Page 1

2 News

The Smoke Signal Friday, March 20, 2009

News in Brief: BUDGET CUTS FINALIZED | District in hot water continued from page 1

Israel violates human rights In a United Nations conference on March 11th, Arab countries and Cuba accused Israel of blatantly violating children’s rights during the December attacks on Gaza. Out of the 1300 Palestinian casualties, 280 were children, most of which were “severely wounded and many [suffered] cases of a serious pathological nature as a result of destruction wrought by Israel”, declared a Yemeni delegate.

Madoff pleas guilty Former mega businessman Bernard Madoff has plead guilty to 11 criminal counts, including securities fraud, mail fraud, and wire fraud. Experts estimate that Madoff ’s gigantic “Ponsi scheme” has involved about $170.8 billion over a period of approximately 20 years. Madoff pleaded guilty and started serving his time in prison.

increase of a single student, class sizes are often much larger than the numbers imply. A student to teacher ratio of 25:1 actually corresponds to a class size of approximately 30 students because the stated ratio is simply a “goal” for secondary schools as opposed to the compulsory limit set for primary. A ratio of 28:1 would aim for a maximum average of 35 students per class, but with fluctuations in scheduling, some classes may take as many as 36-37. The one exception to class size expansion is the freshman 20:1 ratio in math and English classes, which is still a state requirement. Science classes are especially impacted, as an increase in students will affect lab safety. AP Chemistry teacher James Camacho said, “The lab situation we have is designed for less than 30, around 25 students. Some of the classrooms are already 30:1. We are going to have a really unsafe situation, especially for AP Chemistry. ” Increased class sizes will affect programs outside of regular classrooms as well. “Class sizes will limit the career units, with possibly 40 or more students in the Career Center,” says Career Center Specialist

Janet Aldinger. Students also face a shortfall in the number of counselors. The board has decided to lower the number from 36 to 22, and the 22 counselors will then be divided among the high schools and junior high schools in the district. In regard to counselor recommendation letters written for students, she said, “They will probably be affected, but all we can do right now is wait.” The proposed 50 percent cuts to library media techs will also negatively affect students. Library Media Tech Terry Haro said, “Currently, the district wants volunteers to fill in, but they can’t help students with what they need, such as troubleshooting computers.” Principal Sandy Prairie said, “I believe that we have an extremely professional staff, and it’s a devastating blow to teachers and how the state sees their value and worth. We want students and parents to know that this is not how you treat professionals. No other program was cut as deeply as we [education] were, and I would tell parents to vote on the proposals and become aware of the situation.” ▪ graphics editor cici cao

Dress Code Misinterpreted

Overreaction to changes fanned by misinformation

Bernie Madoff, mastermind of the “biggest” fraud scheme on Wall Street, admits his guilt.

Alabama guman on shooting rampage In Samson, Alabama, Michael Kenneth McClendon took at least nine lives, among them members of his own family as well as apparent strangers, before finally committing suicide. He began by burning down his mother’s house, located near the Alabama-Florida border, and continued into Geneva County, where he shot four adults and one child in a nearby home and then two others in different locations. Police pursued the gunman to a Reliable Metal Products plant until the man entered the plant and shot himself.

Economic downfall reflects in college applications In response to the economic downturn, East Bay education experts are increasingly calling out against the current financial aid program for college students. “This is a broken system. It’s to your advantage for your parents to lose their jobs.” says Robert Birgeneau, UC Berkeley’s chancellor. He and others argue that seniors are unaware of the amount of financial aid available to them. Consequently, fewer low income students applied to the University of California this year despite an overall increase in the number of applications. COMPILED BY STAFF WRITERS CYNTHIA KANG, TANU PATEL, ANTHONY WU, AND JANE WANG

By Clara Ma & Tanu Patel Staff Writers As soon as it was announced, FUSD’s student dress code created havoc among the student body. However, students angry about the dress code may have just been misinformed. Sophomore Justin Sha expressed concern saying that some teachers specifically told students “all shirts with any logos (at that time, supposedly, any brand or size) were to be banned.” Other students, such as Sophomore He Chen were also so informed and thought that the new dress code’s bans encompassed everything from “pro-Obama shirts [to] jeans [with a] little brown tag on the waistband.” While many students obviously believed that the new dress code would ban all logos on shirts and jeans, there is, in fact, no mention of logos being banned entirely from school premises. The only logos being banned are the ones on all forms of hats, as mentioned in the fourth clause of the new dress code. Similarly, the only t-shirts being banned are those that are oversized, red or blue without a school insignia. Additionally, students are only allowed to wear hats that display school insignia outdoors. Hats indoors have always been prohibited. The new dress code has been written to be more comprehensive of prohibiting gang-related clothing. Because of increased gang activity at other schools in FUSD, the dress code was created to alleviate gang-related problems by making it harder to distinguish who may be a

potential gang member, thus lessening the effects of gangs on campus. However, Sophomore Karthik Raman voiced valid concern that “gangs would find other ways to represent themselves. Since gangs really want to be together, they wouldn’t let a rule like that stop them.” Because MSJ has had little record with gang violence or general activity, there have been protests against the enforcement of the dress code. Opponents of the dress code argue that MSJ students should not be restricted for something that is not their fault. In response, Principal Sandy Prairie, states that “[the current dress code] is a means of supporting safe schools… we don’t really have a choice. We at MSJ cannot go against the district just because we feel that those rules don’t apply to us.” Essentially, regardless of whether MSJ experiences gang activity frequently or never at all, the district’s ruling at the board meeting is district-wide and no one holds exception to that. As to the oft argued point that new restrictions beyond the dress code are just one step away from uniforms, Principal Prairie said, “If the district board thinks uniforms will mean safer schools, then, once again, we don’t have a choice.” The decision to enforce the new dress code in the upcoming school year and on was finalized in late February, but the discussions about problems arising from gang activity started on Nov. 18, 2008 when school site administrators and members of the Fremont Police

corrections •On the last issue’s photo page, Sophomore Jaren Feeley and Ramsey Fisher are from the band Etcetera, while Senior Anchit Dixit is from Flux. •In the Winter Sports Wrap Up photo, Christopher Mayer should be

included in the caption. •For the Debate on Secularism article, Megan Bernstein wrote Stick With Tradition while Niku Jafarnia wrote God’s Gotta Go. •In photo 2B on the Photo Page Thomas Feng is a freshman.

Department came together to discuss potential safety measures. At a board meeting on February 11, the changes to the dress code were presented and the final decision was made in late February. Sha also expressed concern saying that “there was no prior notice to either the FUSD parents or to the students [regarding the dress code]” but in reality, board meetings are open to all students and parents, and the discussions regarding dress codes had started much earlier. Arguments, however, are still escalating against the new dress code, whether it be from the misconceptions or because students are vehemently against changing anything in a dress code already viewed as being too restrictive. Students such as Sha and Chen plan to abolish the dress code through petitions and signatures. Sha sees the dress code as a limitation as to what can be worn and on top of a possible closed campus for the underclassmen, yet another enforcement inhibiting the freedom of the student population. Chen has created a Facebook group to rally students against the new dress code. With Raman and Sophomore Joey Uken circling a petition, Chen says “the district is taking away our creativity, our identity. MSJ is not some nerd school; we have extraordinary artists, musicians, poets, etc in addition to academically-smart students. We are bursting with creativity. Taking that away from us is wrong.” Though the dress code has not yet even been enforced, the repercussions from the decision are evident all around campus, already. However, it seems likely that the protests won’t be stopping soon. Says Uken, “I strongly encourage people to voice their concerns over any policy, be it in politics or in school. You can’t ever be afraid to voice your concerns in fear of being wrong. For democratic governments to function they need citizens that aren’t afraid to protest for what they believe.” ▪

Dalai Lama visits Berkeley By Megan Bernstein Staff Writer On Tuesday, March 10, Tibetan protesters from around the Bay Area gathered at Berkeley and San Francisco City Halls to mark the 50th anniversary of the exile of their leader, the Dalai Lama. Thousands of Tibetans fled their homeland after Chinese suppression increased, many of them settling in the greater Bay Area. After the failed uprising in 1959, the political and spiritual leader was banned from the country and has led protest and peace efforts from India ever since. The Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, now a 73 year-old Nobel Peace laureate, has announced an upcoming visit to Berkeley in April 2009. The visit will be the Dalai Lama’s first to the city of Berkeley since 1997, and the fifth visit to the Bay Area since 1999. His visit will coincide favorably with many of the peaceful protests already being held in the Bay Area. He is set to meet with local groups from the Himalayan communities in California to discuss the ongoing situation in Tibet. Many Californians have displayed strong feelings pertaining to the state of affairs in Tibet as shown last year as the Olympic torchbearers for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics passed through San Francisco. Large, peaceful protests staged in San Francisco and across the world demonstrated against the Chinese games in response to the ongoing violence and suppression in Tibet. The issue has remained on the forefront of community concerns as awareness began to increase following the demonstrations. The Dalai Lama himself has continued to promote the Tibetan cause worldwide and uphold his duties as a symbol of hope, spirituality, and leadership to the Tibetan people across the globe. His talks in Berkeley aim to promote awareness and continue to unite the Tibetan communities worldwide as Chinese oppression continues. ▪

4 News

A’s no longer moving to Fremont

The Smoke Signal Friday, March 20, 2009

New procedure for summer programs

staff writer cynthia kang

Junior Phillip Leu hands in paperwork for his summer programs applications.

staff writer anastassia tselikova

Warm Springs residents protest against the construction of the A’s Stadium.

By Hannie Dong Staff Writer After planning to relocate the A’s stadium from Oakland to Fremont, Lew Wolff & Co., the A’s owner, announced it has given up hope of coming to our city due to adamant opposition from residents and businesses. The Fremont Citizens Network (FCN), a volunteer-run advocacy group of people from all around Fremont, organized a peaceful protest demonstration at City Hall on February 24, scheduled to coincide with the A’s presentation to the City Council. FCN has done a comprehensive study on the effects that the ballpark will have and concluded that building a stadium will negatively impact Fremont. The protest’s purpose was to increase the awareness of the impacts that the A’s ballpark would bring

to Fremont, which include severe blows to the city’s budget, services, taxes, traffic conditions, businesses, quality of life, safety, crime, and environment. However, when Wolff ceased plans to build the stadium in Fremont, the protest became a victory party after it had been determined that the A’s would go elsewhere. Mayor Wasserman first considered bringing the A’s to Fremont because it brought the opportunity of generating money for city services. A considerable number of Fremont citizens did not agree, believing that the negative effects outweighed the advantages. When the A’s first targeted the Pacific Commons area for its $1.8 billion stadium, Wolff faced resistance from the center’s three biggest retail tenants, who dreaded the traffic and parking problems that

the ballpark would bring. As a result, Wolff proposed relocating the stadium to a second site on the edge of the Warm Springs District. The new location was, however, better served by mass transit. NUMMI, Fremont’s auto plant, issued concerns about how potential traffic problems caused by the stadium would doom the plant. Nearby residents also threatened to file lawsuits in order to thwart construction. The conflict of “further delays, legal actions and perhaps referendums is simply something that I have decided to forgo,” Wolff said. On February 24, Wolff announced that he was ceasing plans to move to Fremont. With the opposition to the proposal of the A’s relocation, Wolff is now considering other options, including San Jose, which has a viable downtown stadium site. ▪

By Christine Cheng Staff Writer At the peak of scholarship and summer program application season at MSJ, teachers and counselors alike are swamped with last-minute requests for letters of recommendation. Career Center Specialist Janet Aldinger has also had an influx of paperwork and application packets to juggle, and many staff members complain that it is like a second college application period. As a result, a new system has been recently designed to deal with a variety of applications. This system aims to allow both teachers and counselors to make the process of applying for various programs “more organized” according to Aldinger. So far, the effects of this process have yet to be seen. Said Junior Mathew Fong, “There’s really nothing to this program yet, except the student profile. Even though a lot of people know it’s there, nobody follows it anyway.” Though this new system has not yet been strictly enforced, both counselors and teachers hope to spread awareness of the new system, so as to make the recommendation process easier on

themselves in the future. Students are now required to get their paperwork in earlier, so that counselors and teachers can write letters of recommendation. The new scholarship and summer program application process includes five steps: 1. A completed application must be submitted to Aldinger in the Career Center three weeks before the program’s deadline. 2. Students then pick up a student profile sheet for summer program applicants and give a completed copy to any counselors or teachers they need recommendations from. 3. The teachers will return the completed letters themselves to Aldinger. 4. Students go to the Transcript Secretary Jean Faust and submit $3 per transcript. 5. The transcript will be given to Aldinger directly, who will then proceed to package the application. A completely processed application will be mailed from the school. Complete instructions for this process and the summer programs student profile are available in the Career Center. ▪

Friday, March 20, 2009


The Smoke Signal

Smoke Signal

Mission San Jose High School Est. 1964 Vol. 44, No. 7 | March 20, 2009

Opinion 5

MAOTH off!

Jules of Wisdom Prioritize Before Protesting

The Future of Science

41717 Palm Ave. Fremont, CA 94539 (510) 657-3600 Editors-in-Chief Sophie Diao, Mala Neti News Vidya Mahavadi, Amy Mao Opinion Julia Harrell, Marianna Mao Feature Lena Liu, Hannah Scobel Centerspread Amanda Kwan, Natalie Yang A&E Vicraj Gill, Eric Sun Sports Ryan Tanakit, Audrey Tseng Graphics Cici Cao, Jerry Ting Web Raymond Chou, Lucy Liu Tech Abhay Malik, Albert Yuan Ads Rebecca Gao, Sargunjot Kaur Business Victoria Gu Circulation Derek Yueh Events Megan Bernstein, Clara Ma Copy Editors Sandhya Chandrasekaran, Sonya John, Cynthia Kang, Tanu Patel, Anastassia Tselikova, Jane Wang

Writers & Photographers Andre Abrahamians, Monica Chen, Victor Chen, Christine Cheng, Michelle Chu, Ankur Dhar, Hannie Dong, Michael Feuerman, Peter Gao, Alissa Gwynn, Niku Jafarnia, Henna Jethani, Karen Lin, Yvonne Lin, Gina Liu, Joseph Teng, Elisa Ting, Anthony Wu, Jonathan Ye, Jordan Zhang

Adviser Sandra Cohen Send letters to the editor to opinion@the Letters under 300 words may be considered for publication and must include a full name and school affiliation. The Smoke Signal reserves the right to edit for clarity and length.

To advertise in the Smoke Signal, e-mail Advertising that is included on the pages of, or carried within, the Smoke Signal, is paid advertising, and as such is independent of the news and feature content.

The Smoke Signal’s right to freedom of speech and press is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

By Julia Harrell Opinion Editor

A few weeks ago rumors were swirling around MSJ’s campus that the FUSD school board would be implementing radical dress code changes for the upcoming 20092010 school year, prohibiting students from wearing clothing with any type of visible brand name or logo. The thought of not being able to wear college sweatshirts and other items with store names plastered on the front proved too much for some students, who began to form Facebook groups petitioning the rumored changes, even going so far as to organize a petition-signing event in the bell tower quad to try to illustrate to school board members how upset students were about their freedom of dress being taken away. The rumored changes that caused so many MSJ students to frightfully visualize themselves in school uniforms turned out to be very minor. The proposed addendum to the dress code states that students will not be allowed to wear oversized solid blue or red shirts because of possible gang affiliation(See News Pg. 2). While I’m certainly a supporter of fighting for and maintaining first amendment rights at school (I may not be able to write this column every month if they didn’t exist), I can’t help but feel that the protesting of a new dress code was somewhat frivolous. The fact that students became

upset and wanted to protect the freedom of expression they exhibit through their clothing is understandable. However, the degree to which some students became angry and protested a change that had not been implemented or even confirmed by the school board was ridiculous, especially considering the fact that dozens of teachers and counselors at MSJ were, and still are, facing lay-offs. It upsets me to realize that more students care about the clothes they wear to school than about the teachers and counselors who work with them every day, whose jobs are on the line because of state budget cuts. This fact is unfortunately all too apparent online, where (at the time of this writing) a Facebook group titled “Fremont 2009 Dress Code Petition” has 1,100 members while the group “Don’t Cut Counselors at MSJ!” has 91. To the students who feel their fashion options are more important than the people who dedicate their lives to education, I have only one thing to say: Get a grip. There are more important things in life to be protesting than the future of your school wardrobe. Students should not be worried about an attack on their fashion rights but rather an attack on their right to a decent education. Continue protesting policies that seem unjust. Just make sure you aren’t overlooking a larger problem. ▪ Send letters to the editor to

Staff Writer

After your recent controversial article concerning misrepresentation and the marquee, I have decided to take action regarding what the article has stated. While the article states that Council has less than 20% proper representation, I believe the quintessence of that statement is dictated in the fact that while there are indeed many people in Council, they attend because they must, not because they care about the situation of the school. Therefore, I present my ASB Constitutional Amendment, which regards misrepresentation by proposing the formation of “Caucuses.” Through Caucuses, the ASB government will be able to publicize their decisions and policies with comments and opinions from the ASB. The concept is quite simple, although it is confusing when being phrased. Caucuses will meet rarely, only in time of major decisions. Every 3° will elect two representatives to attend Caucuses. The representatives will return to their 3°, and the 3° teacher will conduct votes and send it to the ASB Cabinet for review. When receiving criticisms, the worst response is to do nothing at all. If the student government is to improve, there must be change. I hope this amendment gets passed. It would do a lot of good for the ASB. ▪ -Frank Zhu (10)

Opinion Editor

Last week, during my flight back home from a science research competition in Washington, DC, I struck up a conversation with the woman next to me. To my surprise, as I explained my work on gravitational waves, she began to cry. After wiping away her tears, she explained to me that she was incredibly moved to see what young women were achieving in science; when she was a student, she had been told that she could only grow up to be a teacher, a nurse, or a nun. As a girl hoping to study physics and math in college, I am proud to point out that in the past few decades, American females have continuously narrowed the gap between girls and boys in science and math. Nonetheless, the lack of female representation in math and science remains painfully obvious in the US, and American girls studying math and science lag behind their counterparts in other developed countries. The discrepancy is actually part of a larger problem—as many educators have concluded, US students of both sexes fall behind other developed countries in math and science because American culture harbors little appreciation for talent in those fields. The sad truth is that many Americans have refused to understand or appreciate science. Crazy hair, sizzling test tubes, and impenetrable computations; these are images we commonly associate with scientists and their craft,

symbols that illustrate the general perception of scientific research as esoteric, removed, and often impractical. Recently, American attitudes towards science have begun swinging towards the other end of the spectrum. Under Obama, science has taken a place in the spotlight as key to restoration of the American economy. But this newly expressed confidence in science could produce backlash. Not that our growing appreciation for science’s potential economic benefits is undeserved; consider the internet, which was born when physicists sought to build a collaborative information network and has now revolutionized communications and built global markets. However, the public needs to understand that science cannot provide an immediate solution; the significance of scientific achievements is almost never immediately apparent and often takes decades to emerge. Funding climate and energy research today will likely not generate the short-term progress most Americans demand and expect. The Obama administration should be prepared to educate the general public on such issues while making more long-term commitments to funding science research and education. Its support will be essential in developing the young scientists and mathematicians that constitute an essential part of America’s future. ▪ Send letters to the editor to

Rise of the Incarcerated

By Jane Wang

staff writer monica chen

By Marianna Mao

Prisoners of California, our revolution is at hand. The time has come for us to take our place as members of the foremost institution of the state. Too long has the prison been seen as a place of penitence and punishment. Too long have petty expenses like education taken precedence over the prisoner’s wants and needs. And too, too long have we been forced to wear these atrociously hideous orange jumpsuits. (Don’t they know the color does nothing for our complexion?) But now, change has finally come to California, change we can believe in. Our brethren in the Sacramento legislature working alongside our beloved “Governator” have recently scored us a major victory in the upcoming 2009-2010 year by finalizing a state budget plan that allocates a greater portion of budget funds to the corrections system than health care or even education. The state has also seen fit to build 23 new prisons and 26 local correction facilities as opposed to opening only one University of California campus and two CSUs. We cannot ignore the signs, my friends. These developments mark the beginning of a beautiful new era for the prison, one replete with upgraded health-care facilities, generous dental plans, new beds,

and as much as $250,000 in prison administration salaries. I tremble to think what other concessions they might soon grant us- Wi-Fi, plasma screens, indoor pools, or dare I dream, spa service? Oh, the possibilities are endless. Nevertheless, we cannot rest too comfortably on our laurels, for dark days lie ahead. Already our archnemeses, the California Teachers Association and California Department of Education, are working to undermine our hard-fought victories. In their bimonthly meetings, they talk of sending petitions to the state legislature to divert money from our sector to theirs, and they spread malicious rumors that educating children is more important than housing criminals. The gall of these so-called “educators”! Why, next they’ll be spouting lies that global warming is a real phenomenon. No, the prison is undoubtedly of greater importance than the school place. From ancient history until the present day, it has been the primary instrument of government power and control. Historians litter our textbooks with names of great leaders who maintained domestic peace with the penal institutionHitler, Stalin, Mussolini. And how would it have been possible to persecute rabble-rousers such as Gandhi, Mandela, and King if we had not had prisons to incarcerate them


Let us now ask what has education has done for our society. The purposes of education have often been said to enlighten and to edify, but in the words of the astute Thomas Gray, “Ignorance is bliss/ ’Tis folly to be wise.” Therefore, if education only begets misery and woe, then surely America is better left uneducated. (In fact, our nation is doing an impressive job of that right now.) Excess schooling has also been known to cause nearsightedness and high levels of stress, both dangerous health conditions. These meager contributions hardly measure up to those of the corrections system, and still their proponents find reasons to support them. Yet take heart, my comrades. An encouraging statistic assures us that the less educated a person is, the more likely he or she will end up among our ranks in jail. With the state deciding to better fund our department than education, such a fate looms closer with each passing day. Now if, as most Americans like to insist, children are indeed the future, and if the future of our future is the prison, then by Jove, prisons are the future! Knowing this, we must not hesitate to act. Now more than ever, we cannot allow ourselves to falter. Viva! Viva la prison! ▪

6 Opinion

Are APs Actually Better? By Rebecca Gao Staff Writer

“We all get 2400 SATs; we all take five APs. Sine, Cosine, Cosine, Sine. 3.14159.” Our unofficial cheer as the stereotyped school of incorrigible “nerds” can seem unpleasantly true at times, considering MSJ’s traditional emphasis on APs over CPs but do people actually learn more in AP courses, or are they just in for a hefty workload? Some students take APs mechanically and methodically, studying for exams and slaving over the night’s reading in courses that “look good” on their college applications. Their questionable assumption that APs are decisively “superior” to CP alternatives may possibly have just denied them a better learning experience. Admittedly, comparing CP and AP based on “amount learned” can be misleading, since individual student mentalities are the real determining factors. An AP student who only goes through the motions of learning may end up retaining less knowledge than a motivated CP student who doesn’t practice the “cram, test, and forget” method. And as for pacing and speed, AP clases scurry ahead to prepare for the AP exam in May, significantly contributing to the daily reading requirements. In AP U.S. History, one to two chapters are covered a week, while CP moves more steadily, resulting in more thorough explanations and actually more lecture time. Or, should note-taking not be your strong point, CP U.S. History

has some rather interesting projects to strengthen your understanding of the era, like the “fairy-tale of the Great Depression.” APs do, however, entail deeper levels of analysis coupled with more in-depth detailing to mirror the AP exam. AP English’s curriculum is comprised of twice as many separate literary works, such as the Iliad and Othello, as CP’s. Yet CP’s more moderate pace allows for increased class discussions and focuses the attention on one literary work at a time, as opposed to the two to three in AP. CP courses also receive stronger buffering from assignments and classwork, rather than possibly overstressing test or essay performance. APs are strongly exam-oriented courses; the test and quiz categories combined can occupy up to 85 percent of a semester grade. Science APs and CPs teach essentially the same material, just with different goals and approaches. AP Physics, for example, leans towards theoretical material and formulas. CP Physics highlights more practical, real-life applications and contains a project-based curriculum on engineering and energy. Both AP and CP Chemistry afford an impressive variety of engaging labs throughout the year. Learning requires work and effort in any situation. CPs are less test-driven and can be less rushed in general, providing ample time for both application and creativity. So don’t feel “stupid” for having chosen a CP class over an AP; what you learn depends on your own dedication and motivation, not on the title of your course. ▪

The Smoke Signal

Friday, March 20, 2009

CAHSEE: Waste of State Funds? By Rebecca Gao & Derek Yueh Staff Writers

Since 2006, sophomores have been annually herded into the gym for the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). In between staring vacantly at the clock and twirling your pencil, you might wonder why we even bother. After all, how well does this exam gauge a student’s proficiency in English and mathematics, and should California really be squandering its tight budget on an arguably expendable test? The CAHSEE is a current factor in calculating a school’s Academic Performance Index and measuring the Adequate Yearly Progress to meet state and federal benchmarks; CAHSEE passing rates influence the No Child Left Behind state scores. However, its role in the educational accountability system belongs to the STAR test, which not only fulfills the same needs but additionally provides more detailed rankings other than “pass” or “fail.” Even English Learners (ELs) and special education students are required by state law to pass the CAHSEE in order to earn their high school diploma. While they are permitted accommodations, the disproportionately high percentage of disadvantaged students comprising the 10 percent failing statewide poses concern. At MSJ, over 98 percent of last year’s class of 2008 passed; the three who did not were in the special education program. Others may defend the CAHSEE as a positive force that drives students to take learning seriously, but the test pitches too low by only evaluating competency in English

at a grade 10 level and math at a grade 8 level. The average senior who cannot meet even these standards does not arbitrarily begin dropping behind once entering high school. According to an investigation conducted by UC San Diego’s statistics and economics staff, student characteristics (such as G.P.A., STAR tests, district assessments, etc.) from as early as fourth grade provide a 98.9 percent accurate prediction of whether a student will pass the CAHSEE. If we can reliably identify at-risk students even while they are in elementary school, then delaying help until senior year of high school is completely absurd. In the same study, up to 80 percent of the students who did not pass would not have earned their diploma anyway, because they did not take the necessary courses, meet G.P.A. requirements, or fulfill other graduation specifications. Especially since the CAT6 and STAR tests prove to be more effective in measuring mastery of a subject and test at an appropriately higher level, we should question California state legislators’ decisions to spend still more money on the CAHSEE. California is already ranked 47th in the nation in per-pupil spending,

sports editor audrey tseng

and the imminent $11.6 billion cut in K-12 schools is no trivial matter. Despite this, the CAHSEE has received an excess of $160 million in official funding already, while the GATE program is annually allotted less than a third of that and educational technology an eighth of the CAHSEE’s exorbitant expenses. Just proctoring the exam costs approximately $8 million yearly at $5 per student. Should that not be outrageous enough, the CAHSEE Supplemental Instruction Program was enacted in October 2007 to spend $75.1 million to provide up to two years of additional help for students who have failed the exam. A significant number of students do not even attend these programs and give up on passing high school altogether. Considering its doubtful effectiveness and obese price tag, the CAHSEE seems to be just another example of unnecessary splurging. Said Vice Principal Zach Larsen, “In these times of budget shortfalls, I think it is important that we reassess the importance of everything we spend on in our state.” When California finally does, she might have the soundness of judgment to recognize the frivolity of her high school exit exam. ▪

“The CAHSEE is not that bad. If we want to alleviate the budget crisis, we should cut out STAR testing for fourth graders and below since they cannot even bubble properly. The CAHSEE should be more rigorous and only administered for juniors (and also include stats concepts such as probability and hypo tests) but I believe that it is useful. Employers will expect high school graduates to be able to perform the basic functions the CAHSEE tests.” Dr. Fry, AP Statistics and Finite/Discrete Teacher

“It’s only a waste of money for our school because we’re academically superior to the other schools. To everyone else in the state, they need the CAHSEE to determine who actually deserve diplomas. The tests should be given depending on a high school’s academic achievements.” Ran Hee Jung, 11th staff writer cynthia kang

graphics editor jerry ting

“I feel that politics have taken of education and that they feel that they need measures to feel that they’re administrating. There’s no trust between educators and politicians, and that’s why our students are so heavily tested. I’ve heard that the CAHSEE is easy, and most students have no problem with it unless there’s a language barrier. The climate of constantly testing students takes away from valuable teaching time. We’ve applied a business model to education.” Karrie Ware, AP Biology teacher

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Smoke Signal

Feature 9

Where to Buy Prom Dresses By Niku Jafarnia Staff Writer

Junior Prom and Senior Ball are just around the corner, so of course, that means time for some dress stress. Prom night is supposed to be a fun, care-free night, but the same doesn’t always apply to the weeks leading up to it, especially for the ladies. To help everyone out with the nervewracking process of finding the perfect prom dress, here are some places in different price ranges where you’ll be sure to find something perfect to make your night even more memorable.

Jessica McClintock Outlet in San Francisco ($20-$100) Make sure to use this store only as your back up in case you can’t find any other dresses. A lot of girls buy Jessica McClintock dresses, so any uniqueness you might have hoped for will automatically be thrown out the window. The majority of the dresses are cocktail dresses, but if you decide to shop here try to go in without a criteria because you never know what you’re going to get since it’s an outlet. Macy’s in San Francisco or Valley Fair Mall ($70-$250) Rather than going to the junior department where most of the dresses you find aren’t quite so classy, try hitting the misses section instead. Though it may be hard to find a nice dress that would look good for a teenage girl, a select few are well worth the hunt. Make sure to go to either the San Francisco store or the Valley Fair store since the selection is far greater than those of the other malls.

This dress by Jessica McClintock is on sale for $200.00.

Betsey Johnson in Stanford Mall, Valley Fair Mall, or San Francisco ($300-$500) If you love dresses as girly as they come, this is the right place for you since each Betsey Johnson dress is uniquely covered in frills, sequins, and bows. If you’re looking for a long dress, on the other hand, look elsewhere because not a single dress in the store goes below the knee. The downside to Betsey Johnson is that many of their dresses are similar to Jessica McClintock’s dresses, though definitely more exceptional for more than twice the price.

Senior Trip Destinations By Monica Chen Staff Writer

Summer is near, but you have no idea where to go for your senior trip. With the current economy, you doubt you can go anywhere both fun and inexpensive. But have no fear! Here is a guide to having a blast and keeping the costs under your budget. (The estimated spending below does not include boarding expenses and is only a rough approximation based on activity fees, food, and shopping.) Close Destinations: 1. Huntington Beach - California is known for its beautiful sunny beaches. Why not go to Huntington Beach, located near the celebrity populated, expensive Laguna Beach? It’s a popular spot for the surfer crowds (which means an abundance of cute guys/gals). Check out the surf lessons and the International Surfing Museum there. Hotels: $70-$200/night Estimated Spending/day: $20-$120

You can even rent a cabin with friends and split the cost. Hotels: $80-$200/night Cabin: $190-$1000/day Estimated Spending/day: $30-$150 3. Los Angeles - You may be so overwhelmed by this place that you can’t even decide where to go, but don’t worry, here are a few recommendations to help you narrow down your list. Top attractions include Santa Monica Pier, Venice, El Pueblo of Los Angeles, and of course, Disneyland. There are many interesting museums if you want an educational touch to your senior trip. Window shopping is also very fun in places like the Third Street Promenade (located in Santa Monica near LA). Hotels: $80-$300/night Estimated Spending/day: $20-$160

Huntington Beach is an ideal place to go for a senior trip.

Far Destinations: 4. Cruises - There is always the option of going on a cruise. You have 24-hour access to unlimited food, and you can indulge yourself in many activities and events on the ship. It’s a great way to hang out with your friends and meet new friends. Destinations include Hawaii, Alaska, Jamaica, Puerto Vallarta, the Bahamas, and other exotic places. Costs vary depending on destination, duration of trip, type of room, and ship. For more information, check out Boarding (3-5 days): $240-$400 Estimated Spending/day: $0-$50

2. Lake Tahoe - Tahoe is famous for its ski resorts, but there are also many activities to do during the summer. They include all kinds of water sports such as rafting, canoeing, windsurfing, waterskiing, and kayaking. Other activities not water-related are horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, and golfing.

5. Orlando, Hawaii, New York, Virginia Beach, Chicago, etc. You can still go to these popular locations for affordable prices. For more information, go to Total Cost (not including airfare and transportation): $175-$300/person ▪

Blossom’s in Stoneridge Mall or Valley Fair Mall ($200-$600) Though the prices can start to reach the high range in this store, the selection is amazing, and includes all the most popular prom dress designers, including Jovani and Sherri Hill, in just about any style of dress you could want. It may be a little overwhelming to walk into a large store filled with numerous racks of only prom dresses, but if you take the time to look through them, you’ll definitely find a good number of dresses that you’d want to wear on your special night.

Prom dresses don’t always have to be floor-length gowns. Try this short dress which can be found at Blossom’s.

Group USA in the Great Mall ($100-$200) The dress selection here is great because of the fact that they carry many dresses that look similar to designer prom dresses that you can find at Blossom’s, but for much lower prices. Though the selection is smaller, it’s well worth the money saved. However, make sure to check with other girls if you decide to buy a dress from here because many girls shop here and there’s a chance you could end up with the same dress as someone else!

Caché in Stoneridge Mall or Valley Fair Mall ($150-$350) This is one of the best places to find a nice prom dress, especially because many of their dresses resemble designer ones, even though they’re in a moderate price range. The dresses are all unique in that they don’t look like the dresses you encounter in every other store, but they’re still just as gorgeous, if not more. BCBG Outlet in the Great Mall ($70$200) There’s not a BCBG dress that isn’t gorgeous, so you can’t go wrong if you buy a dress from this store. However, be careful because there’s not a large dress selection since it’s an outlet, and the chances that you will find a dress you love in your size is slim. If you have a larger budget, try the real store and you’ll be sure to find a winner! ($100-$700) Though they have one of the largest prom dress inventories of any website, be careful about the size you choose since you can’t make any returns and all brands fit differently. They have hundreds of prom dresses of every shape, size, color, and price. Some advice would be to find whatever dress you like, write down the designer or brand, and find a store that has that designer and try on a random dress to see what size you are. ($50-$600) Instead of going to Nordstrom in the mall, go on their website because they have an incredibly larger selection of dresses online than they have in stores. The site has dozens of designers and dresses that are on sale that you would never be able to find in stores. Not to mention, returns are very simple, so if you don’t like what they send you just send it right back or drop it off at the store! ▪

10 Centerspread

The Smoke Signal

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Smoke Signal

Centerspread 11

photos from,,,,,,,,,,,,,


12 Photo


The Smoke Signal

5M 5N



Friday, March 20, 2009



Spring in Snapshots

1 2 3 4 5


Sadies in Athens Dance 2.27.2009

A. Juniors Otis Lee and Dorothy Lin pose as Failboy and Wingirl, MSJ’s power couple. B. Junior Linda Xu and Senior Sean Zhang dance to the music. C. Sophomore Julianne Sun literally forms a heart with her date.

Crab Feed 2.28.2009

D. Junior David Roche and his dad bond during the crab and pasta dinner. E. Senior Emily DeStigter greets guests enthusiastically. F. The servers gather around to sing “Happy Birthday” to one of the guests.

SOS Health & Wellness 3.12.2009

G. Senior Tina Chen inhales while raising her arms for a relaxation exercise. H. The Tai Chi instructor performs a stress-relieving Tai Chi routine. I. Senior Lisa Wang and Juniors Ernest Luong and Jonathan Yip perform yoga exercises in the gym.

Sports Assembly 3.13.2009

J. Senior Boys’ Soccer Captain Parsa Kafi dribbles past Junior Matt Gosen on the bouncy ball. K.The MSJ cheer squad strike a pose before the audience.

Teacher Rally 3.13.2009

L. Teachers, parents, and students protest against the budget cuts. M. A teacher stands along the street, urging drivers to honk their horns in support. N. Carrying signs and flyers, the teachers march to the City Council Chamber.






3I 3H






2F photos by editor-in-chief sophie diao, staff writers niku jafarnia, sonya john, cynthia kang, karen lin, jane wang

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Smoke Signal

Spring Break Activities By Raymond Chou Web Editor

Feature 13

The Funnies By Anthony Wu // Staff Writer

Spring Break is infamous for week-long college parties in exotic locales. Yet, even in high school, there are many ways to enjoy your break in the Bay Area this year between April 10 and April 17. Visit a Museum Although this sounds like something reserved for field trips, there are some museums that you may want to visit over the break. If you enjoyed the movie Watchmen, the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco has an exhibition that takes an in-depth look into the film and the graphic novel that inspired it. Also, the recently renovated California Academy of Sciences has many new exhibitions from the Philippine Coral Reef to the Rainforest. Go to a Concert Many great artists are dropping by the Bay Area over Spring Break. The Let It Rock Tour Featuring Kevin Rudolf will be making a stop at the Fillmore on April 13, and the Ting Tings will also be playing there on April 15. For those more into the mainstream, The Circus Starring Britney Spears will be rolling into town on April 12 at the HP Pavilion. Watch a Live Sports Game For baseball fans, the Oakland Athletics are playing the Boston Red Sox at the Coliseum on April 14, and the Giants are going against the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T Park on April 17. For those into basketball, the Golden State Warriors are playing the San Antonio Spurs at the Oracle Arena on April 13.

By Monica Chen // Staff Writer

By Jane Wang // Staff Writer

Watch a Play or Musical If you are a fan of American Idol winner Taylor Hicks, he is starring in the new Broadway production of Grease, which is coming into San Francisco from March 24 to April 19 at the Golden Gate Theatre. Also, the smash hit musical Wicked will continue its run at the Orpheum Theatre. The Irvington district’s own Broadway West Theatre is showing Oscar Wilde’s classic comedy The Importance of Being Earnest from now until April 18. Catch Up on Missed TV Shows Did you miss your favorite TV shows because you were studying for that physics test? Fans of Lost can stream full-length episodes of the entire first four seasons from for free, as well as recent episodes of many other series. Similarly, has many recent episodes of shows on its website as well as web exclusive webisodes of The Office.

By Sonya John // Staff Writer

Attend a Street Fair Celebrate Easter at the Union Street Spring Celebration & Easter Parade on April 12, which will feature roller-blading cows and mini-floats. On April 11 and 12, Japantown will be hosting a Cherry Blossom Festival for the 42nd year, with martial art exhibits, tea ceremonies, and flower arranging demonstrations. Try New Restaurants Develop your taste palette by eating at restaurants you have never been to. Fremont has many eateries beyond Chipotle and Jack-in-the-Box. Also, if the weather gets better, grab a couple friends and find out which frozen yogurt shop in Fremont is your favorite. Expand Academic Horizons By that I don’t mean for you to spend your entire break studying the SAT or slaving away at a paper due the day break ends. Spring Break is known to be a good time to visit college campuses, especially for seniors who have been recently accepted to them. Other than that, California College of the Arts is hosting various lecture series open to the general public, on topics varying from architecture to designs and crafts. ▪

By Hannie Dong // Staff Writer

By Michael Feuerman // Staff Writer

14 Arts & Entertainment

The Smoke Signal

Kaenyama’s great for those with cash

staff writer megan bernstein

By Megan Bernstein & Anthony Wu

Staff Writers

Hidden in a far corner of Fremont’s Pacific Commons is Kaenyama Sushi and Teppanyaki, an up and coming Japanese restaurant that offers both traditional and Asian fusion cuisine as well as table-side teppenyaki and a trendy night lounge that opens after 10 pm. The chic and colorful interior coupled with modern food displays creates a vibrant atmosphere perfect for classy group parties and impressive first dates. We ordered a mix of tradition and modern innovations to see if the menu could live up to the restaurant’s stunning decor. After being greeted by our quick and friendly waitress and ordering drinks, the first plate that arrived was the chicken katsu donburi. The

donburi was just the right size, consisting of a full rice bowl including lightly fried panko-covered chicken as well as rice, vegetables, and an egg cooked over the top. Though not as crispy as it could have been, the chicken was tender and tasty, and the egg and mushrooms added a nice touch. For $11.95, the chicken katsu donburi was a tasteful and filling main entrée. Soon afterwards came our ribeye steak teriyaki, complete with rice and miso soup. The steak was tender and juicy, and the sauce spread over it was both tasty and flavorful. The entrée included potatoes and other assorted vegetables, arranged in a way that made the plate look as if it was straight from an upscale restaurant on Santana Row. However, along with the elaborate display also came an elaborate price: $17.95 for a single plate.

But what Japanese restaurant experience is complete without trying the sushi? After browsing through the menu’s selection of one exotic-sounding sushi after another, we decided to try the spring flower roll. Made from seared pepper tuna with avocado and tempura flakes, wrapped in soy paper, and topped with Cajun-smoked salmon skin and horseradish sauce, this sushi roll had an unusual flavor that was pleasing to the taste buds and unique from other sushi that we had tried before. But the sushi roll did come at a costly price of $10.95 for eight pieces. The menu also featured rolls with names like the phoenix roll, the spider roll, and the “O My God” roll. After tasting the spring flower roll, we decided that we might come back on a different occasion to try some others. Kaenyama’s traditional Japanese entrées and inventive sushi left us with a respectable though not entirely flawless impression. Though it features a colorful and cool atmosphere fit for a lounge with sushi to match, the entrées were good but not great and prices bordered on exorbitant for a high school budget. However, the restaurant could not have been more aesthetically pleasing. If you’ve got the extra cash and hopes to impress, Kaenyama is a top choice to show your stylish taste. Total (with tip and tax): $56.05 Rating: A- ▪

Friday, March 20, 2009

Kelly’s not quite all we ever wanted

By Elisa Ting

Staff Writer Kelly Clarkson’s newly released album, All I Ever Wanted, is full of upbeat songs with relatable lyrics. Having maintained a steady career since winning American Idol a few years ago, Clarkson is continuing her success with the release of this album. However, a couple of her songs seem to last too long; and though the high notes she hits may show off her talented vocals, they often end up sounding chaotic. Most of Clarkson’s songs have catchy intros leading into an addictive beat, but they sound quite similar to one another, each having analogous lyrics or beats. In some

songs, the music is so loud that the only way to keep from bursting your ear drums is to turn the music down or possibly skipping to the next song on the track. Clarkson’s latest single, “My Life Would Suck Without You,” advanced from No. 97 to No. 1 during the first week of its release, breaking the record of the largest leap in rank of Billboard Hot 100’s 50-year history. Running past like Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Taylor Swift, and Britney Spears, Clarkson’s album may just easily reach platinum. However, just because her single broke history doesn’t mean the rest of her album is just as enjoyable. With songs that have similar lyrics and all sound alike, Clarkson’s creativity may be coming short. Overall, the album is a collection of Clarkson’s sharp vocal skills and a mix of upbeat rock music. This album is one that is worth buying since the head-bobbing and foottapping effect is quite addicting— well, for some songs, at least. Rating: B ▪

WATCHMEN | Good, not great

UNDER THE RADAR Medicine For Melancholy

By Derek Yueh

Staff Writer

Like many other “inspired” indie films, Medicine For Melancholy is the direct product of director Barry Jenkins’ emotional breakup. The film centers around two young African-American strangers who simultaneously explore the city of San Francisco and the underlying themes of race and gentrification. Gentrification has become a trend, where upper middle class white people move into lower income neighborhoods to experience the “authenticity” of the grittier side of town, while forcing the lowerincome families to involuntarily relocate to other cities because of the rising property values. It has reduced the African-American population in San Francisco to less than seven percent, making the

film’s two main characters’ chance encounter rare, yet refreshing. Micah (played by Wyatt Cenac) is obsessed with his race, and considers his skin color to be his identity, while Joanne (Tracey Heggins) views her world without categorizing people into stereotypes. As they get to know each other while exploring The Museum of African Diaspora and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial behind the Yerba Buena waterfall, they butt heads because of their different philosophies on life: he is an old-school advocate for black rights while she believes in an Obama-esque principle where equality transcends race. Their conversations meander around the definition of an “indie” or “alternative” lifestyle (which they conclude to be anti-black), housing rights, interracial dating, and ever

widening gap between the rich and poor. But just like their impromptu ride on the Yerba Buena merrygo-round, their conversations are circular and their answers remain ambiguous. The film is shot in color, but so desaturated—like the gentrifying neighborhoods—that the only colors appearing on the screen are muted versions reds and yellows from Micah and Joanne’s t-shirts. Dialogue is kept to a relative minimum and awkward silences litter the screenplay, which seem to be quite common characteristics in these new-wave do-it-yourself films about urban romance among twenty-somethings. What is refreshing, though, is that the film offers a different portrayal of African-Americans that departs from the stereotypes that the mainstream insists on shoving down the public’s throats. However, Melancholy quite frankly indulges in too many clichés, rendering the film frustrating and suffocating. The pace of the movie moves slowly around the clichés (such as “deep” conversations while smoking marijuana, or dancing to rhythmless indie rock), which ultimately detracts from the movie’s message. Nevertheless, it opens up an extremely relevant and vital discussion concerning race, gentrification, and identity. Medicine for Melancholy is currently playing at the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, and can also be found on the IFC channel on Comcast On Demand. Rating: B- ▪

continued from page 1 head is quite delicately controlled. Quite. Biting flesh off a live person is also delicately controlled, I suppose. Speaking of how graphic the film is, Dr. Manhattan is completely nude in the majority of his shots…it got distracting, to say the least. JT: First, he had an eight-pack; and second, his natural form is an imperative component of his character which is, essentially, a god. I think besides the nudity and violence, the most controversial aspect of the movie is its plot. I was totally surprised by Rorschach’s fate, since I haven’t read the graphic novel. AT: Honestly, by that point in the film, I wasn’t so much intrigued, but rather just absorbing whatever came next. Just from watching, it makes sense what happens to Rorschach. He was threatening the peace that had recently been established in the world. If he had lived, all hell would have broken loose. JT: I felt like the 163 minutes of the movie went by rather quickly. To me, Rorschach’s fate was rendered somewhat pointless by the conclusion of the movie, which seemed insufficient. The plot had a lot of loose ends as well, which shows the difficulties of translating a complex literary work into a movie. AT: In a way, the ending could have been predicted. The character of Laurie speaks the words of Dr. Manhattan by saying, “Nothing ever ends.” And the chaos doesn’t

end, but that’s all we’re really left with at the end of the movie. The best part, in my opinion, was the “give and take” aspect. All the characters had good qualities, but were not without definite flaws, and the “kill a million to save a billion” issue captured my attention. JT: The characters definitely deserve some discussion. I felt like the heroes, except Dr. Manhattan, were all easy to connect with, given that they are ordinary humans with emotions and troubles like the rest of us. AT: Yes, the complexity of the characters gives the audience a chance to empathize in certain personal ways. For example, Rorschach’s flashbacks to his childhood reveal a dysfunctional family as well as bullies. Overall, Watchmen wasn’t a home run for me, but it was a relatively enjoyable film to see. JT: I really liked the special effects of the movie and I think the movie is comparable to the likes of its fellow recent superhero films, The Dark Knight and Iron Man. AT: No, it most definitely does not compare to The Dark Knight. On a scale from one to ten, ten being the highest, Watchmen is a six and The Dark Knight is a 20. Given how Rorschach is named from the inkblot tests that psychologists sometimes use, I expected a much deeper view into the inner workings of his mind. That didn’t happen so much. Jerry’s Rating: B+ Audrey’s Rating: B- or C+ ▪

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Smoke Signal

What Your English Teachers Are Reading

GAMES TO MAKE YOU LOVE GAMES By Ankur Dhar & Amanda Kwan

Staff Writer & Centerspread Editor

staff writers niku jafarnia, cynthia kang, and joseph teng

By Lucy Liu

Web Editor

As a class students must take for all four years of high school, English often requires a certain amount of outside reading. Don’t just go with the list of fifty top classic novels given every single year. Instead, try your teacher’s recommended outside-reading books. Here, English teachers of Honors, nonHonors, and AP classes offer a list of their favorite books, some for both outside reading and some for pure pleasure. One of the most well-known classics, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, remains a favorite with Sophomore Honors English and AP English teacher Cherylle Lindsey. Perfect for sophomores and up, Pride and Prejudice has also been made into movies and was featured as a play last year at MSJ. “It’s funny, cynical, and romantic, with hilarious characters,” says Lindsey. For those partial to epics such as The Odyssey, War and Peace is truly a sprawling war novel, with more than 1,000 well-written pages to explore. Lindsey also recommends

this classic, as well as AP and Freshman Honors teacher Patricia Allen. With the battle scenes and mayhem, War and Peace depicts scenes that stay with the reader forever. Freshman English teacher Sandy Cohen favors another long book: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. With spectacular characterizations and medieval scenes, this book is perfect for any grade. Cohen also recommends Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, placed in the wake of the Great Depression. A chance to laugh while reading seems almost impossible, but Sophomore and Junior Honors English teacher Katherine Geers has recommended literature that would make students laugh out loud. American writer Bill Bryson’s humor can make readers laugh at just about anything with his clever, insightful observations. Similarly, Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence captures perfectly the humorous aspects of living in Provence, France. From colorful descriptions of his neighbors to observations of algae-filled pools, Mayle offers readers a charming, fun page-turner

Pictures Worth a Thousand Words By Cynthia Kang

Staff Writer For many of us, reading means Important Artifacts and Personal poring over books that contain Property from the Collection of nothing but page after page of Lenore Dooland and Harold Morris, dense, black text (and if we’re Including Books, Street Fashion and lucky, somewhat-interesting plots). Jewelry by Leanne Shapton Thankfully, the following books Just from glancing at the title and offer alternatives to the boring flipping through the pages, readers layouts of conventional novels. might mistake this for an auction catalog since the pages contain Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary nothing but pictures of auction Correspondence by Nick Bantock “lots.” Important Artifacts is actually The first in the trilogy, An a cleverly-disguised work of fiction Extraordinary Correspondence tells that conveys the failed romance the story of Griffin Moss, a lonely between a couple simply through artist who, one day, receives an exotic pictures and descriptions of their postcard from an unknown woman possessions. Readers have to piece named Sabine. Bantock fits the together the “why”s and “how”s of engaging plot into a mere 38 pages, the breakup themselves, armed with nothing but their imaginations.

each consisting of either a single postcard, with an elaborate design on the front and a hand-written message on the back, or a letter enclosed in an actual envelope that the reader can open to withdraw its contents (and receive the thrill of opening someone else’s mail).

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski Take a moment to think of all the Hollywood horror movies about haunted houses. Squeeze them into a book format—visual effects included—and you’ll have House of Leaves, a narrative that brings new meaning to the term “horror story.” Danieleswki strategically rearranges the text to mirror the events taking place in the book—one page has random words floating up and down—and to inspire in readers the same feelings of claustrophobia and fear experienced by the characters themselves. ▪

in nimble prose. Senior English teacher Lili Kim recommends Mitch Albom’s For One More Day. Deeply delving into the families we love and chances that often slip through our fingers, For One More Day is a haunting yet beautiful and inspiring novel. Kim also enjoys The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath, a sad, brutally honest novel that tells of a woman’s path to insanity. “I love Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt and any story dealing with a personal experience of the Holocaust,” said Sophomore English teacher Jennifer Moore. Following this vein of novels dealing with complex and serious issues, Allen recommends King Lear by William Shakespeare: “It … doesn’t offer customary bromides at the end. To me, it represents what life’s really like.” From humorous, light literature to long epics and serious, deep novels, MSJ’s English teachers offer students plenty of recommendations to keep them busy. Though favorite books are always hard to nail down, these well-written novels are definitely worth a shot. ▪

Arts & Entertainment 15

Are you intimidated by your friends’ Halo skills? Unable to keep up when observing a game of Starcraft? Sounds like you need help breaking into the gaming world. Look no further! The Smoke Signal has compiled a list of the best games for you to develop your gaming skills. Civilization -PC Most real time strategy games (RTS) require players to balance resource collection with unit construction to attack enemy bases. Civilization simplifies this process by collecting resources for the player and by basing the game in world history in a way that will make sense to most new players. This enables players to understand

seasoned players. For those who are not won over by its gameplay, there’s also a captivating story that will keep you playing, if only to see how it all ends. Fable 2 - Xbox 360 In Fable 2, players can be good or evil, based upon their actions in the game. Unlike other role-playing games (RPG), which require lots of micro management and hours of training to beat the next boss, Fable 2 flows more organically from one stage to the next, allowing new players to learn the basics easily but still presenting enough challenge to keep them coming back. Counter Strike - PC Counter-Strike is a first-person shooter (FPS) in which players clash in a multiplayer frenzy. Teams can either defeat all opposing forces or compete in a variety of scenarios. While Counter-Strike may appear to be for hardcore gamers only, it gives players access to the Steam community, which links players from all sorts of games and encourages newer players to try other games. Disclaimer: Fable 2 and CounterStrike are rated M for Mature by the ESRB, so use your own discretion when playing. ▪

the different types of management needed to play an RTS game at a pace as slow as history itself. Final Fantasy X - Playstation 2 Arguably the easiest of the wellknown Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy X has converted many a gaming civilian. It has a turn-based battle system that allows first time players unlimited time to consider their next move, but remains complex enough to challenge

POSt secret

comes to the

BAY By Karen Lin

Staff Writer

Five years ago, Frank Warren was a nobody who had begun to distribute blank postcards to complete strangers, leaving them around in art galleries, libraries, and the like. He invited people to send in any secrets they chose, so long as they were true and had never been shared before. Each of the postcard secrets he later posted online was brief, clear, and creative, just as Warren had asked for. Now, Frank Warren is working on his fifth PostSecret print compilation, while traveling across the country to speak at museums and colleges. PostSecret has become a widespread phenomenon with numerous galleries across the country, from New York to Montana to even the Bay Area. One such exhibit will be on display at the Bedford Gallery of the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek until April 29. Frank Warren himself was present there on March 4 for a presentation and book-signing event, and will return on April 16

for a special happy hour session in which both secrets and cocktails will be shared. The exhibit, though only a small portion of the Bedford Gallery, takes on a life of its own, with a feel that is both engrossing and strangely healing. The secrets are mounted on clear dividers in the center of the room and arranged on the walls. While some may not consider these postcards “art,” they nonetheless draw visitors into the lives of the postcard senders. The emotions of the different postcards cover a vast scale of feeling and depth. There are revelations of humorous pranks played on unsuspecting customers, heartbroken confessions of unrequited love, painful regrets of missed chances with the deceased, and raw and anguished disclosures of childhood molestation and abuse. As the people move from postcard to postcard, one can just imagine that a few are seeing their own secrets on display and not those of unknown strangers; and it can serve to ease some of the hurt of sorrowful memories if one knows he is not alone in his grief.

Each postcard is unique, not just because it looks completely different from the one next to it, but because it has a different story and sentiment behind it. No matter how disgusting, pitiful, or tearful, it is, in the end, a little hidden piece of someone’s life, brought into the limelight for all to see, to a place where it can finally be let go. Secrets belong to people of all ages and races, to both victims and their victimizers, to the successful and the ones who have no idea how to live their lives. PostSecret has become a pool for such secrets to be set free in, a place where anonymity remains top priority to protect those willing to open up at last. As Warren wrote at the closure of his first PostSecret compilation, “I like to believe that whenever a painful secret ends its trip to my mailbox, a much longer personal journey of healing is beginning—for all of us.” Adult admission: $3 Youth ages 13-17: $2 Children ages 12 and younger: free Gallery open from 12-5 PM Tuesday and Wednesday and from 12-8 PM Thursday to Sunday. ▪

16 Arts & Entertainment

The Smoke Signal

MISSION’S Magellan By Victoria Gu

Staff Writer

Mission’s Magellan is back. Unfortunately, one of our original explorers Sophie was kidnapped by a hippie in San Francisco’s Haight District. However, have no fear! For our second installment, Staff Writer Victoria Gu journeyed to Berkeley with a friend. Many generalize Berkeley as a campus town, home to tree-sitters, homeless hippies, and Mission kids. This is absolutely true. But there is so much more to do at Berkeley than tour the campus and shop at the T-shirt Orgy. Destination 1: Reel Video

staff writer victoria gu

Videos and movies galore! Reel Video on Shattuck is Blockbuster but better. With a wide variety of hard-to-find international and cult

movies as well as mainstream films, this video store offers its customers an endless source of entertainment. Since the movies are categorized by both genre and notable figures, the store may be confusing to navigate at first. However, the layout does allow video renters to find enjoyable movies they’ve never heard of. Address: 2655 Shattuck Ave. Destination 2: Arts and Craftsman Upon walking to our next destination, we stumbled upon this small arts and crafts supply store. Not only does the store have craft supplies, but it also has quirky goodies such as Vladimir Lenin lollipops and Chinese dragon tattoos. Address: 2573 Shattuck Ave. Destination 3: Games of Berkeley We discovered a gamer’s paradise! Filled with vintage games, quirky toys, and WoW memorabilia, Games of Berkeley caters to everyone, not just game-aholics. While there, we even found cute plushies shaped like microorganisms and bodily diseases that closely resembled ferbies. Address: 2151 Shattuck Ave. Destination 4: Café Gratitude Nothing gets more Berkeley than Café Gratitude. The all-raw, vegan restaurant titles all its dishes with “I am.” For example, a biryani

staff writer victoria gu

bowl is “I am Graceful” and the water is called “abundance.” The restaurant staff even requires you to answer a question like “What brings you joy?” Address: 1730 Shattuck Ave. Destination 5: Brownies Vintage Oh, the wrath of the recession. We were so excited to shop at Brownies Vintage, a boutique dedicated solely to t-shirts from the 60 s and 70s. But when we arrived, we discovered that the quaint boutique went out of business! Destination 7: Shattuck Cinemas Leather seats, ornate architecture, chandeliers and velvet pillows – not things you would usually see

staff writer victoria gu

in a movie theater. But, Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley is one of the

My Life With:Comic Books! By Eric Sun

A&E Editor

amounts. Stupid America, always placing valuing the individual’s creativity and effort (just kidding!).

The reason comic books have been on my mind is because recently, my absolute favorite graphic novel of all time, Watchmen, has been made into a movie. I saw it; it’s far from perfect, but it’s probably the best Watchmen film there could ever be. The work really is un-adaptable. Watchmen’s celluloid counterpart has gen I don’t consider myself a comic book nerd. erated some controversy recently. I’m not reTrue, that one of my first celebrity crushes ferring to the immature comments on the net was on Halle Berry when I saw her as Storm about Doctor Manhattan’s blue and glowing in X-Men, but hey, that was Halle Berry. genitalia (don’t you start giggling too…), but I have, however, loved comics ever since I rather about the debate over whether comic was about six, spending hours and hours at books can be taken seriously as an art form. bookstores, mechanically dashing my eyes Some see comics as kids’ stuff, and think across rows and rows of panels. My family the term ‘graphic novel’ to be pretentious. I couldn’t afford to buy me any graphic nov- say they need to shut up and go read a volume els when we first moved to the States, for the of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. hard work artists and writers had put into Of course comics are an art form. Sure, crafting them drove their prices up to insane the comic book industry is nowadays satu-

exceptions. Home to indie and mainstream films, Shattuck Cinemas is a perfect place to enjoy a movie. During our voyage, we watched An Examined Life, a Canadian documentary about philosophy and what it means to human life. Address: 2230 Shattuck Ave. Destination 8: Berkeley Art Museum Berkeley Art Museum, located across the UC Berkeley campus, features surprisingly big-name artworks for a museum of its size. Currently, the museum houses artwork from Jackson Pollock and other artists in the exhibition “Galaxy.” Here’s a tip: go during the last half-hour the museum opens (4:30 pm-5 pm), and admission’s free. Address: 2626 Bancroft Way Destination 9: Mars Costume shops are fun, but Mars clothing is even better. The store has clothing from every decade from “prairie dresses” to 80s prom

rated with clichéd, throwaway superheroes, but what artistic medium, be it novels, films, or music, doesn’t produce at least 70 percent crap, and only about a handful of timeless works? I take so much offense at those who undermine the effectiveness of combining pictures and words because of what comic books have brought me. W hen I spoke no English, comics allowed me to learn it rapidly, as I could use the pictures to figure out what I had read. When I lost interest in school and renounced reading for about a year, picking up a well-written graphic novel eased me back into patiently enjoying dense works of literature. And when I slowly grew disillusioned towards our nation’s justice system after knowing so many instances of criminals getting away scot-free, it greatly assuaged me to read about valiant guys and gals who worked above the law— often times even the laws of physics—to fight the baddies. Watchmen writer Alan Moore’s works introduced me to existentialist concepts; Sin City scribe Frank Miller summed up nu-

Bye Bye Birdie Takes Off continued from page 1 ily DeStigter), from a small town in Ohio, will be kissed by Conrad Birdie on live television, as a symbol to all the fans in America, before he leaves for the army. This plan is sure to bring the couple a lot of money and help them to finally settle down as they wanted to. Their plans are foiled by Kim’s jealous boyfriend, Hugo Peabody ( Junior Michael Kozachenko) and her misunderstanding parents ( Junior Connor Stokes and Senior Kristin Mulhern). With hilarious plot twists, catchy music and amusing dance sequences, this production will be performed March 20, 21, 26-28. Doors will open at 7:30 PM, and curtains open half an hour later. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for children and UP members. ▪

From left to right: Seniors Samira Ghassemian, Drew Williams, Leslie Osborne, and Susanna Daniels.

staff writer victoria gu

staff writer victoria gu

Friday, March 20, 2009

dresses to vintage cowboy boots. Address: 2398 Telegraph Ave Destination 10: Rasputin Music Amoeba’s main competitor, Rasputin, lives up to its reputation for a wide variety of used and new records. The music store in Berkeley has two stories of all types of genres, making it practically impossible not to find an album you like. Address: 2401 Telegraph Ave. Destination 11: Moe’s Books Moe’s Books is often referred to as the best bookstore in Berkeley (at least according to the Daily Californian), and there’s a reason why. The bookstore is four stories of literary heaven, containing an extremely wide variety of new and used books from every genre. Address: 2476 Telegraph Ave. Destination 12: Pacific Film Archive Theater To wrap up the day, we attended a 35 mm screening of French director Agnes Varda’s film, Le Bonheur at the Pacific Film Archive, a branch of the Berkeley Art Museum. For only $5.50, the ticket was a bargain. The film itself was terrific, though it included some nudity and outlandish characters. Address: 2575 Bancroft Way Franchise Count: Starbucks: 2 Peet’s: 2 Subway: 2 Frozen Yogurt: 7 Tibetan Stores: 7 Mission Kids: Surprisingly, zero ▪

merous Ayn Rand philosophies with only dialogue bubbles; and The Sandman creator Neil Gaiman, with his wildly imaginative characters and literary references, piqued my interest in everything from psychology to the plays of Shakespeare and Ibsen. I cried in the midst of perusing Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese, I jotted down eye-opening quotes after every other page turn of Kyle Baker’s Why I Hate Saturn, and was able to imagine nearly every frame of Lynn Varley’s illustrations in Batman: Year One or Frank Miller’s To Hell and Back displayed at an art gallery. These comics, be they in their thick, collected form or in brief, episodic issues, are the result of brilliant men and women investing hours and hours of their lives. Creative boundaries are nonexistent when you fuse pictures with words, and there’s a graphic novel for everyone. Don’t be close-minded towards word bubbles placed atop sketches simply because it makes for an easier read. In doing so you’ll deprive yourself of unprecendented experiences from an underappreciated art form. ▪

Friday, March 20, 2008

The Smoke Signal

9 out of 10 Princeton Review students get into their top choice college. (Including a few who became part of the 4 out of 5 dentists that voice approval in toothpaste ads.) Increase your score on college entrance exams with The Princeton Review. We offer options to accommodate every student’s ability and schedule. Options include: • Private Tutoring • Small Group Tutoring • Classroom Courses • Online Courses • Free Programs and Seminars Classes starting soon for SAT, ACT and SAT subject tests.

But hurry, spaces are ďŹ lling up fast.

For more information or to enroll: • 800-2Review (800-273-8439) Test names are the trademarks of their respective owners, who are not afiated with The Princeton Review. The Princeton Review and The Princeton Review logo are trademarks registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark OfďŹ ce by The Princeton Review, Inc., which is not afiated with Princeton University

Ad 17

18 Sports

The Smoke Signal

Friday, March 20, 2009

High School Sports Unaffected by Budget Cuts By Sonya John Staff Writer

With the economy slipping into recession, public education has been pushed to the sidelines. As a result, the athletics departments at high schools are feeling the squeeze from the budget shortages. In the Fremont Unified School District, cuts will be made, but eliminating afterschool athletics is completely out of the question. Despite rumors, the school board never took this proposal into serious consideration. Elimination of high school sports would have a dire effect on students, especially for those relying on sports for athletic scholarships. The new proposal states that sports coaches’ stipends will be cut by 50 percent; this will go into effect at the start of the 2009-2010 school year. Normally, coaches are given between $1000 to $1500 during the season, but with the implementation of this proposal they would be forced to spend more frugally. In response to this proposition MSJ Athletic Director Tom Thomsen said, “This is going to be hard for a coach off-campus to come to school every day when they’re not being compensated for their work. Coaches know that they don’t coach for the money; they coach for the program, the sport, and the students. But it would be nice to have the extra income at the end of a long season especially since [coaches] usually spend money from their own pocket.” The school is also turning to unconventional ways to support athletics. The school district usually receives a $50 donation from each student; however, now, the money will stay at school-level to support athletics. Although not likely, the Athletics Department may not be able to hire qualified coaches in the future, as they are reluctant to work for such meager compensation. Some hold a contradictory view: because athletes and coaches are so highly motivated, the department will survive these difficult cuts without any noticeable drop in the quality of the programs. Although this plan is not popular, it is one of the better options among eliminating aquatics or the entire sports program

altogether. FUSD Superintendent Milton Werner said, “The idea came from a group of principals, district office staff members, employee unions, and board members. It didn’t originate from one person. The deliberation process took about two months. The effect is that students and school will have to fundraise more in the 2009-2010 school year.” High schools around the Bay Area have felt the consequences of the budget cuts San Jose’s East Side Union High School District voted on numerous budget cuts and emergency plans at Independence High School on March 10. One of the largest districts in the state, East Side must endure significant cuts. Some of these plans involve charging each athlete $200 per year to participate in sports. Although this may seem minimal, for many low-income families relying on sports scholarships for college tuition, this poses a huge burden. East Side Union’s Superintendent Bob Nuñez proposed closure of high school pools and the elimination of afterschool aquatics, a plan that would save more than $1.3 million in heating and maintenance costs. This proposal aroused great criticism from parents and athletes. They were able to persuade Nuñez to allow the pool to remain open certain times during the year. By charging athletes an annual fee of $200, East Side Union will be able to raise nearly $1.26 million from the 6,300 athletes that it hosts. State deficits have left high schools nationwide hunting for alternatives to cutting athletics altogether. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association approved shaved-down sports seasons, drastically reducing the number of chaperones, bus trips, and scorekeepers required throughout the year, saving as much as $10 million. When asked about this proposal, Werner said it would be impractical for sports that must play a certain number of games to qualify for subsequent divisions. League sports would be unable to cut schedules because they must play a certain amount of times. Besides the stipend cuts, athletics will mostly go unscathed throughout the budget crisis because people understand the integral role sports play in high school education. ▪

Web Gems By Ryan Tanakit & Audrey Tseng

Sports Editors In the sports world, anything can happen. Ridiculous feats of athleticism prevent viewers from believing them even when they see them. Although it would be impossible to mention all the athletic wonders that have occurred over sports history, here are some videos that we feel are worthy of viewing at least once. (Catch them on YouTube!) Daniel Varga’s Impossible Water Polo Goal “Expect the unexpected” would have been useless advice for the goalie trying to block Daniel Varga’s impossible shot. The video gives you a breakdown of all the possible shots that a normal player could have chosen from. None of them predicted the unreal finish. Varga skips the ball cross cage and scores right under the goalie’s arm. You almost feel bad for the goalie, but the inbelievability of Varga’s goal supersedes all other thought. Dirk Minnifield’s insane hops In an NCAA basketball game between Mississippi State and Kentucky, Dirk Minnifield finished off a fast break in a big way. Minnifield hangs in the air for almost two full seconds before jamming in right in the defender’s face. Rupp Area, the Ken-

tucky players, and Dick Vitale all go wild. Michigan’s Mike Leg scoops the puck off the ice and scores Mike Leg’s goal is easily the best we’ve seen (as far as hockey goes). In the 1996 Western Regional, Michigan trailed by one and desperately needed a goal. Leg found himself with the puck directly behind the opposing net and somehow scooped the puck up with his stick, wrapped it around the goal, and fit the puck into the top corner of the net. Devin Hester burns Duke To be fair there is nothing clutch or game altering about this play. Miami, a top team in the nation was facing unranked Duke and led 24-0 in the second quarter. The Blue Devils were being forced to punt yet again and for some reason decided to kick to Devin Hester. After it’s all said and done, Hester eludes about ten tackles (basically the whole defense) before walking into the end zone. Roberto Carlos’ ridiculous free kick Brazil was facing France in the Tournoi de France, and Carlos was awarded a free kick from 35 meters out. Carlos kicks it seemingly well wide, only to have it bend back in semi-circle fashion. In the clip you can see that the ball curves so much that a ball boy 10 yards off to the side of the goal ducks, and even more incredible, the goalie just stands there, completely stunned. ▪

Devin Hester has made a living returning kicks and shows us why in the Duke game.

Friday, March 20, 2008

The Smoke Signal

Sports 19

March Madness By Joseph Teng Staff Wrtier

This year’s March Madness Championship is back and madder than ever with young, talented college basketball teams battling it out on the court. However, only the toughest team will be able to advance past the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight, and the Final Four to become the NCAA Basketball Champion.


All the arrows point toward Memphis to flop even before they reach the Elite Eight; An overrated and hiped-up team, Memphis is relatively young and inexperienced and hasn’t come together to become a championship contender. They are ranked relatively high and with a decent record, but Memphis has been playing in a weak conference

and will need to elevate their game much more before even considering the Elite Eight. If they ever played a strong team like UConn or Missouri, they would get dominated and thrown into yesterday’s news. I predict that the farthest Memphis will reach will be the Sweet Sixteen before elimination. Every year, it’s a joke how people predict that Duke will go far in the bracket. Duke has always been a strong team during season, relying heavily on their “drive and kick” game, where guards penetrate deep into the paint and kick it out to shooters on the perimeter. However, they always choke during March Madness. Just last year, they were knocked out by West Virginia in just the second round, not even making it to the regional finals. If Duke is ever able to overcome this particular curse, which is probably impossible, don’t even expect them to make it into the Sweet Sixteen this year.


James Haren leads upset minded Arizona St.

I’m going to go out on a limb for possible upsets and suggest that Arizona State could make it past the Sweet Sixteen and into the Elite Eight. Seeded either No. 4 or No. 5, Arizona State has consistently performed well in the Pac-10 and placed pretty high. This year, with Guard James Harden leading the team, Arizona could possibly knock down both Syracuse and Oklahoma. But the biggest upset will be with No. 3 Missouri, who will knock out both No. 1 UConn and No. 2 Memphis. Missouri, whose been

playing in a tough conference with teams like Oklahoma and Kansas will be able to elevate their game and complete the two upsets.

Final Four

The No. 1 seeded teams, the University of Connecticut (UConn), University of North Carolina (UNC), Pittsburgh, and Louisville all have a huge chance of making the Final Four if they continue to perform at the same or higher than the level they’ve been playing all season. However, I would count on Uconn to dropping out of the Final Four. Although UConn has performed consistently well during the season with Center Hasheem Thabeet dominating the paint, UConn lately hasn’t been playing like a championship team. On the other hand, Pittsburgh, Missouri (taking UConn’s place), and UNC will compete in the Final Four. Pittsburgh, which is led by Guard Levance Fields (who averages seven assists per game), has very strong guard play, which allows them to quicken the pace of the game. UNC, a favorite to win the championship, is incredibly powerful with Forward Tyler Hansbrough and Guard Ty Lawson easily trashing other teams. However, the last team, Louisville, is the one I would lay my money on to win the 2009 National Championship.

2009 NCAA National Champions

The Louisville Cardinals are an amazingly strong team with incredible three-point shooters and

Louisville’s National Championship hopes lie on the shoulders of Earl Clark (not pictured) and Terrence Williams, their high- flying point forward.

strong point guard play. I have high expectations for Forward Terrence Williams, who has been soaring over competition. Louisville is predicted to win the championship because the Cardinals have just peaked and are at the

top of their game. UNC, the only team who could possibly stop Louisville, peaked too early and aren’t at the same level as the Cardinals. Count on Louisville to become your 2009 NCAA National champions. ▪

20 Sports

The Smoke Signal

Team Spotlight: Girls’ Swimming The Best Ever?

By Amy Mao & Natalie Yang

News Editor & Centerspread Editor The Girls’ Swim team has held the title of League Champions for 29 years but this year’s team is expected to make a even bigger splash. “This is one of the fastest girls teams we have had in school history so I’m really excited for the season,” said Swim Coach Joe Martinez. Led by Senior Captains Marcie Jhong and Pauline Nguyen and Junior Hannah Scobel, the team this year consists of three seniors, six juniors, six sophomores, and two freshmen. The Varsity Team has not yet been finalized—decisions are expected by March 23-but despite rumors, no returning Varsity swimmers from the previous year have been turned away. The team even includes two freshmen, Alex Ruff and Shiwen Chen, who may make a big impact on the team. With great talent comes great responsibility, and hard work must be put in in order to uphold the title of the “fastest girls’ team…in school history,” Nguyen said. “This year, because the team is really good, the training is harder.” As a result of the tougher training, the girls hope to achieve their goals of defeating long-time rival, Irvington High School, and claiming the title of League Champions for the 30th time.

Arnold Hwa

5th place

Billal Hararah

staff writer niku jafarnia

The Girls’ Swim team has ridden a tidal wave of success over the years and they pursue their 30th MVAL title in a row.

Goals that the team is hoping to accomplish this season are to qualify more individuals for NCS, break one or two league relay records, and, of course, win the League Championship. Currently, the two league records are held by MSJ and Irvington respectively. This year, the team hopes to boost their competition with two new meets. One is an

extra dual meet against Castro Valley High School, and the other is the Amador Valley Invitational. “Part of our motivation is personal, part is for the team…A major factor of our success is that we all feel the need to get better and better because nobody wants to be a part of the team that loses the 29-year winning streak,” said Scobel.▪

Derek Jeter hopes to lead the US to a suprise victory at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Canadians, they would play the winner of the Italy/Venezuela match up. Round 1 Predictions: Japan/Korea, Cuba/ Mexico, US/Venezuela, Dominic Republic/ Puerto Rico. The second round will be conducted in the same way except the winner and the runner up of each pool will face off in a new bracket, pitting them against the winner and runner up of the other pool. The US team did not advance past the second round in 2006, losing to both Japan and South Korea. This year, the US team is among the favorites to win the WBC and will most likely have a better run than their run in ‘06. However, because the winners from Pool C play the winners of Pool D in the second round, this may pit the US against the Dominican Republic, led by Pedro Martinez. Round 2 Predictions: Japan, Cuba, Dominican Republic, US The Semi-Finals and Finals round will both be single elimination games with no rest in between. March 21-22nd will dictate that winners of the semi-finals and March 23rd will be reserved for the finals match. These matches are just too hard to predict and could sway to any team. At this point, the four teams deserve to be there and are willing to fight tooth and nail for a title. The only team that has the advantage is the US, because they have home field advantage. The Finals: Cuba versus the Dominican Republic. Cuba taking it home. ▪

7th place and to Girls’ Basketball for making NCS for the first time in MSJ history!

Warriors Dominate Township Relays Staff Wrtier

With four different pools and 16 different teams from around the globe, the World Baseball Classic will be one of the most widely watched sporting events this year. First proposed in March of 2005, the MLB and other international player associations sanctioned an international tournament to be played the following year. The inaugural tournament, played three years ago, featured 16 of the best national teams. The Japanese team, however, was able to come out on top and avoid elimination to be crowned the first WBC champion. This year, the WBC has chosen to use the same bracket system implemented last year. Starting March, the 16 teams will be grouped into four Pools, each with four teams from the same region. The winners of round one are determined by the first two teams to lose twice in their respective pool. Pool A, which consists of China, Chinese Taipei, Japan ,and Korea, seems to be one of the more competitive brackets this year. In 2006, Japan and South Korea emerged from this bracket to become the finalist and the third place finisher respectively. The US team will need to win at least two games in order to emerge from their Pool. But to get past the first round they have to get past the Canadian team who has come off surprisingly stronger than their last showing in 2006. If the US team can beat the

to Wrestling for sending MSJ athletes to NCS!

3rd place

By Tanu Patel

Staff Wrtier


World Baseball Classic

By Jonathan Ye

Friday, March 20, 2009

After a thoroughly rainy week, the sun finally shone on Saturday, March 7, as MSJ swimmers assembled at Newark Memorial High school for the annual Washington Township Relays. The Washington Township Relays, always the first meet of the swimming season, featured all of the MVAL schools at JV and Varsity levels. Although they had to get to Newark Memorial High School at 7:00 in the morning, MSJ swimmers were optimistic and excited about this first meet. Head Coach Joe Martinez expected to see his swimmers “racing hard, getting out there and doing their best for this first meet. I just

Edward Huang, a top 8 NCS swimmer, was swimming. However, Tanakit closed the gap so that Senior Denny Wong, despite slipping slightly from the diving blocl as he entered the water, didn’t have to do much to secure at least a tie in their race. Sophomore Michael Wu swam a speedy last leg to make sure MSJ won by a touch, with an overall time of 4:31.50 minutes. Similarly, the girls managed to rocket to a finish in their Varsity 500 yard Freestyle Relay. With Junior Mina Chen starting off the team, followed by Junior Carolyn Chang, Senior Marcie Jhong, Sophomore Anna Kim, and Sophomore Eileen Nguyen finishing off the race. MSJ crushed the competition. The boys

courtesy mary tanakit

Sophomore Dillion Chang starts off the backstroke relay.

want to see them getting ready to compete.” And race hard, they certainly did. Always a dominant force in MVAL, MSJ struck again, by winning the meet overall. The Boys’ Varsity 500 yard Freestyle Relay was one of the closest races that day. Freshman Sean Yao kicked off the race with a bang, gaining a slight lead on the swimmers from the other schools. Sophomore Eugene Choi managed to maintain the slight lead, but the other teams visibly started chipping away at the narrow margin. Somewhere between Choi and Senior Ryan Tanakit MSJ lost that lead, mostly due to the fact that Irvington’s

took first in every race except for the ceremonial 8 x 25 relay, and the girls won seven out of ten possible relays and tied another. MSJ swimmers anticipate a close battle this year with Irvington for the MVAL title that has been consistently ours for many years. Says Chen, “I think this meet is a good indicator that we’ll be battling it out with Irvington again this year, but we’re still looking to end up on top at MVALs.” Coach Martinez is certainly hoping for the same thing. When asked about his goals for this season, he said “I want us to win league, get a lot of best times, and go to NCS again.” ▪

The Smoke Signal Vol.XLIV No.7  
The Smoke Signal Vol.XLIV No.7  

Distributed: Friday March 20, 2009