Page 1


VOL. 53 NO. 3

November 17, 2017


By the Numbers: Social Media By Katherine Guo, Lucia Li, Sahana Sridhar & Kelly Yang Staff Writers

How often do you check social media per day? 35

In today’s digital age, students have access to a variety of communication methods at their fingertips, from immediate international video chats through Facebook to instant photo sharing through Instagram and Snapchat. Although these communication methods remain available to almost all students, there is a variation among how, how often, and which apps are used. To further understand these usage patterns, the Smoke Signal surveyed a total of 184 students from all grade levels on October 31.

40 39



25 20






15 9





9 a.m. - 12 p.m.



9 p.m. - midnight


28 25 21



17 16














10 7

7 3

3 0

Over 30


22 17








0 21-25



3 Over 30



After midnight

Less than an hour








Tumblr Pinterest

2-3 hours









8% 13%



19% 13%




Class of 2020

Class of 2019

Class of 2018

Which social media sites do you use?

How much time do you spend on social media?



21% 17%

Class of 2021

Percentage (%)




76.0 70.9

60 50 40 28.6

20 14.9




5 students have 2 or more




More than 5 hours







On a scale of 1 through 10, how













much of a positive effect does social media have on your life?

Do you more often access social media on your phone or on your laptop?













26.2% After three years of listening to 1989, listeners finally have a new album to love — or hate! Check out the Smoke Signal’s review of the album online!

On a scale of 1 through 10, how your daily life?

Average by Gender


Average by Grade Level

much do you rely on social media in

e on


Average by Gender





17% 28%

3 p.m. - 6 p.m. 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Approximately 1 in Instagram accounts.


12 p.m. - 3 p.m.


4-5 hours



6 a.m. - 9 a.m.


3-4 hours



Before 6 a.m.

1-2 hours




Which social media site do you use the most?





(Choosing all that apply)




When do you check social media?


Percentage (%)

Percentage (%)



Average by Grade Level

In the month of October, many MSJ students showcased their outstanding artistic ability. The Smoke Signal has compiled a small sample of this artwork and posted them on its website!




2 News


The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 17, 2017

Model United Nations improves at UC Berkeley workshop Students participate in two different workshops to hone skills for Model United Nations By Anisa Kundu & Shray Vaidya Staff Writers

niques, such as researching topics, following rules of procedure, keeping a flow of debate, caucusing, and public speaking. Although many of these methods of arbitration are commonly practiced by most high school students, some are unique to Model UN, like caucusing, which refers to an informal debate that is usually used during regular sessions. Since their next conference takes place in December, novice members must familiarize themselves with these Model UN procedures in order to be properly prepared. Sharing her experience in the novice workshop, Freshman Meera Sehgal said, “The skills we learned in the workshop helped us understand how we can be better in the future for upcoming conferences.” In addition, BMUN offered an advanced level workshop with a particular emphasis on crisis resolution, which four MSJ Model UN students attended. Because this workshop was designed to address more specific questions about Model UN, the coordinators split the advanced students (those who have attended two or more conferences) into even smaller groups of 10 to 15 delegates each. The workshop aimed to ensure that everyone had a more thorough understanding of the Model UN procedures, and helped delegates work on crisis procedures, which involve reacting to events such as ter-

MSJ Model United Nations (UN) attended the annual Berkeley Model United Nations (BMUN) workshop on October 28 at UC Berkeley. The workshop aimed to help delegates understand and refine key techniques and procedures of Model UN at both novice and advanced levels. The workshop kicked off with the Opening Ceremonies, in which BMUN Secretary-General Natasha Cougoule and Under-Secretary General of Outreach Trent Gomberg gave short speeches detailing the purpose of the event and the weeks of work that had been poured into organization. Afterwards, delegates split into three sections based on skill level: novice, advanced, and chairing. Of the 20 students from MSJ who attended, none could engage in chairing, since it is a section reserved for college Model UN students who wish to help organize future conferences. Once organized in their respective categories, the attendees separated into smaller groups of about 10 to 20 students each to facilitate the learning process. The majority of MSJ students who attended fell into the novice category. In the novice workshop, first-year members learned how to utilize fundamental tech-


Model UN members gather around President Senior Shrey Vasavada and Adviser Jack Marden as they receive directions for navigating the UC Berkeley campus.

rorist attacks or disease outbreaks being announced to the committee in real time and drafting quick short-term solutions. Regarding the crisis procedures that were taught, Sophomore Rishi Jain said, “Other workshops used to give a predefined issue, and you had to debate on that issue with a limited amount of information. This advanced crisis committee gave constant progressions on the issue, so the debate took different turns.” Both the novice and advanced level workshop ended with a specialized

simulation of what a real conference would be like that allowed students of each category to practice the skills they had been perfecting throughout the day. MSJ Model UN President Senior Shrey Vasavada said, “Everyone learned at least something new about Model UN … and some kind of technique that’s going to help them at the conference.” MSJ Model UN will be heading to their first conference of the year, East Bay Model UN, from December 2 to 3. ▪

Status of the FUSD math pathways FUSD reviews the current math pathways at its latest board meeting By Shreya Sridhar & Jennifer Xiang Staff Writers FUSD conducted its board meeting on October 11 to discuss the newly implemented math pathways, which will mostly affect current freshmen and sophomores. The math curriculum has had substantial changes in the past five years, which have been prompted

by Common Core curriculum. The current Common Core based curriculum, which was implemented two years ago, has impacted students in course material and options. Five years ago, an incoming freshman could either take Geometry or Algebra 2/ Trigonometry, which were the regular pathway and the accelerated pathway respectively. However, this year, freshmen may enroll in

Geometry and Algebra 2/Trig

Algebra 2/Trig and PreCalculus

AP Calculus or Calculus

Algebra 2/Trig as Elective Class

Summer Bridge Course

AP Calculus or Calculus

Geometry and Algebra 2/Trig

Algebra 2/Trig and PreCalculus

AP Calculus or Calculus

FUSD dislayed a flow chart of its math class pathways at its board meeting.


Algebra 1, Geometry, or Geometry/Algebra 2/Trigonometry. “What many parents don’t understand is that the double-accelerated pathway has never been implemented before. It is not the equivalent of an honors course,” Math Department Chair Scott Sugden said about the Geometry/Algebra 2/Trigonometry course. This math pathway enables students to finish either AP Calculus AB or BC by 11th grade, an option that was previously only available to students who had skipped Pre-Algebra. The main difference between the past system and the Common Core system lies in the lengthening of some courses. Previously, Pre-Algebra was either skipped or taken in the seventh or eighth grade. The course has been replaced with Common Core 1, Common Core 2, and Geometry and Foundations of Algebra (GFA), starting in sixth grade. One level of acceleration in the new system condenses the three-year sequence into two years. Students in double-acceleration can further condense the three-year pathway of Geometry, Algebra 2/Trigonometry, and

Precalculus into two years. Thus, students in double-acceleration end up two years ahead of non-accelerated students. The highest pathway in both the Common Core system and the previous system results in students taking AP Calculus AB or BC in 11th grade. After the transition to the new Common Core system, enrollment in this accelerated pathway has increased. According to Sugden, before the Common Core program was implemented, around 50 students each year were in that pathway, but now, seven classes of students are enrolled to finish AP Calculus AB or BC in junior year. In addition to differences in course sequence, the new math pathways operate with the principles of Common Core. Middle school students have experienced the change from textbooks to an emphasis on workbooks. In high school, the books for Geometry and Algebra 2 have changed as well as the teaching system that teachers use. However, most administrative staff members and teachers are certain that the change is for the better. ▪


for the Oct. 20, 2017 issue News Pg. 1: US Drug Administration should be US Department of Agriculture. Opinion Pg. 3: First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech was to the Democratic National Convention. Opinion Pg. 4: Lauren Rivera is a Northwestern University Associate Professor. Kim Elsesser is a lecturer. Opinion Pg. 5: Florida’s minimum wage is $8.10. Centerspread Pg. 12: Shiantel Chiang is misspelled. A&E Pg. 15: WaNt U 2 is misspelled. Sports Pg. 19: Starla Murillo played Varsity Girls’ Basketball in Freshman year. Sports Pg. 20: Arabhi Thananjeyan is spelled incorrectly.



Compiled by Shiantel Chiang, Kikue Higuchi & Tylor Wu Staff Writers

MERCURYNEWS.COM Lighted concentric circles in downtown San Jose were installed on Nov. 3 and will remain in place for two or three months.

CNN.COM Amubulance and police arrive at the site to investigate the shooting.

ICIJ.ORG “Paradise Papers” reveal offshore activities of world’s wealthy, especially tax evasion.

San Jose Glowing Art Piece: The Sonic Runway The Sonic Runway debuted on Friday, November 3, featuring two blocks of glowing concentric circles that portray sound waves through light along the street in front of the San Jose City Hall in San Jose, CA. This 432-foot lighted runway was created by Rob Jensen and Warren Trezevant, both originally from Pixar Animation Studios. The Runway has also been displayed internationally in China and London, attracting various requests to bring their art to other venues.

Man kills 26 in Texas church shooting, investigations focus on domestic abuse Devin Patrick Kelley entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas with an assault rifle on November 5, killing 26 and wounding nearly everyone in the church. 10 of the 20 people wounded remained in critical condition on November 6. Kelley was a former member of the US Air Force and had been convicted of domestic assault against his wife and step-son. Despite this conviction, Kelley was still able to purchase a gun and attack the church. Kelley’s attack is thought to be aimed at his wife’s family, who attended the church regularly.

Details of International Tax Havens Released in “Paradise Papers” A large leak of financial documents named the Paradise Papers from the company Appleby, a firm that helps companies create offshore operations was released on November 5. The papers reveal the actions of many top government officials as well as companies, such as a key aide of Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau being linked to offshore schemes and Apple evading taxes using the Channel Islands of Jersey. The leak is the second largest after the Panama Papers leak.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Smoke Signal


News 3

Board approves of Modernization Projects FUSD authorizes a $19.8 million contract to improve its schools’ infrastructure By Anagha Mandayam & Praveen Nair Staff Writers During their October 25 meeting, the FUSD Board of Education unanimously authorized a $19.8 million contract to modernize MSJ’s infrastructure. This Modernization Project is a district-wide project that applies to schools such as John F. Kennedy High School (KHS) and Washington High School (WHS). The project will focus on upgrading the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system, existing pavement, exterior lighting, security locks, and the storm drainage systems. According to FUSD Board President Ann Crosbie, action for the project was taken after the 2014 approval of Measure E, a $650 million bond for school infrastructure. This bond was passed after the Board conducted a facilities assessment on all of Fremont’s high schools. The assessment determined the condition of the campus and the probability that the campus would become overcrowded. Using these guidelines, the assessment gave

MSJ a score of 77 points out of 100 points possible, similar to other FUSD schools. Funding for this project largely depends on Proposition 51, which allotted $9 billion in bonds to fund the refurbishment of primary and secondary schools across California. Proposition 51 reimbursed schools for infrastructure projects, including $3.9 million for the construction of the new P-Wing. However, according to Crosbie, recent fires have led to much of the Proposition 51 funds being directed to schools dealing with severe fire damage, delaying state reimbursement for less immediate concerns like this project. FUSD Associate Superintendent Raul A. Parungao anticipates that construction costs will increase due to the increased demand for supplies and labor and said “Pretty soon, we’re going to be competing with that [increased prices] … I already know prices will go up.” Part of the remaining funding will come from fees paid by local housing developers. The MSJ project is just one of three that the Board approved at their October meeting; also authorized were modernization ef-

HVAC systems, such as these shown in the E-Wing, will be upgraded.

More exterior lighting will be added as part of the Modernization project.

forts at KHS and WHS. The three projects are projected to cost a combined $50 million. Each school site has been assigned different architecture firms based on a lengthy bidding process. The Modernization Project was voted on by local residents and FUSD families. The Board recognized that in the past, community voice was not incorporated to the fullest extent. “Throughout the design process, there will be some opportunity for student, staff, and parents to be able to provide input,” Parungao said. One such concern, the MSJ pool project, will depend on the amount of leftover funds in Measure E bonds. The Measure E fund accounts for escalating prices and has a contingency fund. If any of these funds remain once scheduled projects are completed, pool renovations could be billed to the Measure E fund. As of now, it is unclear how long it will be

Asphalt in the student parking lot is damaged.

until work begins on the Modernization Project at MSJ. The plan is still under review by the Division of the State Architect; once approved, local contractors bid on the project. After bidding, costs will be reevaluated and construction plans will be announced. ▪


Society for Neuroscience discusses stress Students at a Society for Neuroscience meeting learn about the neuroscience behind stress By Christine Dong & Julia Park Staff Writers The Bay Area Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Youth chapter discussed the neuroscience of stress during their second meeting of the school year on October 29 at the Calabazas Branch Library. After a presentation on the neuroscience behind stress, participants made stress balls and iced cookies to de-stress. SfN is a global organization that brings neuroscientists together in order to effectively research the brain and inform the public. As the first Youth chapter of the organization, Bay Area SfN is entirely run by nearby high school students. Events are occasionally sponsored by the City of Palo Alto’s Think Fund program, and the chapter is affiliated with the UC Davis Society for Neuroscience chapter. Bay Area SfN aims to connect students interested in neuroscience and invites speakers to its meetings, hosts neuroscience

A student decorates her cookie with icing.

competitions, and organizes fundraisers for causes related to neurological disabilities. Passionate students apply to become student representatives, who work with Bay Area SfN’s team of student officers and help garner publicity. An MSJ student representative, Sophomore Emily Zou, works as the public relations officer of MSJ Neuroscience and helped publicize the chapter meeting at MSJ. The first meeting of the school year featured a lecture on dysautonomia, and previous years’ meetings covered linguistics, mental health, and more. Inspired by the success of an interactive April 2017 meeting that featured an opportunity to dissect a cow brain, officers opted to choose a relatable subject for students — stress — and included interactive activities. Student officers started the meeting by describing how specific hormones were triggered by stimuli to cause stress and other negative physical and mental effects. The presenters warned that while short-term stress

MSJ students participate in stress-relieving activities by making stress balls with balloons and Orbeez.

may boost physical performance, both shortterm and long-term stress could impede mental performance. After the presentation, the officers held a brief break so students could ask questions. During the second half, officers summarized the different methods students could use to alleviate stress, such as repetitive physical motion, baking, and music. The meeting then moved on to stressrelieving activities such as making stress balls with balloons and Orbeez and icing cookies in the shape of a brain. Students from many different schools in the Bay Area came to the meeting and found it educational and interesting. “I think the meeting went really well because we learned a lot and the activities were really fun. Last meeting, we didn’t have a lot of activities, but this meeting we had the cookies and the stress balls and that really got everyone’s attention,” said Amador Valley High School Sophomore Nora Youn. Bay Area SfN plans to host more interactive and relatable meetings, expand their

“We always try to connect with students who might think that neuroscience is a really scary or esoteric field that you have to be really good at science in order to be involved in.” — BAY AREA SfN CO-PRESIDENT LYNBROOK HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR MYRA CHENG organization to include more schools across the Bay Area, and increase student interest in general. “One of the reasons that we chose this topic for our meeting is because we always try to connect with students who might think that neuroscience is a really scary or esoteric field that you have to be really good at science in order to be involved in ... I think that’s an important stereotype that we’re trying to dispel,” said Bay Area SfN Co-president Lynbrook High School Senior Myra Cheng. ▪ PHOTOS BY STAFF WRITERS CHRISTINE DONG & JULA PARK

4 Opinion


The Smoke Signal

#MeToo: From awareness to change

Student Trust

By Joelle Chuang & Karen Li Staff Writers

do you feel like you can truSt other mSJ StudentS? why or why not?

Reb e


hang, 9 “In general, I think I can trust fellow students because when you go to a school that places such a high emphasis and doing good and getting good grades, you have to learn to trust each other and help each other out ... You form this bond with other students just from going to the same school and suffering through the same experiences.”




, 10

“I do not necessarily feel like I can trust MSJ students, because many times, people will promise that they’ll do something for you, but end up not doing it, and you automatically feel like no one is trustworthy, even if that might not be true. A lot of times, I depend on my friends to help me with homework or do something else for me, but everyone is so preoccupied with their own problems, they end up backing out on you.”

u, 12 W

Kev i



11 ya, nd

“It depends on what I’m trusting them on. If it’s about personal things like keeping a secret, or have someone do a favor for me, I put all of my faith in them. But when I hear things regarding academic topics such as test grades or GPA, I don’t bank on them, but we all do it. Academic pressure really sucks, and it makes people go to extremes or lie to keep up their reputation.”

aZ c c

“I tend to not generalize to all students at MSJ; I think you have to treat each student on an individual basis. And obviously, there are students that are more trustworthy and less trustworthy, so I think it’s more fair to take them individually.”

StudentS often refer to each other aS “SnakeS.” on a Scale of 1 (leaSt) to 5 (moSt), how Sincere do you think theSe accuSationS are and why? Li, 12 yce o J


“I would say a 2, because I’ve had experiences where people turn their back on me after they promise to do something, but especially in such a close-knit community like MSJ, everyone really tries to help you whenever they can.”

aG iz

ill, 11

“A 4; I think Mission kids are willing to do anything to be successful. They will purposely discourage you from doing things so you won’t be as successful or better than them. Mission is a super competitive environment compared to other schools, and rather than looking out for each other we look out for ourselves. And people will often take opportunities from others for stuff in college apps. Competitiveness makes people super snake-y.”


thi, 9

Aye sh


as w

“Well we’re all human beings, so that’s not [technically] true ... Snake always reminds me of Slytherin, from Harry Potter. A Slytherin is always shown as someone who’s cunning, ambitious, and does whatever they can to get their own way. So that’s my interpretation of the term ‘snake.’ I would say the calling people ‘snakes’ is only a little bit true, about a 2, at Mission.”


Friday, November 17, 2017

azali, 10 Gh “Maybe a 3. I feel like most often people would have to be comfortable with a person to actually call them [snakes]; I doubt someone would just verbally insult someone that they aren’t really familiar with.”


In the early weeks of October 2017, multiple famous actresses such as Angelina Jolie and Ashley Judd and model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez publicly accused renowned movie producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, spurring the recent #MeToo campaign and acting as a catalyst for 1.7 million other victims to come forward. Following actress Alyssa Milano’s lead on Twitter, hundreds of activists and sexual harassment survivors utilized the hashtag to share their stories. In some aspects, the #MeToo campaign is quite effective. The millions of social media posts expose the prevalence of sexual assault across a multitude of organizations. In Hollywood, the celebrity status of some of the perpetrators creates an uneven power dynamic that silences victims who fear career-destroying repercussions. On November 2, former marketing executive Melanie Kohler accused filmmaker Brett Ratner of rape. A few hours later, she was sued for defamation. Such perpetrators use their influence and money to intimidate victims, but the chain of accusations continues to grow as social media continues to inspire more victims to fight back against the systematic intimidation. However, such media campaigns only increase awareness briefly, and don’t significantly change our attitudes toward sexual assault crimes. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, when activist Tarana Burke initially created the hashtag in 2006, US rape crimes numbered 92,757; in 2016, there were 95,730. It’s difficult to accurately assess social media’s true impact on the sexual assault situation because according to the National Institute of Justice, 74 percent of sexual assaults are not reported. But as a whole, these numbers appear to have very little effect on the frequency of crimes. Similarly, in 1991, attorney Anita Hill testified against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas for sexually harassing her in the workplace. Thomas went on to serve on the US Supreme Court, and no charges were ever filed. Then in 2014, writers Sue Montegomery and Antonia Zerbisias started the #beenrapedneverreported trend on Twitter to spread awareness. However, Zerbisias’s campaign did not affect Bill Cosby’s sexual misconduct case in 2015, when 50 women came forward with accusations. Despite the overwhelming evidence, the jury declared the case a mistrial. Even 26 years later, society continues to allow powerful perpetrators escape with mini-

mal punishment. While #MeToo creates awareness and provides voices to previously silent victims, it should also serve to change the lenient attitude that society takes towards sexual harassment. As previous movements in the media have shown, we ultimately do not hold violators accountable in any way. Going forward, we need to find ways to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions and punish them accordingly, because only then will they consider adjusting their behavior. Additionally, the current process of reporting and investigating sexual assault unfairly targets victims. During court hearings of sexual assault cases, victims are often asked accusatory questions, such as “How much did you drink?” and “What were you wearing?” Last year, Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner was tried for raping a woman at a fraternity party. The result was a sentence of six months in the Santa Clara County jail, followed by three years of probation — a remarkably light sentence, since the victim was able to prove with near certainty that Turner had sexually assault her. In response to the sentence, the victim wrote in a harrowing open letter, “I was pummeled [during the investigation] with narrow, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy.” We need to change the mentality that blames victims and excuses the perpetrators. While questioning the credibility of the victim is reasonable, the process of reporting sexual assault should be less invasive for the victim, which might encourage others to come forward more willingly. With the wide accessibility of social media, we can harness the current momentum of this movement and implement changes that actually have real impact. Rather than just posting about sexual assault experiences, these platforms can be utilized to teach others how to recognize red flags in potential predators, and other knowledge and tips. Another simple, self-empowering approach would be to have mandatory self-defense training in high school and college. Especially in light of the #MeToo movement and the accusations against celebrities such as Weinstein, society needs to encourage individuals to stand up against all sexual harassment. It is going to take more than hashtags to change this deep-rooted problem — perhaps with this great outpouring of victims’ voices, we can finally start to turn the tide. It is time to shift the shame to where it belongs: the perpetrators. ▪


Friday, November 17, 2017

The Smoke Signal

amy's approach

The Smoke Signal Mission San Jose High School Est. 1964 Vol. 53, No. 3 | Nov. 17, 2017 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 2016 students EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Carolyn Ge, Mallika Gupta NEWS Gloria Chang, Andrew Kan OPINION Amy Chen, Vicki Xu FEATURE Heather Gan, Helen Wang CENTERSPREAD Zen Thumparkkul, Richard Chenyu Zhou A&E Stephanie Dutra, Hana Sheikh SPORTS Hannah Chou, Cindy Yuan GRAPHICS Evangeline Chang, Victor Zhou WEB Ishika Chawla, Jonathan Ko TECH Julia Park, Michael Ren BUSINESS Ian Hsu CIRCULATION Anagha Mandayam ADVERTISING Shivani Avasarala, Katherine Guo EVENTS Evie Sun, Maggie Zhao SPECIAL PROJECTS Joelle Chuang WRITERS & PHOTOGRAPHERS Shiantel Chiang, Rishi Chillara, Riya Chopra, Christine Dong, Arpita Gaggar, Toshali Goel, Kikue Higuchi, Samir Jain, Anisa Kundu, Karen Li, Lucia Li, Ashni Mathuria, Praveen Nair, Sahana Sridhar, Shreya Sridhar, Shreya Srinivasan, Shray Vaidya, Tylor Wu, Jennifer Xiang, Kelly Yang ADVISER Sandra Cohen Send letters to the editor to 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 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


Opinion 5

No, it isn’t common sense

Lessons to be learned from Monopoly

By Amy Chen Opinion Editor

By Vicki Xu Opinion Editor

Our relationships with the people around us are built on mutual understanding, negotiation, and trust. Because of this, a lack of communication and mutual understanding will almost always lead to disagreement. Though this might seem like common sense to some, I only fully internalized this idea a week ago, when my team’s product provider for Relay for Life began working with another team on campus. Our team saw it as a betrayal of some unspoken business contract until we realized that no such contract existed. We never even informed the provider that we didn’t want them to work with another group. In reality, the problem wasn’t that the provider betrayed us, but that our team didn’t even mention our own expectations in the business relationship. This occurrence made me consider the contractual nature of interpersonal interactions. Because we all have separate wants and needs, relationships only work when both parties understand and respect what the other wants. In professional relationships, physical contracts attempt to simplify this process. Multiple parties can negotiate, define, and agree upon a set of standards with minimal chance for future conflict. Day to day relationships, however, aren’t this straightforward, since most of us don’t document all of our unspoken contracts with the people around us. However, we can still communicate our expectations of others. For example, many online artists, like digital illustrator Yuumei, will explicitly state when they’re fine with their work being reposted and when they’re not. While this might seem like it could easily go unspoken, the ex-

tra clarification may be necessary for external parties who don’t understand the exploitative nature of borrowing and sharing work without credit. Another approach to looking at this is through classroom procedure. Teachers consistently define assignments and grading methods, allowing students to complete work that meets class standards. Similarly, in everyday life, we must tell others our expectations ahead of time. In a sense, being upset at someone for failing to meet unspoken expectations is synonymous with teachers docking points for not including a part of a project never mentioned in the instructions. Furthermore, in contractual relationships, both parties have a responsibility to state what they can or can’t offer. Problems arise when we blindly underestimate what the other party is willing to contribute to the relationship, as evident from the recent Mental Health Panel. At the event, concerns about a lack of parental support for seeking help arose multiple times in the discussion. However, the panelists’ experiences revealed that even when it might not seem so, our parents are here to help us. By assuming that our parents cannot offer the support we need, students miss out on a valuable source of assistance. In order to prevent misunderstandings and to make the best out of all of our relationships, we need to clarify what we expect and communicate with the people around us. Though it might not always work, step one to ensuring someone doesn’t act against your wishes is to make sure they know what you want in the first place. ▪

The Opinion of the Smoke Signal Editorial Board

Amplify the impact of mental health events With multiple organizations on campus focused on student well-being, MSJ appears supportive of students’ mental health. However, our community continues to label people who struggle with their mental health as weak. While school-wide events that address these issues improve our knowledge of mental health issues, only individual action can help us become a more supportive community. MSJ students’ focus on tangible success creates a competitive atmosphere in which shame and fear of failure minimizes emphasis on student support resources. This makes students feel like they should be able to manage everything on their own, alienating those who want to seek help. For instance, a response of “You should feel lucky, I only got two” to a peer saying they only got four hours of sleep discredits their difficulties. If instead, students showed genuine concern for their peers and brainstormed solutions with the help of trusted adults, we would be encouraged to seek change that improves our situation. The stereotypical perception of mental health is that it can simply be dealt with individually. Therefore, people often box themselves into a corner, afraid or unable to reach out to others. However, when students share their private experiences at public panels and events, they personally break through the barrier of shame and fear in order to recount their individual struggles. While some argue that these events upset more people than they help, giving student stories a voice lets other students know that it’s okay to not be okay. The past few years’ mental health panels, benefit shows, and student wellbeing assemblies allow students, teach-


ers, and parents to begin addressing their own mental health issues that they typically might push aside. Additionally, these public events introduce various available resources — counselors, teachers, doctors, and professional hotlines — that allow us to be more helpful and supportive to those who need them. In order to carry forward and amplify the impact of these events, we should recognize the importance of implementing the changes suggested by these events in our own circles. For example, frequently checking in with friends, being a nonjudgmental listener, and supporting each other’s attempts at getting help will encourage students to actively improve their situations. Once we promote positive mental health in everyday interactions, we will be more proactive in speaking up and seeking help for all struggles. MSJ must use events like the mental health panel as a catalyst in changing the way we talk about these issues. Through community discussion, our mindset can shift from isolating mental health struggles, to being well equipped and willing to address them. ▪

Monopoly was my go-to childhood game. I stopped playing as I grew older, but during a recent cleaning spree, I discovered the dusty box hidden in the back of a shelf. Hoping to improve my rusty skills, I did a bit of research on the game and fell down a rabbit hole of all things Monopoly. The game only truly became popular in the 1930s, when Charles Darrow reinvented the game to focus on individual property ownership instead of the socialist-esque system its original form advocated for. Perhaps its mass appeal lay in the dream of individually expanding private assets, especially in an economic crisis like the Great Depression where social mobility was restricted. One thing that struck me was how much the newer version of Monopoly resembled the American Dream. The greed and ambition involved in taking over a town with a private enterprise embodies the centuries-old American drive to do bigger, do better. Perhaps only by resembling the American Dream could Monopoly become popular. Thinking about Monopoly made me wonder what sustains the American Dream. The days of moving west and building a homestead, the original bread and butter of the dream, are gone. Now it’s simply attaining greater prestige and higher living standards each generation. However, social mobility in the US has declined significantly since the 1980s, as University of Massachusetts, Boston researchers discovered in 2016. Moreover, depending on identity — race, religion, economic class — moving up a single rung on the socioeconomic ladder was never easy. Yet we tightly grasp the hope of doing better than our parents. Just like Monopoly, the dream remains fresh and alive in

so many minds. In a study by the Brookings Institution, more than 60 percent of Americans believe effect guarantees success. We think we’re a very meritocratic, socially mobile society, even when we aren’t. At MSJ, that concept of meritocracy is certainly alive. We’re told to work hard so we can at least maintain our socioeconomic statuses. If that doesn’t happen, we decide we probably slacked off too much. We play our daily games of Monopoly as we strive to “out-success” others, and cling to the thought that if we exert effort, we can succeed. This is fine for most MSJ students, who are socioeconomically and racially privileged enough to live comfortably after graduation. But that’s not necessarily true for the entire student body, or the student populations across the nation, which our community sometimes looks down on for being less academic or economically successful. To be clear, we as a community should reevaluate our drive to brute-forcing our way through and expecting others to do the same. Social mobility has decreased, and coming from a well-off family does improve an individual’s chances of getting ahead. Knowing this, we should make sure other people can achieve the American Dream; participating in food drives, donating unused items, and helping out through community service are good ways to give back to our community. We must recognize that much of our ability to achieve relies on the head start our parents have given us. Very few people fulfill the complete Monopoly dream — or the American Dream — of rags to riches. In fact, even Monopoly players start the game with something, so we should be sympathetic to those who aren’t as fortunate as we are. ▪

By Christine Dong & Kikue Higuchi Staff Writers



National Suicide Prevention Lifeline/Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 Crisis Text Line: text “HOME” to 741-741 National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center: 866-615-6464 Fremont Youth & Family Services: (510) 5742100


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The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Smoke Signal

DEAR DIARY: By Rishi Chillara Staff Writer

IRL Shopper Nov. 19, 2017 Dear Diary, I’m so excited! My favorite holiday of the year is coming up. It’s not Christmas or Thanksgiving. It’s Black Friday, a day of shopping, savings, and all-around fun. Contrary to what most people think, you have to put some serious work in if you want to get the best deals. This means cutting coupons, calling stores, and being prepared to do anything, and I mean anything, to get what you want. My projected savings are looking to be around $600, I’m tingling just from writing that down, but I have to get back to cutting coupons if I want to snag the best bargains. Nov. 23, 2017 Dear Diary, It's 1 a.m. and I’m proud to say that I am first in line, ready for tomorrow. A few days ago, I went to Walmart to scope out the area, plan my path, and get a general feel of the battlefield. The store is practically deserted right now, like the calm before the storm. Employees are huddled in the corner, mentally preparing for the day ahead, and I don't blame them. Customers are like werewolves. As soon as the moon


Alumna Alina Xu


Alumna Alina Xu graduated from MSJ with the Class of 2007. Through her unique experiences, Xu discovered her passion in international development, a unique path of study, which she believes helped her make an impact in the world. While at MSJ, Xu was involved in activities and clubs including Amnesty International, band and orchestra, and the Smoke Signal. She believes that being the News Editor for the Smoke Signal was a great opportunity that helped her gain experience in taking ownership. Being a part of Amnesty International also benefited Xu greatly. “Amnesty was a great outlet for exploring my interest in international issues, specifically human rights violations around the world, and for having a forum to discuss with others who had similar interests,” Xu said. After graduating from MSJ, Xu developed a passion for reducing global poverty and studied economics at UC Berkeley because she thought she could make the biggest difference in the world in this field. During college, she had the opportunity of interning at Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office on Capitol Hill, an experience that helped further develop her interest in politics. After studying at UC Berkeley, Xu studied abroad in Ghana. Xu was curious to try living in a developing country, get exposed to a vastly different culture, and learn first-

vs. Cyber Shopper

comes out, we will change from law-abiding citizens to savage brutes who will stop at nothing to get a $3 t-shirt.

number of websites at once, increasing my shopping power tenfold. Cyber Monday, here I come!

Nov. 25, 2017 Dear Diary, Yesterday was one of the best days of my life. I sprinted through the store, executing my plan flawlessly and reaching the checkout aisle within minutes, with my new phone and 17 t-shirts. With so much time left in the day, I decided to go the mall. Bad idea, it was complete pandemonium. Shopping bags littered the floors reminiscent of an episode of Animal Planet. I watched before me as adults and children trampled and tripped each other to get to the next clothing rack. I immediately backed away. Black Friday may be my day, but even this is too much for me.

Nov. 28, 2017 Dear Diary, My computer is about to blow. The entire machine is whirring so loudly you would think that someone is jackhammering the pavement outside. My credit card company called me three times so far to make sure that I am the one purchasing these items. They can’t imagine how someone could spend $6,000 in 20 minutes. When you see a deal offering 34 cents off for every five pairs of socks you buy, you don’t pass up an opportunity that sweet!

cyber Sshopper Nov. 25, 2017 Dear Diary, Once again, technology wins. While everyone is running around, tripping over themselves to get new clothes or a new coffee maker, I am sitting in the comfort of my home, sipping my tea while doing what I do best, clicking and typing. With my three monitors set up, I can access any

Alumni Spotlight: By Shreya Sridhar Staff Writer


Nov. 30, 2017 Dear Diary, I woke up this morning to get my mail and was met with a wall of cardboard. I went out the back and saw that my door was blocked in by hundreds of boxes with more still coming. An exhausted FedEx worker shot me death stares as he made countless trips back to his van to grab even more packages. After he was done, he shoved a digital pad in my hand and told me to sign. I might have gone a bit overboard this year. ▪

Feature 7

SRO ROBINSON REPORTS by Officer Kelly Robinson Greetings students, I hope all of you are having a great school year thus far. As the year progresses, I will report on a series of issues to help ensure the safety of our students and staff here at MSJ. This month’s issue is Parking Lot laws. Here are just a few laws that have frequently been violated: -NO car shall exceed 5mph within the school parking lot. -Every driver and passenger must wear a seatbelt at all times. -No driver under the age of 18 is allowed to operate a cell phone device at any time while driving. -Drivers MUST NOT allow passengers to ride on any portion of the vehicle not designated for passenger seating. Violators of these laws are subject to receiving a traffic ticket. Please drive safely and remember to be aware of pedestrians and other vehicles along the roadway. ▪

Organization Spotlight:


Alina Xu

hand what the politics, economics, and daily life were like. While in Ghana for seven months, she conducted a research project in the largest slum in the city of Accra, which helped her learn more about the informal electronic waste recycling sector. Xu was also immersed into the Ghanaian culture and observed what Ghanaian people’s lives are like. “It made my studies and professional aspirations much more real,” Xu said. After finishing a spring semester college course in Ghana, Xu moved to Uganda where she managed research projects for professors. She greatly enjoyed making an impact, so Xu decided to work for the government of Swaziland, primarily in the Ministry of Health Department for a handson experience. “I think we made some good, if incremental, progress toward improving the efficiency of certain aspects of the health system. Truly changing the way things work and the way people do things takes a really long time,” said Xu. After staying in Africa, Xu moved back to the US and continued her higher studies. Xu is currently studying at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, pursuing a dual degree in public administration in international development and a Masters of Business Administration respectively. Xu encourages students to stay focused on their aspirations and do something that truly inspires them, despite what anyone might say. She said that there are many opportunities to be discovered after high school. “The MSJ experience is a pretty narrow one, with a fairly well-defined set of objectives that we’ve been conditioned to try to achieve … Your universe expands dramatically in college,” Xu said. ▪

Challenge Success The Challenge Success Club at MSJ is an organization that strives to create a more fulfilling experience for all students. The club consists of a team of students, parents, faculty, and administrators, all working together to decrease the stressful environment and promote engagement of the student body. The Smoke Signal interviewed President Senior Anagha Mandayam and Vice President Senior Sonia Tasser to find out more about the club and its impact. The club was created in 2007 and was originally called Mission S.O.S., but it had the same goals and objectives as Challenge Success today. “Our primary goal is to create a balanced and healthy lifestyle, physically and mentally. Along with the academic pressure of school we want to make sure there is a way students can develop coping mechanisms for the stressful situations they are put under,” said Tasser. To achieve this, Challenge Success has taken part in many changes such as the current homework policy that states students can get an average of 70 to 120 minutes of homework per night, excluding work from AP classes. They have also organized several events including the Health Fair and Stress-Less Days, helped change the start time of school on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., and assisted in removing rankings from high school transcripts. The Challenge Success Club meetings generally consist of brainstorming ideas on how to reduce stress and improve student life. “A lot of times it’s hard to get participation from the students, so we ask our club members just to come up with ideas on how to make MSJ more interactive and more fun and have the student body actually participate in our events,” said Tasser. In addition to holding regular meetings, the club also participated in the recent Challenge Success Fall Conference at Stanford University. Challenge Success conferences, usually held twice a year in fall and spring, are where the Challenge Success Clubs from highly competitive schools come together to attend workshops, listen to guest speakers, and discuss how to reduce the high levels of stress their students feel. “For us it was more thinking about what we could do by interacting with other schools and comparing our environments to see how we can make our school more stress-free,” said Mandayam. Challenge Success collaborates with many other

By Riya Chopra Staff Writer

action groups and clubs on campus to improve the lives of students. For example, last year Challenge Success worked with the clubs and groups that aim to improve student health, such as Peer Resource, MedCorps, American Cancer Society, and MSJ Neuroscience to host the Health Fair in May 2017. Tasser said, “We had each club put up a booth to educate students on something that is important to their club. For example, Peer Resource talked about mental health and Challenge Success talked more about stress. Everyone was really just advocating for a balanced lifestyle.” This year, the club is actively working with the Principal Advisory Committee in monthly meetings to discuss possible improvements on campus and focusing on making the Stress-Less Days more impactful. They are aiming to get more teachers on board so they will avoid assigning highly academic work on these days. In addition to improving the quality of StressLess Days, Challenge Success plans to suggest new policy changes that correlate with the results from the Stanford Survey students took in February 2017. Mandayam said, “Change usually comes from the Stanford Survey we give out, and since we recently gave it out last February, we’re hoping to look through those results and come up with a policy change that will improve students’ lives.” As for future goals, Challenge Success wants to make sure all students at MSJ are aware of what the club is and how it can help them cope with the pressure of high school. Mandayam said, “We want to make it known that we are a different organization altogether that is advocating for more than just mental health. We’re looking for all-round school wellness.” ▪


Challenge Success Officers: Junior Ian Hsu, Sophomore Janet Cui, Senior Grace Cui, Senior Anagha Mandayam, Senior Sonia Tasser, Senior Divya Rangavajjhala

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The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Smoke Signal


San Francisco Trip

Organize a

San Francisco, known as “The Golden City,” is full of golden opportunities for adventure, with countless hidden gems for tourists and locals alike. The Smoke Signal created an interactive quiz to inspire readers to make their next trip to San Francisco unforgettable.

Feature 9

By Joelle Chuang, Jennifer Xiang & Maggie Zhao Staff Writers

START HERE indoors

outdoors adventure

general store

Instagram Worthy? Snapchat Worthy?

Seward Street Slides

Lands End


leisure Address: 4035 Judah St., San Francisco, CA 94122 Price: Whatever you want to spend! General Store, however nondescript its name sounds, is actually a visually appealing shop that makes you feel like you are in a lifestyle blogger’s home. It sells a wide variety of items, from jewelry to furniture, and even has a backyard with succulents. Shopping for a unique gift would be easy at this store.

Address: 30 Seward St., San Francisco, CA 94114 Price: Free Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood, these tall, steep concrete slides will definitely unleash your inner child, no matter how old you may be. These free, stress-relieving slides have great potential for envy-inducing Snapchat videos. For maximum enjoyment and to prevent the wear and tear of your clothes, be sure to bring your own cardboard to slide down on.

Address: 680 Point Lobos Ave., San Francisco, CA 94121 Price: Free, $6 for Legion of Honor This park, located at the very tip of San Francisco, is possibly the prettiest place for a walk in the entire city. Rocky shorelines and countless trails lend the park to colorful, picture-perfect moments. The adjoining art museum Legion of Honor has artwork spanning multiple eras and historical landmarks, ample material for an entire day of exploration.

day loud

Address: 501 Twin Peaks Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94114 Price: Free Located in the center of San Francisco, the Twin Peaks are one of the city’s most famous vantage points. From the top of the hill, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, and across the bay. The breathtaking view at dusk, when the setting sun and city lights illuminate the scene, is a must-see.

TWin peaks summit Address: 1767 Waller St., San Francisco, CA 94117 Price: 25 to 50 cents per arcade game. One of the most popular arcades in San Francisco, Free Gold Watch not only sells custom screen printed apparel, but also houses a large collection of vintage pinball machines to satisfy every gamer’s craving. This unique place has rave reviews from customers of all ages, and is a great place to bond and chill with friends.

boba guys Address: 8 Octavia St. #308, San Francisco, CA 94102 Price: $4 to $6 No trip to San Francisco is complete without a boba run. Not only does Boba Guys have an interesting selection of drinks, such as their matcha lattes, but they also offer muffins, toast, and other scrumptious treats to satisfy your sweet tooth. The high-quality drinks and aesthetic interior make the long lines worth it.

free gold Watch

city lights bookstore

FOOD drinks


Address: 2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110 Price: $20 to $50 per person for brunch, $40 to $70 for dinner. At Foreign Cinema, watch films while enjoying award-winning meals outside under string lights. The films they screen rotate monthly, and vary from the unknown to the iconic. Reservations may be necessary, but a visit is definitely worth the wait.

Address: 261 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94133 Price: Whatever you want to spend! Iconic bookstore City Lights sells a wide variety of books, from mainstream to indie. The bookstore, known for its involvement in San Francisco counterculture over the years, holds several events and book readings weekly with authors of various genres that are worth your while.

foreign cinema


10 Centerspread


The Smoke Signal

Student Committees

Senior Aditi Nukala, Junior Alisa Luu, and Seniors Anagha Mandayam and Grace Jiang serve on the Healthy Students Committee.

By Riya Chopra, Arpita Gaggar, Anagha Mandayam, Ashni Mathuria & Tylor Wu Staff Writers

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017


The Healthy Students Committee, previously known as the Student Stress Committee, is a FUSD initiated committee consisting of students, administrators and teachers who work to implement policies to support healthy student learning and growing for all grade levels. The committee was formed in 2016 by the Student Support Services Department of FUSD in order to dedicate a specific committee to student stress needs. The committee recently instated Committee Head Matthew Campbell, who became director of Student Support Services at the end of the 2016-17 school year. This committee is still in the brainstorming stages, but aims to incorporate student and teacher views into creating district policies to improve learning from the student perspective. The committee has also hosted Challenge Success workshops in the past in order to educate parents on raising healthy, balanced teenagers.

School Site Council The School Site Council works to establish school improvement plans and policies. School Site Councils were founded due to CA Education Code, establishing that a council must be formed at each school to promote school community cooperation. Led by Principal Zack Larsen and other members of administration, the group of administrators, teachers, and student representatives works behind the scenes to review schoolwide changes. For example, each year, it reviews disciplinary action sheets, which are a set of guidelines for punishments. 2017-18 Student Representatives Senior Lynn Freimanis and Junior Annie Meng act as a voices for students, so that they have a say in how the administration manages school policies. In the 2016-17 school year, the council was responsible for co-funding the iMacs in the library and was involved in the preliminary stages of planning the Women s Studies class. At the end of last year, it also considered data from the Stanford Survey, and is currently looking at possible policy actions for the future.

The main goal of the Healthy Students Committee is to create a healthy learning environment for students since mental health is such an important issue here. We work with policies and hold events, such as the Challenge Success workshops, throughout the year to educate parents and help students throughout the district.

I think it s really interesting to be able to see what s happening at our school from a bunch of different perspectives, because usually you only get the student side. But being able to work with not only teachers and faculty members, but also some staff in the office … I think it s really nice to see how the community can come together and try to make changes.

— Healthy Students Committee Representative Grace Jiang, 12

MSJ s SURFboardE representatives are presently working with the Office of Civil Rights to organize a workshop.

— School Site Council Representative Lynn Freimanis, 12 The School Site Council took part in planning the Women s Studies class available starting this school year.

Students, teachers, and administrators attend a district-wide committee meeting at the FUSD office.

Student Safety Committee Senior Raymond Yin, Junior Anuja Konda, and Senior Alita Mary represent MSJ in the district-wide SURFboardE.

Seniors Lynn Freimanis and Raj Bhutoria and Junior Annie Meng serve as student voices in the council.

The Student Safety Committee is a small group of administrators, students, campus supervisors, and parents who take note of any possible dangers to student safety and work to resolve these problems. Chaired by Assistant Principal Jeana Nightengale, the committee meets once a quarter to discuss safety concerns on campus and decide whether or not to pursue subsequent projects to address them. While the committee is a school-wide group, similar student safety groups exist in all other FUSD high schools. The groups take confidential student input about any safety-related concerns and work to address them. Some notable achievements of the committee include the institution of the red emergency backpacks found inside all classrooms and the new drop-off loop on Mission Boulevard. They also plan lockdown, fire, and earthquake drills throughout the year. In the future, the group plans to continue to address student safety concerns, including updating the red backpacks with supplies such as water bottles and granola bars and raising awareness of emergency procedures. I m glad I m able to give back to the school and just look at different ways to help make students safer, because I feel like, you know, even if you do feel safe, there s always things that we can do, there s things that come out of the ordinary, and I think it s important to address them when they come.

— Student Safety Committee Representative Kevin Wu, 12

Senior Kevin Wu and Freshman Yusuf Rasheed are the two student representatives of the Student Safety Committee.

We don t get paid for it, we don t get service hours or recognition for it, there s no ceremonies that go on. I think the thing we get out of it is a platform for communication that we enjoy and a platform to meet with student leaders and student representatives from other campuses.

— SURFBoardE Representative Raymond Yin, 12 The new drop-off loop on Mission Boulevard was initiated by the Student Safety Committee.

Principal’s Advisory Committee

The Principal s Advisory Committee (PAC) is a group of student representatives from all classes that meets with Principal Zack Larsen once a month to actively discuss and tackle issues The library iMacs installed last March on campus. PAC was discontinued a few were co-funded by School Site years ago but was recently reestablished when Council and Mission Possible Larsen was instated as principal. During commitParent & Faculty tee meetings, students share areas and aspects of Association. MSJ they believe need improvement. The students and Larsen openly communicate with each other to formulate solutions to these problems and develop other potential improvements. In the past, PAC has explored and addressed matters including the inefficiency of the school Wi-Fi, unsanitary bathrooms on campus, and students being overwhelmed with stress. One of their accomplishments includes implementing an updated balanced testing schedule to relieve the pressure students face. This year, PAC is tackling the issue of stress by working with Challenge Success to improve and implement more Stress-Less days. It also hopes to organize an event helping students break away from high school pressures and interact with their peers, such as last year s Monday Funday. Being on PAC has rewarded me tremendously because I have gained deeper insight into student issues and the several issues that MSJ faces as a whole. I ve also found that these problems aren t impossible. There are always solutions to these issues and PAC has The PAC worked to design and implement a more balanced testing schedule for helped me see that.

The Student Safety Committee instituted red backpacks with emergency supplies in all classrooms.

SURFBoardE Student United for the Representation to the FUSD Board of Education (SURFBoardE) is a group of 18 district-wide students that meets bi-monthly with the FUSD Board of Education. Three students are selected from each attendance area high school ̶ MSJ, Washington, Irvington, Kennedy, American, and Robertson ̶ to represent all 34,000 K-12 students across FUSD. Student representatives Their role is to act as a liaison between students and the from across the Board and provide an outlet for students to voice any district attend a concerns to the Board through them. Last year, SURFBoardE SURFboardE focused on the calendar shift to push finals before winter break. meeting. MSJ Student Representatives Junior Anuja Konda and Seniors Alita Mary and Raymond Yin are currently working with the Office for Civil Rights and planning an on-campus workshop with Activities Director Ben Breazeale. Most recently, SURFBoardE hosted the District Representatives Conference on November 14, a district-wide leadership development conference for elementary and junior high students.

Centerspread 11

Healthy Students Committee

There are many student-based committees that work behind the scenes to improve our school community. The Smoke Signal interviewed student representatives within these organizations to find out how their work has impacted daily school life and how serving in these groups has been personally rewarding.

Office for Civil Rights

The Smoke Signal

the 2017-18 academic year.

— PAC Representative Raj Bhutoria, 12

The PAC plans to organize more Stress-Less days this year.

Front Row: Freshman Kushal Chattopadhyay, Senior Arpita Gaggar, Sophomore Janet Cui, Junior Jenny Miao, Freshman Elizabeth Deng, Back Row: Sophomore Michael Kania, Freshmen Genevie Concepcion, Mahek Bhora, Meera Sehgal, and Namrata Gohel, Principal Zack Larsen, Senior Grace Cui, Sophomore Isha Gupta, Seniors Ayush Gaggar and Niranjan Ramamurthy. Freshmen Monica Manmadkar, Gokul Ramapriyan, Isha Salwan, and Kevin Yang, Sophomores Anshul Arunachalam and Riya Chopra, Juniors Ankita Hooda, Ian Hsu, Keya Jonnalagadda, Shreya Kochar, Jonas Koh, Ashni Mathuria, Esha Nair, Pooja Shah, and Vicki Xu, and Seniors Anisha Anisetti, Mihir Baya, Raj Bhutoria, Savvy Gupta, Shvethaa Jayakumar, Minnie Luu, Christina Qian, Shrey Vasavada, and Kevin Wu are not pictured. PHOTOS BY CENTERSPREAD EDITORS ZEN THUMPARKKUL & RICHARD CHENYU ZHOU, STAFF WRITERS RIYA CHOPRA, ARPITA GAGGAR, ANAGHA MANDAYAM, ASHNI MATHURIA & TYLOR WU, THE SMOKE SIGNAL ARCHIVES, BLOGHIPAA.COM, FLICKR.COM, COURTESY IVY WU

12 Arts & Entertainment


The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 17, 2017

By Toshali Goel, Samir Jain, Lucia Li & Kelly Yang Staff Writers

The Smoke Signal interviewed dedicated and inspired photographers at MSJ about what first sparked their interest in photography, how they have developed their passion over time, and how they have overcome obstacles in their photographic career. An online form was released via Facebook, and based on responses, students who run photography businesses, excel in portrait, landscape, event, sports, or other styles of photography, or have a large following in the MSJ community were selected.

Junior Evangeline Gao was interested in photography since childhood and got her first camera in junior high school. Since then, photography has become a serious passion for Gao, and she honed her skills over the years by researching the elements of photography and admiring other photographers’ works. She currently focuses on portraits and shoots with a Canon EOS 6D. Gao faced some initial difficulty with criticism for her work, but she didn’t let that hinder her work or opinion of her work. She gave the same advice to aspiring photographers at MSJ and said, “Don’t let other people say that your photography is bad and [let] that [criticism] just stop your love and passion for it.” Favorite Photoshoot Location: anywhere with nature Dream Piece of Photography Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Senior Christina Qian loved film and photography starting from a young age. She began making videos in seventh grade and gradually turned toward photography as a way of creative expression. “Everyone has different views about certain pictures, so that’s why I really like photography. It’s your own style and what you can do with it,” she said. Qian plans on majoring in film in college, but she will continue photography as a hobby and encourages other aspiring photographers to take a chance and showcase their individuality. She said, “Just be yourself and take pictures for yourself … Be satisfied with what you create because I think that’s very important.”

Senior Alex Yem, now a dedicated landscape photographer, started out merely taking pictures as a hobby on vacation, posting pictures on Instagram in junior high and receiving high accolades from his peers. Today, with the instruction of countless YouTube videos, he loves doing long-exposure shots of the landscape, capturing evocative panoramas of the stars and night sky. He currently uses a Sony A6000 for most of his photoshoots, but he simply started off with an iTouch and a small lens attached to it. “I would see all these nice cameras, and obviously, I don’t have the money for that, so you just have to learn to accept what you have,” he said. For other aspiring photographers at MSJ, Yem said, “Don’t worry about the gear. Just go out and shoot, and you’ll learn from that. That’s the only way to get better.” Favorite Photoshoot Location: Yosemite National Park Dream Piece of Photography Equipment: Sony A9

Favorite Photoshoot Location: Municipal Rose Garden in San Jose Dream Piece of Photography Equipment: Sigma lens, 18 to 35 mm

Senior Nathan Kwan started photography as a hobby, fooling around with his friends and casually taking pictures. However, as he started to shoot more, he began to love photography and appreciated the way it allowed him to showcase his creativity. “It just emphasizes how creative I am, how it’s a part of my personality,” Kwan said. Kwan enjoys incorporating the architecture of cities into his shots, but he mainly focuses on portraits because it allows him to capture his subjects in a unique way. As a self-taught photographer, Kwan started off with a mediocre camera and little experience, and understands the struggles that come with photography. To aspiring photographers, he said, “Incorporate your own style to your photography and try to express yourself; don’t follow the norm, and try to be creative.” Favorite Photoshoot Location: San Francisco Dream Piece of Photography Equipment: Sigma 35 mm f/1.4

Sophomore Shraesht Chitkara started out as many do — using a phone to casually take pictures. Over time, finding inspiration through social media platforms such as Instagram, he moved onto more professional equipment to capture his photos of choice — portraits. “I try to make my subject interact with something, like props, fairy lights, plants, or bubbles,” Chitkara says. Chitkara has honed his craft through experimentive photoshoots: capturing whimsical, immersive moments with his friends. Similarly, he said aspiring photographers can “keep experimenting, keep trying new things, and [get] inspiration from other photographers that you find.”

Senior Viplav Dodeja found his love of photography initially through taking pictures of friends and family. Photographing for Yearbook and utilizing every opportunity to snap pictures since then has further improved his skills and elevated his passion. Dodeja’s favorite aspect of photography comes in its permanence. He said “It’s like you’re eternalizing that moment, and [the photo] saves that moment forever.” The most important aspect of a photo is its composition, Dodeja says, and he ensures that his focus is clear and his framing is precise when photographing his portraits and landscapes. As advice for starting out, Dodeja himself utilized online courses and guides for the basics and as examples for different kinds of styles before he “implemented them, and figured out which ones worked better for me.”

Favorite Photoshoot Location: Mission Creek Favorite Photoshoot Location: Old Mission Park in the springDream Piece of Photography Equipment: Peak time Design backpack Dream Piece of Photography Equipment: an imaginary 18-300 mm f/1.2 PHOTOS BY OPINION EDITOR AMY CHEN, GRAPHICS BY CLIPARTPANDA.COM, FLATICON.COM, JULIASACADS.TUMBLR.COM, OPENCLIPART.ORG, WILLIAMHANNAH.COM, COURTESY AMY CHEN


Friday, November 17, 2017

The Smoke Signal


Arts & Entertainment 13

C R I T I C S’ C O R N E R MusiC: h.e.R., kelly clarkson | Film: thor: ragnarok, thank you for your service

Under the radar

Music review

thor: ragnarok r o c ks th e s t age

kelly clarkson

h.e.r. By Shray Vaidya Staff Writer H.E.R. is an R&B artist who has been on the music scene for only about a year and has kept her identity hidden by using hats and sunglasses to cover her face in pictures and live performances. Her use of minimal background music allows her crooning voice to truly shine, making her stand out. Despite her efforts to stay anonymous, she is rumored to be singer–songwriter Gabi Wilson, as Wilson’s old cover of Drake’s “Jungle” appears on H.E.R.’s recently released album H.E.R. H.E.R.’s music style blends classic R&B tunes with elements from pop and soul music to create a refreshing addition to a genre of music that tends to utilize the same synth beats and low vocals. Her songs have gained popularity with young listeners through endorsements by Alicia Keys and Bryson Tiller on social media, and her EP H.E.R. Vol. 1 topped iTunes’ R&B chart after its release in September 2016. H.E.R.’s first appearance was when her first EP, H.E.R. Vol. 1, was released on SoundCloud, without much forewarning. She began gaining traction after she toured with popular rappers Bryson Tiller and Metro Boomin on the Set It Off tour from August to September, all the while keeping her face strategically covered. The mysterious singer has also performed at the 2017 ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards, where she made her first live performance, and recently announced her own solo tour, The Lights On Tour, that will span all of November and most of December. H.E.R.’s soaring vocals combine with laid back R&B tunes and well-written lyrics to create a listening experience that is unforgettable. ▪

By Shreya Sridhar Staff Writer The third movie of the Thor series greatly impresses, with an all-star cast, witty humor, and action-packed sequences enveloped into 130 minutes of sheer entertainment. Unlike some of the prior Marvel films, viewers do not need to be superhero enthusiasts to enjoy the movie. Director Taika Waititi, known for his originality in indie films as both an actor and director, delivers once again, using bold humor and novel ideas. The movie begins two years after the Battle of Sokovia, the final scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the disbanding of the Avengers. In the opening scene, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is held prisoner by the fire demon, Surtur (Clancy Brown). This dark dialogue is kept lighthearted with irony and awkward moments, one of the movie’s consistent strengths. Hemsworth sheds his original arrogant and uptight personality as the god of thunder for a more relatable and humorous image. He pokes fun at Surtur’s appearance, diminishing its ferocity and leaving the audience in tears from laughing. An epic fight scene with stunning graphics follows this, as Thor battles the demon and his minions. The


impressive CGI includes an iconic scene in which Thor is flying away from a fire-breathing dragon and narrowly escapes his demise. Soon after, Thor realizes that his sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), the goddess of death, is plotting to rule Asgard. After, Thor is cast away to the planet Sakaar, where he is surprised to find the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) fighting as a gladiator. While on Sakaar, Thor meets both new and old allies, who he rounds up to help him fight Hela. With the help of the Hulk, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Thor undertakes his mission to defeat Hela and restore glory to Asgard. The amazing chemistry between the characters is evident throughout the movie. The sarcastic and brotherly banter between Thor and Loki causes not just chuckles, but flat-out belly laughter. Bruce Banner shows his witty, subtle humor as a human and slapstick comedy while in Hulk form. In addition, there are a few moments of romantic tension, which add to the various characters’ depth and the plot’s intricacy. Although there are a few moments where the viewer has to flinch or look away, the battle scenes are more symbolic than gory. Blanchett is excellent in the role of the terrify-

ing goddess wreaking havoc on Asgard, seemingly impossible to defeat due to her powerful composure and confidence. To complement the fight scenes is an epic soundtrack composed by Mark Mothersbaugh. Mothersbaugh incorporates techno-pop while Thor is on Sakaar, and lively rock during battle scenes. In addition, the movie incorporates the catchy songs, “In the Face of Evil” by Magic Sword and “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin during the action sequences, exciting the audience. The movie moves rapidly, and it is over before the viewer knows it. Although a few scenes regarding Thor’s family near the beginning of the movie seem unnecessary, they are essential in understanding the ending. The plot is intricate, with an unexpected twist at the very end. Unlike the first two films, this one is focused more on comedy rather than drama. Filled with a perfect balance of humor, sentiment, and action, Thor: Ragnarok is a movie worth watching more than once. ▪ Rating: A

thank you for your service : a powerful salute to veterans

Book Bites By Christine Dong Staff Writer

Student Recommendation

Title: The Thief Author: Megan Whalen Turner Rating: Medium Genre: Fantasy After the thief Gen is imprisoned for bragging about his abilities, the King of Sounis’ most powerful advisor makes him an offer he’s in no position to refuse— stealing the legendary relic of another kingdom for his freedom. “The Thief is the first book in one of the best series I’ve ever read. It’s got everything from intricate worldbuilding, snarky humor, and plot twists you’ll never see coming, not to mention an unreliable narrator.” — Sreetama Chowdhury, 10

Teacher Recommendation

Title: How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease Author: Gene Stone and Michael Greger Rating: Easy Genre: Nonfiction Dr. Michael Greger, a famous nutrition expert, physician, and the founder of discusses how to prevent a premature death and lead a healthier life through the use of food. “I liked the fact that it is based on data because the book has to deal with good health and prevention of disease, and it’s not a diet book. It’s about using food as medicine.” — Chemistry Teacher Rick Flores

By Maggie Zhao Staff Writer Directed by Jason Hall, Thank You For Your Service is a poignant film about the issues faced by veterans returning from war. The movie is based off of the book Thank You For Your Service by Pulitzer-Prizewinning journalist David Finkel, who covered the war in Iraq for The Washington Post. The movie follows the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment after they return from Iraq in 2008, revealing how they deal with their memories of traumatic experiences in the military. The movie begins with Adam Schumann (Miles Teller), Tausolo Aeiti (Beulah Koale), and Billy Walker (Joe Cole) returning from their deployment in Iraq. Upon the soldiers’ return, much has changed. They struggle to find jobs, reintegrate into their families, and get back into a daily routines. Schumann and his wife Saskia (Haley Bennett) quickly hit a barrier in communication, despite her attempts to reach out. After seeing fellow veterans struggle silently, Schumann and Aeiti realize they need to get help for the mental illnesses they battle. However, Schumann and Aeiti struggle with reaching out for help due to a lack of available resources and an inability to communicate their experiences to those around


them, demonstrating the difficulty of dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a veteran. Hall’s macro framing of his subjects is visually enticing and creates an intimate perspective. As a result, the audience feels as though they are sitting right beside the characters throughout the scenes instead of watching from a distant perspective. In the same vein, Hall takes care to not overdramatize the plotline. The realistic storyline and powerful acting from lead Teller are what make the film all the more raw and moving. Since the movie is based off of the true accounts of Schumann and his platoon, the adherence to reality pays respect to their experiences. The film also uses sound to subtly demonstrate the lingering psychological aftereffects of war. The sound of cars racing on a speedway, a video game, and a rattling headboard are altered to mimic the sounds of ammunition and bombs and show how everyday sounds can contribute to PTSD. However, the film lacks consistent pacing. While some parts of the film move quickly, packing emotional punch after punch, other parts of the film seem to drag on for longer than necessary. In addition, the ending of the movie seems

rushed and leaves a lot of unresolved questions about the recovery of many of the main characters. Despite joining a multitude of other movies in the coming-homestory genre, Thank You For Your Service adds an additional critique of the bureaucratic barriers to recovery. The title itself is ironic in that the movie demonstrates exactly how little help is available for the numerous veterans returning from their deployment, showing the overloaded and ineffectual US Department of Veterans Affairs after the Iraq troop surge. Thank You For Your Service carries a moving message about the battles veterans face even after returning from war, a reminder of the importance of the often forgotten meaning of Veterans’ Day. ▪

By Anisa Kundu Staff Writer Kelly Clarkson returned to the spotlight on October 27 with the release of her new album Meaning of Life. Due to her recent experimentation with different styles, Clarkson once again deviated from the soul genre of music and chose to focus on R&B. For Clarkson, this album marks the completion of a long journey of self-exploration. With the powerful duo of Clarkson’s lyrics and R&B belter Aretha Franklin’s distinguished style of music, the album aims to bring back the simple joys of living in the 1960s during a time of turmoil within our country. Clarkson sets the scene for the album with the newly released music video for “Love So Soft.” Throughout the video the scenery changes multiple times, from an empty field to a lighted dance floor. Clarkson maintains old school vibes with her costumes, dances, and funky music in the background. The steady beat with the occasional oddly plucked guitar string effectively sets the mood of the carefree 1960s. In her previous albums, she flaunted her voice’s magnificent range in powerful ballads. Now, she molds her voice to suit the style she is working with. Unfortunately, the odd choice of music draws attention from her high notes, preventing the audience from experiencing the full intensity of those belted notes. Further along in the album, the influence of Franklin becomes prominent. As interesting as it is to experience Clarkson’s change in styles, some songs may have been better without the R&B, such as the title track, “Meaning of Life.” The R&B style creates an unwanted focus on the music by introducing unexpected instrumental portions during powerful verses. In addition her lyrics, although powerful, cause the song to drag on when she sings, “Meaning of life, life, life, life.” The extra words at the end are reminiscent of her previous experimentation with pop and do not fit the song. As the music finally quiets down, a gospel joins Clarkson to sing the bridge, “You show me love, You lift me up, You take me higher and higher.” They allow her to sing the last high note solo, which captures her vocal range for the first time in the album. Almost all of Clarkson’s songs not only display a use of Franklin’s R&B techniques, but also a distinct change in Clarkson’s vocals. While trying to convey the power of her lyrics, she puts an edge in her voice to make it stand out in the captivating music, as most R&B artists do. This edge in her voice causes her notes to be uncomfortably short and snappy in most of her songs. However, she really applies her R&B voice well in “Whole Lotta Woman.” As she sings, “I’m a strong bada** chick with classic confidence,” the edge she adds in the song makes it more catchy and powerful. Overall, her album has extraordinary lyrics as always, but the new funk music really conflicts with the power of her words as seen in, “Meaning of Life.” Regardless, there are a few songs where the two blend perfectly, like “Cruel,” “Would You Call That Love,” and “Move.” Her abrupt, new style in this album signifies the end of Clarkson’s struggle with finding out who she is as a woman, a mother, and a wife. ▪ Rating: B

Rating: A-


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Friday, November 17, 2017

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Arts & Entertainment and Sports 15


Winter Sports Preview By Shreya Srinivasan & Evie Sun Staff Writers

Girls’ Basketball Girls’ Basketball is starting the season off with a new captain and new additions to the team along with skilled returning members who already understand the rigor of varsity sports. Senior Michelle Lin said, “I think we have a lot of skill this year, and I could see us being very successful. However, we also aren’t a very cohesive team in the sense that we haven’t had a lot of experience playing on the same team, so I could see that being an issue. We’re going to have a lot more seniors on the team this year compared to last year, but the younger players are also fairly skilled and experienced, so I’m pretty excited to see what this season is going to be like.” Their first preseason game is against Mt. Eden on November 28.

Boys’ Soccer Although Boys’ Soccer lost many seniors from last year, Captain Senior Shrey Vasavada said, “The JV team was very strong last year, and we are sure that they will be able to fill in our current holes. Additionally, there are always some talented freshmen who come and make a large impact.” This year, Vasavada hopes to focus on building team chemistry and commitment. “As a soccer team, individual skills are not the most crucial in games; it’s the team chemistry,” he said. “That starts with attendance and commitment, one hundred percent during practices.” In addition, Vasavada hopes to place in the top four in the league and have a record that could potentially qualify the team for NCS. The team’s first MVAL game is against Moreau on Friday, December 15.

As the fall season comes to a close with admirable success, it’s time for winter sports to take the spotlight. Below, the Smoke Signal has outlined the competing teams and senior prospects on their upcoming seasons.

Girls’ Soccer The Girls’ Varsity soccer team recently lost many of their senior members, according to Senior Tara Conti. “Many players aren’t returning due to [other commitments], so the vast majority of our team is going to be ... either freshmen or from the Junior Varsity team.” This season, their goals are to attain as many victories as possible while also simply taking time to enjoy soccer as a sport. With new members, the team dynamic will be subject to change, and they will have to adjust and work their strategies around new obstacles. The first soccer game against Washington High School will be held on December 22, right before the beginning of Winter Break.

Wrestling The Wrestling team is starting off their season with new faces, especially since their team is growing with more girls joining the sport. “Last year we took 10 boys to NCS and most were first-year wrestlers, only two [of whom] made it to day two. But I think we have a better chance now of getting them into day two and hopefully placing this year,” said Captain Senior Lance Renteria, “The girls’ team did well –– we had three players [qualify], and I’m hoping this year we’ll have more. I think the girls will have lots of success in their section.” Renteria is excited to see how the team competes and hopes that most of the team members will continue so that the wrestling program can grow. The team’s first home dual meet will be held against American High School on December 20.

Boys’ Basketball The Boys’ Basketball team has been practicing over the summer and attending weekly conditioning. The seniors, who have been playing together since middle school, hope to pass their experience onto new players. The team looks forward to a successful season due to the large amount of returning members. CoCaptain Senior Austin Chang said, “It is common knowledge that ‘practice makes perfect.’ However, our coach often says, ‘perfect practice makes perfect.’ One step we can take to improve is to tackle each drill in practice with passion and excitement … this season, we hope to start off strong in our preseason and MVAL and hopefully get a chance to participate in NCS.” The team’s first preseason game is against Tennyson High School on November 21.

Cheer Continuing on from their fall season, Varsity Cheer will perform regularlry at basketball home matches through winter season. Refer to page 19 for a recap of their fall season.


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Friday, November 17, 2017

The Smoke Signal


Team Spotlight: Girls’ Golf Girls’ Golf ran an exceptional record this year, winning the 2017 MVAL Championships and concluding their season strong after placing eighth at the NCS Championship on Monday, October 30. The season kicked off with a slow start due to the change in head coach, who is now Special Education Teacher Tai Chung. Many team members this season were new, and returning players initially struggled with the transition, having not experienced a coaching change previously. While adjusting to these circumstances, members subsequently shortened their practice times, resulting in many members not receiving the same amount of training as they did before. The team, however, pushed through the challenge and steadied their game play throughout the season. Although the team lost a league match to Irvington High School, they proceeded to win the MVAL Championship with low individual and team averages. Seniors Audrey Lin, Joanna Liu, Erica Hwang, and Prerana Kiran, Junior Rhea Advani, and Sophomore Lico Yuan received final averages of 74, 81, 83, 109, 90, and 100 respectively. Some other highlights of the season include the team’s win at the Freedom High Invitational, and the team placing four members in All-League. Over the years, the team nurtured some outstanding veteran golfers, including Lin, who has consistently performed well at MVALs and recently won the prestigious title of 2017 MVAL MVP. The combination of experienced players, new talent, and Chung’s guidance helped the team connect a variety of insights and collaborate to achieve their goal of lowering their team average. Regarding the future directions for the team, Lin said, “I hope that the team members dedicate themselves more to the team. There is

Sports 17

By Shivani Avasarala Staff Writer


Head Coach Tai Chung, Seniors Erica Hwang, Audrey Lin, Joanna Liu, Junior Rhea Advani, Sophomore Lico Yuan, and Senior Prerana Kiran after a successful tournament.

a lot of talent on the team, but if they practice a little more, they could get far.” Next year, Girls’ Golf hopes to improve their skills after the current seniors leave, and return to the NCS Championship in upcoming seasons. Regarding advice for the new players and beginners, Lin said, “Golf is a hard game, and it is going to be tough no matter what stage you are in. You just have to keep working; as long as you keep working, you will get somewhere.” In the future, Chung hopes for the team to be more collaborative and help out individual members as they enhance their technique. Chung said, “I want them to build upon the chemistry that they have. We will lose a lot of leadership this year, as four seniors are going to graduate. I want the juniors to pick up where the seniors left off, and bring the camaraderie out.” ▪ e





P xO


When do air conditions become too harmful?

By Shiantel Chiang Staff Writer MSJ experienced unhealthy air quality from October 11 to October 14 due to the wildfires that occurred in Northern California. In response to the poor air quality, FUSD superintendents notified schools to cancel outdoor athletic events, while indoor activities proceeded. Only on the evening of October 12 did FUSD decide it was necessary to cancel both indoor and outdoor activities. Postponing and rearranging game days and practices are not always ideal, but unhealthy conditions often prompt harsh regulations. The regulations for these issues, as well as the way they are interpreted, need to be stricter, because they are currently unrepresentative of the direct impact harmful conditions have on student athletes, even in indoor environments. According to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), the air quality station in Concord, CA recorded air quality index (AQI) values reaching 210 to 220 on October 11, which is categorized as “very unhealthy.” The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) School Activity Guidelines do not have strict regulations on cancelling school even at the highest level of poor air quality — they only suggest moving activities indoors. However, according to The Mercury News, school districts in more than eight northern Bay Area regions near the Concord air station still cancelled school for Thursday, because the “air quality [was] predicted to get worse” the next day. Although the BAAQMD does not have an air quality station near the FUSD, nearby Santa Clara Valley region had AQI values between 180 and 190 by 3 p.m. on October 11, which is 80 units above the federal health standard and 20 units away from the unhealthy levels in Concord. In this environment, district regulations should establish cancellation of both indoor and outdoor sports activity, especially since AQI values around us were nearing the same unhealthy levels that prompted northern Bay Area regions to cancel school regard-


less of loose regulations. Although it would have been difficult to accurately predict the air quality for the next day, the safest decision to prevent underestimating detrimental conditions was to cancel athletic events. Elevated particles in the air can trigger wheezing, coughing, and irritated airways. The US EPA guidelines for high levels of air pollution recommend avoiding “activities that make you breathe faster or more deeply,” circumstances that athletes would encounter whether indoors or outdoors during practices and games. FUSD superintendents were required to handle this student safety issue on short notice, but consensus across the county to cancel all athletic games and practices should have been established before they decided conditions were extreme. Even during sudden environmental changes, the line between conditions that are detrimental and acceptable should be clear enough to give athletes full confidence in having a healthy environment. In light of the poor air quality incident, protocol for student safety may need improvement and stricter boundaries. The district guidelines for evaluating possibly unhealthy conditions should be based solely on athletes’ safety and thoroughly reflect what is best for students. ▪


18 Sports


Sports Comics “multipurpose

sports equipment”

The Smoke Signal

By Hannah Chou & Cindy Yuan Sports Editors

Friday, November 17, 2017

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Sports 19

Hana Nip, 10

Coming off of their success in previous seasons, both the Varsity Boys and Varsity Girls cross country teams expected to do extremely well. The Varsity Girls team exceeded these goals, going undefeated in MVAL. The Boys team sustained a number of injuries to many of their key runners, but bounced back to finish as co-league champions. Despite this, both teams are still retaining many of their current runners and they have high hopes for next season. If [the current freshmen, sophomores, and juniors] put effort into their training and prevent injuries as much as possible, they will do amazing and probably even match last year s team, said Varsity Boys Cross Country Captain Senior Shrey Vasavada. Both teams will be advancing to NCS, racing on November 18 at Hayward High School.

Audrey Lin, 12

Alison Chan, 11

Girls’ Golf

Cross Country

Celina Lee, 12

Avery Smith, 12


Farrah Lin, 9

In comparison to previous seasons, the Girls Golf team did not get many opportunities to practice this season because they only had one coach. The team also had to adjust to teach newer members. However, with the help of experienced returning members, the team still performed well, winning the Freedom Invitational at Brentwood by an impressive 40 strokes. The team also performed well at other matches and qualified for NCS. It was a challenge to arrange practice since we only had one coach this season, but as the season progressed the team continued to perform well, said Girls Golf Captain Senior Audrey Lin.

With only one coach this season, the Gymnastics team did not expect to do particularly well as the three new members of the team were unable to train for competition due to limitations in time. However, the team overcame this problem and did as well as last season, winning one game against James Logan High School and attaining good results at MVAL. I m so excited to see the Junior Varsity Girls compete next year. I really hope that they ll be able to come back, since they were all really active in the team. Since they re all already really talented, I m sure they ll do well next year., said Gymnastics Captain Senior Sabrina Shih.

By Ian Hsu, Ashni Mathuria, Michael Ren & Tylor Wu Staff Writers

MSJ sports teams enjoyed a number of successes during the fall sports season, with three teams qualifying for NCS. The Smoke Signal interviewed the captains of each fall sports team to find out how each of their seasons went.


Fall Sports Recap

Natalie Lai, 10

Gloria Yang, 11

Cheer s main focus this year was to rebuild their team and recruit more students. The team was successful in this regard, with an addition of four more students than in previous years. Despite some injuries, Cheer still steadily improved throughout the season. Next season, Cheer s main goals are to continue rebuilding and keep on improving. I hope this team can grow bigger so I hope this team can continue in future years, said Cheer Captain Senior Maya Bernstein.

Lahari Vuppaladhadiam, 12 Valery Piachonkina, 12

This season, Girls Tennis went undefeated for the fourth year in a row. Because they had new coaches and many new players, the team originally expected that this year would be a building year. However, they gained several talented new players who helped drive the team to victory. Some highlights of the season were beating American and Irvington, two extremely strong teams. Girls Tennis qualified for NCS but lost 3-4 in the first round against Acalanes High School. Even though we have five seniors leaving, we think that next year s team will still be pretty strong because we have a lot of strong [players] on JV, said Varsity Girls Tennis Captain Senior Courtney Tran.

Michelle Zhang, 12

Tusli Patel, 12

Girls’ Volleyball

Going into the season, the team expected to place in at least the top four in MVAL. They met these expectations, finishing third in league with a record of 6-5, but they did not qualify for NCS. This year, both water polo teams shared a coach, so the team faced challenges working in the new environment. With many seniors on the team, they focused on enjoying their last season. We expected to also have a lot of fun, bonding with teammates that we have played with for four years, and we definitely took that to heart, said Varsity Boys Water Polo Captain Senior Rohan Dayal. The varsity team will lose seven senior players, allowing younger players to take centerstage in the coming year.

Girls’ Tennis

Girls Water Polo has had increasingly successful seasons over the past three years. Thus, the team expected to do well with many returning varsity members. All the water polo teams had to work with one coach, making coaching time a limiting factor for the team. However, the team still finished third in league with a record of 5-2, qualifying for NCS for the first time in seven years. Unfortunately, the team lost their first round match against Alameda High School on November 1. Girls Water Polo expects to continue this year s success into the next. Next year I think the girls will have a good chance at finishing top three in league. If they continue to put in work outside of the season then they will have great successes next fall, said Varsity Girls Water Polo Captain Senior Valery Piachonkina.

Boys’ Water polo

Girls’ Water polo

Calvin Alex, 12

With only four seniors this fall, Girls Volleyball did not expect to have an extremely successful season. The great number of injuries, illnesses, and absences led to the first losing record the team has faced in years. Ending the season with a record of 13-17, Girls Volleyball qualified for NCS as the 16th seed but lost to Monte Vista, the 1st seed. However, with the high number of juniors currently on the team, Girls Volleyball hopes to have a more successful season next year. I m really excited to see how my underclassmen develop and how they can progress ... I think that they ll do fine on their own, it ll be a good season for them, said Varsity Girls Volleyball Captain Senior Michelle Zhang.


20 Photo

The Smoke Signal


y h p a r g o t o h Fall P s t e P : t s e t n o C

Pets are an integral part of our lives; they are our closest compan ions and dearest friends. Whethe r it be a newborn kitten or frolicking puppy, a part of every owners heart is reserved for the charm that comes with their pets. Wit h these comforting images in min d, the Smoke Signal asked students and staff to send in pictures of thei r pets. The Smoke Signal chose a few pets to spotlight in paper with more online to raise some spirits.

By Kelly Yang Staff Writer

To see other pet photo submissio ns, go to www.thes

English Teacher Nina LaRosa’s cat, Matteo

Friday, November 17, 2017

Senior Jessica Yeung’s Budgerigar, Frostbite

Attendance Clerk Karleen Densmore’s dog, Riley


MiSSION NIgHt LIVe 4 By Rishi Chillara Staff Writer

Mission Night Live 4, made by Universal Performers, MSJ’s Performing Arts club, took place on November 9th, 2017 in C120. Mission Night Live 4 was a one-hour long comedy event that featured skits about student culture, dating, and other aspects of MSJ. Universal Performers’ primary goal for this performance was to attract underclassman to join the club. The club hopes new members will help with shows later in the year, such as the annual spring play and future Mission Night Lives, and continue the legacy of Universal Performers after the current all-junior officer team leaves. The performance had many skits including “Tinder Aunty”, where two high school boys find their aunt on Tinder, acting as her daughter, and “Lemonade”, where a girl tries to make friends with another clearly uninterested lemonade vendor. Mission Night Live 4 also included some improv, a popular acting method where actors are forced to improvise their lines. Junior Shayan Panjwani sells drinks as Brenda in the “Lemonade” skit. Sophomore Siddharth Mukherjee plays a concerned Dad asking Junior Rachel Sun about a suspicious bag of cash.

MSJ Syncopasians perform a mashup of “Wide Awake” by Katy Perry and “As Long As You Love Me” by Justin Bieber.

Junior Evangeline Chang sneaks behind Panjwani as Aunty to spy on his Tinder chats.

Mukherjee, Sun, Chang, and Panjwani practice their improvisation skills during a rehearsal. PHOTOS BY STAFF WRITER RISHI CHILLARA

Volume LIII, No. 3  
Volume LIII, No. 3