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VOL. 54 NO. 3

November 16, 2018


Agents of Change starts a conversation on domestic violence Conference featured a variety of speakers aiming to raise awareness for domestic violence By Anisa Kundu & Gokul Ramapriyan Staff Writers The Leaders of Today and Tomorrow Conference, hosted on October 28, aimed to raise awareness for domestic violence and repressive gender norms that exist in today’s society. The student-run organization Agents of Change, and nonprofit organization Maitri organized and hosted this event. A variety of high school students, members of the workforce, and college students and graduates spoke at the summit. American High School Agents of Change Fighting Discrimination Committee Co Vice-Chair Ambar Mishra spoke in favor of the #MeToo Movement, and Agents of Change Founding Adviser and Executive Director Tarun Galagali spoke about the effects of toxic masculinity. In addition to addressing how these affect women in Asian-American households, they also discussed how gender norms prevent males from showing vulnerability. Mishra said that those who spoke out during this event are role models for other males who face similar personal issues such as domestic violence and body shaming. Concluding the event, Domestic Violence Lawyer Janani Ramachandran presented on the

different types of abusive relationships. She also provided tips to help domestic violence victims, such as keeping a list of emergency numbers and calling for help using code words.

“Prevention begins with generations; if we fix an issue or misconception with the younger generations, they will be guided in the right way.”

— Maitri Representative Alaap Murali

Maitri, which sponsored the event, is a nonprofit organization based in the Bay Area that provides domestic violence support services in more than ten South Asian languages. Maitri representative Alaap Murali said, “Maitri is a very prevention-focused domestic violence agency. Prevention begins with generations; if we fix an issue or misconception with the younger generations, they will be guided in the right way.” Agents of Change Fighting Discrimination Committee Adviser Angeli Patel, Maitri representative Nandini Ray, and the Fighting Discrimination Committee Chairs from other FUSD schools began the initial planning for the


Conference attendees meet in groups to discuss their personal experiences and thoughts on domestic violence.

event in late May. Irvington High School Agents of Change Fighting Discrimination Committee Chair Aadhiti Ghankota said, “I think it has been running well so far. We expected a few more people, but the speeches went really well and [the speakers] were well-prepared.” Ghankota hopes to attain a bigger audience turnout next year, and plans to explore different media for publicity. American High School Fighting Discrimination Committee Co Vice-Chair Aarya Vaidya said that another way for them to improve in the future is to make the event more interactive between the speakers and attendees, by possibly adding more group activities.

“We need to believe the survivors of domestic violence. We need to stop doubting the credibility of those who don’t look like what we think are victims.” — Domestic Violence Lawyer Janani Ramachandran

Highlighting that the South Asian community often overlooks domestic violence, Ramachandran said, “We need to believe the survivors of domestic violence. We need to stop doubting the credibility of those who don’t look like what we think are victims.” ▪

Leadership 2 members attend League of Leaders Leadership programs from several high schools come up with ways to promote leadership By Riya Chopra & Ian Park Staff Writers On October 30, Irvington High School hosted the annual League of Leaders conference for students involved in leadership programs throughout FUSD schools and Newark Memorial High School.

“There were so many minds from so many different backgrounds being put together, and just being in that social environment helps a lot with finding new ideas.” — Senior Salman Hakim

The conference began with a speech by Guest Speaker Eddie Slowikowski, a professional author and former Olympic runner and professional author. Slowikowski spoke about

the importance of having a positive outlook on life and ended his speech with a highly entertaining performance of classic dance moves from different years. Irvington High School Student Junior Nava Babaei said, “When the whole crowd got up and everybody was dancing with him, it was really energetic and inspiring to see all that passion.” Much of the conference was dedicated to presentations, discussions, and workshops that allowed the different schools to share information and ideas with each other. One of these was the “SLAM,” in which a small group of students from each school had three minutes to present on topics relevant to their school. MSJ students talked about publicity efforts, campus beautification, and events such as the Charity Fashion Show. Throughout the event were several “energizers,” which were bonding activities such as spirit and dance competitions

that encouraged students to step out of their comfort zones. In the final segment of the day, each school presented on various leadership events at their respective schools. Then, groups of students from different schools met together and discussed improvements that could be made. Senior Salman Hakim said, “There were so many minds from so many different backgrounds being put together, and just being in that social environment helps a lot with finding new ideas.” The conference took on a passionate and collaborative approach to instill positivity, leadership, and communication among students from the different schools. As the day progressed, the atmosphere dramatically increased in spirit and energy and students began feeling more comfortable connecting with each other. Each school left the conference with a variety of new ways to promote leadership and gained a better understanding of what it means to be a leader.

“The purpose of League of Leaders is to bring all the student leaders together ... to collaborate, to really draw upon each other’s strengths, and also to help with their weaknesses.” —L2 Advisor Ben Breazeale

In contrast to previous years when the event was student-organized, this year’s conference was run by Herff Jones, an educational

Guest Speaker Eddie Slowikowski speaks about the importance of having a positive outlook on life. SPEECH AND DEBATE AT UOP

Speech and Debate competed at UOP, where both teams won a Gold bid to the Tournament of Champions. Go online to find out more!

Senior Ananya Verma talks about MSJ’s leadership events, including the Charity Fashion Show and other publicity activities.

company that sells motivational material. ASB President Senior Flora Chang said, “It felt a lot better organized. Everything had smooth transitions and there was meaning to each activity.” The event last year took place in May, leaving very little time for Leadership 2 (L2) members to implement any of the ideas from the conference during that school year. However, since the event happened earlier this year, L2 is hoping to actually execute some of the improvements they came up with. L2 Advisor Ben Breazeale said, “The purpose of League of Leaders is to bring all the student leaders together ... to collaborate, to really draw upon each other’s strengths, and also to help with their weaknesses.” ▪ PHOTOS BY STAFF WRITERS RIYA CHOPRA & IAN PARK


In this exclusive video coverage, watch our staff members explore slime, tapping, and other ASMR methods. Check out our Facebook page for more!



2 News

The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 16, 2018

STEM Discovery Day By Josephine Chew & Sabrina Wu Staff Writers

A participant prepares to plate a coin by reacting it in copper sulfate solution during “Mad Science: Matter of Fact.”

During a coding CAPactivity, students TION HERE used the programming language Snap! to make a mouse run through a maze.

Mothers and daughters use syringes and dyed sugar solutions to build their own rainbow solutions and learn about density.

With STEM Discovery Day, the AAUW hopes to empower young girls to follow through on their interest in STEM and help them overcome these same disparities in the field.

Girls build molecule models out of marshmallows and toothpicks in “Mad Science: Matter of Fact.”

Students learn the fundamentals of 3D printing and design their own houses online in “Think 3D.”

On the morning of November 3, wide-eyed fifth through sixth grade girls and their mothers crowded into William Hopkins Junior High School to attend the 39th annual Fremont STEM Discovery Day hosted by the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The biannual event is designed to stimulate young girls’ interest in STEM and provide them with an opportunity to explore STEM fields together with their female role models. Since its founding in 1881, the AAUW has advanced gender equity for women and girls through research, education, and advocacy while holding values such as integrity, inclusion, and intersectionality. The event offered nine different activities, each covering a unique aspect of the STEM field. Mother-daughter pairs attended four 45-minute sessions of their choice, which were led by adults and high schoolers. Among the activities featured were courses like “Civil Engineering,” where students collaborated to build the tallest and most durable tower with mate-

rials such as raw pasta noodles, thread, and tape. Other participants marveled at the Milky Way and learned to identify constellations under the dome of Hopkins’ starlit planetarium, and girls in “CSI Fremont” discovered how to detect fingerprints and identified a chocolate thief using forensics. In another room, students in “Think 3D” learned the fundamentals of 3D printing from MSJ’s 3D Printing Club President Senior Neharika Makam and built their own house on an online site. Since its founding in 1881, the AAUW has advanced gender equity for women and girls through research, education, and advocacy while holding values such as integrity, inclusion, and intersectionality. The non-partisan and non-profit organization, with more than 170,000 members and 1,000 local branches, is one of the world’s largest sources of funding for graduate women. Fremont Discovery Day featured presenters and helpers from Tech Trek, a STEM education summer camp at Stanford where like Discovery Day, young girls are encouraged to pursue STEM

To learn about denCAP-the “Rainbow in sity, HERE aTION Tube” activity had students stack colored sugar solutions in a rainbow.

careers. The Tech Trek and Discovery Day collaboration allows fifth through sixth graders to interact with older female mentors. Mother participant Aslihan Biyikoglu highlighted the importance of having these role models and said, “I really loved seeing the girls doing the teaching, especially at the 3D printing. I think it’s great [to have a] role model in front of them, to see the high school girls being really passionate about this and ... sharing the knowledge. I think it really inspires them.” Fremont AAUW Board Member and event organizer Letha Saldanha said that her motivation for leading the event stems from her own experience as a woman in the STEM field. “I sometimes talk to girls about something that happened in their classroom, which happened to me 30 years ago, and it’s incredible that the same inequities and discriminatory behaviors are going on today. So we have a lot of work to do,” Saldanha said. With STEM Discovery Day, the AAUW hopes to empower young girls

to follow through on their interest in STEM and help them overcome these same disparities in the field. This year, participants were asked to bring their own laptops for the coding and 3D printing activities. However, for future events, Saldanha would like to provide 10 laptops for the girls to use.

“I really loved seeing the girls do-

ing the teaching, especially at the 3D printing. I think it’s great [to have a] role model in front of them, to see the high school girls being really passionate about this.”

—Mother Participant Aslihan Biyikoglu

Although she has observed that girls today are much more STEM-savvy than they were in the past, Saldanha still sees a massive underrepresentation of women in the the STEM field. She said, “I still sit in meetings in corporate where I’m the only woman in the room. So that has to change ... That is ... my personal goal, [the] goal of AAUW, and [the goal for] hopefully all of you.” ▪



for the Nov. 2, 2018 issue News Page 1: Walk to End Alzheimer’s had 3,710 participants as of November 7. News Page 1: Caption should say Tournament of Bands. News Page 2: There are 2,051 MSJ students. Centerspread Page 12: Raas and Bollywood are switched. Centerspread Page 13: “Boss” is by NCT U. Centerspread Page 13: “For You” is by Rita Ora and Liam Payne. Centerspread Page 13: Meera Sehgal is misspelled. A&E Page 20: Bun Appétit opened in August 2018. Sports Page 23: Girls Water Polo did not go into overtime. Graphics Page 24: Andres Guerra is misspelled.



Compiled by Alisha Chhangani, Carolyn Qian & Jessica Xu Staff Writers The final agreement and starting date for the new rape clinic at Stanford Hospital is yet to be determined. Proposed order could potentially affect millions of children born in the US with undocumented parents. The election of Jair Bolsonaro marks a shift in Brazilian politics to the conservative right.

New rape clinic to be opened at Stan- President Donald Trump proposes to end ford Hospital birthright citizenship A plan is in the works to open a President Donald Trump proposed an new clinic at Stanford Hospital to help executive order on October 29 to remove sexual assault victims. There is current- birthright citizenship, a legal right to citizenly only one clinic in San Jose, and rape ship for everybody born in the country recrisis centers around the area have seen gardless of parentage. Trump also claimed an increasing need for another location that the US is the only country to provide in the county. The plan is to place a birthright citizenship, even after opponents clinic at Stanford Hospital, where spe- of the order have disproven his claim. Opcially trained nurses employed by the ponents also claim that it challenges the county will administer rape kits. Coun- 14th Amendment. Questions have been ty staff and Stanford Hospital are now raised regarding whether or not birthright working to finalize an agreement and citizenship can be removed solely by an exset a starting date for the program. executive order.

Jair Bolsonaro elected president of Brazil on October 28 Social Liberty Party candidate Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil on October 28. Bolsonaro, a former army captain, supports harsher punishments for criminals and wants to make firearms more accessible to citizens. In addition, he has made controversial comments against women and members of the LGBTQ+ community. He plans to lift restrictions on logging in the Amazon rainforest, which could have heavy implications for climate change.

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Smoke Signal

toshali's take

The Smoke Signal Mission San Jose High School Est. 1964 Vol. 54, No. 3 | November 16, 2018 41717 Palm Ave. Fremont, CA 94539 510-657-3600, ext. 37088 MISSION STATEMENT The Smoke Signal’s mission is to represent the voices of the MSJ community and serve the public by providing accurate, meaningful, and engaging information presented through print and digital mediums.

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

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

By Toshali Goel Opinion Editor

By Vicki Xu Opinion Editor

and we need to remember the people behind the statistics. The Parkland shooting provided a much needed wake-up call to both society and our representatives. Schools across the country came together for a National School Walkout, protesting rising gun violence and honoring the 17 victims of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But as is the case with such phenomena, the life of the outrage was short-lived, particularly in the media, and the drive for change fizzled out as life caught up with the affected. Particularly for us who have only experienced a tragedy of such magnitude through a TV screen, we returned to our former indifference, feeling a momentary regret for lives lost before being consumed by our regular day-to-day activities and floating further away from the problems that plague our country. The recent shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue resulted in 11 deaths, a terrifying indication of resurfacing anti-Semitism and reportedly the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in US history. And yet so many around me said “another one of these,” and it was “only 11,” and that we had bigger, deadlier things to worry about. The attitude that the existence of a problem of greater magnitude invalidates the pain that comes with the first is incredibly flawed. As the voice of coming generations and the hope of the future, we must understand the implications of becoming desensitized to the horrors that surround us. Just because they seem to be growing greater in number does not diminish the raw pain behind each and every such incident. We must remember the people — we must retain our humanity. ▪

Changing our perception of “easy courses”

for. It is almost as if they expect CP teachers to design a lenient and laid-back class. The lack of respect for these courses translates into an unconscious lack of respect for the teachers who teach them. For instance, a student who feels that a certain class is a waste of their effort is more likely to cheat than a student that values that class. Additionally, these students may also have a tendency to saunter into class

vic ki’s voice The occasional fallacy of

The Opinion of the Smoke Signal Editorial Board

In our academically demanding environment ... we may forget that CP courses are designed to be rigorous as well.

Opinion 3

The curse of desensitization I was searching for ideas for my numerous college essays, racking my brain for something I felt some way about. I googled “high school,” hoping for articles that would discuss some sweeping teenage phenomenon that I could comment on. “Student suspect in Butler High killing,” followed by “16 year old charged with murder for killing classmate,” topped my search results. I didn’t even pause to think about it — more school shootings, violent behavior, sexual assaults. How exactly was all this supposed to help me write an essay that would get me into my dream school? I took a step back for a minute, clicking through the slideshow of pictures depicting distraught students and grief-stricken families. Guilt suddenly overcame me — how could I be so insensitive to view these tragedies as “just another one?” Growing up while violence tears our country apart had made me almost cynical. I had come to view such stories in their statistical form; “12 deaths” or “14 missing” struck me as simply headlines, and I was unable to register the humans involved in these incidents. On May 25, CNN published an article stating that in the duration of 21 weeks, there had been more than one school shooting per week. These numbers can blur together, as TV reporters seem to drone on about one horrible crime after the other. The constant consumption of negative news coupled with increasingly visual bystander-captured media can cause deep emotional distress for audiences, and our brains often reach a saturation point with such media. We cease to keep track of these incidents, becoming more and more unfeeling towards them as they grow. But the desensitization that accompanies these ballooning numbers is unhealthy for our society,

“I can’t believe I have a B in this class ... I thought this was my easy A!” These complaints are commonly heard among students taking college preparatory (CP) or AP courses with a reputation for being “easy.” This attitude not only discourages students who may be struggling in these courses, but also perpetuates inaccurate assumptions about these classes. In our academically demanding environment, where taking honors and AP courses is often seen as the norm, we may forget that CP courses are designed to be rigorous as well. After all, the courses are college preparatory by definition, and preparing for college does not imply an easy A or lax teaching. Some students will sign up for AP and honors classes believing that an APladen schedule is essential for an impressive college application. When these same students take CP classes, they tend to have certain expectations — they become upset when CP course teachers assign more than the bare minimum amount of homework or give tests that they actually need to study

“two sides”

There’s a common refrain among the talking heads and politicians that, in great strife or controversy, we must look at both sides. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell weighs in on the Pittsburgh massacre: “It’s terrible, yeah. And I think there have been a lot of contributions to it on both sides ... It’s not good. It’s not good.” In July 2017, when counterprotesters clashed with neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, VA, President Donald Trump intoned, “I think there is blame on both sides.” We must look at both sides. We mustn’t forget to look at both sides. Look, don’t forget, look, both sides. People are being stripped of their rights, people are getting shot in the streets — but don’t forget to look at both sides. Multiple facets to any issue are pretty easy to see when the issue doesn’t pertain to you. McConnell has a cushy net worth of $22.5 million and a lovely mansion in Louisville, KY. He certainly doesn’t have to worry about anti-Semitic hate crimes; he’s not even Jewish. Talking heads dress in Armani suits and carry Louis Vuitton handbags, and they can return to their gated neighborhoods at the end of their days. They can belittle struggle because they come from a position of power. Considering both sides in an argument is indeed the beginning of compromise. But we can’t just greet situations that incite violence or are violent themselves with a lukewarm, mildly patronizing comment to consider the validity of both sides. Telling people their anger and sadness are misplaced, to just compromise, and to logically evaluate a source

of incessant grief fundamentally ignores the root of their discontent. It is because injustice exists that they are angry, and it is because they are ignored that they lash out. And in many cases, they have seen the other side and found the experience unsavory. So we must understand the anger that gives rise to vehemence because, otherwise, the cycle continues. Yes, the constant fighting is frustrating and often counterproductive. But the world doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The 2014 Ferguson riots stemmed from African-American Michael Brown’s shooting, and, more broadly, the systemic and historical violence black Americans face at the hands of cops. (See: poll taxes, lynching, and racial bias in ticketing.) “Consider both sides!” as a way to dampen emotions running high has exactly the opposite effect — it dismisses cause, effect, and the cry for help. It misses the mark. It’s just not the move. We can change ourselves, but can we tell people who have been ignored so long to change tactics when it’s the only way they can make themselves heard? What can we do, then? Let’s start at MSJ. Here, we don’t need to think too hard about movements like #BlackLivesMatter because their causes aren’t life-or-death situations for us. Not many of us have to worry about cop violence, our next meals, or deportation. But these events exist, and insofar as they exist, people will suffer through them. So since we have the power, we should work toward change — making the world a bit better for everyone. The first step is understanding the people directly affected by such issues. So let’s stay empathetic and open. ▪

By Lucia Li & Selina Yang Graphics Editor and Staff Writer

long after the bell, not take class seriously, or overreact when they think there’s too much work. This kind of behavior further contributes to a negative classroom environment. We tend to believe that success in CP and “easy” AP courses comes with mini-

Regardless of whether a class is CP or AP, what we get out of a class comes from the effort we put in. mal effort. Such a perception arises when students have been taking honors classes for so long and assume they will have significantly less work than reputably harder classes. This mentality dismisses both the effort that diligent students invest into these so-called easy courses and the stress they may feel from them. Regardless of whether a class is CP or AP, what we get out of a class comes from the effort we put in. Course difficulty is completely subjective, and what may be easy for one person may be difficult for another. The point of taking any class is to gain knowledge and prepare for the future. We need to stop judging CP classes in terms of AP and honors classes. Instead of looking at classes based on their perceived difficulty level and appearance on college applications, we should judge them based on what we learn and take away from them. ▪

graphics editor lucia li

staff writer selina yang

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Friday, November 16, 2018

Friday, November 16, 2018

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Opinion 5

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION REVISITED By Sabrina Cai & Christine Dong Staff Writers

THE HARVARD LAWSUIT Students for Fair Admissions’s lawsuit against Harvard University alleging anti-Asian discrimination, filed Nov. 17, 2014, is the latest in the debate over the role of race in college admissions. The plaintiffs, a vocal group of Asian-Americans comprised primarily of Chinese-Americans and led by legal strategist Edward Blum, aim to get rid of affirmative action’s raceconscious admissions processes. The plaintiffs argue that Harvard significantly prefers other races over Asian-Americans, while Harvard argues that race fundamentally shapes students’ identities and so cannot be completely divorced from the admissions process. The lawsuit went to trial on Oct. 15, 2018 before a Boston federal court and ended on Nov. 2, 2018.

AFFIRMATIVE By Christine Dong Affirmative action is intended to compensate for the racial, social, and economic oppression many minorities have experienced throughout American history. It provides opportunities that they don’t have due to a lack of money and resources, allowing them to advance and break the cycle of poverty. Such policies are vital for a more equal society as they accommodate for the inequality that many historically disadvantaged groups still experience. Affirmative action is essential for society to move towards equality, and Harvard’s purported anti-Asian racism has little do with affirmative action policies. The plaintiffs of the lawsuit argue that affirmative action knocks down Asian-Americans for the sake of the less qualified. Harvard’s alleged anti-Asian admissions process, which consistently rated Asian applicants lower on personality traits to reduce their chances of acceptance, confirms their beliefs. The personality ratings fall in line with the racist stereotype that all Asians are the same and lack any discernible personality, but make up for it in brains. The purposes of Harvard’s admissions policies and affirmative action clearly differ: the former is rooted in racism and enforces negative stereotypes, while the latter treats the effects of centuries of racism that have socioeconomically disadvantaged many minorities. And yet the plaintiffs, and subsequently, a large portion of the Chinese-American community, conflate the two, leading to resentment. Their discontent stems from being rejected despite having stronger standardized test scores and GPAs than those of the underrepresented minorities accepted. However, looking only at the numbers ignores what such policies account for: the lower socioeconomic status of the African-American and Hispanic applicants who are the main beneficiaries of affirmative action. According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, African-American and Hispanic people have, respectively, poverty rates of 22 percent and 20 percent. In comparison, the Asian-American poverty rate as of 2011 was almost 14 percent, according to Prosperity Now. This difference has a large impact: a 2013 report by the Harvard Office of Institutional Research showed that had admissions only considered academics, classes would be 43 percent Asian, a far cry from the 19 percent Asians make up in reality. The lower socioeconomic status of many African-American and Hispanic people means that they can’t afford to spend money on test preparation to boost SAT scores, tutoring to improve grades, or extracurriculars to demonstrate dedication and impress admissions officers. When overlooking these factors, the holistic admissions process can seem unfair, leading to anger on the part of the upper-middle-class Asian-Americans that Blum, the man spearheading the campaign against Harvard, is exploiting. Blum has a history of opposing affirmative action. In 2013 and 2016, he orchestrated a lawsuit against the University of Texas for its affirmative action policies on behalf of rejected white applicant Abigail Fisher and lost. Blum himself said he “needed Asian plaintiffs” to combat affirmative action when speaking to the Houston Chinese Alliance in 2015. Alleging anti-Asian discrimination offers better chances of success as it is far more plausible than claiming that white people, who are the racial majority in the US are being discriminated against. Blum is working with Asian-Americans not out of genuine care for their concerns, but because it aligns with his own goal of getting rid of affirmative action. Without affirmative action, UC Berkeley Economics Professor David Card estimates that the school’s population of African-American, Hispanic, and students of “Other” racial or ethnic background would decline by nearly 50 percent. Preserving diversity is essential as it prepares students for working and living in the real world by introducing them to a wider variety of perspectives. Affirmative action also gives underprivileged students chances to receive high quality educations, to socially advance, and to improve their own communities. Ensuring diversity and more equal representation on every level from fictional media to prestigious universities leads to increased equality as no one group dominates society. Anger at racist policies such as Harvard’s Asian quota should not be misdirected towards perceived injustices caused by affirmative action. Race-blind admissions won’t make things more fair and will instead harm diversity and already disadvantaged minorities, perpetuating injustice and inequality in our society. ▪

NEGATIVE By Sabrina Cai On Oct. 25, 2018, Duke University Economist Peter Arcidiacono testified in open court that Harvard’s college admission process favors African-American and Latino applicants at the expense of Asian-Americans. Arcidiacono is the star witness in Students for Fair Admission’s suit against Harvard University. However, these racial quotas have been a recurring problem throughout history that extends far beyond this suit. Nearly a century ago, a quota reminiscent of today’s Asian quota was instituted when anti-Semitic concerns about the size of Harvard’s Jewish student population caused Harvard’s president, Abbott Lawrence Lowell, to propose limiting Jews to only 15 percent of the

Decades later, colleges are still using holistic admissions processes to enforce ... discriminatory quotas. student population. This led to a “policy of equal opportunity” that let personality factor into admissions. This way, they could avoid tarnishing Harvard’s liberal reputation while still limiting the admission of Jewish applicants by rating them lower on personality traits. By the 1930s, Jewish students made up roughly 10 percent of the student body. Decades later, colleges are still using holistic admissions processes to enforce similar discriminatory quotas. The singular difference is that this policy has been renamed to affirmative action. Although the definition of affirmative action is to boost minority groups such as African Americans and Latinos, it unfairly overlooks high-achieving applicants, undercutting their hard work. Due to this increasing impact of affirmative action, a normally politically dormant group has risen to fight. Many of those protesting Harvard’s policy are the immigrants or children of immigrants who came from China and Southeast Asian nations to chase the American

Due to this increasing impact of affirmative action, a normally politically dormant group has risen to fight. Dream, believing that the key to success lay in determination and hard work. However, hard work is not enough; these Asian-Americans are losing out on educational opportunities due to affirmative action. The systemic issues that people claim affirmative action is important for such as socioeconomic gaps and income inequality can’t be solved when one minority is elevated at the expense of another. Despite what the holistic admissions conclude, Arcidiacono’s analysis is very clear in its research. A study of more than 160,000 student records found that in terms of test scores, GPA, and extracurriculars, Asian-Americans stood out among other applicants. For example, Asian-Americans scored higher than applicants of any other ethnic group, with 72 percent of Asians getting a three on one AP test in comparison to 66 percent of Whites and 50 percent of Latinos. The analysis also showed that Asian-Americans were consistently rated lower in terms of positive personality, kindness, and

The systemic issues that people claim affirmative action is important for such as socioeconomic gaps and income inequality can’t be solved when one minority is elevated at the expense of another. other character traits. As a result, the analysis concluded that this juxtaposition in ratings significantly lowered their chances of being admitted, despite their superior academics. Asian-Americans are being discriminated against under this “holistic approach” to admissions. The lower ratings in personality and kindness is only dismissive of the work of Asian-Americans, which illustrates a clear bias, similar to Jewish people in the 1920s. In that time, anti-Semitism created a segregated system in America. Now almost a century later, current policies are only reiterating that segregation and creating issues we should have moved past long ago. ▪

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6 Feature

The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 16, 2018

Dear Diary: the life and death of a Flu Virus By Katherine Guo

Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 31:

I, Virus, have been born for one purpose and one purpose alone: to pass the flu onto as many people as possible. As such, it is with great joy that I write that I have finally found a host! For some reason, teenagers still go trick-or-treating, and I was passed along on a piece of chocolate. An odd vector, perhaps, but I’ll take it. My reign of terror shall begin. This mere mortal knows nothing of their next two weeks.

Monday, November 5:

Things have been quite boring around here. So far, no macrophages have come knocking at my door yet; my host has quite the shoddy security system. Must be the stress from their AP US History (APUSH) and AP Calculus AB classes. Anyway, I decided to have some fun today. A little sniffle here, a little cough there -- the perfect introduction to this year’s flu. They won’t even see it coming!

Tuesday, November 6:

Today, I began to up the ante. A low-grade fever and chills? Classic signs of the flu! But what does my host do? They go to school! I’ve heard that the motive for this is the need for participation in class. Ha! Fool! They’ll miss even more participation now. What’s more, they even sneezed today and forgot to wash their hands. My mini-Viruses will distribute through this school. Soon this world will be mine; from the desk to the projector, all of it! I will be the conquistador that these puny students study in their history classes. Hey, I learn from my host, okay?

Thursday, November 8:

I’ve had some free time lately, and I’ve been thinking of my own mortality. I know I will die soon; I can’t exactly hide from the macrophages forever. Even as I speak, I can see them advancing towards my hideout; this host seems to be in pretty good shape after all. I know that many of my comrades have perished in this war, but I had never expected to see them turn on me. Benedict Arnolds, the whole lot of them. First they die on me and leave me alone, and then they help create a vaccine that can kill us all? Some friends they are.

I have unleashed thousands of my mini-Viruses on the world. They will wreak havoc in my place. There is no stopping us now.

Friday, November 9:

Well, at least I have succeeded in my mission. It appears that half of my host’s Club Fitness class has the sniffles at this point. Did none of them get the flu shot? Seriously? Well, their loss is my gain. In other news, I think my host used up all the Kleenex in their English class. This is going even better than I had thought; both teachers and students are inconvenienced.

Saturday, November 10:

The host is resting up at home, watching Netflix while doing AP Psychology notes. This may be my last entry. They are at my door. The macrophages have finally arrived. These incompetent fools should have found me in the first few days, but anyway, my time here is done. Soon, the macrophages will eat me alive. I can see them brandishing the parts of my fallen comrades. These fool macrophages think my legacy will die with me. Ha! I may die soon, but

graphic by graphics editor lucia li

Get a Flu shot — the Flu can and does kill people every year.

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Friday, November 16, 2018

The Smoke Signal


By Jonathan Liu, Gokul Ramapriyan & Meera Sehgal Staff Writers

Feature 7


Seniors Eddie Chang and Nathan Zheng are respectively ranked Northern CA's top second and third drum majors in Open Mace. Chang’s and Zheng’s 2018 rankings were determined by the Northern CA Band Association (NCBA) Winter Championships Drum Major Pattern Mace Open Division. Irvington High School Senior Raymond Zhao was ranked as the top drum major of Northern CA from this competition. Over their four years as drum majors in Marching Band and in the Northern CA drum major circuit, Chang and Zheng have demonstrated that they are formidable and skilled competitors in the field. In 2018, Chang won first place in Northern CA Field Conducting Novice Division, and in 2017, Zheng was the Northern CA champion for the Scholastic Mace Division.


Senior Eddie Chang leads the band in the 2018 Newark Days Parade.

Chang and Zheng started drum major training in freshman year with their friends as a competition to see who would last the longest in the program. They also thought that it would be impressive to throw a mace in the air and to lead the band. Chang and Zheng are now the only members of the Class of 2019 to lead Marching Band as drum majors. Describing his relationship with Zheng, Chang said, “We are ... very good work partners and share a brotherly connection. I’ve known him since kindergarten, [and] we’ve been friends for four years in [our] journey of becoming drum majors. I sincerely hope we can maintain our connection ... in college.” Zheng said, “[We are] great friends both in and out of band. When we compete, we are still friends, even though there is some ... rivalry.”


At every parade, either Chang or Zheng stand at the forefront of the band, spinning and tossing the mace before signaling the band to march down the street. They have to flawlessly execute a number of actions, such as flourishing the mace, saluting, and stepping off with the band to impress their judges. Any errors, such as falling off -step, leaning towards one side of the street, dropping the mace, or improperly executing a salute will result in point deductions that affect the band’s overall showmanship score. Zheng said, “I think the hardest thing I encountered definitely was getting used to spinning the mace and tossing it in the air while not messing up, because if you drop [it], it looks really bad as a drum major, and it also reflects onto the band. I’ve never done anything as stressful before.” Chang said that the greatest obstacle he encountered as drum major was developing the confidence to perform alone while integrating music and mace flourishes into his routine. He also said that having the courage to shout and give commands to the band was very stressful as he had to raise his voice over those of a 183-member band. Though there were pressures in his drum major training, Chang said that nobody in particular was the cause of such pressure. His motivation was completely intrinsic — he personally wanted to be a top drum major and to demonstrate that he was a strong competitor in the field. Compared to his character in freshman year, Chang said that he is now more confident and has significantly improved upon his leadership and performance skills. “I’m proud of coming this far and not giving up. The pressure builds to a point that you contemplate such things, but I ... just pushed forward and pursued what I thought to be best for myself and for the band,” Chang said.

Senior Nathan Zheng leads the band in the 2016 Veterans Day Parade.


Outside of band, Chang and Zheng are officers of eSports and are part of a robotics team that competes in the FIRST Tech Challenge. Zheng is part of a Boy Scouts troop and is an Eagle Scout. “Honestly, I am really proud of keeping my sanity here at Mission ... Becoming an Eagle Scout, a senior drum major, and the Vice President of eSports were really some of the proudest moments I have had,” Zheng said. He is also proud of "clutching an A" in both semesters of Honors Pre-Calculus. According to Chang, his best moment so far was getting nominated for and winning as Homecoming King since he never expected it. It is a band tradition to nominate a King, Queen, Knight, and Jester for Homecoming Court, and Chang was the only band member to win this year. Chang said, “I did not feel anything particular towards it — if it happened, it happened ... I didn’t expect myself to win. When I did, I thought, ‘What the heck? Wow, it actually happened.’ I was speechless.”

Chang (left) leading in the 2018 Newark Days Parade and Zheng (right) leading in the 2016 Veterans Day Parade.


Both Chang and Zheng plan to study computer science as their major in college. Zheng also has an interest in studying artificial intelligence. As for whether they will be drum majors in college, both are undecided. However, Chang said that if a college were to accept him only if he continued being a drum major, he would definitely do so. “I would like to thank my drum major instructor, Harrison Cheng, for teaching me everything I know and pushing me to my limits to make me better not just as drum major, but also as a person; my band director, Monica Kraft, for teaching me more about ... music; [and] my good friend, Nathan Zheng, for competing with me and always being there for me. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” Chang said. In response, Zheng said, “Eddie ... would also like to thank his girlfriend, Michelle Huang, who has been supporting him the entire way.”

Zheng (left) and Chang (right) laugh at a remark about their friendship.

photo by staff writer jonathan liu, photos courtesy marching band instructor harrison cheng

8 Centerspread

The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 16, 2018

Friday, November 16, 2018


As stated by The American Press Institution, about


as the influence of social media continues to grow, the risk of fake news and the potential circulation of incorrect information increases exponentially as well.

Our school’s location in the technologically progressive Bay Area, paired with more integrated technological learning at MSJ, reflects a strong student preference toward digital sources of information.



Never 1-2 times

5-6 times

9 or more times

4.3% 2.2% 1.5%

feel that their peers are well-informed do not read a news publication




On a scale of 1 (irrelevant) to 5 (extremely important), how important do you consider reading the 41.3% news? 27.3% 19.6%


7-8 times

3-4 times

Recently, many pipe bombs were mailed to famous celebrities and politicians. Which of the following people were not one of the targeted?








1.9% 75.4%

Our learning environment continually gears toward technological improvement, such as the availability of Chromebook carts and Wi-Fi upgrades for students. Aside from news publications, however, students marked that their updates also stem from social media. Of the students surveyed, 47.7 percent answered a score of three or higher RXWRIƓYHZKHQDVNHGWRUDWHKRZRIWHQWKHLUQHZVXSGDWHVDUULYHWKURXJKVRFLDOPHGLD7KLVWUHQGVXJJHVWVWKDW social media plays a large role in students’ daily lives, and that it may help make news more accessible to those who RWKHUZLVHZRXOGJORVVRYHULW7KLVOHDGVWRLQFUHDVHGEDVLFHQJDJHPHQWZLWKQHZVDQGFRXOGVHUYHDVDVWHSSLQJ stone to more traditional news sources if students are interested.



By reading the news, students are exposed to new perspectives by being aware of current economic and social issues, which gives insight into the inner workings and challenges of other countries.




In an increasingly interconnected world, it is essential for students to be aware of the world around them. As students will eventually form the voting body of the US, the success of the nation’s future depends on having well-informed voters. By reading the news, students are likely going to make more educated voting decisions in the future ... Students could begin to look at issues beyond their communities and examine the world at large. Learning about the stories of the less fortunate could also inspire students to volunteer to aid the global community.

Students primarily receive their news through a digital medium. With 2.2 percent of students using a physical medium and only 24.6 percent reading a local or national newspaper, students use various digital forms to remain globally informed. Of those surveyed, 37.2 percent of students reported that they primarily use the Apple built-in news app. For those who watch QHZVRQ79DERXWSHUFHQWRIVWXGHQWVXVHCNN.


use digital media as their primary news source.


Students and the general US population both rely on social media as a primary news source; about 34 to 35 percent of them say they often trust social PHGLDIRUWKHLUGDLO\QHZV




of people verify a story by going through multiple sources

7KHUHLVDVWDUNFRQWUDVWEHWZHHQ06-DQGQDWLRQZLGHVWDWLVWLFVZKHQLWFRPHVWRVWD\LQJXSGDWHGRQFXUUHQWQHZV$FFRUGLQJWR Pew Research Center, 85 percent of Americans use a digital medium to view their news nationally — however, more than 96 SHUFHQWRI06-VWXGHQWVXVHDQHOHFWURQLFVRXUFHCNNLVWKHWKHSULPDU\79QHZVFKDQQHOIRUSHUFHQWRI06-VWXGHQWVEXW nationwide, only 20 percent of viewers use CNN as their predominant channel. Currently, FOX News is the most viewed channel LQWKHQDWLRQEXW06-VWXGHQWVZDWFKFOX News only about 23 percent of the time.

With the rise of digital media and access to 24/7 news, the Smoke Signal surveyed students about their global awareness. Students across grade levels were questioned about their perception of the news and tested on their knowledge of current affairs.

On a scale of 1 (never) to 5 (always), how often do you verify a news update through multiple sources?


Only of students say that they FRQĆ“UPWKHQHZVWKH\UHDG

By Alisha Chhangani, Monisha Saxena, Shreya Sridhar & Gregory Wu Staff Writers

Centerspread 9




The Smoke Signal

7.1% 2




Google News









NBC news


If you use a digital medium, which news source do you use? (Choose all that apply.)

Do you subscribe to any news feed?

NEWS No (74.5%) Yes (25.5%)

0DQ\VWXGHQWVDUHXQXQDZDUHRIJOREDOLVVXHVEHFDXVHWKH\ simply do not read the news. Of the students surveyed, 24.1 SHUFHQWVDLGWKH\GRQRWFKHFNWKHQHZVDWDOO7KHQRWLRQWKDW global issues do not affect students directly creates the perception that reading the news is not necessary. Living in WKH0LVVLRQ%XEEOHSURWHFWVVWXGHQWVIURPH[SRVXUHWRWKH same struggles the majority of the globe faces, leading to the conclusion that these issues are not relevant or important. Another alarming trend is the student tendency to use social media as a primary source of news for a variety of global LVVXHV 7KLV EULQJV XS D SRWHQWLDO ODFN RI FUHGLEOH VRXUFHV since the spread of “news� in social media is more based on trends than importance.

10 Arts & Entertainment

The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 16, 2018

Trending Triteness Renovating the art form or ruining it?

Canadian poet Rupi Kaur’s bite-sized poetry and aesthetic drawings are a recent phenomenon on social media, where she has attracted 3.2 million followers on Instagram. She isn’t the only poet with a large social media following, either. Numerous other artists, informally known as “Instapoets,” attract viewers and fans with the same strategies. Most of Kaur’s success can be attributed to her use of the social media platforms Tumblr and Instagram; by posting aesthetically pleasing screenshots of some of her poems, she incentivizes readers to buy her books. This free marketing strategy has proved incredibly effective. Her first collection of poetry, milk & honey, quickly became the world’s best-selling poetry book, outselling Homer’s The Odyssey. What makes the works of Instapoets so appealing? For one, their poems are generally very short; most of the poems are less than seven lines. This is mainly to adapt to a social media format, but it has another key advantage: the poems take a lot less time to read. When people see incredibly long paragraphs on their feed, they tend to skim over them and move on. By making her poems short enough to read in a couple of seconds, Kaur practical-

Kaur does not explore new ideas within the commonplace themes she employs; she isn’t breaking any new ground, just restating cliché after cliché. ly guarantees that people will read her poems. Kaur’s poems also touch upon socially relevant themes that appeal to millennials such as race and ancestry, feminism, self-discovery, and humanitarian rights. Since there is minimal use of literary devices in her poems, the message of

By Kimberly Huang & Aria Lakhmani Staff Writers each poem is decipherable without any deep gestible, Instapoets only use a few poetic deanalysis by the reader. vices. The only literary device they use is the half-baked metaphor that is fully explained In exchange for advertising their to the reader by the end of the poem. Kaur’s work and developing a fan base, metaphors usually revolve around nature; she Kaur and other Instapoets lose compares kindness to honey, women to the the artistry behind their work. universe, and love to fire or electricity. HowevUsing social media as a platform to promote er, these metaphors have already been used and poetry is a clever marketing strategy. However, exhausted by generations of poets, and Kaur, for the fame that comes with the label, many once again, brings nothing new to the table by Instapoets seem to churn out poetry character- employing these metaphors. ized by meaningless platitudes and lacking the artistry that defines poetry itself. Their poetry For the fame that comes with the seems to be less of an art form and more of label, many Instapoets seem to a business. churn out poetry characterized To hold an audience, Instapoets must post by meaningless platitudes and lacking the artistry that defines constantly. The poets post massive quantities of poetry — in the case of Kaur, three poetry itself. to four a week, often making the poetry look rushed. Furthermore, the line breaks scattered Though the simplification of poetry makes throughout the works have no poetic signifi- it easier for people to read and understand the cance, and the poems read like regular sen- poem within a matter of seconds, it also strips tences separated for an aesthetically pleasing away its artistry and depth of meaning. This appearance. begs an urgent question: is the commercialKaur’s discussion of relevant ideas over- ization of poetry actually detrimental to the shadows the terrible quality of the poetry. artistry behind it? The commercialization of Kaur does not explore new ideas within the poetry through social media has led to poets commonplace themes she employs; she isn’t sacrificing quality for sheer quantity and breaking any new ground, just restating cli- simplicity. In exchange for advertising ché after cliché. Her poetry is not profound, their work and developing a fan base, thought-provoking, or insightful. A good num- Kaur and other Instapoets lose the ber of her poems revolve around mantras of artistry behind their work. We cannot self-love and independence, topics that are completely discredit the Instapoets; already widespread. In these poems, she es- they have, after all, connected with sentially tells readers to keep their hopes high, the new generation and given mila message that is already widely preached. For lennials a voice. However, by foexample, one poem by Kaur states, “we are all cusing solely on these Instapoets born so beautiful / the greatest tragedy is being and setting their work as the convinced we are not.” standard for good poetry, we are Furthermore, to make the poems more di- ignoring other accomplished voices

in the poetry scene. Kaur is not the sole woman-of-color poet who touches upon urgent themes; Nayyirah Waheed and Yrsa Daley-Ward both use the minimalistic style of Instapoets — only with more substance. The poetry of Instapoets like Rupi Kaur, r.h. Sin, and Hollie McNish can be considered art, but we cannot set it as the golden standard of poetry. That spotlight should belong to other, more deserving poets. ▪

Illustration of Rupi Kaur. graphic by graphics editor lucia li

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Smoke Signal

Arts & Entertainment 11

C R I T I C S’ C O R N E R MusiC: avalon emerson, the black eyed peas | Film: bohemian rhapsody, the nutcracker and the four realms

Under the radar

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms? Next.

Music review

avalon emerson

the Black eyed peas

By Thomas Chen Staff Writer You’re about to sit down for a three hour study session and you need something eccentric to keep you out of the pits of boredom. Avalon Emerson’s “The Frontier” has got your back. Or maybe you’ve just finished studying and you need some upbeat music to complement your mood. Emerson’s “One More Fluorescent Rush” has got your back. Emerson’s music is perfect for those who like old school Darude’s “Sandstorm” mixed with techno EDM. Moving out of her hometown of San Francisco, CA, Emerson’s career as an electronic music producer took off amidst Berlin’s thriving club culture. As a side-job to her full-time position as a software engineer, Emerson released several EPs that overlayed a techno, edgier melody with a constant background of beats. Certain songs featured the beats as the main melody, played by periodically switching instruments. Several of her EPs, like Whities 013 and Narcissus in Retrograde, drew the attention of clubs, and she performed at over 100 clubs and festival gigs in 2017. One of her proudest accomplishments as a DJ is making it through the infamous nine-hour closing set at Berlin’s Panorama bar, after which she gained more recognition as a star on the rise. In the coming months, Emerson will be performing in shows all across Europe. ▪

By Sreetama Chowdhury Staff Writer Iconic American hip-hop group The Black Eyed Peas makes a compelling return to the music scene with MASTERS OF THE SUN VOL. 1. Released October 26, it is the group’s first album since 2010. The album is loosely politicallythemed, explicitly pointing out issues like gun violence and race relations and calling for less hate and more “big love.” After the departure of former member Fergie in early 2018, The Black Eyed Peas became a group of three, consisting of members,, and Taboo. Despite the group’s reduced size, MASTERS OF THE SUN VOL. 1 features a bevy of (largely unimpressive) collaborations with artists such as Nicole Scherzinger, Nas, the late Phife Dawg, and even South Korean singer-songwriter CL. Reminiscent of the Peas in the late 1990s, MASTERS OF THE SUN VOL.1 eschews rapid-fire beats and mumble rap in favor of a successful callback to their roots of hip-hop and boom bap. It’s a drastic contrast from the group’s mid-2000s albums The E.N.D. and The Beginning, “party albums” that took inspiration from electronic dance music and pop. The final two songs on the album, “RING THE ALARM pt.1 pt.2 pt.3” and “BIG LOVE,” contain the most explicitly political lyrics. Referencing gun violence, police brutality, and government corruption, they provide a passionate indictment of the state of the world and a call to action to rise up and fix it. They stand out on the album as the most lyrically deft as well; lines such as “King had a dream but we all still asleep” and “All lives matter till your color is the target” showcase a keen awareness of social issues both past and present. While their message of unity and love may seem trite, the Peas succeed in presenting it where others have not by lending a genuine flavor to it and by acknowledging the specific problems that make it so necessary. The two penultimate songs also impress in terms of music. “RING THE ALARM pt.1 pt.2 pt. 3” is a true gem, showcasing three different musical styles and seamlessly transitioning between the three parts of the song. “BIG LOVE” is more pop than the rest of the album. A strong drumbeat and uplifting vocal chorus signify a transition between parts. For example, the gradual transformation of the music in “RING THE ALARM pt.1 pt.2 pt.3” serves to underline the transition between the more vocals-based beginning of the song and the upbeat, funky rap of its latter half. However, most of the songs range from four to six minutes in length, and combined with the often repetitive lyrics, they seem to drag on. While occasionally profane, MASTERS OF THE SUN VOL. 1 is significantly less thematically explicit than most hip-hop music. Although the first half of the album does include tracks that spotlight the Peas’ triumphant return, it chooses to focus on their iconic history and unique musicality rather than emphasize their wealth and lavish lifestyles, something that makes the album seem more mature. Upbeat and mellow yet sharply political at times, MASTERS OF THE SUN VOL. 1 is a breath of fresh air, combining old-school style with intricate lyrics to create something entirely new. ▪

G a m e By t e s donut county By Carolyn Qian Staff Writer overall: 4/5

By Selina Yang Staff Writer Live-action remakes of classic tales are nothing new for Disney, with Beauty and the Beast released merely a year ago, and Dumbo, The Lion King, and Aladdin laid out for 2019. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms sells itself as the expanded world of the classic Tchaikovsky ballet; in reality, if the Nutcracker-based names attached were switched out, it would hold barely a passing resemblance to the beloved tale. The cast is composed of actors both new and old, but few make spectacular performances. From Directors Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston comes a tepid narrative of clichés and over reliance on spectacle. 14-year-old Clara Stahlbaum (Mackenzie Foy) of Victorian London is not like the other girls, as the movie constantly pushes; she’s interested in science and mechanics instead of dresses and public appearances. To top it off, her late mother just so happened to be the queen of the fantastic and whimsical Hidden Realms. Christmas Eve arrives, and Clara discovers that before passing away, her mother left behind a mysterious gift for her — an ornate Fabergéstyle egg, missing its key. Her eccentric godfather, an artistic inventor played by Morgan Freeman, leads her to the key’s

location and the portals to the wondrous Realms. Upon arrival, she is welcomed warmly by all; her name alone is enough to open any door, except for the ghoulish Fourth Realm. Upon meeting the rulers of the other three realms, the duty is entrusted to her to help defend the peaceful kingdoms from the Fourth Realm, which once tried to dominate all. Exposition is spoon-fed to the audience as characters lecture Clara about their lore, leaving nothing new to be uncovered or explored by the audience’s imagination. Despite the attempt at making a multifaceted world, the lack of nuanced world-building falls flat. The story is rife with overused ideas, playing major yet predictable roles in the story. Clara herself, while meant to be a strong, progressive female character, comes across as entitled, selfish, and impudent. Despite always being proclaimed as the odd one out, she has no trouble adjusting to her newfound power. The friends she meets in her adventure, such as nutcracker captain Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight) and two butlers (Nick Mohammed and Charles Streeter) are given no motivations to support her — Clara isn’t looking for the best for the kingdom and its people, only for her key. One of her main supporters is the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley), whose camp soprano is an interesting new direction for the actress. Knightley suc-

cessfully transforms the classic character from a gracious queen to a sickeningly sweet monarch with her lilting voice and too-good-to-be-true promises of peace. The set is exquisite, with many handpainted backdrops of endless snowy mountains, gnarled trees, or abandoned carnival attractions. These provided points of interest, which turned out to be especially useful when the plot was dragging. The work the set crew put into sets is obvious, and their attention to detail is apparent in their hand painted backdrops and meticulously accessorized locations. Costumes, designed by the award-winning Jenny Beaven were pieces of art; dresses were campy riffs of early Victorian and modern gowns, while suits were adorned with bouquets wherever they would fit. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a generic tale packaged with the prestige of the classic’s name, but none of the factors that makes it so iconic: no unique characters, innovative settings, or interesting plot devices. Many audience goers, with high hopes from a big studio name like Disney, will be disappointed. All in all, it serves its purpose as a casual family movie for filler entertainment, and will be forgotten two years down the road. ▪ Rating: C-

Bohemian Rhapsody bites the dust

One thing is for sure: Donut County is quirky, and it’s these little quirks that bring out the best in its puzzle gameplay and storyline. While it drags on during the first half of gameplay, it redeems itself with whimsical soundtrack, dialogue, and graphics. Gameplay: 3.5/5

The game’s concept is interesting: the player controls a hole in the ground, swallowing objects in the vicinity until a resident and their home has been consumed. However, gameplay quickly becomes repetitive. The game, by nature, is slow paced, and feels dragged out when played all in one sitting but calming and therapeutic in short doses. A notable feature is its replayability. As the player progresses in the storyline, the story’s original levels appear accordingly in the level selection screen. Storyline: 3.5/5

The plotline follows a uniquely nonlinear progression, jumping between present time, when residents are trapped 999 feet underground, to the past, which explains why each character is trapped. However, due to the slow nature of the game, the dialogue occasionally feels dragged on, especially after its distinct progression loses its charm. It’s a small hiccup in its overall storytelling, as its engaging and witty dialogue makes up for its slight repetition. Soundtrack: 5/5

The original soundtrack, by Daniel Koestner, brings out the best in its characters. One level in a game represent a resident of the city, and each level and transition — even the level selection screen — has a track of its own. The varying tracks set a distinct ambiance associated with each citizen, demonstrating the residents’ diversity. Graphics/Usability: 4/5

Donut County is a solid candidate for anybody looking to immerse themselves in simple yet delightful graphics. The game’s geometric designs manage to employ a rainbow spectrum of tastefully muted colors. However, a minor problem in the game is that the cursor lags even at full sensitivity, a problem that amplifies the slow pace of its gameplay.

By Jessica Xu Staff Writer After ten years in the works, muchanticipated biopic Bohemian Rhapsody came to theaters on November 2. It features famous British rock band Queen and lead singer Freddie Mercury’s rise to fame. While the movie does have its merits, it fumbles Mercury’s narrative and smothers any potential nuance. The film follows the journey of Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) from his days performing at bars with a newly formed Queen, through the band’s meteoric rise to fame, up to their show stopping performance at the 1985 Live Aid charity concert, where they played for over one billion viewers worldwide. Bohemian Rhapsody attempts to pack 15 years of Mercury’s life into a twohour runtime, with mixed results. The plot barrels ahead recklessly, then promptly loses steam; rinse and repeat umpteen times, and viewers are left scratching their heads. At times, the movie prefers to gloss over specific plot details for the sake of moving the plot forward, leaving the audience to fill in the gaps on their own. The structure of the film is formulaic and nearly indistinguishable from countless other biographical movies. It feels almost as if the writers used a template for biographical movies and simply inserted details about Freddie Mercury.

In addition, much of the movie is filled with montages of Queen performances; while this does help provide some insight into Queen’s journey, it quickly becomes repetitive and detracts from any substance that the movie might have included. One of the only saving graces here is the pure passion and infectiousness of Queen’s songs. Perhaps equally strong is Malek’s performance. It encapsulates the full range of Mercury’s personality, from his dauntless, flamboyant stage persona to more vulnerable moments. Mercury is truly a three-dimensional character, and viewers find themselves rooting for him despite his flaws. One only wishes that Mercury’s character could have been explored further, as he is the only character in the film that is given any potential for character development. Nevertheless, the movie does have its positives. It is filled with witty quips and well-timed humorous gags. Much of this can be attributed to Malek’s impeccable delivery and the chemistry among the four members of Queen, as well as clever cinematography. Notably, as the band begins to record an absurdly high-pitched section of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the movie cuts to a crowing rooster appearing to mouth the lyrics. Queen songs are also juxtaposed at fitting moments. In a particularly poignant romantic scene, for example, “Love of My Life” plays in the background.

Small details in the film make it more immersive and provide a window into Mercury’s personal life — for example, the movie references Mercury’s fondness for his cats and includes some of his most iconic quotes. In addition, the movie manages to replicate Queen performances and music videos to a tee, which is a treat for viewers already familiar with Queen. Before the movie was released, people were uncertain about how Mercury’s bisexuality would be portrayed, with trailers only briefly hinting at it. While the film clearly tries to give his sexuality more visibility, the attempt falls short. Audiences are given only brief glimpses of his relationships with men, and even these are seldom portrayed in a positive light. Bohemian Rhapsody does take place in an era when LGBTQ+ identity is taboo, but this is not an excuse to shy away from Mercury’s sexuality. The film definitely had potential to give Mercury’s sexuality the representation it deserves but failed to do so. Overall, Bohemian Rhapsody is a movie perfect for people who are already familiar with Queen. The film is suitable for viewers who are looking for a more light-hearted, feel-good story but not for people that want a more in-depth look into Mercury’s life. ▪ Rating: C+

Rating: B+

12 Advertisement

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Friday, November 16, 2018


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Friday, November 16, 2018

The Smoke Signal

ASIAN INFLUENCERS By Samir Jain, Sahana Sridhar, Shreya Srinivasan & Sabrina Wu Staff Writers

Arts & Entertainment 13

As venerated makeup artists, mental health proponents, and standup comedians, Asian-Americans continue to establish a powerful sphere of influence on pop culture through social media. In this spread, the Smoke Signal features five influencers representing varying Asian ethnicities that have helped define their platform today.

karen ip Hong Kong-born Canadian Instagram celebrity Karen Ip, better known by her pseudonym “fruitypoppin,” has redefined standards of fashion and beauty. Ip has racked up over 1.4 million followers on Instagram and 727,000 subscribers on YouTube, which she uses to complement the subjects of her Instagram posts. Ip’s first claim to fame was her infamous “Pika Pika” video on Instagram. Her background as the child of Chinese immigrants has been the source of her humorous renditions of Chinese culture, with Ip commonly employing a gag of her responding to her mother’s calls to dinner in rapid-fire Cantonese. She has, however, earned the most acclaim for not being afraid to display her true appearance to her fans, showing herself both with and without makeup intermittently to encourage youth to accept themselves for who they are.

nazanin kavari Iranian-American YouTuber Nazanin Kavari started out filming and posting makeup tutorial videos in her Ohio bedroom. After making the move to LA in 2016, her channel grew by hundreds of thousands of subscribers; since then, she starred in a web-series called Sheltered and partnered with skincare brand Curology in a sponsorship. In Kavari’s weekly vlogs that she uploads on her vlog channel, she posts behind-the-scenes footage of her main channel videos, dates with her boyfriend, and life in LA with her pets; these videos have played a pivotal role in the building of her impressive following. What especially adds uniqueness and flair to her channel are her candid Q&A videos, in which she opens up about the immigrant experience and what it was like being raised in Ohio by Iranian parents — something a lot of her viewers, other immigrants, relate to.

anna akana Anna Akana is a YouTube personality, actress, comedian, and filmmaker of mixed ancestry. In 2007, when Akana was 17, her 13-year-old sister Kristina commited suicide. The first time she laughed after the event, months later, was during Margaret Cho’s performance on Comedy Central, spurring her passion for comedy. Since then, Akana has starred in a number of short films and serials, garnered a following of 2.4 million subscribers on YouTube, and become a largely outspoken advocate for mental health and suicide prevention. In 2013, she released the book Surviving Suicide, and four years later, came out with So Much I Want To Tell You: Letters To My Little Sister.

bretman rock

simran randhawa 22-year old Simran Randhawa is a Malaysian-Indian model and activist. She boasts over 100,000 followers on Instagram, her primary social media. Although her base was initially a result of her modeling, her fanbase expanded considerably after Vogue magazine spotlighted her for her #decoloniseyourwardrobe campaign; Randhawa began to integrate Indian clothing and pieces into her UK streetwear, a movement she uses to reclaim the culture. Aside from modeling, she writes the occasional article on Indian fashion, her vegan lifestyle, or what it’s like balancing her culture with her modeling career. As an intersectional feminist, she also serves as an activist figure on social media.

Filipino-born and Hawaiian-raised Instagram star Bretman Rock is most well-known for his skills as a makeup artist. His animated personality attracts millions to his makeup-related content on YouTube, where he has garnered over 4.4 million subscribers, and on Instagram, which boasts over 10 million followers. The influencer’s business endeavors feature personalized merchandise on Wnrs Market, as well as a limited-edition Babe In Paradise palette collaboration with Morphe, inspired by his life in Hawaii. Rock is among those leading the male representation movement in the makeup industry. In fact, he spoke at Beautycon Festival Los Angeles on “Redefining Masculinity” after being named one of TIME magazine’s most influential teens in 2017. photos by,,,,

14 Sports

sf v

The Smoke Signal

Winter Sports

Season Preview SeasonPeriod 11/18 -2/19

By Carolyn Qian & Monisha Saxena Staff Writers

Boys Basketball Boys Basketball hopes to replicate their success from last year and qualify for NCS. Although current team players have recognized that they are smaller in stature compared to other teams’ players, they depend on strategies to outsmart other teams. Captain Senior Vraj Patel said, “Our plays will allow us to expose other teams’ flaws on defense.” Boys Basketball anticipates their home game against American High School on January 4, which will be the first game of the season.

Girls Soccer Girls Soccer is excited to work with their new recruits and hopes to qualify for NCS this season. The relatively young team will have to adapt their plays to compensate for their graduated seniors. According to Captain Senior Diane Shan, the team lost five seniors, some of which were integral to their defense last season. “Our goals for this year are to improve throughout the season and win at least half of our games,” said Shan. The team’s first game will be against James Logan High School at Tak Fudenna Memorial Stadium on December 13.

Wrestling In recent years, Wrestling has been rising in NCS rankings, and they hope to carry this momentum into the upcoming season. Most of the team consists of new recruits, which Captain Senior Flora Chang considers a strength. She said, “Our team strength is definitely in numbers ... I think that will help in creating a better team spirit and also help fill our line up.” Chang’s goal for the young team is to solidify the basics for every move. Currently, the team is conditioning in preparation for their first match on December 5 against James Logan High School.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Sports Teams 6

MVAL 2/19

Girls Basketball Although key players graduated last year, Girls Basketball is nevertheless looking to play a competitive season. “I think our strength this year is that we’re a well-rounded team, “Captain Senior Erin Zhu said. Despite the newfound gaps in their plays, the balance in skill level among returning players means that they will be able to improve together.” This year, for our team, we want to have a successful season, gain more experiences together, and hopefully make NCS,” Zhu said. They have begun preparing to compete and look forward to their first game against American High School on January 4.

Boys Soccer This season, Boys Soccer struggled to replace their varsity players who have graduated. In recent years, Boys Soccer has struggled to gain new members, and this year proves to be no different. Despite their challenges, returning members are nevertheless eager to meet their new teammates. “For all of the players, we try to identify their strengths, how to include them on the field, and how they will contribute to our plays,” Captain Senior Sashank Rao said. Their first game will be against James Logan High School at Tak Fudenna Memorial Stadium on December 12.

Cheer Continuing on from the previous season, Cheer will continue to perform at all Boys Basketball and Girls Basketball games as the young team keeps improving.

Visit for more updates on your favorite sports teams! grahpics courtesy,,,,

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Smoke Signal

By Riya Chopra, Ian Hsu & By Riya Chopra, Ian Hsu & Yusuf Yusuf Rasheed Rasheed Staff Writers Staff Writers


GirlsVolleyball Volleyball Girls

After start, Girls Volleyball endAftergetting gettingoff offtotoa aslow slow start, Girls Volleyball ed with with a wina against Newark Memorial High High school, ended win against Newark Memorial their second of thewin MVAL season. With four seSchool, their win second of the MVAL season. niors year, the last average memWith graduating four seniorslast graduating year, team the average members’ experience volleyball bers’team experience with volleyball waswith lower than in the was than in past. As a result, teamaspast.lower As a result, thethe team struggled earlythe on with struggled on with assertiveness and iscomsertivenessearly and communication. “Volleyball a very munication. “Volleyball a very bold so sport that bold sport that requiresisdecisiveness, those two requires decisiveness, so improvement,” those two weaknesses weaknesses impeded our Captain Seimpeded our improvement,” Captain Senior the Thao nior Thao Luong said. “However, even though seaLuong said. “However, even though the season son was very up and down, the moments in which we was up as and down, which trulyvery played a unit werethe themoments brightest in and most we chertruly played as a unit were the brightest and mostbut ished.” The team did not qualify for NCS this season, cherished.” did not qualify for NCS Luong hopesThe thatteam its growth during this season canthis allow season, but Luong hopes that its growth during this Maya Caple, 12 it to qualify during the next season. Girls Tennis season can allow it to qualify during the next season. Going into the season, the future of Girls Tennis was uncerCindy Liu, 12 tain a new coach and several new players. Captain SeGirlswith Tennis nior Brittany Tran said “Our was Tennis to go undefeated Going into the season, the main futuregoal of Girls was unCindy Liu, 12 for the with fifth a year a row.” Not only new did the teamCaptain meet this certain newincoach and several players. goal, but nearly every player on the team went undefeated Senior Brittany Tran said “Our main goal was to go undefeat- in their matches throughout went ed forindividual the fifth year in a row.” Not only the did season. the team“We meet this undefeated in league andplayer qualified for team NCS again,” Tran said. Tran goal, but nearly every on the went undefeated in is also of how spirited the team was this year“We andwent expects theirproud individual matches throughout the season. un- the team to do in the She thatTran the said. manyTran talented defeated in well league andfuture. qualified foralso NCSsaid again,” is also proud of how spirited was this year, underclassmen on the teamthe willteam continue to do welland theexpects next fewthe years. team to do well in the future. She also said that the many talented Gymnastics underclassmen on the team will continue to do well the next few years. Gymnastics had a fairly successful season despite the fact that they didn’t have any Varsity Elite members, who are more experienced and Gymnastics higher-level gymnasts, this year. They also had quite a few new girls join Gymnastics had a fairly successful season despite the fact that they didn’t and any a new coach, School Kristen Buehave Varsity Elite Irvington members, High who are moreGymnastics experiencedCoach and higher-level hler. According to Captain Senior Samantha Wang, they managed toIr-begymnasts, this year. They also had quite a few new girls join and a new coach, come a High lot closer each other and their Buehler. coach through hours of talking vington Schoolwith Gymnastics Coach Kristen According to Captain Se-and training. The team’s goalsmanaged going into the season were with to improve each nior Samantha Wang, they to become a lot closer each other andindividutheir alcoach member’s skills and as wellThe as team’s place goals higher thaninto theythe did at MVAL through hours of performance talking and training. going season werelast year. Although they didn’t place as a team at MVAL this season, most members placed to improve each individual member’s skills and performance as well as place higher than they in at did least one event individually. said, “One of athe challenges we season, faced was thinking about at MVAL last year. AlthoughWang they didn’t place as team at MVAL this most members how we would place but when we gotsaid, to the each person gave their all.” placed in at least oneoverall event individually. Wang “Onemeets, of the challenges wejust faced was it thinking about how we would place overall but when we got to the meets, each person just gave it their all.”

Nishant Yadav, Yadav, 12 12 Nishant

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Fall Sports Recap

Sports 15

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Cheer Cheer

Shivani Upadhyay, 12 Amita Siripurapu, 10 Amita Siripurapu, 10

Cross CrossCountry Country

Girls Golf Coming off a great season last year, Girls Girls Golf Golf focused this year on supporting new

Coming off a great season last year, Girls players and maintaining their placementnew in Golf focused this year on supporting the league. This year, the team placed 2nd players and maintaining their placement in in andThis made Division 1 NCS. In 2nd additheMVAL league. year, the team placed in tion, the team’s major MVAL and madedynamic Divisionhad 1 NCS. In changes addition, compared previous Senior the team’s to dynamic hadyears. majorCaptain changes comRhea said, years. “We lost four Senior very skilled paredAdvani to previous Captain Rhea and experienced seniors, andskilled we gained Advani said, “We lost four very and exmany perienced new players seniors,who and didn’t we gained have many muchnew explayers who didn’t have much experience perience on the course, so our focus in team on the course, our focus in team practices practices were so more on fundamentals and were more on fundamentals and going over rules of the course.” Thegoing futureover for rules of the course.”bright, The future for of theyoung team the team is looking with lot is looking with lot Girls of young potential in bright, underclassman. Golf’spotengoals tial in underclassman. The goals for the Girls for the upcoming year are to continue to Golf’sexposure upcoming beimprove to continue gain onyear the would course, on to gain exposure the course, improve on fundamentals, andongrow closer as a team. fundamentals, and grow closer as a team.

As MVAL, Boys BoysVarsity VarsityCross Cross Asreturning returning champions champions in in MVAL, Country strong.Their Theirmain maingoal goal Countrystarted startedthe the season off strong. was the league and do wastotobe bea atop topcompetitive competitiveteam teaminin the league and well NCS. recordrecord is currently 6-1, and6-1, they do at well at Their NCS. season Their season is currently aim be top their NCS. One of the bigandtothey aim 3toinbe topdivision 3 in theiratdivision at NCS. One of the biggest to the dynamic of thelast team gest changes to changes the dynamic of the team from year from last year was the of age of the Varsity was the age difference thedifference Varsity athletes. Captain athletes. Captain Senior Nitin Sagi said, “We only on have Senior Nitin Sagi said, “We only have one senior the one this senior onwhereas the team whereasoflast team year, lastthis yearyear, the majority theyear team thecomprised majority ofofthe team was comprised of seniors.” was seniors.” However, Sagi believes havHowever, Sagi believes having a beneficial younger team thisto ing a younger team this year will be in years year will be beneficial in next yearsyear to come. said, “Our come. He said, “Our team will beHe even stronger team next year bethis even stronger we than the one we will have year. I hopethan that the theyone continhave this year. I hope that they continue to work hard, ue to work hard, perform well, and enjoy running.” Girls perform well,many and enjoy faced Varsity faced injuriesrunning.” this year,Girls but Varsity they still only many injuries this year, but they still only lost one race lost one race this season. Captain Senior Rhea Guliani season. Senior Guliani is excited isthis excited for Captain the future of theRhea team. She said, “Sincefor I’m the future of the team. She said, “Since I’m the only sethe only senior from the team graduating, there’s a lot nior from the team graduating, there’s a lot of young of young potential and I know the girls will do great.” potential and I know the girls will do great.” The team The team will race at NCS on November 17 where will race at NCS on November 17 where they they hope to set personal records for their times. hope to set personal records for their times.

Boys Water Polo Boys This Water seasonPolo for Boys Water Polo was a time for re-

This season for restructuring. Boys Water Polo a time for rebuilding and Withwas coaching issues building andof restructuring. With coaching issues and and a lack returning athletes, the team focused aon lack of returning athletes, the team focused on dedeveloping younger players. Despite these obveloping Despite these obstacles, stacles, younger the teamplayers. still keeps a supportive environthe team still keeps a supportive environment. Capment. Captain Senior Connor Sayle said, “Everyone tain Senior Connor Sayle said, “Everyone is focused is focused on improvement and everyone is willing on andout; everyone is its willing to help to improvement help each other whether working one each other out; whether its working one on one with on one with shooting drills or asking questions in shooting orunderstand asking questions in order to bet-it order todrills better something for when ter understand for seniors when it happens next happens next something time.” Seven out of the 12 time.” Seven seniors out of the 12 Varsity team memVarsity team members will be graduating this year, bers will be graduating this year, but Sayle is optibut Sayle is optimistic for the team’s future. He said, mistic for the team’s future. He said, “It was a rough “It was a rough season, but I think the team gained season, but I think the team gained a lot of valuable a lot of valuable varsity experience that the youngvarsity experience that the younger players er take players will takeofadwill advantage vantage of next next season.” season.”

Farrah Lin, 10

Girls Water Polo Girls WaterGirls PoloWater This year,

Polo wanted to focus on improving their offense and bringing This year, team’s Girls Water Polo wanted focus onpracticing improvingattheir bringing out their full potential. The to team was two offense differentand pools each out their team’s fullthe potential. team was practicing two different each week throughout season The which allowed for more atspace to play, pools so practicweek the season allowed more space to play, so practices ranthroughout much smoother than which previous years.for According to Captain Senior Kies much smoother previous According to Captain Kikueran Higuchi, the team’sthan highlight of years. the season was when they Senior managed kue Higuchi, team’s highlight of the season whenAmerican they managed to score fivethe goals in one quarter in their winwas against High to score five goals in one quarter in their win against American High School. Overall, the team improved their performance in comparison School. Overall, the team improved their performance comparison to last year by significantly strengthening their offenseinand becomto year by significantly strengthening their offense and becominglast a lot closer. Higuchi said, “Our team dynamic was much better ing lot closer. said,to“Our was much this ayear. We allHiguchi knew how playteam with dynamic each other well andbetter were this We all our knew how to playwhich with made each other and were ableyear. to predict movements, us dowell a lot better.” able to predict our movements, which made us do a lot better.”

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Ashley Tsai, 10

o PPoollo r e aatter W W

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Introduction Introduction

Ashley Tsai, 10

In aa wild wild fall fall sports sports seaseaIn son of of ups ups and and downs downs son through every every sport, sport, many many through of MSJ’s MSJ’s sports sports teams teams came came of out with with NCS NCS invitations. invitations. The The out captains praised praised developments developments captains made in in their their teams teams this this year. year. made

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Cheer hadworked a large on number of new this season primarily building theirmembers basic skills. The team and had primarily worked on building their basic skills. The team two successful performances in the fall, one during the had two successful performances in the fall, one during Homecoming Kickoff assembly and the other during the the Homecoming Kickoff assembly and the other during the Green and White assembly. Because the team was almost Green and White assembly. Because the team was almost entirely new this season, Coach Tiffany Stelle focused on entirely new this season, Coach Tiffany Stelle focused on building trust and friendship among the girls in order to building trust and friendship among the girls in order to successfully perform stunts. The highlight of the season successfully perform stunts. The highlight of the season was when the team hit an extension — an intermediate was when the team hit an extension — an intermediate stuntwhere wheretwo twopeople peopleatatthe thebase baselift liftone oneperson personfully fully stunt above them from the feet — for the first time during the above them from the feet — for the first time during the Homecoming Kickoff assembly. The team is currently Homecoming kickoff assembly. The team is currently performinglevel leveltwo twostunts, stunts,which whichrequire requiremore more skill skill performing and balance than the basic level one stunts the team and balance than the basic level one stunts the team wasdoing doingininthe thebeginning beginning the the season. season. Stelle Stelle said, said, was “Our goals for next year are to advance our levels in “Our goals for next year are to advance our levels toto a level three, continue to bond andand get instunting stunting a level three, continue to bond closer together, andand come up up withwith more creative get closer together, come more crewaysways to get thethe school involved ative to get school involvedininour our athletics.” athletics.”

Sasha Tang, 11 Sasha Tang, 11

Katra Dakin, 12 Katra Dakin, 12

Samantha Wang, 12 Samantha Wang, 12

ymnnasatsitciscs GGym

Cheer Cheer Cheer had a large number of new members this season and

Clarise Han, 10

photos by by sports sports editor editor hannah hannah chou chou,, smoke smoke signal signal archives archives,, courtesy courtesy costanoan costanoan yearbook yearbook,, john john hotchkiss hotchkiss & & angela angela yan yan photos

16 Photo

The Smoke Signal

Freshman Rishitha Kona oversees a carnival game.

Friday, November 16, 2018

A cloaked student throws a rope ring at a cardboard cutout. Freshmen Jessica Nguyen and Manini Kapoor hand out candy to students.

A student succesfully bats a Wiffle ball.

By Jonathan Liu Staff Writer MSJ students and LEO club members volunteered at the Joshua Chadbourne Elementary School Halloween Carnival on October 27. In the morning, the volunteers hung decorations, set up activity booths, and managed other logistics of the event. Orange and black streamers decorated the entire school, along with cutouts of bats, jack-o’-lanterns, and Halloween monsters. Halloween music played throughout the event while volunteers operated the activity booths, interacting with elementary school students and handing out candy and tickets called “Boo Bucks.” Students could earn “Boo Bucks” to exchange for prizes by winning a variety of Halloween-themed carnival games, such as ring tosses, golfing, archery, and lassoing. Volunteers helped wrap up the day of fun, taking down the décor as delighted children and parents headed home. Decorations adorn Joshua Chadbourne Elementary School.

A student makes a toss at a painted target. photos by staff writer jonathan liu, graphics by

By Josephine Chew Staff Writer Hundreds of viewers flocked to MSJ’s C-120 on November 3 for the seventh annual FUSD’s Got Talent!, an event featuring student and staff performances from schools throughout the district. Following a few opening remarks from the emcees, students took the stage and began a series of inspiring performances from dancers, singers, instrumentalists, and even a comedian. Gregory’s Big Band, a mix of brass, saxophone, keyboard, and percussion, represented MSJ with a compelling rendition of the jazz number “Sack O’ Woe” by Cannonball Adderley. After the performances, the emcees raffled off an assortment of prizes to delighted spectators. To cap off the event, three judges announced the winning acts and their respective cash prizes, totaling $5,000. John F. Kennedy High School student Aleksandar Klipa performs an original guitar composition.

“Gregory’s Big Band” from MSJ perform a jazz number.

William Hopkins Junior High School student Skylar Qian performs “Nymph Thornton Junior High School students Isha Kale and Deeta Ganapathy sing and dance to by the Water.” Silence” by Marshmelllo ft. Khalid.

Centerville Junior High School student Saee Bage sings “Pulled” by Krysta Rodriquez and Adam Riegler.

Irvington High School student Maanibha Sengupta performs “Kathak Indian Dance” to the song “Mere Dolna Sun.” photos by staff writer josephine chew

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