Volume LIV, No. 2

Page 1


VOL. 54 NO. 2

November 2, 2018


MSJ Medcorps attends 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s Nationwide event raises awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research By Sabrina Cai & Jonathan Liu Staff Writers MSJ Medcorps, a health and service club advocating student involvement in the medical field, gathered with 3,006 Bay Area residents at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on October 13 in San Jose. The Alzheimer’s Association holds the

walk in 613 communities nationwide, making it the world’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. Today, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the US, affecting more than 5 million Americans. This year, 393 teams and thousands of participants walked a one-to-three-mile-long path, cheering and carrying signs to raise

MSJ Medcorps members pose for a photo at the starting line of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

staff writer jonathan liu

awareness of Alzheimer’s prevalence in the US. This is Medcorps’s second year attending the walk, during which officers and members managed event logistics, worked at booths, and encouraged walkers. Sophomore Sriansh Pasumarthi said, “Even though I did not have a huge job in this event, I hope to spread more awareness about the disease ... Alzheimer’s is extremely debilitating, and it has affected lots of people in my family [and] community.” In addition to overseeing logistics, working at booths, and voicing encouragement, Medcorps members were able to watch and participate in the Promise Garden Ceremony. Before the ceremony, walkers choose one of four colored flowers that represent the four types of people who come to the walk — people who have lost friends and family to the disease, people who are actively caregiving, people who are committed to raising awareness, and people who are living with Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association Chief Program Officer Claire Day believes that this ceremony is the most impactful part of the walk. Day said, “People who are living with Alzheimer’s disease participate in the Promise Garden Ceremony, and we tell

a little story about why they walk because it resonates with everybody else in the crowd.” After the ceremony, walkers gather and walk the streets of San Jose, carrying their flowers. The Alzheimer’s Association spends more than $405 million for more than 2,600 scientific proposals, in hopes of finding a cure. Day said, “We walk to end Alzheimer’s, and for us, the win is when we don’t have to have an event anymore because we [will] have ended Alzheimer’s. While it may not happen for those living with the disease today, we are confident that it will for future generations, and those scientific breakthroughs are going to be what get us there.” According to Co-Presidents Junior Rishi Jain and Senior Rhea Advani, Medcorps plans to make the Walk to End Alzheimer’s an annual service event, like the Walk for Cystic Fibrosis and the Walk for Sickle Cell Anemia. Jain said, “The [goal] here is to expose our club members to the idea of service and the idea of interacting with our community because a lot of what medicine is is interacting ... and [empathizing] with people, and these events really help us with that.” ▪

Marching Band and Color Guard compete at Tournament of Bands Band and Color Guard place first in their respective divisions By Thomas Chen & Jessica Xu Staff Writers On the afternoon of October 13, almost 200 members of MSJ Marching Band stood poised to begin their performance at the annual Tournament of Bands in Cupertino. Composed of musicians and Color Guard, MSJ placed first in Division 6A. Band reviews are competitions for marching bands to gauge their performance, and the Tournament of Bands is one of the most popular reviews in the Northern CA circuit, making MSJ Band’s placement particularly uplifting. The band opened with a lively rendition of “Ungarns Kinder.” At the beginning of the march, Color Guard performed their flag, rifle, and shield routine at the fore-

front of the band, rotating to the rear midperformance. As the march progressed, the procession was met with applause and resounding cheers from onlookers lining almost the entire length of the street. After the band’s performance, the percussion section separated from the rest of the band and performed their own song and routine. The success at the Tournament of Bands came after weeks of after-school practice following the Newark Days Parade, where they placed first overall. Members practiced on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and occasionally Fridays to overcome challenges encountered during performances. Clarinet Section Leader Senior Michelle Huang said, “During the past few weeks, during our after-school rehearsals, we’ve been practicing keeping in line [and] keep-

MSJ Marching Band performs their rendition of “Ungarns Kinder” at the annual Cupertino Band Review. HOMECOMING PHOTO COVERAGE

Missing Homecoming Week? Relive the Homecoming performances by checking out the photo coverage taken from each performance day.

ing our diagonals straight ... I think that when we were performing today, our work paid off.” Besides Band’s collective victory, Drum Major Senior Nathan Zheng placed second out of all drum majors at the event, driving home a solid victory. Despite their strong showing at Cupertino, members of the band still feel that there is room for improvement. Zheng said, “at the beginning, the music was off — the front and the back weren’t together.” Marching Band also faces unique challenges in terms of practice facilities; they must practice marching on a track instead of on a street. “We do not have a street that is long enough and wide enough for the band to practice on ... the track is different in terms of sound quality,” Band Director Monica Kraft said. “When you get on [a road], it’s different.” She attributes the success partly to the upperclassmen holding the block together and guiding underclassmen. Marching Band and Color Guard have a history of attending the Tournament of Bands. Drum Major Senior Eddie Chang said, “[It] felt like old times.” One difference he noted was that this year’s review occurred later in the day, and he said, “[They] had more energy at this point rather than doing it in the morning.” Relative to past performances, Trumpet Co-Section Leader Senior Shibu Shelat said, “Each year, I feel like we get better and better.”

Freshman Grace Feng marches while playing her sousaphone.

Band’s performance at Cupertino was a stepping stone to prepare for the Santa Cruz Band Review, the most competitive review of the year. By examining their past performances and listening to feedback from judges, members pinpointed areas that needed work. Huang said, “I think we just need to watch videos of what we did today, and then we’ll be able to improve our marching based on the mistakes that we made today.” Shelat said, “This week, we’re going to be grinding every day after school” to place in Santa Cruz. ▪ photos by staff writer jessica xu


In the age of fake news, one must be wary of what we read online. Read the Smoke Signal’s Guide to Fact-Checking to find out how you can make sure what you are reading is reliable!



2 News


The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 2, 2018

Flex Time application streamlines advisory system Administration implements new advisory system with online scanner system By Anisa Kundu & Aria Lakhmani Staff Writers During the school year, MSJ adopted the Flex Time application to keep track of students during Thursday advisory periods. The Flex Time application allows students to scan their ID cards on a scanner in classrooms to record where they will be staying for the advisory period rather than having to get a sheet stamped if they leave their third period class. According to Assistant Principal Jeff Evans, MSJ and four other FUSD high schools decided to integrate the Flex Time application into advisory periods after observing how effective the app was at American High School. Funding for the new advisory system came from the MSJ school budget. Evans said that the process of implementing Flex Time was smooth and that he encountered minimal technical issues. During advisory, most classrooms are open to all students. Some teachers without a third period class, such as Math Teacher Kim Mathis and Math Teacher Denise Nguyen, have set aside their classrooms for makeup assignments or tests, while other

teachers, like English Teacher Nina LaRosa and Chemistry Teacher Sai Kumar, set aside their rooms as meeting areas for specific school organizations like the Mental Health Committee and STEM Success, respectively. Mathis said that she believes the new advisory system prevents the chaos of the previous two years’ advisory periods. Mathis also said that she appreciates the fact that there is reduced paperwork that comes with keeping track of students in advisory. Teachers no longer have to worry about finding a student when the office calls teachers during advisory in search of a student in their third period class. Instead of referring to a sign in sheet, teachers can now just check in with the Flex Time application to find out where the student is. Mathis said, “You know exactly who’s in your room, especially if it’s somebody you don’t know. It’s much safer in terms of accountability. We know where everyone was, and if there is an emergency, we have a list of where everybody was.” Evans said that the biggest current issue with the new system is the lack of students creating accounts on Flex Time: only 800 out of 2,501 students at MSJ have created

The login window for the Flextime app, which allows students to sign up for advisory appointments

Flex Time accounts. In addition to this, students are not creating appointments via the application, which leaves some classrooms overcrowded. Evans also said that substitute teachers are not able to log into Flex Time. Evans said, “We have about 90 percent of students getting scanned in each advisory, and a majority of those that aren’t is because a sub is in the room and doesn’t have access to the system.” Though substitute teachers do not have access to Flex Time, they will re-


ceive a paper copy of the list of people who plan to come to that room for advisory, and the attendance clerks will fill in attendance based on which students actually come to that particular classroom. In the future, Evans said that many teachers want to use the Flex Time application’s scanners to take daily attendance in order to reduce the teacher’s paperwork and human error. Flex Time’s scanners may also be used for checking in and out PE clothes. ▪

Debate places in first major tournament of school year Three teams break to elimination rounds of Public Forum

courtesy ishan maunder

Junior Rithvik Koppurapu (left) and Senior Ishan Maunder (right) broke to finals and placed second at the PF Round Robin.

By Alisha Chhangani & Katherine Guo Staff Writers Members of Debate attended the Presentation Voices Invitational from October 5 to 8 at Presentation High School in San Jose, CA. The Presentation Voices Invitational is Debate’s first major tournament of the year, with opportunities for high-performing teams to qualify for the Tourna-

ment of Champions (TOC) in April. The TOC is widely considered the most difficult national debate championship. Debate has historically performed very well at the Presentation Invitational, closing out the Varsity Public Forum (PF) division by having two teams in finals in 2016. This year, two Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debaters and eight PF teams from Debate attended the tournament, with two freshmen, nine sophomores, four juniors, and three seniors competing. No first-year debaters from Debate attended the tournament this year. Debate members performed well at the tournament, with multiple teams moving into elimination rounds. Both Sophomores Ian Park and Serena Mao advanced to the double-octofinals in Varsity PF. Seniors Lucas Huang and Apurv Prabhakar also broke to double-octofinals in Varsity PF. Junior Rithvik Koppurapu and Senior Ishan Maunder made it to semifinals and notably received a bid to the TOC. Maunder additionally received fourth speaker award at the tournament. Speaker awards are given based on speaker points, indicators of presentation, strategy, and flair within a round; they are often positively correlated with wins. Koppurapu and Maunder also broke to finals and placed second at the Presentation PF Round Robin, which is an invite-only day of rounds at

the end of the tournament. Mao said, “We performed well, having three teams break to eliminations in Public Forum in a pool of relatively skilled debaters.” She hopes to implement what she learned from this

At the end of the 2017-18 school year, MSJ Debate merged with MSJ Speech, forming a new club: MSJ Speech and Debate. tournament in her future competitions. At the end of the 2017-18 school year, MSJ Debate merged with MSJ Speech, forming a new club: MSJ Speech and Debate. This is the norm at most high schools, but the two clubs were separate due to their different founding years. They

remained separate because they originally had different head coaches; they now share one. Due to an increasing number of competitors who participated in both Speech and Debate, merging would make it logistically simpler for them to compete in both. Furthermore, the clubs shared the same advisor and similar tournament schedules, making it more administratively efficient for the two teams to combine. Co-President Senior Maggie Zhao said, “I really look forward to seeing how our team grows this year, both Speech and Debate, especially with increased support from the officers and coaches.” Combined, MSJ Speech and Debate has approximately 100 members, many of whom compete in both Speech and Debate. ▪

news editor joelle chuang

Members of the recently combined MSJ Speech and Debate club pose for a photograph.


for the Sept. 21, 2018 issue News Page 2: School Loop is misspelled. News Page 2: Haunted Train 2018 is from Oct. 19 to 21 and Oct. 26 to 28. Opinion Page 3: Johnny Bobbitt is misspelled. Opinion Page 4: College tuition study was conducted by US News & World Report. Opinion Page 5: The Transport Workers Union was created in 1934. Feature Page 6: School Loop and Loop Mail are misspelled. Feature Page 7: Anuja Konda is misspelled. Feature Page 7: CSSSA is the CA State Summer School for the Arts. Feature Page 9: The Forest - Stay Focused app is free on Android. A&E Page 13: Ku Klux Klan is misspelled. Sports Page 15: Jaime Richards is misspelled. Graphics Page 18: Ayeeshi Poosarla is misspelled.



Compiled by Josephine Chew, Sreetama Chowdhury, & Kimberly Huang Staff Writers

marinij.com Photos of some of the 263 Bay Area Catholic priests charged with sexual misconduct

nytimes.com On October 26, federal authorities arrested a man suspected of sending the pipe bombs to high profile policitians and CNN.

bbc.com Police officers stand outside the kindergarten in Chongqing, China where at least 14 children were attacked.

Bay Area Catholic priests charged with Pipe bomb suspect with criminal history decades of sexual misdconduct arrested in Florida More than 200 Catholic priests Authorities arrested a suspect linked in the San Jose, San Francisco, and to the series of pipe bombs sent to CNN Oakland dioceses have been accused and key Democrat figures across the US. of sexual misconduct toward chil- Recipients included Hillary Clinton, Barack dren. Attorney Jeff Anderson, rep- Obama, and Joe Biden; all the suspicious resenting victims of the misconduct, packages were intercepted before any damreleased a 66-page report on Octo- age could be done. Many of the intended ber 23 listing the names of priests recipients are prominent critics of President who allegedly abused children. An- Donald Trump. The suspect, Cesar Sayoc, derson attributes the decades of si- is a Republican man from Florida with a lence to bishops who covered up the lengthy criminal record. In response to the potential scandal. Investigations into arrest, Trump said, “We must never allow the case remain ongoing. political violence to take root in America.”

Knife attack injures at least 14 kindergarten students in China On October 26, a 39-year-old woman attacked at least 14 kindergarten students with a knife on as they walked to class in Chongqing, China. School security and staff apprehended the attacker and took her into custody, but not before she inflicted serious damage. An unknown number of children required hospital care after the incident, and many suffered severe slashes on their faces. Police are still investigating the attack, which is not the first knife attack on Chinese schoolchildren.

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Smoke Signal

Pool expected to be completed by December Developers faced multiple roadblocks during construction process


News & Opinion 3

Hopkins and Gomes receive National Blue Ribbon School Award Schools in MSJ district are recognized for exemplary performance By Riya Chopra Staff Writer

graphics editor evangeline chang

The pool construction as of October 23; the project is expected to be completed by December 20.

By Meera Sehgal Staff Writer MSJ is building a new 11-lane pool on campus, which is estimated to be completed by December 20 and ready to use in February. The pool is one of the biggest campus construction projects in MSJ history and has required a tremendous amount of manpower and resources. Principal Zack Larsen said, “With a project this size, there are always things that are found when you start digging in the ground that you didn’t think were there.” Developers found old storage tanks as well as abandoned gas lines, which added to the complications of the project. Additionally, a water line that delivers water to the surrounding neighborhood was also found to be in close proximity to the construction site. Larsen said, “Whenever anything like that is found, it doesn’t just involve the contractors — it involves multiple government agencies, whether it be the Alameda

County Water District or the Union Sanitary District.” In order to supply adequate energy to heat the pool, school officials had to work with PG&E to expand and redirect gas pipes. The pool will be used to teach the Physical Education swim unit and to host meets and practices for both the swim and water polo teams. Larsen believes that the pool will be beneficial to students, and he said, “The new pool will avoid our students [from] having to travel to Ohlone College and American High School for water polo and swim meets and practices, which they had to do for a number of years.” He said, “It can be used for swim lessons, and in the summers, it can be used for the whole community.” According to Construction Manager Julio Hernandez, a new locker room is also under construction and is estimated to be completed by January 21. Larsen hopes to have it in use by the beginning of the swim season in February. ▪

John Gomes Elementary School and William Hopkins Junior High School were both recently presented with the 2018 National Blue Ribbon School Award by the US Department of Education on October 1. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program is a program in which public and private schools throughout the nation are recognized for being either exemplary high-performing schools or for working to close achievement gaps among student minorities. US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos acknowledges these schools through a video message and an award ceremony held in Washington D.C. Both John Gomes Elementary School and William Hopkins Junior High School were granted this title because they rank among the top 15 percent of all schools in CA for their academic performance. John Gomes Elementary School Principal Douglas Whipple believes that the school’s recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School can be attributed to a combina-

tion of its all-inclusive teaching approach and its highly motivated students, teachers, and parents. The school focuses on working together as a whole to ensure that all students have equal opportunities for success. Whipple said, “It isn’t just parents, it isn’t just kids, it isn’t just teachers. It takes all those people and they all have to believe that these students can do it.” In the future, the school hopes to put a stronger emphasis on building character and leadership. Since the last time William Hopkins Junior High School received this award in 2012, the school has integrated technology such as Chromebooks into its curriculum. They are hoping to have a one-to-one ratio of computers to students in the next few years. The staff has also played a significant role in the school’s success, as they are constantly striving to provide students with extra help and instruction. William Hopkins Junior High School Principal Corey Brown said, “We have a lot of kids that jump at the opportunity to learn and a lot of staff members that push kids, so all the pieces are there for them to grow.” ▪

news editor joelle chuang

William Hopkins Junior High School has integrated technology like Chromebooks into its curriculum.

Fighting the Fakes By Sabrina Wu & Tylor Wu Staff Writers


Luxury items are a direct reflection of a person’s financial and socioeconomic standing, and those who want to reap the benefits without handing over the money often turn to knockoffs. It’s an understandably alluring shortcut; why pay in full for what looks like the exact same product? The Smoke Signal takes a look what lies beyond the price tag.

Production of Counterfeit Goods Counterfeits are often made in sweatshops with little to no regard for health, safety, and wage regulation, according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Many counterfeit manufacturers coerce young children and illegal immigrants into underpaid manual labor and engage in inhumane labor practices such as threats of violence, confiscation of identity papers, exposure to hazardous materials, and unhealthy worker housing. Due to a lack of regulation, manufacturers often dispose of waste in an unsafe manner, such as using incinerators that generate air pollution and hazardous waste.

Safety of Counterfeit Products Counterfeit products often do not meet safety standards and can often contain prohibited substances. Knockoff makeup in particular has been found to have up to 15 times as much lead as the genuine product, along with containing other dangerous heavy metals in an investigative report by CBS in 2017. It is not just a small sample either — in April 2018, the Los Angeles Police Department confiscated $700,000 worth of knockoff makeup from 21 locations in the city. The growth in knockoff medication with harmful active ingredients has been growing in the US market as well, and the World Health Organization estimates that up to 10 percent of medication globally is counterfeit, much of it prescription drugs.

Relation to Organized Crime In a report by the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, counterfeit operations are a huge source of income and a moneylaundering platform for organized crime. The United Nations also found that the proceeds of counterfeit manufacturing often fund other illicit operations such as drug trafficking. These groups also often bribe or threaten officials to look the other way. The Russian director of anti-piracy was the victim of an attempted murder linked to a DVD counterfeiting operation. Counterfeiting remains an attractive target for organized crime since the risk of detection remains low and penalties are light in many areas.

The Counterfeit Industry The market for counterfeits, valued at $461 billion globally in 2016, now makes up around 2.5 percent of global imports according to a report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The country leading the industry is China, which has become synonymous with cheap, knockoff products made en masse. According to the 2018 Global Brand Counterfeiting Report, there was an estimated $323 billion in losses in 2017 due to online counterfeiting. The OECD report also noted that pirated goods push genuine products out of the market, pressuring companies to drop prices on genuine products.

Knowing vs. Unknowing Costumers Knowing customers of pirated or counterfeit products are usually enticed by low prices. According to the OECD, knowing consumers of counterfeit products generally are constrained by budget and are not worried about the enforcement of intellectual property laws. However, consumers who unconsciously buy knockoffs often have unsatisfactory experiences, which reflects poorly on brands. In 2016, counterfeit Apple products on Amazon ran rampant, and more than 19,000 products were seized. Expectations fell short for consumers of the fake electronics as Apple’s engineers reported the knockoffs to be, as Forbes reports, “poorly constructed with inferior or missing components.” A lawsuit was filed against the third-party seller responsible, Mobile Star. graphics by graphics editors eva chang & lucia li

4 Opinion


The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 2, 2018

Behind the barcode: what makes cheap clothes possible By Aria Lakhmani & Sahana Sridhar Staff Writers Imagine paying $5 for a pair of shoes or $10 for a little black dress. Online stores like SheIn and Romwe attract customers with these “too good to be true” prices, selling trendy and fashionable clothing at significantly lower prices than traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. In order to maintain these low prices, however, these companies often rely on child labor and inhumane working conditions. This does not deter their consumer base, who may either be unknowingly ignorant of such practices or simply unbothered by them. They buy from online stores that employ unethical business practices as they benefit. However, the low price point does not justify the means used to achieve them.

Large companies exploit this desperation for their benefit, regardless of their obvious ability to provide reasonable salaries. While some may argue that these retailers are providing a service to a socioeconomically disadvantaged consumer demographic by providing quality goods at low prices, these retailers infringe upon universal human rights and exploit economic inequality to do so. More sweatshop workers are at such low economic standings that any compensation is regarded as enough. Large companies exploit this desperation for their benefit, regardless of their obvious ability to provide reasonable salaries. For example, Primark was worth nearly $300 million in net GDP in 2013, but still chose to use inhumane sweatshop labor for convenience. Some of these retailers have been found legally responsible for the occupational injuries sustained by their third-world employees due to the inhumane working conditions they subject them to. Some more well-known retailers such as H&M and Primark have also faced multi-million dollar lawsuits in the past for similar reasons; in

April 2013, more than 1,100 workers died, and more than 2,000 more were injured in the collapse of a Primark owned factory that did not meet safety standards. After the collapse, Primark paid $12 million in settlement claims to the families of the deceased and injured workers at Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. H&M has also admitted to employing 14 year-old children in Myanmar for a mere 13 pence, or 50 cents in US dollars, an hour. Shortly afterwards, they signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, as part of an attempt to improve factory working conditions, but to not much avail. In 2015, the New York University Stern School of Business published a report, in which it was revealed that only 8 of more than 7,000 factories in Bangladesh had passed the safety inspections required by the signed accord. Nothing was done to stop the factories that hadn’t passed the inspection from continuing to run. The problem is prevalent across varying consumer demographics — other companies implicated in similar practices include Nike, Adidas, Zara, and GAP, which cater more to well-heeled customers. The problem is also not just restricted to foreign countries. Chains like Forever 21 have employed workers in sweatshop-like conditions within the US, paying their workers below the federally mandated minimum and frequently forcing them to work for more than 10 hours without overtime pay. However, these retailers have not been deterred by the scandals and have continued their unabated expansion. Their revenues continue to be propped up by customers who are either unaware of such practices or those who are willing to turn a blind eye when reality intervenes with convenient shopping practices. In the case of the Rana Plaza collapse, Primark’s sales continued to rise by 20 percent over the three months following. Scandals exposing these retailers serve to underline a sobering reality — the public cannot trust the stores to police themselves. The real price for cheap fashion from these extends beyond the price tag: fundamental human rights

are at stake. Workers are often underpaid and overworked in unsafe and unsanitary working conditions. They must also deal with forced unpaid overtime — refusal to do so is easily dealt with as sweatshop workers are seen as highly dispensable and replaceable. Worse still, employed children face a bleak future with no prospects of higher education or career advancement. The effects of these violations extend beyond the individual worker as well, affecting their families and their community. It is clear that self-regulation has been insufficient for dealing with this problem. Monetary fines are also not a solution as these can easily be paid with the profits made from unethical business practices. Primark’s payment of millions of dollars in settlement claims had virtually no impact on its profitable results. Political lobbying is also difficult, as these large corporations wield immense financial influence. In 2016, some of the discount retailers, including Primark, started disclosing the names and addresses of their factories in response to public pressure — a modest starting point for efforts to reduce the instances of human rights abuses. The creation of a third-party, watchdog organization,

tasked with identifying and qualifying “fair trade” companies could be a potential solution. This organization could look into the supply chain information of large companies in order to investigate abusive conditions.

It is clear that self-regulation has been insufficient to deal with this problem. But the most effective change comes from us, the consumer base, the people that decide if unethical business practices are excusable. Every transaction that stores like H&M and Primark processed since the collapse of Rana Plaza is validation that they can continue using unethical means if they continue to make profit anyway. Informed consumers who choose to boycott retailers that support unethical business practices are capable of catalyzing change by taking their purchasing power elsewhere. The ideal solution would be to hit these retailers where it hurts: their bottom lines. ▪

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Friday, November 2, 2018

The Smoke Signal

toshali's take

The Smoke Signal Mission San Jose High School Est. 1964 Vol. 54, No. 2 | November 2, 2018 www.thesmokesignal.org

The inherent bias of history


vic ki’s voice “Not like other girls” isn’t necessarily a good trait By Vicki Xu Opinion Editor

By Toshali Goel Opinion Editor

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

SCHOOL POPULATION 2051 students EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Amy Chen, Jonathan Ko NEWS Gloria Chang, Joelle Chuang OPINION Toshali Goel, Vicki Xu FEATURE Kikue Higuchi, Maggie Zhao CENTERSPREAD Karen Li, Kelly Yang A&E Stephanie Dutra, Shray Vaidya SPORTS Hannah Chou, Michael Ren GRAPHICS Evangeline Chang, Lucia Li WEB Rishi Chillara, Shiantel Chiang TECH Tylor Wu, Jennifer Xiang BUSINESS Ian Hsu CIRCULATION Christine Dong ADVERTISING Katherine Guo, Shreya Sridhar EVENTS Anisa Kundu, Sahana Sridhar SPECIAL PROJECTS Riya Chopra WRITERS & PHOTOGRAPHERS Anika Arora, Sabrina Cai, Thomas Chen, Josephine Chew, Alisha Chhangani, Sreetama Chowdhury, Kimberly Huang, Samir Jain, Aria Lakhmani, Jonathan Liu, Seong Jin (Ian) Park, Carolyn Qian, Gokul Ramapriyan, Yusuf Rasheed, Monisha Saxena, Meera Sehgal, Shreya Srinivasan, Mingjia Wang, Gregory Wu, Sabrina Wu, Jessica Xu, Selina Yang

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

When I woke up on October 8, I glanced at my phone and saw the notification on my Calendar for Columbus Day. I grumbled in irritation at the thought that students from other states would be getting the day off while I still had to attend school. As the day went by though, I began to think about the merit of the federal holiday and appreciate the fact that our state does not observe it. To me, it was only a matter of a day off. But for the many indigenous peoples that populate the US, Columbus Day has become a symbol of the age-old habit of twisting history to suit the victors. Christopher Columbus was not all that he was cracked up to be when we first learned of his adventures. The man still remembered as the pioneer of the New World had in fact invaded an already inhabited land, practically annihilating its people with disease and brutal warfare. The more I thought, the more I came to admire CA for not taking part in celebrating such disgraceful history. Seven hours of my time seemed a petty sacrifice in the face of the horrors indigenous people attribute to Christopher Columbus’s pillaging. I was proud to live in a community where people refused to endorse such narratives. However, Columbus Day is not an isolated incident. History is inherently biased, with different regions of the world teaching their own version of events to their people. Often times, the stories told in textbooks and the media are written by winners, with much of the “truth” in these situations being left up for historical interpretation. For example, Winston Churchill. In most of the western world, Churchill is hailed as the “British Lionheart” for his involvement in ending World War II. However, South Asian

countries tend to paint Churchill in less of a favorable light. Many Indian historians and politicians hold him personally responsible for much of the calamity in the Bengal Famine, where up to 4 million Bengalis starved to death as supplies were diverted from British Raj India to already well-supplied European armies. The involvement of non-European nations in World War II is rarely discussed, and thus such tragic sacrifices made by these people often go forgotten outside of their place of origin. The varied perspectives that history is told from reinforce the concept that history is written by the victors. When reading about events that took place hundreds of years ago, history feels distant, as though it has no implications on our modern thought — and yet our views of the world today are often shaped by what we know of the past. As students, we should learn to question the things we are taught and keep in mind that the blurring of fact and fiction with the passage of time, coupled with the biases of those providing us information, will inevitably seep into and influence our own ideas. Being aware of life beyond our own communities and countries will help us form a more well-rounded opinion of the world around us and how it came to be. Blind acceptance of all that is taught in school as fact written in stone is a disservice to the truth. For the history that is lost, there is no right answer, no way to discern truth from fabrication or exaggeration. It is our responsibility to understand the imperfect nature of retelling histories, and to be mindful of those differences and biases as we take the words we learn in classes as truth. ▪

The Opinion of the Smoke Signal Editorial Board

The vicious cycle of stress MSJ’s notoriously stressful environment has not only become the heart of many jokes but also the basis of our conversations as students. Consequently, we perpetuate a cycle of self-induced stress by normalizing the idea that our school is responsible for the emotional tension students experience. Frustration with the large amount of stress is certainly understandable: put simply, school isn’t easy. Yet students unwittingly contribute to the discourse surrounding the magnitude of stress at MSJ when they continually tell themselves that they lead a pressured life. A 2011 study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM) found that the mere perception of stress independently worsened mental and physical health in general. Researchers at UWM discovered that adults who consistently classified their lives as stressful had a 43 percent higher chance of premature death. We are often stuck in the downward spiral of comparing stress levels with our peers and our grades. We have all experienced harsh workloads and difficult school tests, and we know stress has detrimental effects on our physical and mental health. However, accusing the school does not effectively relieve us of our personal buildup of pressure; instead, this further immerses us into the stereotypical competitive atmosphere. By focusing only on the adverse aspects of stress at MSJ, we do not notice the efforts of students and faculty who actually support our emotional and mental wellbeing. In fact, in recent years, MSJ has acknowledged the issue of stress and has implemented policies that substantially reduce student pressure. MSJ Challenge Success pushed for the Homework Policy and removed class rank from report cards. As a result, we became less obsessed with competing for a quantified position, reducing the overly competitive tension among students. Teachers focus on scheduling appropriate test days according to student convenience. Principal Zack Larsen sends out multiple emails during during finals and AP week to show his support.

Opinion 5

Mental health resources on campus such as Peer Resource and the annual Mental Health Panel, organized by the Mental Health Committee, have also expanded tremendously, making it easier for struggling students to reach out for advice on dealing with personal stress. The administration does not solely create policies to decrease stress — it is open to enacting changes based on student opinions. If we expect the worst, we begin to believe that nothing can alleviate the sheer amount of pressure students feel. Instead, we should change our perspective of MSJ. Although there are certainly tense aspects of our school, MSJ is representative of the real world — not everything is fair, and teachers cannot consider every student’s personal problems when assigning work. Only by learning how to address our stress head-on can we learn to be selfreliant in the future. Reality is unforgiving, and for the sake of our own health, we cannot continue to justify our stress as the inevitable result of an external source. This shift in MSJ culture begins with us. We need to focus on changing our mindsets and refusing to remain passive victims of our stress. We need to realize that we play a part in causing our own stress, but we can also pull ourselves out of this harmful and repetitive cycle. Rather than merely complaining about class and work loads, we need to discuss these issues with the administration and take the initiative to propose solutions. We must convert our discontent about any stress-inducing aspects of MSJ into active efforts to change the conversations of MSJ’s stereotypical atmosphere into actual positive affirmations amongst all of our peers. ▪

Junior-high me was “not like other girls.” I shared many a Google+ post about not being into makeup but into books, not being into shopping but into studying. I explained at length to friends about how I wasn’t afraid of stuffing my face with chili fries and packing on a few pounds — after all, unlike “other girls,” I didn’t diet because I didn’t need boys. If you could plot how age against cringe-inspiring I am, I probably peaked at 12 years old. I’m only reliving this era because recently, many “not like other girls” (NLOG) posts have resurfaced on my Facebook timeline. One reads, “the difference between me & other girls are… they want to have him. i want to love him, fix him, & show him there’s more to life.” Another proclaims, “I MAY NOT BE THE GIRL THAT EVERYONE WANTS, BUT AT LEAST I’M NOT THE GIRL THAT EVERYONE’S HAD.” The common implication across a good subset of these posts is that “other girls” are slutty, shallow, and vapid. On the contrary, our original poster is modest, quiet, and unassuming. She even takes care to lock her prim legs together when she sits. The NLOG trend captures an interesting dynamic between adolescent girls. On one level, posters cast themselves as rebels against traditional female beauty and behavior standards. Women have been expected to sit around and look pretty for millenia; in contrast, these girls aren’t too concerned with their looks or behaviors. They even pride themselves in not being traditionally ladylike all the time (“I’m not a fan of makeup, can’t put it on for shit, and

what you see is what you get, more women should try it lol … ,” one poster proclaims). Yet the way NLOG posts address “other girls” actually reinforces the way women have been treated for centuries. Instead of building women up for their confidence, NLOG posters tear them down as attention-seeking whores. This is quite similar, actually, to the man who assumes the woman in the cocktail dress is “asking for it.” In both cases women are reduced to their appearances. The tragic part about NLOG is that it’s women who are doing the typecasting. Elements of NLOG are reinforced in popular culture. Authors often assign “original” or “different” personalities to female main characters at the expense of the personalities of supporting female characters. Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars is unfailingly unique; there’s no girl quite like her. But the quirkiness just heightens the contrast with other girls in the novel, who are cardboard cutouts — for instance, Kaitlyn and Monica. It’s a Young Adult and New Adult trope. In a broader sense, there’s a judgment on girls who choose to be feminine. Empowerment often centers on masculine behavior: rock that pixie cut; don’t be afraid to be bold and assert yourself. There’s nothing wrong with masculine behavior in women, but traditionally feminine women are valid too. NLOG, while not necessarily favoring toward androgyny itself, tends to flatten and attack feminine women. So let girls do what they want. In a time of Brett Kavanaugh and #MeToo, tearing other women down is damaging and counterproductive. Instead of slinging epithets at one another, we should be supporting each other. ▪

By Selina Yang & Gokul Ramapriyan Staff Writers

staff writers selina yang & gokul ramapriyan

staff writers selina yang & gokul ramapriyan

6 Opinion


The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 2, 2018

Moving toward tolerant discussion of LGBTQ+ issues By Meera Sehgal & Jessica Xu Staff Writers In May, the Fremont Police Department elected its first female police chief, Kimberly Petersen, a former captain with 22 years of experience on the force. The San Jose Mercury News mentioned that she is openly gay in an article about her appointment to police chief. The rest of the article focuses on her career with no further mention of her sexual orientation. At first glance, some might believe that there should have been some discussion of her sexual orientation given the significance of the appointment of a gay police chief, but the real issue is more complicated. It is important to give the LGBTQ+ community proper representation — the kind that gives them visibility but does not over-fixate on their identity and stereotype them. The common counterargument against bringing up an LGBTQ+ person’s gender and sexual orientation is that it forces an agenda on others. After all, people say, you wouldn’t mention it if they were straight and cisgender. But that completely misses the point. In an ideal world, someone’s gender or sexual orientation would not play such a central role in how society views them and their accomplishments. The problem is the heteronormativity so firmly ingrained in society. Even though the LGBTQ+ community has gained more legal rights in recent years, they still face stigma; many LGBTQ+ people stay in the closet for fear of rejection from others. According to the Human Rights Campaign’s 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report, only 13 percent of respondents report hearing positive messages about being LGBTQ+ in school, and 27 percent of LGBTQ+ youth are comfortable with expressing themselves in school. Often, they internalize their struggles, which is damaging to mental health. A 2010 study by the Univer-

sity of Illinois, Chicago also found that nearly one-third of LGBTQ+ participants “met the diagnostic criteria for a mental disorder and/ or reported a suicide attempt in their lifetime.” Constant feelings of ostracization can damage mental health, but acceptance can help reduce these harms. The University of Arizona discovered in a 2015 study that “sexuality-related social support from parents, friends, and community during adolescence each uniquely contributed to positive well-being in young

Breaking down the stigma around LGBTQ+ issues is crucial to fostering acceptance of the community. adulthood.” LGBTQ+ figures can give people struggling with their identity someone to relate to and help them realize that they are not alone. Breaking down the stigma around LGBTQ+ issues is crucial to fostering acceptance of the community. When an article about the gender and sexual orientation of a public figure is published, people talk. And as LGBTQ+ identity becomes a topic that people can bring up in everyday discussion, it can start to become normalized in society. Granted, others will also write about the LGBTQ+ community in a negative light. However, this is more beneficial than harmful in the long run; when antiLGBTQ+ arguments are made plain, people can refute them and realize why they are not true. But attempting to destigmatize LGBTQ+ topics is not as easy as it sounds; there is still a delicate balance to be maintained. When discussing someone’s gender or sexual orientation, going too far is all too easy. If someone’s identity is brought up too often, every action they take carries a label. Personal identity becomes irrevocably intertwined with accomplishment in the eyes of the public. They are reduced to a facet of their identity, and the rest

of their identity goes unacknowledged. For some, their hard-earned accomplishments do not receive the attention they deserve, and the discussion turns toward an uncomfortable topic. The price of visibility, then, is their sense of personal accomplishment. Instead of being recognized for their work, they are placed under the spotlight for a part of their identity that they cannot control. People start to believe that LGBTQ+ people act in ways that their gender and sexual orientation predisposes them to. When Anderson Cooper became the first gay man to moderate a presidential debate in 2016, critics doubted his ability to remain objective. Alex Jones, conspiracy theorist and host of the right-wing The Alex Jones Show, called Cooper “twinkle-toes, bite your pillow.” Then-presidential candidate Trump stated he had “seen how Anderson Cooper behaves,” an allusion to his sexual orientation. This type of criticism only reinforces stereotypes that push LGBTQ+ people further into the closet and exacerbate mental health issues they already must deal with. In addition, actions LGBTQ+ public figures take are generalized to the entire community, pressuring them to walk on eggshells so as to not let down the community they represent. Openly gay CNN anchor Don Lemon said in

For some, their hard-earned accomplishments do not receive the attention they deserve, and the discussion turns toward an uncomfortable topic. an NPR interview that “it's ... a big responsibility. It's also a lot of eyes on me in scrutiny about every single thing that I say when it comes to that issue.” Petersen’s case exemplifies a broader issue that public figures in the LGBTQ+ community often encounter. In some cases, such

as with Cooper, members of the community have their gender or sexual orientation brought up repeatedly even when it is not relevant to their work. This also heavily depends on how comfortable the individual is with their identity being discussed in public media. As gender and sexual orientation are extremely personal issues, it should be the individual’s choice whether or not to allow the media to discuss their identity. In some cases, their identity should not be emphasized upon if they are not comfortable with it.

...It is important even for well-intentioned individuals to be careful not to reduce LGBTQ+ people to their gender or sexual orientation. The stigma around LGBTQ+ topics is ultimately what prevents the community from being fully accepted by society. Portraying LGBTQ+ public figures in a positive light can help foster acceptance, but it is important even for well-intentioned individuals to be careful not to reduce LGBTQ+ people to their gender or sexual orientation. Exactly where the line should be drawn should be decided on a caseby-case basis, and the comfort levels of the public figures in question should be taken into account. This is certainly not a quick or easy process, but by taking small steps, we can eventually create a more accepting environment. ▪

Police chief Kimberly Petersen.

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Friday, November 2, 2018

The Smoke Signal

Fremont 2018


By Sreetama Chowdhury, Christine Dong & Katherine Guo Staff Writers

Elections city council

Opinion 7

Introduction The Smoke Signal reached out to all City Council and School Board candidates for information on their platforms including traffic congestion and affordable housing. Some were interviewed one on one and some by phone. Others supplied email responses. The Smoke Signal was unable to interview School Board Candidates Hua Li and Larry Sweeney; for these candidates, we retrieved as much information as possible from candidate websites. Coverage is continued online.


Housing and Overcrowding

Traffic Congestion Watanuki’s platform includes working with transit agencies such as AC Transit and other cities in the region to remedy congestion. She also advocates for incorporating existing technology into streamlining traffic routes, and she encourages ride sharing and use of public transportation.

Watanuki advocates for modern urban planning focused on providing higher density housing near public transportation in order to decrease congestion and increase walkability. Her platform also includes home sharing, which would increase affordability, and a first-time buyers plan to help with rental assistance and down payments for those looking to move to Fremont.

Daulton considers the root cause of traffic congestion to be overdevelopment. He plans to reduce traffic congestion by slowing down city development by calling a moratorium on new building permits so traffic and other effects of overdevelopment can be reassessed and examined in greater depth.

Daulton’s platform looks to work with the state and national governments to create more affordable housing and reduce development of the city. He also promotes repealing the Costa–Hawkins Rental Housing Act so that control of rent can return to local communities to help preserve affordable housing.

Sha’s platform on traffic congestion advocates for increasing the use of technology, specifically the Internet of Things, to streamline traffic routes. In order to gain the funding, he proposes a rebalancing of funds within Fremont’s budget. He also proposes requiring cities whose commuters cut through Fremont to contribute more to regional development.

Sha advocates for increased developer contributions to Fremont, arguing that they should not be allowed to continue rampant development without returning to the community. His platform emphasizes smart development and development in optimal zones, zones with public transportation.

Shao suggests slowing down development as one way of reducing local traffic. His platform includes working with developers to build drop-off loops in schools and large companies to develop a transit plan for their workers such as a lunch hour shuttle bus to restaurants to reduce traffic. He also believes Fremont should work with neighboring cities and the government to improve highway traffic.

Shao advocates for the increased construction of moderate income level housing units. As developers are required to build a certain percentage of affordable housing units unless they pay an in-lieu fee, Shao also plans to increase in-lieu fees so developers cannot build as many market price housing units.

Steckler did not comment on the issue of traffic congestion, and the Smoke Signal was unable to obtain this information from his campaign website.

Steckler believes that housing developers need to be held accountable and asked to contribute more to the community as a whole. He also believes that affordable housing is an important issue and that steps need to be taken to ensure that new housing in the area is accessible to lower-income people and the homeless.






school board


Traffic Congestion

Housing and Overcrowding

On traffic congestion, Wong’s platform involves increasing the number of available schools for students, citing Weibel Elementary attendee’s longer commutes to Irvington. Like the solution to the housing issue, expanding school construction would necessitate funding, either from local businesses and companies or from the state.

Wong believes that housing issues and educational quality are intertwined, with increasing housing only emphasizing FUSD’s overcrowding issue. While adding a new high school would relieve the overcrowding issue, it would require funding, which she hopes to get from the city housing construction companies, local businesses, and state.

Jones agrees with city council candidates who have proposed modernizing traffic signals with sensors instead of timers. Additionally, she encourages the construction of new schools to relieve the heavy morning and afternoon congestion around school drop-off and pick-up zones.

Jones believes that we need an increase in affordable housing, especially for educators and first responders. In order to do so, she proposes having members of the school board sit in on city meetings with developers to ensure that developers build schools in conjunction with new affordable housing.



To Khan, one cause of traffic congestion is overcrowding in schools. Due to overcrowding, parents must drive children farther to get to school, adding to traffic. Khan’s solution to this is to work with developers to build more schools to reduce overcrowding and thus traffic.

Khan advocates for more workforce housing for public servants including teachers, police officers, and nurses to allow them to live in the communities where they work more easily. She plans to foster a strong relationship with the city council and state representatives to generate practical and effective solutions for housing issues.

Ng views traffic congestion as the combined result of rapid population growth, inefficient infrastructure, and traffic from other cities. His solution includes promoting ridesharing and use of public transportation to reduce the number of cars on the highways during rush hour. Another part of his platform includes reducing overcrowding in FUSD schools.

Ng states that the solution to the current housing issue is not as straightforward as many would hope, especially when considering that housing supply and demand often contracts and expands. He advocates that if specific housing assistance were to be given out FUSD teachers and staff with affordability issues should be one of the first groups to receive assistance.

Howell views traffic congestion as both unsafe and an added stressor for students. He believes that stress is already a problem for many students, and the added concern of being cautious while traveling to and from school is another load on mental health.

Howell did not comment on the issue of housing and overcrowding, and the Smoke Signal could not obtain this information from his campaign website.




The Smoke Signal was unable to obtain interviews with Sweeney and Li and could not obtain their stances on traffic congestion from their candidate websites.

The Smoke Signal was unable to obtain interviews with Sweeney and Li and could not obtain their stances on housing and overcrowding from their candidate websites.



photos by lifeeldercare.org, crowdpac.com, votersedge.org, eastbaytimes.com, fremont.k12.ca.us, facebook.com, sylviawongforschoolboard.com, howell4schoolboard.com, larrysweeney.com

10 Feature Feature 8

www .thesmokesignal.org .org www .thesmokesignal

TheSmoke SmokeSignal Signal The

Friday, May 4, Friday, November 2, 2018

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Justin Sha By Anisa Kundu & Sabrina Wu Staff Writers

Most MSJ alumni wake up to a nine to five job in tech or business, but Class of 2011 Alumnus Justin Sha spends his days canvassing and campaigning around Fremont. After graduating from MSJ and Dartmouth College, Sha started working at the Oakland City Attorney’s Office and is currently running in the election for Fremont City Council. During his time at MSJ, Sha split his time mainly between studying for his classes, leading the Debate club, and restoring DECA. When Sha entered MSJ as a freshman, the DECA chapter had ceased to exist and he instead joined the Business Club. With the help of Social Studies Teacher Nancy Benton and his fellow teammates, he rebuilt DECA from the ground up. Sha and his team began attending conferences for fun before moving on to panels and finally participating in competitions. In 2009, as DECA began to grow, Sha became the first MSJ student to place top 10 in the International Career Development Conference since 2003. While reminiscing about his time as DECA President, Sha said, “I’d like to think I left my legacy here ... I was the one who bought the Winnie the Pooh costume,” referring to MSJ DECA’s mascot. Sha stated that restoring this organization with a scrappy mentality and being part of an entrepreneurial environment led him to co-found two startups during his time in college. Unlike most students who followed the typical track at MSJ, Sha did not take

ated by his hardships. He said, “I want to change the world in a sense, so other people don’t have to go through what I went through.”

“I want to change the world in a sense, so other people don’t have to go through what I went through.” -

Sha reflects on his time redbuilding DECA at MSJ

many advanced STEM classes and focused mainly on history, taking classes like AP World History and AP US History. He felt separated from those in more STEM-related courses, but still had a good experience at MSJ. Similarly, during his time at Dartmouth, he veered away from a traditional schedule when he took nine months off of college in 2014 to focus on his two startups. This absence was prompted by his growing dislike of college life since he felt the Asian-American population was heavily underserved at Dartmouth. Sha stated that he felt more prepared for academic rigor in Dartmouth’s curriculum than some classmates because of

his experience handling both his extracurriculars and classes. He believes MSJ taught him the value of trial and error by providing him with a forgiving environment to try new activities. Once Sha made the transition into college, he recognized the cultural differences between MSJ and Dartmouth. He states that although Dartmouth was a rather conservative school, he did want to have a fresh start and met people from many different backgrounds there. During his middle school and high school years, Sha struggled with his sexuality, sharing his experience with depression and feeling different from others. Since then, Sha has been motiv-


Sha values the close community MSJ offered, stating that it was important during a developmental period to prevent any insecurities from forming about our unique mostly Asian-American school. Sha said, “It’s nice living in a very diverse environment, and I think that being an Asian-American in California, it inspires a lot of confidence in you in a sense, so that when you go off into the world, especially outside of California, you, I think are a uniquely formed person.” From his time as an MSJ student to his graduation from Dartmouth, Sha has learned the value of sticking to your roots. As a message for all MSJ students, he said, “Remember your Asian-American community because representation is so incredibly important in this world, and if you have the power, it doesn’t matter if you go into tech, consulting, investment banking, being an artist later on, just remember your community, and then if you have the power to do so, give back.” ▪ photo by feature editor maggie zhao

Friday, November 2, 2018

[Sugar Free for a Week]

The Smoke Signal


Feature 9


By Ian Park, Monisha Saxena, Shreya Srinivasan & Selina Yang Staff Writers

Various scientists, nutritionists, and social media influencers claim that going sugar-free improves energy levels, mood swings, and wards off health risks. In an effort to test this, four Die Hard Try Hards spent two weeks observing their sugar intake. They tracked the amount of processed sugar consumed over the first week and tried to completely cut it out in the second. The recommended daily amounts of added sugars are 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men, but these amounts are often unintentionally exceeded. Read about their week spent dodging holiday treats, pre-Halloween candy, and “hidden” sugar left and right in a daunting attempt to try this lifestyle change.






It turns out that I eat roughly 126 grams of added sugar in a week, about 18 grams each day. After calorie counting for several months, tracking my food intake is not a difficulty for me, although it was interesting to see which foods unexpectedly had high amounts of sugar — a mere tablespoon of ketchup has four grams! Despite the fact that I made brownies on the first day of tracking (I’m only human after all), I was able to keep my sugar intake at a reasonable amount for the rest of the week. I look forward to being the most successful out of us four and being able to enjoy the increased energy, lessened midnight cravings, and better sleep that going sugar-free apparently gives you.

I am not one for dieting successfully. While stuffing my face, I often think to myself “maybe I should eat healthier.” This leads to two possible courses of action: I decide to cut out junk food but cave and get McDonalds the next day, or I say to myself “I’m here for a good time not a long time,” and continue to shovel food in my mouth. My diet has gotten especially unhealthy with my newfound freedom of driving. I’ve had Taco Bell more times in the past month than I have in my entire 16 years of existence and I’ve consumed 268 grams of sugar this week alone. It is time to go cold turkey before it’s too late to turn my diet around and find out how many of my favorite foods have processed sugar.

I don’t think I could have picked a worse week to cut sugar. The first day is my brother’s birthday party, meaning 16 children will be stuffing themselves with pizza and cake while I stand beside them with a glass of water, and the second is my mother’s, meaning more cake and more glasses of water, leading me another step closer to tears. In the past week I’ve consumed 244 grams of sugar. Admittedly, knowing it was my last week meant I was stuffing myself with whatever sugary foods I could find. Going into this challenge, there is nothing working in my favor other than my competitive streak; I’ve got a serious sweet tooth and cravings that will knock out my productivity for the day if not satisfied. As doomsday approaches, all I can think is: I’m in danger.

In my last “normal” week leading up to the sugar-free week, I consumed 254 grams of sugar, or roughly 36 grams per day. This was actually quite concerning and eye-opening, since there was probably more sugar that I didn’t account for. Honestly though, I swear I couldn’t help it, since I had debate tournaments on both weekends of the tracking sugar week, and the only foods I could have between my debate rounds and dinner were unhealthy snacks. Even after this rough start, I still hope that I can make it through the week sugar-free, since I believe I am health-conscious enough to make the right decisions.

25 g

38 g

35 g

of sugar consumed per day (average) Fruit was my lifeline, the only thing keeping me from sneaking in free cookies from club meetings. I thought staying sugar free wouldn't be that hard, considering that I don't eat sugar bombs often anyway, but it turned out that I normally snuck in treats more often than I cared to admit: a square of chocolate here, a corner of a cookie there. However, I was growing to appreciate savory foods more. With a bit of willpower, I was able to turn what would have been a strenuous and dreary week into a learning experience, or so I tried to convince myself. However, sometimes you do have to force yourself out of your comfort zone. Trying out new foods to incorporate into my daily routine in place of sugary foods was fun and useful. Savory oatmeal, with garlic salt and pumpkin puree, was actually quite good, and in season. I was adjusting relatively well to being sugar-free, even if carrots became weirdly sweet.

of sugar consumed per day (average)


Bright, yellow bananas were the only shiny part of this gloomy week. After peering in my cabinet and only finding Madeleines, Pocky Sticks, and granola bars (all with an obscene amount of sugar), I grabbed the fairly sweet yet still acceptable fruit three times in one day. I couldn’t believe that even my beloved trail mix had a whole 13 grams of added sugar. I replaced my daily Fiber-One bars with blended vegetables that had the same consistency as apple sauce. In an act of desperation fueled by four hours of PSAT testing, I broke four days into the diet and grabbed a crunchwrap supreme from Taco Bell. It was a measly six grams, but that was enough to break the diet. This first cheat day led to another milk tea down the road, with another 25 grams added to my zero sugar week. I thought my resolve would be strong, but it turns out my cravings were stronger.

of sugar consumed per day (average)

Four hours in, and I was already near breaking. In an attempt to circumvent the rules, which specifically banned processed sugar and artificial sweeteners, my dad and I ventured to Whole Foods. There, I found a package of sugar-less cookies and biscotti that employed natural sweeteners, a “Hail Mary” for my sugar cravings. Alas, because the universe has forsaken me, the sweets ended up tasting like raw flour. As the week progressed, my luck continued on a downhill trend. I was barred from comfort sugar after my Calculus AB quiz, cake after cake arrived at my house as presents for my mother, and my uncle showed up out of the blue with four cartons of ice cream. Four! He just appeared on the doorstep with four cartons! He lives in India! But in the end, it was my mother’s cooking, my very own Achilles heel, that broke me. About 28 hours before finishing the challenge and in the midst of a particularly bad day, I caved. Can’t say I’m particularly surprised.

38 g of sugar consumed per day (average) I missed my daily cookies at the student store, and every day I have been sneaking wistful glances at the snack line as I pass by before read period. However, I was able to placate my sweet tooth by reminding myself that this is a healthy lifestyle change and it’s for the Smoke Signal. Similar to the other DHTH participants, the only “sweets” I could enjoy were fresh grapes and strawberries. I had two servings of fruit every day during ] sugar-free week. Everything seemed so much sweeter, and the tastes lingered longer. This week was the only time I’ve ever checked the nutritional labels of snacks and restrained myself from eating something just because it contained sugar. I found sugar incredibly difficult to avoid completely, since in every twist and turn and snack bag, there was always that dreaded "Sugars: _ g" awaiting me. Never has a week trudged by so slowly.

photo by feature editor MAGGIE ZHAO

Feature 10



natural sugars, fruits, vegetables, lean meat, fish nuts, seeds beans, legumes whole grains spices

The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 2, 2018


Guidelines CAN'T EAT

For a week, the DHTHs abstained entirely from consciously consuming any processed sugars. They were not required to cut sugars in foods they had no choice in the selection of. If a DHTH writer broke, they were required to report so.

THOUGHTS AFTER Monisha shreya

selina To be honest, with the “hidden” grams of sugar in anything from sauces to dried fruit, I wouldn’t be surprised if I broke without realizing it. Altogether, I'm content with the fact that I made it that far. Given more time to adjust, I guess I could reduce intake of added sugars, but by no means completely. Although I am definitely sleeping better and felt less dead while waking up towards the end of the week, part of me longed for a warm-out-of-the-oven, classic cookie. The main takeaway is that moderation is key. With Halloween coming up, I'll be sure to apply these lessons and not accidentally eat most of my candy in a week.


all food containing: processed sugars cane sugar artificial sweeteners corn syrup


After a week of (mostly) avoiding added sugar, I first felt the sweet relief of being able to consume my regular snacks. However, the week without sugar really seemed to affect my taste buds, since the once heavenly Cheerios became sickeningly sweet. I stopped reaching for the same overly sweet snacks, and instead opted for actually healthy foods like fruits. Although I can’t resist the occasional boba or fast food run, I really think this week might’ve helped me fix my diet. I didn’t expect much out of this challenge, but I really am a changed woman. Sort of.

Words cannot describe how glad I am that it’s over. Having broken early on, Saturday I dug into the stash of treats my mom had stowed away for me over the week. Three different types of cake, a myriad of chocolate bars, and a box of breakfast pastries from a bakery up in Newark. My conclusion: if you like sugar, just eat it. While breaking the diet wasn’t the greatest feeling, staving myself off sugar was an exercise in restraint that brought nothing but sheer misery. I thought maybe I’d be proud by the end of it, for having survived six days at the very least. I’m not. I just want more cake.

The very first day after the sugar-free week, at the sophomore class all-nighter, I had two brownies, three donuts, and finally, a handful of hot cheetos. Oh well, I’m already on track to break my record amount of sugar consumption set two weeks ago. This boombust cycle of binge eating really isn’t helping me, yet it’s how I’ve been eating my whole life. My snack supplies are often very healthy and boring, so I always jump at whatever opportunity I have to eat anything sugary. So long story short, this week of purging sugar out of my diet really won’t end up changing my life at all. However, this week was truly a test of my willpower because I am so used to eating without restraint.




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The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 2, 2018


Centerspread 11

Freshman inc. By Sabrina Cai & Sahana Sridhar Staff Writers After a weekend of preparation and anticipation, students returned to MSJ the Monday of Homecoming week to a sea of blue. Cobalt and white pom-poms, streaks of blue face paint, and school spirit flooded into the classrooms. Freshman Inc. was ready for its first homecoming. Blue and white balloons lined the amphitheater and hung from above as simple side banners framed the stage. A colorful backdrop depicting the entrance to Freshman Inc., complete with stone pillars and gargoyles covered in moss, reflected freshman’s deco effort and attention to detail. Although the Class of 2022 took a simpler approach than other classes, their dialed-down deco highlighted their skit and airbands. In order to keep the theme of Monster’s Inc. alive, the freshman skit featured a number of quirky and popular characters from the original movie. The skit followed Freshman Mike, Sophomore Cecilia, Junior Randall, and Senior Sully as they tried to generate Homecoming spirit to fill up their “spirit meters,” a reference to the Disney original’s “scream meters.” As the conflict between the senior, junior, and sophomore characters intensified, Freshman Mike proposed teamwork to generate more spirit than any of them could alone, only to be immediately discredited for his supposed naiveté. Ultimately however, Sully, Randall, and Cecilia began to accept that there is truth to Mike’s philosophy, combining their capabilities to maximize Homecoming spirit. The skit reminded students of a very important concept: although our competitive mindset is, in large, a part of our school’s identity, we are all Warriors at heart. Interwoven between segments of the skit, the freshman’s airbands proved to be the highlight of the day. Newcomers to the homecoming stage, Class of 2022 performed to the best of their ability on the afternoon of October 15. Opening with the Taylor Swift’s iconic “22”, the first airband sent ripples of excitement through the crowd, lifting school spirit and keeping it up. Students of all grade levels sang along. The dancing airbands, which included everything from Hip-Hop to Bollywood to Jazz Funk, reflected. Hip-hop opened with dancers in blue sweatpants integrating pop culture into their choreography. From the whip to the shoot, the audience cheered for every internet famous dance move. The screams from the crowd reached their peak when Freshman Nihar Duvvuri broke out into a breakdancing solo, even flipping upside down. The following airband sang “Youth” by Shawn Mendes ft. Khalid, as hundreds of audience voices sang along, hands swaying to the melody. The Jazz Funk airband was a display of near perfect coordination and on-beat moves, featuring catchy tracks, like Cardi B and Bruno Mars’ “Finesse”. A first amongst freshman performances, the Garba/Raas airband was a fast-paced and energy-inducing showcase of talent, with dancers hitting every shift in beat exactly. A crowd-pleaser year after year, the K-pop performance included a fan favorite soundtrack: BLACKPINK’s hit, “ddu du ddu du”; the ensuing rise of screams and pom-poms shooting up in the air clearly demonstrated MSJ’s K-pop infatuation. Finally, one of the largest and most clearly well-rehearsed performances of the day, Bollywood was a testimony to the hours of dedication that the freshman poured into improving their skill. A wonderful demonstration of effort and energy, Freshman Inc. was an honorable revival of childhood nostalgia. They may be newcomers, but this group of students is clearly not intimidated by the other classes. Class of 2022 truly embraced the Homecoming spirit on their first performance of their high school careers.

“ I’ve never seen a freshman class so good. Like their deco, their airbands, everything was so well put together ... You could see how dedicated, you could see how passionate they were. You could see how organized everything was overall. This was definitely one the best freshman class performances I’ve ever seen.” — Alvin Lee, 10

"I was pretty impressed by the airbands because usually freshman airbands don't have a lot of people, and it's not that exciting. But this year, I felt that the choreography was really good, and a lot of the freshmen participated, so that was pretty cool." — Rhea Guliani, 12

"I think the most memorable part was ... the Bollywood dances ... because it was really fun to see how [the dancers] drew energy from each other. They even included some of the seniors in their skits, and when they all got together on stage, they created a lot of energy, so that was fun to take part in as well." — Anaamika Nair, 11

"Participation. More people than I expected participated in the different groups, like the Bollywood group or Hip Hop group. There were a lot of people in both [of] those groups, and that was kind of cool because I didn't think that many people would be in any of the air bands." — Lily Oh, 9


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Friday, November 2, 2018

By Jennifer Xiang & Jessica Xu Staff Writers

The Class of 2021 transformed the amphitheater into a yellow-tinted fairytale land, bringing a diverse range of decorations and performances to their second Homecoming. Opening their performance with Beauty and the Beast-themed narration about the approaching homecoming, the sophomores segued from their skit to various airbands. The skit stayed true to the film’s plot, centering around the familiar story of the adventures, entrapment, and life of Belle, cast as a sophomore. Attempting to rescue her inventor father, Belle ends up stuck in Freshman Beast’s castle, with only Junior Lumiere and Senior Cogsworth to keep her company. Familiar to much of the student body, the story was received with cheers and applause. The skit also featured interpolation of student-recorded dialogue and song clips from the film, pleasantly surprising the audience, who greeted well-known tunes with uproarious cheers. Between skits, the sophomores led the crowd in a spirited chant of “21 you better run.” The Sophomores and the Beast kicked off their first airband, Hip-Hop, dancing to a medley including a remix of “God’s Plan” by Drake. After a short skit segment, the Bhangra airband entered with a bang, clapping Sapps and other instruments throughout to accentuate the jaunty dance. Their live airband featured rotating pairs of singers with a backing band, singing a medley of songs while other groups hyped up the crowd. Notably, during a performance of “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift, the entire audience sang along with utmost passion and participated in a wave. Moreover, as the skit progressed, the airbands became more tied into the plot. When a ferocious pack of wolves attacked Belle and the Beast, the fighting airband brought dramatic choreography to the stage with combatants tirelessly executing jumps, kicks, and punches. The audience watched with bated breath as the villains appeared to gain the upper hand against the heroes but erupted into cheers when the protagonists emerged triumphant instead. Airbands like Bollywood and Jazz Funk transitioned fluidly as groups of dancers entered and exited the stage. The latter exhibited a variety of technically demanding splits, jumps, and spins, which were received with spirited cheers from the student body. The sophomores created a mellow atmosphere with plenty of references to their theme, including Belle’s famous yellow dress on a mannequin next to the “2021” class numbers. Wreaths of faux flowers decorated a pair of arches that enveloped passers-by on the two adjacent walkways, and small Easter Eggs, along with signs pointing to the Black Forest and other in-world references, peppered the stage area. The stage backdrops, depicting the Beast’s palace, brought the scene together and created a sense of grandeur. A slow dance between Belle and the Beast set to music from the film closed the performance, and a subdued explosion of confetti elicited surprise from their audience. With a final message of unity between Belle’s townspeople and the residents of Beast’s castle, the sophomores ended their performance with their Raas airband, featuring dancers weaving in and out and shifting between different choreographies, including a memorable Couple’s Dance. Lastly, the performers all rushed onto the stage, ending their Homecoming performance with their class chant and a vibrant rainbow confetti display.

"I think their skit was really well done, and “The sophomore airbands this year were they were able to insert it creatively in the incredible, they increased in size and dances and everything. They were able talent. The choreography was really good to incorporate it into the play in a way and they were all in sync.” that made sense." — Alicia Tee, 10 — Ananya Narasimhan, 9

“I thought their airbands “... the entire sense of unity and teamwork was probably most memorawere great. All of them seemed really ble — you could really see everyone well-prepared, really energetic. ... I think having a good time on stage ... and their the sophomores did a great job with spirit. I saw most of them cheering, and class spirit was very strong. It created a hype it was nice to see that they were so and enjoyable atmosphere that made the day excited for Homecoming.” awesome.” — Winnie Xu, 12 — Rishi Jain, 11 photos by centerspread editor karen li, staff writers jonathan liu & carolyn qian, graphics courtesy class of 2021

Friday, November 2, 2018


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Centerspread 13



By Anika Arora & Mingjia Wang Staff Writers A single strand of black and purple balloons greeted the students and staff as they entered the amphitheater, guiding their eyes to a magnificent, star-studded backdrop of the Black Panther’s tree of life. Banners on the sides of the stage created a night-time panoramic view of Wakanda, setting the scene for Class of 2020’s skit. Masks also accompanied the onstage decorations, adding a mysterious feel to the overall scene. As the lunch bell rang, students rushed out of class to see the highly anticipated performance from the Juniors of Wakanda. Beginning their show with a singing performance of “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit, the juniors quickly engaged the crowd’s attention, with students singing along and clapping to the beat. In a smooth transition, the skit followed, inspired by the plot of the movie Black Panther. Sending a roar of cheers through the crowd, the skit began with a surprise appearance by English Teacher John Boegman as Thanos, who wiped out half of MSJ’s population with a snap of his fingers.

"The most memorable part was the strong emphasis on unity and the way they emphasized that Homecoming should be for everyone." — Chiron Tran, 12

“I was really impressed with their airbands; the junior class has a lot of talented individuals, and it was really nice watching them perform. They had unique airbands like Bhangra, and I really admire their creativity. Their deco was also really nice. The most memorable part was watching my friends perform. It felt great to cheer them on.” — Neha Annamalai, 12

"I think their Hip Hop was amazing. It was really in sync, and the song choice was a true bop. Fight scene was really good too — the choreo was something I haven't seen before. Lyrical and Ballroom totally slayed too; their moves looked amazing. Overall, the juniors were really good." — Alicia Tee, 10

Shortly after, at the crowning ceremony for the new Black Panther, a band of outlandish outcasts erupted onto the stage, claiming the throne for themselves and exiling the representatives of the four classes. While Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior attempted to return to Wakanda and save the school’s spirit, the Bhangra airband grooved to several lively songs, using Sapps, a traditional musical instrument, to add a rhythmic beat. The crowd clapped and chanted lyrics, fully involved in the performance. K-pop followed shortly after with jet-black costumes and flamboyant floral shirts; they displayed Hip-Hop style choreography with “Boss” by NCT and “Bermuda Triangle” by Zico, but contrasted that with softer, cheerful songs like “What is Love?” by Twice. As the skit progressed, Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior struggled to break free from the outcasts. While the characters continued to devise their escape plan, the Ballroom airband drew cheers from the crowd with smooth lifts and stunts. The audience sang along to “Mine” by Bazzi and “For You” by Rita Ora, cheering as the dancers twirled and waltzed onstage. Later, with the assistance of the fight set airband, Junior and his friends defeated the outcasts, and Homecoming was saved. In the spirit of unity, Junior invited the outcasts to join the family and promote a future of unity. Through their endless cheers for the performers and constant “2020, legendary” chants, the Class of 2020 showed their true spirit. Among the diverse airbands and engaging skit, the most memorable moment was the final Urban dance performance, which featured explosive dance moves that had the crowd on their feet. Complementing the skit and urging the audience to sing along, the airband included two of Kendrick Lamar’s songs from the Black Panther soundtrack, “Kings Dead” and “X.” The juniors gathered onstage amidst cheers from the crowd, chanting one final time to mark the performance as one to remember.

"I think the juniors did best at [showing] their passion through their performance. The decorations were great, and the story was cleverly written ... with references to Mission culture, while maintaining an interesting story line. It was clear that the juniors had prepared for a long time as they showed teamwork and got [over] mistakes smoothly." — Jihoon Park, 11


14 Centerspread


The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 2, 2018

“Honestly it was all just amazing. I liked the Haka dance because it was unique to only the seniors, and all of the other airbands were really good too. Their skit was also another thing that stood out to me because of the Spiderman theme. You could really tell how well everything was rehearsed.” — Avantika Sharma, 10

By Josephine Chew & Jonathan Liu Staff Writers

“Class of 2019 is always blowing me away because of how hyped they are and how connected each individual is to each other. … The ‘see you again’ song at the end was extremely heart wrenching … I have a lot of senior friends, so seeing them singing that on stage made me teary-eyed because I’ll definitely miss them when they graduate." — Hana Nip, 11

"I think the best part was the part where all the seniors got on stage and just stayed there at the end, because it was nice seeing all of [the] Class of 2019 enjoying their last year and being super hype together.” — Warren Chang, 9 “The most memorable scene was their third scene, where the junior and senior have a back and forth dialogue and it's roast after roast and the crowd loves it!" — Trini H. Leung, 12

Viewing an amphitheater adorned with red and white on October 18, students and staff could hear the Class of 2019’s excitement for their final homecoming performance through their animated chant, “You wish you were a senior! Hoo-hah!” With vibrant streamers winding down the walkways, bright balloons gleaming over the lawn, bold backdrops lining the walls, and a large 2019 sign overlooking the amphitheater, the seniors set the scene for their theme, Spiderman: Homecoming. Throughout the entire performance, the Class of 2019’s energy in their airbands and skit built a lively and engaging atmosphere. The senior class hit the ground running at the start of their performance with a live airband complementing singers with trumpets, trombones, an electric guitar, and a drum set, leaving the audience buzzing with excitement. A festive Tahitian airband followed shortly after, with dancers sporting white floral wreaths and leis. After their performance, the skit actors took the stage for their first scene. The skit, inspired by Spiderman: Homecoming, retraces the life of Senior Peter as he struggles to balance his life as a superhero and the president of the Academic Decathlon Team. Vulture, the antagonist of the plot, tries to steal MSJ’s prep books to force self reliance upon students. In the end, the Decathlon team decides to put their faith in their own knowledge, without the influence of traditional guidelines or typical prep books, finishing with an inspiring message about unity among the classes. Throughout the performance, the seniors seamlessly transitioned between action-packed skit scenes and a diverse array of airbands. The ballroom performance exhibited pairs dressed in matching red-and-white dresses and dress pants, establishing an ambiance of a festive, elegant extravaganza. The dancers executed dazzling dance moves, such as Milly Rocking, straddle kicks, and angel lifts to popular songs, including Kendrick Lamar’s “All the Stars” and Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” Afterwards, an exhilarating singing performance, which had the audience singing and clapping along to pop hits such as Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” and Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite,” was dovetailed by a lively Bollywood airband. Dancers, paired with props like elegant white fans and brilliant red roses, enhanced the performance with their incredible energy and coordination. A thrilling soundtrack and a reenactment of a scene from Spider-Man added to the excitement. The crowd erupted in cheers after hearing Spider-Man’s iconic line: “You know who I am ... Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.” In a dynamic fight scene backed by a tense electronic mix, airband members dueled using swords and wooden staffs. A multitude of impressive kicks, rolls, and throws, including a soaring jump over a performer’s head, captivated viewers’ attention throughout the scene. The Hip-Hop, K-pop, Haka, and Jazz airbands were no less impressive. From the Hip-Hop dancers’ matching space buns and upbeat, outgoing performance to the K-pop dancers’ powerful, polished routine, each airband’s performance was unique and invigorating. The traditional senior Haka, with its overwhelming crowd and its robust yelling, and the jazz airband, with its fluid, athletic dance moves, were similarly striking. The final airband, a hip-hop group consisting of dancers from all classes, neatly wrapped up the show with a display of unity. The seniors ended their performance with the traditional senior roller coaster, waving their arms in unison on-stage. Afterwards, they sang along with Wiz Khalifa’s and Charlie Puth’s nostalgic “See You Again,” evoking sentimental emotions among the seniors about moving to the next chapter in their lives. The Class of 2019’s final performance, a reflection of their roller coaster through high school, created lasting memories for all to reminisce about in the years to come. photos by centerspread editor kelly yang, staff writers kimberly huang & gregory wu, graphics courtesy class of 2019

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Smoke Signal


Feature and Arts & Entertainment 15

Chatroom: Sports Facilities By Thomas Chen Staff Writer

Pooooool Hey ur not exactly dirt-free urself buddy. Go get a makeover like Washington’s track

MSJ Track created this group You're friends with 3 members

Trak Well I’ll have you know that I’m not changing myself for anyone cuz I am dirt and dirt is me.

Trak hey Pool you wouldn’t know anything about a group of kids lookin lost in their swim trunks today would you?


People ask me: My favorite pastime? Building dirt ditches to trip runners. How I would like my eggs done? Over easy with dirt sprinkled on top s’il vous plait. My favorite movie? Twilight--------cuz it’s dirt.

LOL Footballz tfw they realize that mission’s home game is at american



I knew u were a european

you know what Football? At least my team’s winrate isn’t indeterminant

Trak and ur fake football


Socker LOL msj football indeterminate lookin’ Trak pool's bringing out all the dirt today, guess they have an excess.... Footballz left the chat

graphics by vectorstock.com, iconfinder.com, chittagongit.com & freepngimg

OVER COOKED! 2 By Carolyn Qian & Gregory Wu Staff Writers

Overcooked! 2 brings back its predecessor’s charm with the addition of new features, such as character customization and an online multiplayer mode. In this couch co-op cooking simulation game, players must navigate the kitchen scene against a time limit while managing customer satisfaction in various settings. The game was released on August 7 at the price of $25 on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows, and Nintendo Switch.

Each level presents a unique setup and recipes, and this novelty provides a refreshing touch to a game with repetitive controls. The game explores a diverse range of settings, from a small dim sum restaurant in a busy urban city to a cafeteria in a medieval castle, and a single recipe may have multiple variations. Despite the initial difficulty of each level, players can quickly pick up on the routine of the workplace and strategies. Its advancement is rewarding in its own right and provides a sense of accomplishment at each success.



The graphics style in Overcooked! 2 perfectly complements its gameplay with playful, rounded characters and aesthetic kitchen landscapes. There are notable graphics improvements from the original, and the user interface feels more refined while scrambling to serve dishes. The world map, an alternative to the standard selection screen, uses small switches to grant access to new worlds, an unnecessary feature that wastes its creative potential. Aside from backdrop, the feature to change chef appearance is an additional incentive towards progression, providing pandas, mice, and other animals as options.


This game’s storyline is similar to that of the original Overcooked! — in other words, it is completely forgettable. Aside from its introduction, the game devotes its time to the story only in brief interjections of dialogue from the king, explaining why the character will ascend to the next chapter. The only notable feature in the story is its dialogue, rife with corny puns — a delightful addition to its otherwise overbearing exchanges.



GRAPHICS While charming, the soundtrack is not noteworthy. At its title screen and on the world map, it plays relaxed banjo music, setting a lighthearted, carefree mood. During gameplay, the soundtrack employs kitchen sounds, such as banging pots and shaking mixers, which enhances each level’s unique kitchen setting. Nevertheless, while players are rushing to serve their customers, the music is generic and does not stand out during gameplay. While it does somewhat contribute to the rush of the fast-paced workplace, it does not enhance it as much as its other features, such as graphics or difficulty levels, do.



At $25 for its digital purchase price, Overcooked! 2 provides hours of entertainment for players of all ages, demonstrating value as a smaller but refreshing alternative in any game library. Even after the main storyline is complete, players are given two other game modes: arcade and versus mode. Although the title is built for a multiplayer experience, playing solo is more difficult but still just as fun, and the fact that Ghost Town Games implemented single player mode makes Overcooked! 2 all the more impressive.


VALUE graphics by vectorstock.com, iconfinder.com, CHITTAGONGIT.COM graphics by clipartmax.com & kissclip.com

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Arts & Entertainment 17

C R I T I C S’ C O R N E R MusiC: Dounia, Twenty One Pilots | Film: Venom, First man

Under the radar

Music review

Venom Has more bark than bite

Twenty One Pilots


By Alisha Chhangani Staff Writer Dounia is not a conventional pop star. This 20-year-old Moroccan born model and body activist currently lives in New York and is successfully building her career as a singer and songwriter. She fuses modern rap and a blend of assertive alt-R&B by incorporating contemporary lyrics that highlight her reflection on current issues. Dounia first appeared in the limelight as a social media activist. Whether it is challenging cultural standards of beauty as a plus-size model, defying stereotypes about women of color, or celebrating her Moroccan heritage, Dounia’s Instagram is a platform for social change. In October 2017, Dounia successfully released her second album, Intro To, which features her individual style of music. Her modern twist on R&B and rap plays fittingly with her uniquely sultry, raspy voice. Her wispy timbre is very similar to Ellie Goulding’s; however, Dounia’s dulcet tones compare to Rihanna’s tempting music of Rihanna as well. Growing up in Morocco played a considerable role as she continually had to move back and forth between there and the US. Through her music, Dounia connects back to her Moroccan roots with music heavily dependent on drums and archaic Arabic beats. It feels as if one is standing on the border between Dounia’s two homes, one ear tuned to the bold R&B of New York and the other to the mellow tempo of Morocco. Dounia released her new song “Everything’s a Joke” in September 2018. Her individuality shows promise as she continues to develop music that advocates for intersectional feminism. ▪

G a m e By t e s Dragalia Lost

By Sreetama Chowdhury Staff Writer Energetic and ridiculous, Venom is neither the psychological thriller it was advertised as nor the formulaic superhero movie fans of Marvel Studios have come to expect. The gory fight scenes, almost laughably dramatic dialogue, and predictable plot twists the movie is packed with make it more reminiscent of gritty, dramatic early 2000s movies than more recent installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which tend to be plot-driven. In an interview with www.collider.com, Director Ruben Fleischer said, “[the] movie was always intended just as a really fun, crowd-pleasing ride,” and he achieved this goal admirably; the movie makes for excellent casual watching, not requiring much thoughtful analysis. While critics snubbed it — the movie has a miserable 30 percent on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing — viewers enjoyed it, giving it an average Rotten Tomatoes score of 88 percent. Venom’s plot is mediocre at best. Attempts at suspense fall flat due to the clichéd nature of the plot, allowing the viewer to easily predict what’s going to happen next. However, it does have a few successfully tense moments that have the audience genuinely concerned about the scenes’ outcomes. Both the

gratuitous action scenes and awkward romantic subplot feel shoehorned in and irrelevant. Fleischer, who has worked on shows like Superstore and Santa Clarita Diet, certainly has comedy under his belt, and Venom reflects that well. The movie’s humor is crude at times — for a PG13 movie, Venom is shockingly profane — but is one of its most entertaining aspects. Venom forgoes the quippy banter common to most Marvel movies, relying instead on slapstick comedy. The often clunky dialogue is another (unintentional) source of humor; lines meant to be intimidating end up being absurd and amusing instead. The movie’s true strength is its characters, aided in no small part by its cast. Tom Hardy plays Eddie Brock, a stubbornly incompetent reporter who loses everything he has — job, relationship, apartment — within the first few minutes of the movie. It’s a refreshing change from the generic superhero protagonist. Brock isn’t a snarky science prodigy or a plucky underdog; he’s a dysfunctional mess, and Hardy skillfully showcases the constant depression he wallows in. Villain Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) is the perfect counterpoint; Ahmed plays the part of the cold, ambitious CEO to perfection. However, it is Brock’s dynamic with the alien symbiote Venom (also played and voiced


by Hardy) that truly shines. Their backand-forth banter alternates between insulting and friendly, with Brock goodnaturedly taking Venom’s verbal abuse and sometimes even teasing the symbiote himself. The relationship between these two, which grows from grudging partnership to genuine affection, is the single most compelling thing about the movie. In terms of the comics it is adapted from, Venom is an amalgamation of several different versions of its main characters. Meant to serve as an introduction to its titular character, it merely contains nods to its origins in the form of Easter eggs, including the introduction of a fan-favorite character in the post-credits scene. The movie also includes vague allusions to the romantic relationship between Brock and Venom, which is an integral part of the comics, but does not go beyond subtext. Overdramatic and blunt, Venom is hardly the kind of movie audiences have come to expect from Marvel Studios. Unlike its predecessors, it embraces rather than distances itself from the inherent absurdity of its premise. Still, Venom provides enough laughs and action to be a solid moviegoing experience. ▪ Rating: C+

First man takes viewers out of this world

By Christine Dong Staff Writer Dragalia Lost, a mobile action roleplaying game developed by Nintendo and Cygames, was released on September 27 for Android and iOS. Set in the fictional kingdom of Alberia, the story follows the seventh prince of the royal family and his quest to forge a pact with a dragon. S T o ry : 3 / 5

The plot is a straightforward fantasy story centering around the protagonist’s mission to save his kingdom by gaining the trust of a dragon and using their bond to transform into a dragon to fight. However, there is surprising depth in worldbuilding, with lore fluidly woven into the narrative. If players dislike the story, then there is a useful skip function for bypassing it. G r a p h i cs: 5/5

The game features a mix between 2D character sprites and 3D animations. The high quality, anime-style art adds to the fantastical atmosphere of the game with its bright color palette and character designs featuring unnaturally colored hair and fluttering capes and dresses. m u s i c: 5/5

Much of the soundtrack is taken or remixed from Japanese singer and rapper DAOKO’s discography. DAOKO’s energetic beats and soft vocals enhance the game’s atmosphere through songs like the bubbly track welcoming players at the home menu and the intense boss themes that add a sense of urgency. ga m ep lay/u sa b i li ty: 2/5

Interspersed between sections of story and dialogue are dungeons where players battle monsters with a party of characters. The controls are intuitive, if a little boring. However, building a strong party relies on grinding or buying enough ingame currency to afford a chance to summon strong characters or dragons. It takes patience, time, and almost daily visits to play well. The game also takes up 2.5 GB of storage, with additional downloads of material needed to progress in the story. ▪


By Samir Jain Staff Writer From its funeral honoring the death of yet another astronaut to its psychedelic cinematics, Damien Chazelle’s First Man truly sets a precedent for sciencefiction films to come. Taking place during the Space Race of the 1960s between the US and the Soviet Union, the film follows the journey of Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) as he goes from being a rookie astronaut and test pilot for NASA in 1961 to the first man to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969. Through a series of tremendous acts of courage and steadfastness on the part of Armstrong while he and his wife Janet (Claire Foy) simultaneously deal with the death of their daughter Karen (Lucy Stafford) in 1962, he will lead the Apollo mission to the moon seven years later. Like many of Chazelle’s other films, such as La La Land, which also features megastar Ryan Gosling, the movie focuses on an individual’s desperate attempt for greatness, personal satisfaction, and romantic fulfillment, which are ultimately unattainable in the film. Somehow, Chazelle hits the same chords in First Man that he so successfully tapped in his more well-known, saccharine La La Land. One striking and captivating facet of the film is certainly its cinematogra-

phy and production. From the opening scene of the movie, in which Armstrong first views the realm beyond Earth and suffers technical difficulties on his earthbound descent, the film’s incessant jerking and apocalyptic crash scenarios perfectly depict an astronaut’s fear of aerial death, leading to the dramatic build-up for Armstrong himself at the end of the movie. With every new flight throughout the film, in each of which a handful of his closest friends burst into flames, Armstrong solemnly attends funerals that mirror that of his own daughter, aptly giving context to the viewer for his obvious anxiety before each trip and growing tension with his wife and two sons. This is a hallmark of his familial conflict that adds fuel to but also detracts from his main, personal inhibitions. The film brilliantly drew parallels between his familiarity with this emotional pain and the extensive experience required to successfully operate a spacecraft. Humor is interspersed throughout the movie to create catharsis for viewers and depict Armstrong as a multifaceted, human character not distinguished merely by his career aspirations. The film expertly employs light-hearted humor that starkly contrasts with the movie’s somber atmosphere to give a temporary reprieve for viewers. Humor also becomes a con-

duit between Armstrong and his peers and mentors, who often give up their life for the next step toward the Apollo mission, which aiding in the movie’s poignant depiction of a survivor’s guilt. These constant wounds to Armstrong’s determination, while monotonous for the audience after a while, help serve as his primary point of character development into the man who accomplishes what no individual before him has. The movie’s chronological biopic format helps one witness his transformation year by year into a man who will forever be written in history. The movie ends on a high note with Armstrong’s anticipated moon landing and with him finally conquering his tumultuous internal universe. The film makes concluding references to Armstrong’s daughter Karen, integrating the movie well with a subtle reminder of both the instigator of Armstrong’s pinnacle of achievement and a somewhat superfluous but dynamic subplot. Chazelle adds another powerful notch to his belt with First Man. While the film has its share of tedious and predictable moments of idle character development, its stunning production and humor make the movie well worth watching. ▪ Rating: B+

By Mingjia Wang Staff Writer For most people, plane rides are often dull and unremarkable, and understandably so. They’re the transitional phases of our journeys that transport us to the true worlds of adventure. But Twenty One Pilots are no normal aviators; for them, the flight is the adventure. The band’s newest album Trench whisks listeners away on an exhilarating 14-track journey that stays entertaining until the final note. Chock-full of lyrical genius and raw emotion, it is an absolute listening pleasure. The Ohio-based musical duo makes its return three years after its massively successful album Blurryface topped the charts with heartfelt tunes about insecurity and self-doubt. This time, the album has an even darker tone, but it is much improved and fully justified, given Trench’s more intimate focus on the band members’ struggles with mental illness and suicide. Blurryface carried a relatively uniform, upbeat, alternative hip hop/pop vibe with just a smattering of mellow, lyrical songs. But Trench offers more variety than you’d usually find at an international food festival, giving the listener wildly different tastes right from the start: a hardcore rock anthem, a passionate rap track, and a quietly emotional pop song. The variety sounds terrific, yet distinctly familiar, staying true to the duo’s unique vibe. It’s also worth mentioning that Trench shines in production, a remarkable feat after the already respectable mixing of Blurryface. Each song sounds complete with a smooth blend of vocals, drums, and synthesized melodies. If Trench has a single weakness, it is the slightly repetitive nature of the later tracks. Their sounds, though well-produced, grow a bit too similar, causing the tracks to mesh together. However, the nuances in meaning are enough to define each song and still provide a worthwhile listening experience. Lyrically, Trench is a masterpiece. In “Neon Gravestones,” lead singer Tyler Joseph calls for increased activism for victims of mental illness. His words are blunt but effective, and this expressive, straight-to-the-point lyricism pervades several tracks in the album. However, the album isn’t lacking in deeper, more thoughtful lyrics; songs like “Jumpsuit” and “Nico and the Niners” make use of clever analogies to add a dimension of realism and poignancy. One final highlight of the album is Joseph’s talented voice. Its rough, beautiful timbre shines perfectly in Trench due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter, providing an extremely raw sound that punches through the bassline to create a mood of intimate, tragic struggle. Trench is most incredible when analyzed holistically, as its parts — superb production, meaningful lyrics, and tender vocals — work in tandem to evoke believably real emotion. The songs paint vivid pictures of the band members’ personal challenges. Watching them contemplate suicide while solemn melodies and emotional vocals play in the background is sure to bring a tear to people’s eyes. Trench takes its listeners on a tumultuous journey and provides a detailed look into the horrors of depression. Although the album constantly stresses the fragility of the human psyche, the final chord is hopeful, signaling that there is a joyful resolution to their story. ▪ Rating: A-


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The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 2, 2018

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Smoke Signal

The Bay Area is home to many promising musicians, each expressing a unique sound and style. Although some artists are less well-known than others, their music can be just as enjoyable as that of the most popular artists. With this idea in mind, the Smoke Signal identified six Bay Area musicians who demonstrate exceptional potential.


Arts & Entertainment 19

bay area music scene By Josephine Chew, Jonathan Liu, Monisha Saxena & Shreya Sridhar Staff Writers

trails and ways

Vibrant indie pop songs with a global spin are the trademark of Trails and Ways, an Oakland quartet formed in 2010. Their lyrics blend English, Spanish, and Portuguese in lush harmonies that are further infused with Brazilian bossa nova, a style derived from samba and jazz. Their songs touch upon political issues like climate change, ecological destruction, and the arrest of activists. Unlike most bands, Trails and Ways boldly takes on these topics with the aim of promoting awareness and inspiring emotional connection to them. However, listeners can enjoy the breezy, dance floor beats regardless of whether or not they catch the political subtleties.

painted palms

Based in San Francisco, Painted Palms is the creation of two cousins, Reese Donohue and Christopher Prudhomme. The duo’s captivating vocals, soaring harmonies, and driving beats produce a summery maze of sounds that blends psychedelic pop with indie rock. Some of their most popular songs, such as “Spinning Signs” and “Forever,” are reminiscent of the Beatles in style, with a warm, rolling timbre and a jazzy, laid-back feel. In addition to an EP and several singles, the pair also released two full-length albums, Forever and Horizons, in 2014 and 2015 respectively.


San Francisco based electro-funk band Honeycut, founded in 2003, is known for its light vocals and surprisingly rich tone. Although Honeycut is composed of just three members, it makes up for its small size with the flamboyant but worldly personalities of each member. Bart Davenport, the lead vocalist, has a breathy, carefree voice, giving the band’s songs an almost ethereal tone. RV Salters, born and raised in France, has a unique style of dancing while he plays the keyboard. The song “Exodus Honey” from Honeycut’s 2006 album The Day I Turned to Glass was most notably used in Apple’s iMac commercial. With substantial experience already under their belt, Honeycut has the potential to garner popularity among both indie and electro fans.


Ieuan is a 20-year-old R&B and pop singer from San Francisco. He entered the music industry at the age of 15, singing lyrics of love, relationships, and heartbreak. Though he struggled with finding his musical identity, Ieuan resonated with R&B and pop early on in his career, drawing inspiration from Troye Sivan and Blackbear to develop his own unique style. Ieuan captivates his listeners with his intimately soothing vocals and light, mesmerizing pulses. In many of his songs, he distorts his voice to low and high tones, adding a dimension of romantic dreaminess to his music. Ieuan succeeded his first two albums, Pink Suburbia and Saint California, with the release of his third album, Over the Garden Wall, on Sept. 9, 2018.


The 22 year-old singer-songwriter Samaria uses music as a canvas to tell stories about her life. Her first mixtape, The Story of Right Now, delves into her failed past relationships. She is currently working on Adventures of Lovergirl, her first album under Republic Records, the label of artists such as Drake and Ariana Grande. She combines dramatic beats and a soulful, rich voice with surprising orchestral swells to create a blend of 90s hip-hop and R&B. Hailing from Oakland, Samaria attributes her character, from her style to her lingo, to her roots and considers her grandmother’s support the reason she decided to pursue music.

The Oakland rapper Elujay strives to capture his city’s culture before new construction erases Oakland’s identity. His first album, Jentrify, includes nostalgic sounds that capture Oakland with snapshots of his own memories as well as collaborations with other Oakland artists like Samaria and Just Rese. Elujay produces and writes his own songs, adding a layer of authenticy to his music. He released singles “Locked In” and “Starchild” this year, teasing his next full-length album due to drop later this fall. His tracks are outside the realm of traditional hip-hop, with a blend of neo-soul and rap between the groovy beats and the unexpected trumpets in the mix.


photos by creermagaznie.com, flickr.com, humanhuman.com, polyvinylrecords.com, thebaybridged.com

20 Arts & Entertainment


Bun Appetit By Sabrina Cai & Gokul Ramapriyan Staff Writers The donut shop Bun AppĂŠtit opened in August 2017 at the entrance of the Fremont Artist Walk, 37120 Fremont Blvd. Suite A. Its sweet-tooth based menu specializes in freshly-made delicacies, including their signature donuts, New York famous Levainstyled cookie, which is about the size of a scone and has the consistency of a brownie, sandwiches, and beverages.

overall 3 5/5

The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 2, 2018

The decor creates an aesthetic, instagrammable environment. The grand windows allow natural lighting, perfect for photos against its minimalistic, color-blocking decor. Moreover, along the back wall, there is a wood-grained counter which allows easy access to water, silverware, and other items. In terms of noisiness, despite the large traffic the store receives, the noise level does not interfere with a person’s task at hand. To accompany the work-friendl y environment, the cafe offers free Wi-Fi to their customers, which is of decent speed.

ambiance 5/5

Although not a sit-down restaurant, the bakery still had staff eager to help. In the morning, when asked about alternatives to the Creamy Bun, which was sold out, they found the perfect donut by asking various questions about fillings, sweetness, and texture and even made recommendations for good drinks to pair it up with. However, when the bakery is particularly busy, orders may be mixed up or missed. Overall though, the friendliness of the staff more than makes up for any delays.

Service 4/5 The donuts were of amazing quality and taste, with a doughy texture combined with beautiful decorations and thin icing. They were not overly sweet, but had a great balance. One of the standout donuts was the maple bacon donut, which contained the perfect blend of flavors: smoky bacon paired with sweet icing. Another signature item is the cookie inspired by the Levain Bakery in New York. Although the cookie had the same dense and thick texture, it left a gritty aftertaste and the quality of the chocolate used was also subpar. Although this cookie fails to live up to the Levain Bakery expectations, overall, the restaurant has developed its own identity and taste.

While t h e price is nearly double that of competing bakeries, the unique selection of donuts combined with the overwhelmingly large proportions justify an occasional purchase. Another drawback is its distance from MSJ, since students most likely won’t be going to an expensive bakery with a 20-minute commute. However, the other items such as avocado toast and coffee are definitely overpriced. The hiked-up price and small serving sizes can easily leave the average customer unsatisfied.

Value 1/5

TASTE 4/5 photos by staff writers sabrina cai & gokul ramapriyan

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Smoke Signal

Sports 21


Coach Spotlight: jack marden By Yusuf Rasheed Staff Writer

As he grew older, Marden had developed a strong passion for running, so he decided to follow in Jack Marden has been part of the his father’s footsteps and become MSJ community for his whole life. At the MSJ Cross Country coach. MSJ, he took part in the Varsity Cross Country Team, which his dad was the head coach of. After running at the collegiate level and knowing he wanted to pursue a career in teaching, Marden returned to MSJ to coach for Cross Country. The Smoke Signal interviewed Marden about how running has shaped his life. Marden’s first memory of running was when he was eight years old. In a ninemile race called the Race Through the Redwoods, Marden ran into a beehive and was stung multiple times. Marden said, “I

“Running provides longevity and strength, and it makes you physically stronger. And it’s very healthy way to process life. It’s a very good way to go through life.”

he entered high school, and his junior high running rival became his teammate. Marden mostly remembers high school by “following his personal records,” and he used his race times as a benchmark to improve upon. As Marden got faster in high school, injuries started to become a problem. Marden said, “In high school, my biggest obstacle was shin splints. I have flat feet.” After graduating from MSJ, Marden went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and joined the running team there. In college, the atmosphere was a more intense version of what high school racing felt like, and injuries were an important factor in how successful an athlete would become.


“The margin of error is squeezed. Many of the runners get hurt, and the ones who don’t rise to the top.”

remember them picking bees out of my head.” Despite the pain he endured, this was the spark to a long running journey ahead of him, which still continues on today. Marden knew he had potential in running in unior high. Marden said, “I started to know I could be pretty good because they had track and field, and I won my races there.” His passion for running grew as

“The margin of error is squeezed. Many of the runners get hurt, and the ones who don’t rise to the top,” Marden said. He was placed against the best runners from around the state, and he believes this played a major role in how running became more fierce at the collegiate lev-


staff writer yusuf rasheed

Cross Country Coach Jack Marden.

el. As he grew older, Marden had developed a strong passion for running, so he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become the MSJ Cross Country coach. In addition to coaching for MSJ, Marden participates in marathons and triathlons. His most memorable triathlon was the Ironman 70.3 Superfrog, which took place last year on September 24 at Imperial Beach, CA. Marden said, “I was seventh in my age group, and I was happy after all

these years. The run was my best part, and I like swimming in the ocean, so that was really rewarding. So it was great.” Through running and triathlons, Marden wants to be able to participate in these strenuous activities even as he gets older. Marden said, “Running provides longevity and strength, and it makes you physically stronger. And it’s a very healthy way to process life. It’s a very good way to go through life.” ▪






P xO




Sportsmanship for Athletes and Audiences

M 11/5

By Gokul Ramapriyan Staff Writer At a crucial point of the 2018 US Open between 23-time Grand Slam singles winner Serena Williams and 21-year-old Japanese-American player Naomi Osaka, umpire Carlos Ramos penalized Williams, stating that her coach’s attempted at trying to coach her during the game. While his call was justifiable going by the rulebook, it was extremely uncommon, inciting boos from the crowd and sparking a heated argument between Williams and Ramos. In addition, jeering continued to cascade from the crowd during Osaka’s trophy ceremony, Osaka felt the need to apologize for her win, saying that she “was sorry that [the game] turned out like this,” in an interview with the Washington Post. Despite the controversial calls, the resulting behavior that the audience displayed towards Osaka was unacceptable, considering that she played no role in the call. Audiences and players can be dissatisfied with the outcome of a game, but they should never take away from the efforts of their opposition in doing so and uphold sportsmanlike conduct instead. This is not the only instance when onlookers targeted Williams for their sexist remarks. In the 2015 French Open, Williams faced an onslaught of sexist comments after her victory, with sportscasters and the media describing her as “animal-like” and “horrifyingly unattractive” and likened her to a man because of her stature and her dominating victory, according to Vox News. These issues are prevalent throughout the sports community. In the 2017 Baltimore Orioles vs. Red Sox baseball game, audience members threw peanuts and shouted racial slurs at Orioles center-fielder Adam Jones. Sportsmanship isn’t just reserved for athletes; rather, anyone within a sports arena,

While athletes and spectators might not have control over controversial calls, which can change the dynamic or outcome of the game, they can control how they conduct themselves both on and off the court. Racism, sexism, and other discriminatory actions should never be ignored, but in the event that such prejudices influence a game, both athletes and the audience should remain respectful to their opponent, accept the outcome of the game, and not turn prejudices against another party. Athletes can use their platforms outside of the game, like social media, to combat such issues and promote change. However, sportsmanship from both the players and the audience is essential in order to further discuss these issues in an appropriate atmosphere. ▪


W 11/7


TH 11/8

F 11/9

Cross Country MVAL Finals

Girls Tennis NCS Team Championships

such as the audience, who is responsible for maintaining a respectable demeanor. Although the audience is not directly involved in the game, the emotions and reactions that come from the audience can influence the game’s atmosphere, athletes’ performance, and even the outcome of the game. By not holding themselves accountable to the same level of sportsmanship that athletes are expected to exhibit, spectators themselves add to the toxicity of the situation. Berating an athlete due to personal prejudices will only add to the discrimination within the sports world.

Although the audience is not directly involved in the game, the emotions and reactions that come from the audience can influence the game’s atmosphere, athletes’ performance, and even the outcome of the game.


Girls Tennis NCS Team Championships



Girls Tennis NCS Single/ Double Championships

Girls Tennis NCS Single/ Double Chapionships



22 Sports


The Smoke Signal

By Anika Arora, Ian Park & Gregory Wu Staff Writers

Friday, November 2, 2018


Regardless of which sport, there are two main types of games — daily and seasonal fantasy sports. Daily fantasy sports are short-term, allowing players to draft their own teams for New a single day or week of sports action. York In contrast, seasonal leagues allow playTimes editor Daniel Okrent, along ers to draft a single team that they with a group of friends, created the must use for the remainder of the Scoring is broken first fantasy MLB baseball league in season. These leagues can range down into two options: 1979. Using various sports magazines, he from anywhere between four rotisserie and head-tokept track of statistics and totaled points to 20 owners, in large head. Both options make use by hand. Okrent’s simple method of scoring groups of friends or with of real player statistics for scorsoon advanced into other forms for different random competitors. ing, but are different in how they sports. As fantasy sports was accessible to play on contribute to a victory. Rotisserie is online platforms starting in 1991, it was easier and the traditional and most common way of therefore more appealing to participate in the game. scoring, with all players competing against Seven years later, representatives from the sports each other to receive the highest total points magazines Fantasy Insights and The Sporting at the end of the season. Head-to-head News, as well from as the video game company modes are scored on a weekly basis, EA Sports, created the Fantasy Sports Trade and pit players directly against each Association, which labeled fantasy sports other in new matchups. Similar to as an official industry. According to the an NBA or NFL team, fantasy Fantasy Sports Trade Association as teams in head-to-head of 2017, the $7 billion industry mode move on. attracts more than 59 million







Guide to


With the addition of technology, fantasy sports are readily accessible to players, available in the form of many mobile apps and desktop websites. Two of The beginning to a seasonal fanthe most popular ways to play fantasy tasy sport starts with a draft, modsports are on ESPN and Yahoo’s oneled after real sports drafts in proline platforms. Both feature easy fessional sports. Depending on the to use interfaces to create and sport each of the ten teams picks once play in seasonal leagues, or more in each round. The draft order whether joining a ranis often randomly assigned, and there are dom group or playtwo types of drafts: snake and linear, which are decided by the league creator. A snake ing with friends. draft is when the order of picks reverses every round (i.e., first pick in round one, tenth pick in round two). A linear draft is when the order of picks remains constant every round (i.e., first pick in round one, first pick in round two, and first pick in round three). Teams can also trade up or down for draft picks. The draft is the single most important aspect of fantasy sports, as it determines the initial team roster, and there are plenty of resources to research and read up on. Sports analysts have created countless draft day cheat sheets and comprehensive guides, such as CBS Sports Fantasy and the Bleacher Report Fantasy pages.



Although the draft may determine an initial team roster, there is still a lot of flexibility when it comes to adding, dropping, and trading players. Free agents are available players that can be added to a roster at any time as long as there is sufficient space. Players who are injured or not performing well will likely be dropped from the rosters of other fantasy owners. By carefully monitoring return dates for injured or suspended players, fantasy team owners can acquire high-caliber players easily. Trades occur between two teams for one or more player or draft pick, when an offer is made to exchange players on one team for players on another. A single trade can be season-changing for both team, since trades often aren’t completely even and one team will always receive the slightly better better or worse end of the deal. Before making a trade, consultation with others or monitoring recent player performances are crucial.

graphics by clker.com, flickr.com, wikimedia.org

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Smoke Signal


BY THE NUMBERS: SPORTS INVOLVEMENT With the diverse array of sports available both in school and out of school, students have a large number of options to choose from when deciding what sports they want to play. Furthermore, students who participate in sports do so with varying levels of commitment. To gain insight into student sports involvement at MSJ, the Smoke Signal surveyed 167 students across all grade levels and analyzed their responses.

Neither (29.37%)

School (20.63%)

70.1% of students participate in sports Distribution of School Sports Involvement


School 0-3


Non-school (22.4%)

Both (27.6%)

By Josephine Chew & Tylor Wu Staff Writers

Hours Spent Playing Sports 12.2%


Do you participate in sports in school or out of school?

Sports 23

29.6% 35.8%


3-6 6-9


17.1% 48.8%



Average commitment (based on a scale of 1-5, one being least committed and five being most committed)



3.93 for school sports 3.63 for non-school sports

Non-school Sports Involvement State/National (22.45%)


Local (30.61%) 5











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Recreational (44.9%) cc


National/International (2.04%)


Number of Students


graphics by create.piktochart.com

Girls Water Polo goes down fighting 4-5 loss to Washington

By Mingjia Wang Staff Writer MSJ Varsity Girls Water Polo faced Washington High School in the second to last game of the season on October 15. The match, which was the team’s senior night, ended in a 4-5 loss for MSJ, but proved to be a wildly entertaining game filled with intense hustle plays, several heroic plays, and a crowd atmosphere constantly buzzing with excitement. Players had been hyping the game up for weeks. Washington had always beaten MSJ in previous matches, but with the Warriors offense looking stronger than ever this year, MSJ’s long-time rival seemed extremely beatable. Captain Senior Kikue Higuchi said, “Coming away with a win would mean a lot to us.”

Both teams came out firing on all cylinders, as Sophomore Rebecca Zhang quickly put MSJ on the board with a sneaky shot between the arms of Washington’s goalie. The Warriors were eager to win and constantly pushed the tempo on offense, with Higuchi and Senior Joyce Lu leading the attacks. However, Washington quickly tied the game with a powerful throw that barely slid past goalie Senior Katra Dakin. Washington started off hot in the second quarter, but goals from Seniors Tiffany Ho and Angelina Xu kept MSJ within one point. Both teams were playing excellently; the offenses managed to create numerous openings for their strong shooters, and the defenses were intimidating and effective. The teams’ coaches could be heard con-

Co-Captain Senior Tiffany Ho passes the ball to Co-Captain Senior Kikue Higuchi

Sophomore Rebecca Zhang prepares to pass to Junior Andrea Wong

stantly yelling from the sidelines, adding a layer of adrenaline to an already feverishly intense game. The crowd cheered with every goal attempt or foul call. The air was filled with an atmosphere of tension and exhilaration. At halftime, the score was evenly knotted at 3-3. After the second half began, referees’ whistles pierced the air every few seconds, calling fouls left and right. All 12 players in the pool appeared to play with a heightened sense of aggression and a thirst for victory. The courtside onlookers enjoyed every second of it and proudly cheered for their respective teams, hoping to will them to a win. The teams traded goals in the third and

fourth quarters, eventually tying the score at 4-4 and sending the game into overtime. One minute in, Senior Angelina Xu ripped a shot straight into the back of the net. The potential game-winner was immediately overturned by the referees, as they ruled it was scored after the shot clock had expired. MSJ would eventually fall 4-5 after a late goal from Washington. Both teams received thunderous applause and cheers at the end of a hard-fought match. Despite the loss, the players remained positive. Dakin said, “I think we put up a good fight. I expect the team will get even better next year.” ▪

photos by staff writer mingjia wang

24 Photo


The Smoke Signal

Friday, November 2, 2018

By Aria Lakhmani Staff Writer

From October 9-12, MSJ’s Peer Resource held numerous events as part of their Community Building Week. The Community Building Week helps students bond with each other through activities. Through creating colorful posters, building inventive LEGO structures, and giving roses with heartfelt messages on them, students got the chance to connect with their peers and form a positive environment for the new school year.

Sophomore Liwen Sun hands Sophomore Srilakshmi Palanikumar a rose.

A red rose from Peer Resource’s Peer Resource handed out roses with heartfelt messages and unity-themed challenges for Community Building Week. students to complete.

Junior Andres War holds a rose from Peer Resource.

Juniors Hana Nip and Michelle Ye, Senior Shulamite Cheng, and Junior Angela Yang hold a poster that promotes unity.

By Kimberly Huang Staff Writer

Interact members attended Interact District 5170’s Fall Leadership Conference (FLC) on October 14 at Independence High School to participate in workshops about leadership strategies, listen to Alameda County Water District Director Aziz Akbari speak about service, and bond with other district members over service. Alongside almost 4,000 other Interacters from Oakland to Santa Cruz, they learned about the $88,000 dollars and 65,000 hours they had contributed to the community in the 2017-18 year. District officers Cristina Phan and Issabella Roma further announced their local and international projects for 2018-19: providing educational resources to low-income childrSen in the local community and fundraising for impoverished children in Venezuela.

Alameda County Water District Director Aziz Akbari speaks to the Interacters about service.

A Kennedy student waves the Area 5 mascot flag.

FUSD Interacters poses for a group photo at the event.

Interact’s future projects include providing educational resources for children in Venezuela.

District Officer Issabella Roma speaks at the event.

By Monisha Saxena Staff Writer

The Homecoming Extravaganza took place on Friday October 19, in the amphitheater to close off Homecoming Week. Featuring bouncy castles, Dance Dance Revolution, and a DJ, the dance had something for everyone. What started out as a small cluster of students turned into a lively crowd in front of the stage, as students were ignited by popular songs to dance along. A repeat of airband performances from each class further amped up the crowd. After the performances finished, the Homecoming court appeared, and Seniors Eddie Chang, Flora Chang, Shyam Sethi, and Shayan Panjwani were crowned Homecoming King, Queen, Knight, and Jester respectively. The extravaganza came to an end with the students leaving with aching legs but smiles on their faces after an eventful night.

Freshmen Hip Hop performs a routine from their Homecoming set.

Participants wait in line at the food trucks parked at the event.

Attendees play in bouncy castles and Zorb balls.

The crowd watches performances as colorful lights flash from the stage.

Seniors Eddie Chang, Flora Chang, Shyam Sethi, and Shayan Panjwani are crowned Homecoming Court. photos by staff writers kimberly huang, aria lakhmani & monisha saxena

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