbers

A 3 - INSTALLMENT installment special coverage

cademic ishonesty Academic dishonesty is a prevalent issue within the MSJ community. The problem incriminates those who participate in academic dishonesty, brings into question student morality, contributes to our school’s high-pressure atmosphere, and places a strain on student-teacher relationships. Through this special coverage, the Smoke Signal hopes to shed light on the extent of the cheating crisis, bring about a community-wide discussion, and uncover viable solutions by highlighting key statistics, consequences, and student and teacher perceptions.

Thursday, March 29, 2018



of teachers see MSJ students engaging in academic dishonesty

On average...

96% of teacher have observed students cheating on homework. 73% of teacher have observed students cheating on tests.


disrupting or destroying another person's work so that the other person cannot complete an academic activity successfully. (Northern Illinois University Academic Dishonesty Tutorials)



The FUSD Academic Honesty Policy defines cheating as “taking (or lending) at inappropriate times a person's work, information, ideas, research, or documentation, without properly identifying the originator. It includes using unauthorized materials when testing or other acts specified in advance by the teacher.” Consequences for violation are permanently recorded on transcripts and cumulative throughout the student’s entire four-year attendance. First and second offenses result in a teacher referral, parental notification, and a possible F for the semester. If the student does fail the class upon the second offense during the same semester, the offender may attend FUSD Summer School or retake the class at a community college. For colleges such as UC Berkeley, California State University at East Bay (CSU East Bay), and Ohlone College, any infraction of the cheating policy will not be tolerated. UC Berkeley students alleged to have violated the Code are given an opportunity to meet with a member of the Center for Student Conduct staff to discuss the incident in question during an informal meeting. However, if the offender is found guilty, the student will be placed on academic probation and may face possible suspension or expulsion. Ohlone College and CSU East Bay students who displayed academic dishonesty in two separate incidents will also face similar consequences. All three colleges provide the offender with a chance to appeal the charges.

MSJ Honor Code On Maze Day, all students are required to turn in a signed copy of the MSJ Honor Pledge, in which they agree “on my Honor, not to lie, cheat, or steal in my academic life. I understand that such acts violate the Honor Code and undermine the community of trust of which we are all stewards.” It further goes on to define any incidents of lying, cheating (including plagiarism and aiding others on tests), or stealing as violations of the Honor Code. Consequences for breaching the code include an F on the assignment involved in the incident, and upon second offense, can be an F in the class for the semester or a one to five day suspension. However, despite the fact that the Honor Pledge is signed by every student before school even begins, it is hard to judge its efficiency. Principal Zack Larsen said, “We don’t receive a large number of referrals about cheating, but I don’t think that reflects that there isn’t cheating that’s happening. Students who are really determined to cheat will do so, and they’re quite good at that process and not letting the adults know.” “One of the biggest ways of combating cheating is developing relationships with students. When students know their teacher and know that their teacher is there for them, their likelihood to engage in academic dishonesty goes down significantly. Assessment comes in a wide variety of ways; there are a lot of ways to assess kids. It doesn’t have to be the traditional way, and we are learning more and more about assessment as we go on.” — Principal Zack Larsen





44% Teachers

44 99 90 91

percent percent percent

of students have observed other students cheating on ... Essays




Classmates/ Friends



Projects and Labs






77% 8%

None Personal Expectations

Classmates/ Friends


of the participants reported that they

Average Frequency of Cheating Behaviour by Grade Level

have not cheated

in the past year.



On average...

Students taking one or more AP courses reported cheating significantly more often than students taking no AP courses. Students taking none or only one Honors course reported cheating significantly more often than students taking two or more Honors courses.

There were

no significant differences











by student gender or ethnic background.

March 2014 | The Smoke Signal Student and Teacher Surveys The Smoke Signal conducted a voluntary online survey in March 2014 that received 358 student responses and 41 teacher responses, as well as a different in-class survey that received 439 student responses from 16 social studies classes.

the act to imitate or counterfeit documents, signatures, and the like. (Western Michigan University Student Conduct)


s her




students think cheating is never justifiable

Students believe disciplinary policies should be 34%

Believe students are always or often responsible for cheating




Special 11

Many colleges and universities have strict honor codes and rules regarding academic dishonesty. For the terms listed below, the Smoke Signal cited definitions from schools to outline the specifics of cheating and academic fraud.

Complicity intentionally helping another to engage in

an act of academic misconduct, or attempts thereof. (Virginia Tech Honor System)



intentionally lying to a member of the faculty, staff, administration, or an outside agency to gain academic advantage for oneself or another, or to misrepresent or in other ways interfere with the investigation of a charge of academic misconduct. (Berkeley City College)

the adoption or reproduction of ideas or words or statements of another person without due acknowledgment. (Berkeley City College)

Deception providing false information to an instructor concerning a formal academic exercise. (Berkeley City College)

Multiple Submission submission of substantial portions of the same work (including oral reports) for credit more than once without authorization from instructors of all classes for which the student submits the work. (Western Michigan University Student Conduct)

Bribery the offering, promising, giving, requesting, or accepting of a financial or other advantage with the intention to induce or reward improper performance. (University Administration and Services Council Secretariat)


> once



Academic/Social Expectations

2017 | Stanford Survey of Adolescent School Experiences

MSJ students took the Stanford Survey of Adolescent School Experiences in 2017. The subsequent data on academic dishonesty is based on the 1,868 responses.

unauthorized collaboration in preparing any work offered for credit. (San Jacinto College Student Concerns)


nts de

“Students don’t say no to help on a test. They feel that they’re helping their friend. They feel like in the risk-reward, the fear of not helping their friend and their friend feeling like they can’t rely on them, is more than getting caught. Like, I’m not gonna say no to my friend, because then he’s not gonna be my friend anymore. So they put that over cheating.” — ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL Jeff Evans


Tea c

FUSD & University Policies



a student's use of unauthorized assistance with intent to deceive an instructor or other such person who may be assigned to evaluate the student's work in meeting course and degree requirements. (University of Colorado Denver College of Liberal Arts & Sciences)


What influences within the MSJ community do you feel lead to academic dishonesty? (*)

By Karen Li & Shray Vaidya Staff Writers

Compiled by Christine Dong, Katherine Guo & Kelly Yang Staff Writers

Academic dishonesty

Of students have observed a form of cheating.

at least once a week.




Compiled by Shiantel Chiang, Kikue Higuchi, Anisa Kundu & Michael Ren Staff Writers

On a scale from 1 to 5, how well do you understand the consequences of the cheating policy?

Present Countermeasures


The Smoke Signal

March 2018 | The Smoke Signal Student and Teacher Surveys

The Smoke Signal conducted two anonymous online surveys through Facebook and email, one for teachers and one for students on the perceptions of academic dishonesty at MSJ. Surveys were open for response on March 8 and received 279 student and 26 teacher responses. * Mark all that apply

This month, we open the dialogue by presenting student, faculty, and staff views on the cheating crisis at MSJ. Along with a collection of student and teacher voices, this installment presents statistics from anonymous surveys conducted by the Smoke Signal in 2014 and 2018 and the 2017 Stanford Survey of Adolescent School Experiences. Also included are the consequences and scope of cheating with definitions and excerpts from MSJ’s Honor Code and policies from universities.

Thursday, March 29, 2018


other more strict less strict maintained no opinion

*Collected with student and teacher surveys released in March 2018.


“A lot of pressure is put onto reaching a letter grade. Often times self-worth is defined by the numbers that show up on School Loop, and students feel like if they can’t reach a certain quota on their own, they’ll resort to things like cheating.” –– Student “It gives the cheaters an unfair advantage; it gives them an inflated sense of self; it fools teachers and colleges; gives the student a sense of invincibility that will encourage them to cheat more in the future; it skews results; and it encourages the cheaters to lie and cheat in other aspects of life as well, not just academically.” –– Student “Cheaters know they're wrong, but as long as the system rewards cheating, students will be incentivized to cheat. Moral arguments against cheating will not work … As humans, we create our morality to retroactively justify our actions and not the other way around. If you actually want a reduction of cheating, you have to change the rewards of the game instead of just lecturing about why cheating is bad.” –– Student “What's the point of getting a good score if you did no work to get it? There are people who genuinely work hard and still don't do that well in their classes, but that's worth so much more than people who cheat and get A’s … it doesn't just take away from the cheater; it also takes away from the people who are actually doing work.” –– Student “I think cheating happens because it is easy to lose sight of the big picture when deadlines and tests loom large in the foreground. Test scores and grades are only snapshots of the progress that students make on a long journey to be good critical thinkers and problem solvers … Instead of being something that is used to show progress toward the abstract idea of improved skills or abilities, grades become the primary reinforcer. In itself, though, a letter written on a piece of paper is worthless. Students lose sight of this fact.” –– Teacher

“If a student is overwhelmed with their schedule, they often will come into class and copy homework from another student because they did not have time to complete it. Also, students feel that they have to get an A on every test due to peer pressure and parental pressure, which means they are always asking what questions were on the test and looking for any possible answer keys that may be floating around.” –– Teacher “There is a reason that teachers ask you to complete an assignment/test in a certain way. For example, we often adjust our teaching methods and focuses based on how students do on a formative assessment. When you cheat, you risk losing out on actually learning material … However, there are shades of grey … you are losing out on a learning opportunity. You have to decide what matters to you more — actually mastering subject matter or simply ‘performing’ well.” –– Teacher LAYOUT BY CENTERSPREAD EDITOR ZEN THUMPARKKUL & RICHARD CHENYU ZHOU. COVERAGE LED BY CENTERSPREAD EDITORS ZEN THUMPARKKUL & RICHARD CHENYU ZHOU & A&E EDITORS STEPHANIE DUTRA & HANA SHEIKH

12 Arts & Entertainment


The times listed for each restaurant are the travel times from MSJ by car with usual traffic.

The Smoke Signal

Thursday, March 29, 2018

By Karen Li, Anagha Mandayam & Maggie Zhao Staff Writers The question, “Where should we eat?” can be tricky to answer, especially when factoring in dietary restrictions. The Smoke Signal has compiled an array of diet-inclusive Bay Area restaurants across various cuisines.

The Green Barn Restaurant Located at 190 Ranch Drive in Milpitas, CA, The Green Barn Restaurant serves a variety of vegan and vegetarian specials. This trendy eatery features food from different cuisines, including American, Middle Eastern and Asian dishes. Crispy soy nuggets, spring rolls, lotus salad, Pad Thai, and the spicy “Hue City” noodle soup are just a few among the diverse menu. The comfortable, aesthetic decor surrounding the restaurant provide customers with a friendly atmosphere. However, prices are rather expensive, ranging from $11 to $30. The Green Barn Restaurant opens every weekday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The restaurant is also open on weekends, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.

20 min.

mirchi cafe and masala pizza

This American, Asian, and Pakistani fusion restaurant at 40900 Fremont Blvd. in Fremont offers food ranging from $11 to $30. Customers dub the Mirchi Cafe as one of the best American halal restaurants in Fremont. From fresh lassis, which is a popular traditional Indian yogurt-based drink, to their famous burgers, the Mirchi Cafe features a variety of halal staples, including fried chicken and Indian chicken shashlik, which is marinated chicken threaded onto a skewer. The restaurant is weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Fridays, 12 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and 12 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Sundays. The cafe sets itself apart from other similar restaurants because its food is less greasy. Some of the most popular orders include the chicken wraps and chicken burgers.

Mint & basil

oren’s hummus shop Oren’s Hummus Shop offers kosher Israeli food at 261 University Avenue, Palo Alto. Their menu also includes gluten-free and vegan options in the $11 to $30 range. Their pita bread, fries, falafels, hummus dishes, skewers, and shakshuka are mostly marked as glutenfree. Additionally, they offer vegan options including falafels, tabule sides, vegetable skewers, and hummus, which comes in flavors from classic to masabacha to fava beans. Oren’s Hummus Shop is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Oren’s Hummus Shop is also an advocate for sustainable and authentic cuisine, and importing some of their ingredients from Israel.

11 min.

60 min.

14 min.

Mint & Basil is the perfect place for vegetarians or vegans craving Vietnamese food. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends and 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and located at 1741 N Milpitas Blvd., Milpitas. Mint & Basil offers vegetarian and vegan options in the $11 to $30 price range. Their All Seasons Sampler, which includes summer, spring, autumn, and winter egg rolls served with three different dipping sauces, is one of the most popular items on their menu. They also offer a wide variety of noodles, from Soft and Crispy Chow Mein to mushroom pho to vegan Quang style Yellow Noodles.

green champa garden

10 min.

Green Champa Garden is a Thai restaurant in Fremont, and its convenient location at 42318 Fremont Blvd. makes it perfect for MSJ students who enjoy traditional vegan and vegetarian Thai and Lao specialties. Green Champa Garden opens every weekday except for Monday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. This small yet popular joint is tucked away in a crowded plaza, but the food appeals to a multitude of customers. The menu includes Nam Kao, which are fried rice balls, Thai style papaya salad, and Kapoon, a soup packed with flavor. Each dish offers several spice levels, depending on the customer’s preference, and the serving sizes are rather generous for most of the dishes. The prices are especially attractive, at under $10 per dish. PHOTOS BY YELP.COM

At $6 per hour, with discounts for longer amounts of time purchased, the price is relatively inexpensive as a spot to hang out with friends. However, many of the games offered are ones that require less computing power, and it can be difficult to convince people to pay for an experience they could have at home. The value lies in being able to play games with friends, so overall, the value is highly dependent on access to equipment at home for individuals coming alone.


rating: 3.5/5

By Shray Vaidya & Tylor Wu Staff Writers

GG eSports is a gaming cafe located at 6020 Stevenson Blvd., Fremont, CA 94538. It markets itself as the “first gaming lounge in Fremont, and the first virtual reality gaming lounge in San Francisco Bay Area.” GG eSports is unique for its late closing time of 2 a.m., so gamers can stay up playing with their friends. It caters mostly to multiplayer games along the lines of League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, and World of Warcraft. The cafe also hosts tournaments and keeps leaderboards for games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Super Smash Bros. The Smoke Signal visited GG eSports to test out its games and services.

Overall rating: 4/5

There is only one staff member working at the location at any time. However, all that needs to be done, unless users encounter any technical problems, is checking in players and purchasing computer time. The rest of the systems for setting time limits, logging in users, and managing profiles is done automatically. Any other problems that may come up, such as login issues, will take longer to resolve because of the lack of staffing on site, but overall, service is sufficient. GG eSports doesn’t offer any food itself, but it has partnered with other nearby restaurants to have food delivered directly to customers as they game.

Each seat comes with its own pair of headphones, keyboard, and mouse, all of which are high quality. The headphones are crisp and loud, and the mouse moves smoothly. The monitors also produce clear graphics so the entire gaming experience feels more immersive. The computers are quick to boot up games and get users logged in, and internet connection is never an issue. Games like League of Legends and Dota 2 run fine, but other shooting games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds occasionally experience small dips in frame rate. Overall, the equipment is fast and reliable, other than a few minor instances.

The interior is dimly lit, with ambient music played through speakers littered around the facility. The computers are mounted in glass cases above each station to show off their internal components. Dark walls are lined with dim lights between each computer. Seats are organized in rows and circles with adequate spacing for individuals, but also close enough for groups. This location offers plenty of options for anyone looking to play games that they are unable to at home or just to play in a group setting.

ambiance rating: 4/5

equipment rating: 5/5



Thursday, March 29, 2018

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14 Arts & Entertainment


The Smoke Signal

Thursday, March 29, 2018

C R I T I C S’ C O R N E R MusiC: cma, the neighbourhood | Film: a wrinkle in time, red sparrow

Under the radar

A wrinkle in time r e ma in s ti m e l e s s

the neighbourhood


By Shiantel Chiang Staff Writer

By Michael Ren Staff Writer Connery “CMA” Morgan Arendse was just 12 years old when he began producing Electronic Dance Music (EDM). Now 19, and with five albums under his belt, the Dutch music producer has gained a strong following within the EDM community as one of the foremost artists in one the genre’s many sub-branches, chillstep. Where traditional dubstep is often supported by hard-hitting bass beats, chillstep is filled with gentler instrumental sounds that mesh together into well-developed treble melodies. Bass is still present, but it serves more to compliment the melody than to function as the focal point of the song. In particular, CMA’s chillstep music can be characterized by its frequent use of ambient, natural sounds and the atmosphere that his songs create. Overall, chillstep in general and CMA’s style in particular makes it ideal as a gentle introduction to more traditional forms of EDM. Two of CMA’s most popular songs where his unique style is at its best are his singles “You’re Not Alone” and “Tomorrow’s Another Day.” While the young artist has mostly remained independent, he has worked on a few notable collaborations as well, such as “Light of Dawn,” with Electus. The latter is also a popular chillstep producer. Currently, the artist is working on a remix of dubstep group Seven Lions ft. Fiora’s popular song “Days To Come.” All of his music is also available through multiple streaming sites including Spotify, YouTube, and Bandcamp. ▪


By Anagha Mandayam Staff Writer With the Newbery Medal book and 2004 movie preceding it, A Wrinkle in Time interpreted the story of Meg Murray (Storm Reid) and her search to find her father in a way that has made the message very relatable to young adult readers today. This cherished movie is the first to have an African-American female director (Ava DuVernay) manage a large-scale action movie with a budget over $100 million along with a diverse cast. From the detailed animations to enchanting costumes, A Wrinkle in Time managed to capture the hearts of all. What is strikingly different about this movie’s interpretation is its focus on Meg’s personal journey with herself rather than her journey to find her father. Today, approximately 75 percent of teenage girls find themselves suffering from the effects of having low self-esteem. Unlike the original book, which briefly mentions the issue, DuVernay goes into detail on why Meg is bullied in school: her appearance, her quirks, and her family situation. Teenagers can easily relate and sympathize with Meg. With this adaptation of the story, DuVernay accounts for the fact that Meg cannot “tesseract,” or time

travel, well with the idea that Meg doesn’t fully want to come back into existence as herself. It fills the audience with joy when each character builds up Meg’s self-confidence with small actions or dialogue throughout the movie, like when Calvin O’Keefe (Levi Miller) compliments Meg’s hair even though she doesn’t believe it to be beautiful. A Wrinkle in Time was fortunate enough to have diverse actresses play the three “Mrs. W’s.” DuVernay chose Oprah Winfrey (Mrs. Which), Reese Witherspoon (Mrs. Whatsit), and Mindy Kaling (Mrs. Who) to show the power each of these women bring to their characters through their African American, Caucasian, and Indian backgrounds respectively. In the movie, these three women of very different talents teach Meg (a biracial girl) self-acceptance through their talents like shape-shifting and quoting. The set designers of the movie excellently portrayed the scenery of the planet Uriel and the volcanic planet Orion. Each scene had such a vibrant palette of colors, as did each of the outfits of the “Mrs. W’s.” Mrs. Which dressed as a warrior, Mrs. Whatsit wore a white and blue flowy dress to emphasize her shape shifting abilities, and Mrs. Who wore many different styles and colors of

fabric to show her knowledge of the world. While A Wrinkle in Time maintains the original plot, it alters scenes from the original book, which for the most part adds originality and keeps the audience interested. One notable difference from the book was Charles Wallace’s (Deric McCabe) personality being portrayed as quirky and talkative instead of intelligent and reserved, as written in the book. This allowed the audience to better understand what went on in this character’s mind and made him into a more realistic six-year-old. Unfortunately, the movie left out filming the scene on planet Ixchel. The audience sadly lost out on an opportunity to meet these wise, gentle beasts who understand without sight. This addition would have taught the children watching the movie another really important life lesson: we have to think through our problems because the solution won’t always be obvious. Overall, A Wrinkle in Time not only brought back Madeleine L’Engle’s story but also managed to make the moral meaningful to our generation, ensuring that the novel remains invaluable throughout time. ▪ Rating: A-

Red sparrow struggles to take flight

B AY A R E A EVENTS By Christine Dong Staff Writer Northern CA Cherry Blossom Festival: April 14 to 15, 21 to 22 The 51st annual Northern CA Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the largest celebrations of Asian culture on the West Coast and will feature a large parade as well as numerous performers from Japan in Japantown. International Chocolate Festival: April 21 to 22 The International Chocolate Festival, produced by Chocolate Force, will occur in the San Mateo Convention Center and will have a variety of exhibits ranging from chocolate making demonstrations to global conferences on chocolate. Menlo Park Sidewalk Fine Arts Festival: April 21 to 23 Menlo Park’s 36th annual Fine Arts Festival will be held at El Camino Real, Menlo Park with many artists coming to show off their photography, ceramics, jewelry, and more. sjDANCEco Festival: April 29 Sponsored by sjDANCEco and located at Santana Row, this festival aims to display the diversity and talent of dancers around the Bay Area through a seven hour long dance program in honor of National Dance Week.▪

Music review


By Evie Sun Staff Writer Set in modern-day Russia, Red Sparrow dives deep into the creeping paranoia that plagued both the US and Russia during the Cold War, playing on the anti-Russian sentiments that continue to stand in current American politics. Directed by Francis Lawrence and based on the novel of the same name by Jason Matthews, the spy-action thriller half-heartedly paints a grim tale of espionage and false identities, highlighted by harsh undercurrents of sexual violence and psychological coercion. Jennifer Lawrence plays famed Russian ballerina Dominika Egorova, who is responsible for supporting her sick mother. After she suffers a career-ending injury, Egorova’s uncle Ivan (Matthias Schoenaerts) recruits her to train as a Russian operative in Sparrow School, a secret intelligence service that trains young women to seduce their targets. After completing the sadistic training process, Egorova is assigned to gain the trust of CIA operative Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton) and reveal his contact. Lawrence stuns in her role of the talented and disciplined Egorova, who is harshly thrown from her world of silky, shiny tutus and forced into a brutal, sadistic spy institution. Upon entering the Sparrow School, Egorova is stripped of her identity

and marked as nothing more than a pawn piece for psychological manipulation and seduction. She and the other young women are pulled into a sexual power struggle in a maledominated state. However, Egorova is a fighter: she fights to protect her mother’s ailing health at all costs, to protect her country from the enemies of the state, and to regain her identity. Lawrence effectively captures Egorova’s intensity and focus as a dancer and channels it into her role as a spy. She depicts Egorova as cold and cunning but also fiercely loyal, as her more vulnerable side is revealed through her gentle interactions with her mother. However, the actress struggles to maintain a consistent Russian accent throughout the film, which detracts from the authenticity of her character. With that said, Edgerton delivers a solid performance as CIA operative Nate Nash — the first man who Egorova can trust. Meanwhile, the rest of the characters are presented as more one-dimensional as the film instead spotlights the character development of the ballerina turned Russian spy. The elegant hotels, glimmering snowscapes, and gentle orchestral music of Russia and Bulgaria provide a stark contrast with the drab, eerie tones of the vicious Sparrow School. Music plays a large role throughout the film, as elegant violin and tin-

kling piano melodies harken back to Egorova’s previous life as a ballerina dancer. However, the plotline is overshadowed as underlying dialogue about sexual assault takes center stage in the audience’s mind. The ruthless headmistress of the Sparrow School (Charlotte Rampling) teaches the young women that they are to exploit their personal weaknesses through seduction and to forget about the sentimental morality they grew up with. “From this day forward you’ll become sparrows, weapons in a global struggle for power,” the recruits are told. The issues of rape and sexual violence have gained unprecedented awareness over the past few months, and Red Sparrow has made progress in drawing attention to the power dynamics of rape. However, the issue of sexual violence is overdone as the graphic portrayals ultimately serve as a mere plot device to add shock value to this R-rated film. In order to continue spreading awareness about these issues, films such as Red Sparrow must not ignore the personal experiences of the victims to solely address sexual violence as a simple plot device. Lawrence delivers a compelling performance as Egorova, but with its flimsy plot and messy themes, Red Sparrow doesn’t quite take off. ▪ Rating: B-

With The Neighbourhood’s massive 2013 hit “Sweater Weather” long behind us, many avid rock fans have forgotten the band’s distinct presence in the music industry. However, the group’s third studio album, self-titled The Neighbourhood, brings them back into the spotlight with diverse instrumentals and fresh production that challenge conventions of the traditional rock genre. Prior to this album, The Neighbourhood entered a transitional phase in their musical career, branching into many different genres. In a 2014 interview with Billboard, lead singer Jesse Rutherford said that “rock and roll is completely dead.” Since then, The Neighbourhood has put a new name to alternative rock with their 2014 hiphop heavy #000000 & #FFFFFF mixtape, and the R&B tones and electronic music in their 2015 album Wiped Out! and 2017 Hard EP. Their past years of experimentation are noticeable in the opening track “Flowers,” which blends R&B and EDM with eerie electric guitar melodies. Rutherford includes a brief rap verse in “Reflections” that has distinct rhythmic flow stemming from their hip-hop influence as well. Diverging even further from the norm of alternative rock, gentle violin instrumentals are weaved into “Sadderdaze” to complement the solemn atmosphere of the song about the band’s “sadder days.” The vocal variations throughout this album are also a surprise. As a whole, Rutherford uses a raspier tone and softer falsetto similar to those of Lana Del Rey, contrasting the harsher vocals in older songs. The third track “Nervous” reveals a fresh vulnerability through raw, acoustic vocals. They complement the message of the song about struggling to fit societal expectations, as seen in the lyrics, “Last year I fell flat on my face” and “Maybe I shouldn’t try to be perfect.” However, the pitched vocal effects in the opening tracks retract much of the sentiment present in the rest of the album. The album portrays a slightly different theme than previous albums, which highlighted more romantic themes and seductive lyrics. Tracks like “Void” and “Too Serious” express personal issues about insecurity — for example, “When I look in the mirror, I can see you stare at me.” Unfortunately, the tracks that do follow a romantic theme, such as “Scary Love” and “Blue,” can hardly be classified as genuine love songs with their overly repetitive lyrics and monotonous rhythms. Particularly in “Scary Love,” the production falls short due to monotonous instrumentals throughout the track, especially in comparison to the diversity of sounds developed in other tracks. Nonetheless, The Neighbourhood’s closing song “Stuck With Me” carries a warm nostalgia that ends the album on an upbeat, catchy tune. Although production quality and lyrical creativity fluctuates in The Neighbourhood, the album successfully conveys the band’s authentic personal development and bold experimentation in branching out from alternative rock origins. With their third studio album, The Neighbourhood certainly proves to be much more than a one-hit wonder from 2013. ▪ Rating: B+





Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Smoke Signal


Sports 15

Stepping out of the spotlight: How professional athletes struggle in retirment

During the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, fans cheered their favorite athletes on, following storylines and achievements. But once the spotlight dims, viewers are often unaware that another generation of professional athletes have wrapped up their careers and retired young, leaving them in a difficult situation when transitioning to a normal life. When former athletes are shown struggling or caught up in scandals, instead of jumping to conclusions about how great athletes are wasting their fame and fortune, fans should take a moment to consider the mental and emotional struggles these athletes are experiencing. These athletes exist beyond their sport, and viewers should understand that many retiring athletes experience loss of identity, structure, and a greater purpose, compounding mental health issues and

“An athlete’s self-worth and self-concept is connected to what they do. Take that away, and there is a huge void.” — SPORTS PSYCHOLOGIST DOUG GARDNER affecting even the most high-profile athletes. Upon retiring, professional athletes no longer have the rigor of training and the clarity of ambitious goals, as well the glorious purpose to represent their country. “An athlete’s self-worth and self-concept is connected to what they do. Take that away, and there is a huge void,” said Doug Gardner, a National Football League Players Association affiliated sports psychologist, in an interview with NBC News. Since the sport they play is an integral part of an athlete’s identity and self-esteem, aimlessness and a reassessment of identity is likely. Thus, much of the transition into retirement revolves around the need to reconstruct a fulfilling identity separate from their sporting accomplishments.

By Jennifer Xiang Staff Writer Assimilation into regular society is complicated by the young age at which athletes retire. The average age of competitors in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics was 27. After spending an entire childhood focused on training and competition, young former athletes are thrown into adulthood without adequate preparation. “I was home-schooled and received a subpar education ...” said former figure skater and Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen in the New York Times. “Getting up to speed academically after all that time away was daunting.” Even the highest profile athletes struggle with a loss of identity after their careers, or even after large competitions. Michael Phelps, a 28-time medalist, has pled guilty to two DUIs and illicit drug use, discussed his post-Olympic mental health last year, noting that after every Olympic Games he participated in, he was met with bouts of depression and substance abuse. Athletes experience a jarring contrast between competing on a world stage, sometimes with the support of an entire country, and the subsequent return to a now-lackluster daily routine. Many athletes also struggle with the notion that the fulfillment brought on by winning medals may not be replicable in normal life and are haunted by mistakes made in competition. This post-competition emotional crash can mar athletes’ mental health, making them more susceptible to substance addiction. Because retirement for athletes isn’t usu-

Athletes experience a jarring contrast between competing on a world stage, sometimes with the support of an entire country, and the subsequent return to a now-lackluster daily routine.

Former Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps accepts his trophy for being the most-decorated Olympian in history at his last Olympics in Rio de Janiero in 2016.

ally discussed, the general public does not know what their favorite athletes will experience. Fans don’t realize that all athletes must eventually transition to post-competition life. By becoming more aware of the poten-


tial causes of athletes’ scandals and issues, viewers can both normalize the discussion of these struggles and support professional athletes as they transition to new endeavors. ▪

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Sports 17

MSJ Key Club holds Charity Badminton Tournament By Shreya Sridhar Staff Writer MSJ Key Club held its 11th and final Charity Badminton Tournament (CBT) on March 3 to 4 at Bay Badminton Center in Milpitas. Organized by Seniors Danice Long and Howard Tay, this year’s CBT was almost as successful as previous years, with 23 events and 344 entries from the Bay Area, of which 267 played. The tournament raised a total of $6,500, which Key Club donated to the Eliminate Project, an organization working with UNICEF to end maternal and neonatal tetanus. Each player’s first event cost $22 and each succeeding one cost $15. Although this year’s CBT was not quite as successful as those in 2017 and 2016, which raised $7,100 and $8,100 respectively, Long said, “This was [not as successful] because it was the sixth consecutive game [in the US competitive circuit] and people were really burnt out. But it was really nice to see people who weren’t playing come and watch the games because it was the last one, and people really enjoyed the game.” Many MSJ students attended and played in the tournament including Junior Ken-

neth Ji, who said, “I just play because I need an event to warm [me] up during the season. It’s a lot of fun ... Playing matches against friends is more fun and less competitive than regular tournaments.” Milpitas High School Sophomore Kaitlin Ngo said, “This is my third or fourth year playing for the Charity Badminton Tournament. I play to get the experience and also help with a great cause ... there wasn’t a specifically special moment. Rather the whole experience was special.” Planning for this event began in October. Tournament organizers and volunteers solicited sponsors from businesses of all sizes, planned out awards and merchandise, and ensured that the competition date did not conflict with other badminton and school events. Unfortunately, this year’s event was the last CBT that Key Club will host. Since Long is a senior, she will not be leading the tournament next year. She said, “There are a lot of aspects to running a tournament. For example, we have to find sponsors, a gym, a T-shirt design, and all of these require one specific

Sophmore Karina Chan lunges for a forehand shot.

leader who has a lot of responsibilities.” The team has been unable to find one specific individual to wants to take over the lead role of tournament organizer. Being Long’s final CBT, this one was especially memorable. Long said, “Having people come and say ‘Wow, I’m really going to miss your tournament,’ [it] honestly meant a lot to me. I’m really happy about what we’ve accomplished these past 11 years.” Many MSJ students volunteered to help run the event, including badminton player Sophomore Cassandra Yu, who worked the check-in table alongside Long. “I have played in junior tournaments run by professionals for 11 years and now ... running the tournament is a completely difference experience and has allowed me to have a greater appreciation for the tournaments I participate in,” said Yu. “It was an extremely rewarding pro-

Junior David Zhu serves while Class of 2016 Alumni Kevin Nguyen looks on.

cess for all of us, seeing the tournament come to life after countless hours of preparation.” Given that it was the final CBT, many attendees as well as managers were bitter-sweet: happy because of the tournament’s success, but sad to see it leave. Bay Badminton Center Manager Chris Ng said, “The Charity Badminton Tournament is for a good cause. MSJ Key Club is pretty close to our organization ... Tournaments bring a lot of people, it brings friends and great kids, which ties the whole badminton tournament together.” Many MSJ students were also sad to see the tournament come to an end including Tay. He said, “We hope that people enjoyed the last one — the final tournament. I hope this inspires people to help more people and believe in a good cause.” ▪ PHOTOS BY SPORTS EDITOR CINDY YUAN

Team Spotlight: Girls’ Wrestling By Sahana Sridhar Staff Writer

Over the past few years, MSJ’s female wrestlers have repeatedly impressed the community with their determination and strength in competing in an essentially male-dominated sport. Recently, the girls placed 11th at NCS, a product of their hard work and relentless drive. The MSJ Girls’ Wrestling team doesn’t let obstacles intimidate them, and they’re certainly continuing to work their way up. Despite this success, glory and recognition didn’t come easy for these wrestlers. From defying societal standards to revolutionizing what it means to be a female athlete at MSJ, the wrestlers don’t let anything get in their way. For many, disapproval from parents and other relatives was a significant obstacle. For Co-captain Junior Alice Drozd, who had danced for nearly 14 years of her life, wrestling was seen as out of place and unexpected among her family. “Whenever I tell my family or friends who don’t go to [MSJ] that [I wrestle], they always ask me, ‘Why do you wrestle, why don’t you dance?’,” Drozd said. Similarly, Wrestling Co-captains Juniors Flora Chang and Nikita Dhaliwal had to defy their parents to join the team, who initially wanted and even expected the athletes to quit. Yet, after repeated excellence in tournaments, the girls showed their parents that their passion and determination know no boundaries. “Now, I’ve gotten so much better and my parents are fully all about [my wrestling]. They know I want to pursue [wrestling] in college, they’re taking me to every camp. They’re fully supporting me,” said Dhaliwal.

Disapproval didn’t just come from their families. The girls initially had to

“...this one guy points to me, and tells the other guy, ‘You’ve got one free win, you’re up against a girl.’” — CO-CAPTAIN JUNIOR NIKITA DHALIWAL prove themselves to male wrestlers on the MSJ team, as well as wrestlers from other schools. For example, many male wrestlers initially criticized Girls’ Wrestling at NCS. “A lot of guys on our team would say, ‘Girls’ NCS isn’t anything compared to guys’ NCS; it’s just a given win.’ They just didn’t respect how hard we worked sometimes,” Chang said. Dhaliwal said, “At one tournament ... this one guy points to me, and tells the other guy, ‘You’ve got one free win, you’re up against a girl.’ He points to me. Stuff like that happened all the time.” But, with multiple wins, as well as placing at NCS, the girls made their mark. As Drozd said, “Girls can do male-dominated sports and excel at them.” Today, both MSJ’s female and male wrestlers practice together and support each other to get better at the sport that they’re now on their way to mastering. For the female wrestlers, the sport means so much more than medals and trophies. “Wrestling completely changed my life, and how I view life,” Chang said. “I learned how to manage my time, and I made my best friends through [wrestling].” Although the sport is difficult, it [has]


Female athletes on the wrestling team with Coach Zack Thomsen, Head Coach Tom Thomsen, and Coach Freddie Saldana.

shown the girls how to work through the difficulties and stay determined. “[Wrestling] puts a lot of stress on you, that’s true. But it teaches you to push through. It teaches you discipline,” said Drozd. Standout athlete Dhaliwal recently placed second at NCS and qualified for the CA Interscholastic Federation Girls’ Wrestling Championships as well. “[My struggles] during the competition were mostly mental,” Dhaliwal said. “There was a point when my wrestling [actually] went down ... I didn’t think I would make it that far.” At the tournament, she had to stay calm and collected while wrestling her opponents, reminding herself of all the work she had put in to get that far; despite the exhaustion, Dhaliwal pushed

through. “Although it was difficult, it was very rewarding. I had my friends and my mom there to support me, and just seeing their faces afterwards made it all worth it.” The female wrestlers at MSJ aren’t done challenging boundaries yet. In the past two years, the Girls’ Wrestling team has grown to over six times its original size; the wrestlers hope to bring more people to NCS next year. Furthermore, the minigym will now boast a new wall honoring MSJ’s past and current female wrestlers. As they continue increasing participation and bringing more wrestlers to state-level competitions, the captains soon hope to have “a full lineup of girls that can destroy [the competition],” Drozd said. ▪

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The Smoke Signal

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Smoke Signal


Athlete Spotlight: Daman Heer “En garde!” Senior Daman Heer, a competitive fencer, recently said these words as he competed at the USA Fencing Junior Olympic National Championships. The tournament, which took place in Memphis, TN from February 16 to 19, is one that thousands of young fencers strive to qualify for. Competition is further heightened because in the sea of the most talented athletes in the nation, only the best may prevail. For Heer, though, this tough competition was not a new experience. Heer began fencing when he was 11 years old. “It was because [my friends and I] were really into Star Wars, so we thought sword-fighting would be cool.” Heer joined a club to jumpstart his fencing career, which slowly grew into 12.5 hours of training every week. He trains at Silicon Valley Fencing Center in Cupertino, which is about a 40 minute round trip. Making this long commute has been one of the main struggles that Heer faced in his competitive fencing career. In addition, he has to put in extra time on the weekend, doing other training, such as running and going to the gym, “[to] build up [his] strength, and also do some mental training.” Due to the time he must dedicate to the sport, Heer has learned how to manage his time well. “Time management is really important,” he said. “Especially at school, you have to get all your homework done, and set aside time for studying, or else you’re not going to be able to relax. So I guess it’s really taught me how to manage my time efficiently.” Heer has gone to five travel tournaments in this year alone. He placed second in the Division 1A Men’s Foil at the Rocky Mountain

comes out is a result of your hard work.” Heer enjoys fencing “because it’s exhilarating. It’s not like any other sport where there’s a ball or [where] you have teammates to lean on; everything you do is on you. So you feel really great and accomplished when you fence.” In the future, Heer plans to focus on training his mental strength so that he can improve

By Arpita Gaggar Staff Writer


Heer (left) attempts to riposte on his opponent’s back at the USA Fencing Junior Olympic National Championships.

Regional Junior Cadet Circuit/Regional Open Circuit in 2017. Last year, he also attended the Junior Olympic National Championships and placed in the top 40 in the nation for the under-16 age group. Heer hopes, of course, to get good results at all the competitions, but believes the most important takeaway is just experience, because “whatever result

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his attitude going into tournaments. He will definitely continue fencing during college, even if it’s not on the official National Collegiate Athletic Association level. He has already had offers from fencing schools but plans to wait and see until all his decisions come back to decide where to spend his next few years. ▪

Boys’ Tennis triumphs over Logan, 5-2 By Lucia Li Staff Writer

Boys’ Tennis competed against James Logan High School at the Fremont Tennis Center on March 8 in the third match of their season. After a intense face-off with one of the top teams in the high school league, MSJ emerged triumphant, winning 5-2. After last year’s bitter defeat to Logan, the team is ecstatic to be back on track this season. Most notably, the varsity matches consisted of many intense moments of tricky shots and nail-biting plays. Across four singles and three doubles matches, the team fought hard, rapidly racking up points

Junior Simon Zhang serves the ball.

through strong forehands and steady backhands. Although most of the matches went smoothly and concluded quickly, the team still faced challenges. The Doubles 3 pair of Senior Abhinav Gopal and Junior Gautam Gudavalli faced off against Logan’s John Samson and Sebastian Jordin. The match started out rough as Samson and Jordin quickly scored set wins on the duo. However, with the rest of the team showing their support, Gopal and Gudavalli increased their intensity and easily pushed ahead to win the match. Sophomore Rishab Dalai fought out a particularly challenging Singles match against Logan’s Adiya Chaidhary, continuing on long after other matches had finished. Enduring rally after rally, Dalai, backed by the cheering and support of the rest of the team, managed to push through and secure MSJ’s fifth and final varsity match win of the day. The team was pleased with their victory that day, especially considering Logan’s notable reputation, and the long-held rivalry between Logan and MSJ. Boys’ Tennis Head Coach Mike Jan attributes the team’s success to their newly acquired focus, which was fueled by their defeat last season and a strong desire to come back. “We needed to beat [Logan] in order to be one of the top teams in MVAL. So we really studied what we did badly last year,

Sophomore Austin Peng returns with a forehand shot.

and added onto that to do better,” he said. The team has trained relentlessly, focusing on consistency and their ability to adapt to varying playstyles and situations. Little by little, the team improved, both in technical skill and in team chemistry. “[The Boys’ Tennis players] are close,” Jan said, “They like each other, they like to be around each other, they don’t mind working hard.” Varsity Co-captain Senior Jaehyun Kim also believes that teamwork was the key to their success. “Sometimes, the chemistry is more important than skill,” Kim said, reflecting on the team’s hopes to focus on teamwork to improve for the future.

The team hopes to place in NCS and move on to the statewide competition. While this victory has certainly proved to be a major success, there is still much work to do. “Although the season has gone well so far, there’s a lot that we still need to learn, because we’re still going to face a lot of different types of schools, a lot of different types of players,” Jan said. The team’s next match is on April 9 against Washington High School. ▪


Volume LIII, No. 7  
Volume LIII, No. 7