Volume LIV, No. 1

Page 1


VOL. 54 NO. 1

September 21, 2018


College Board to split AP World History into two courses in 2019 Complaints regarding scope and detail of current curriculum leads to official testing changes By Shreya Sridhar & Jennifer Xiang Staff Writers Starting in the 2019-20 school year, College Board will split the AP World History course into two courses, one focusing on ancient history and the other on modern history. The curriculum of the new AP

World History: Ancient course will focus on human history prior to 1200 CE, while AP World History: Modern will focus on history past then. MSJ’s current AP World History course and exam will transition into the Modern course, while the Ancient course could be offered if there is enough student interest.

news editor joelle chuang

The current AP World History textbook used by MSJ students.

According to College Board, the change comes in response to longstanding and widespread complaints from students and educators regarding the scope and level of detail of the course. Originally, the course covered material from all of human history. However, in June 2018, College Board first announced that the AP World History course would focus exclusively on history after 1450 CE, moving all material prior to that year to a new Pre-AP course. After concerns regarding this change and claims that it would increase Eurocentrism, high school students created an online petition against the changes, which gained more than 12,000 signatures. College Board announced the splitting of the course in July and released a timeline and details of the curriculum. College credit, often seen as a large benefit of AP exams or courses, has not yet been addressed in response to the change. While many other AP course have been restructured or introduced in recent years, this marks one of the rare times that an AP test was split in two. “We’ve gone through AP Physics changes ... ” Principal Zack Larsen said. AP Physics B was split into AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 in the 2014-15

school year, though MSJ currently only offers the former as a course and test. With the timeline provided by College Board, the new curriculum and corresponding changes to the exam and practice materials will go into effect immediately in the 2019-20 school year. AP World History Teacher Nancy Benton is prepared to transition the course and exam preparation to the Modern requirements accordingly. However, Benton does not believe the changes will greatly affect her students. “I don’t think students care about these changes [that] much,” she said. College Board is still developing the AP World History: Ancient course on an unknown timeline, affected by nationwide high school and college interest. The course will not be taught at MSJ unless there is enough student interest during course registration to create a class. After that interest is expressed, the course would go through a year-long approval process, during which administrators, teachers, parents, and students could all comment on the course. If approved, the registered AP teacher will have to go through training by College Board, and MSJ will then offer the respective exam as well. ▪

FUSD and teachers’ union salary negotiation updates 2018-19 school year salary negotiations still under way By Hannah Chou & Toshali Goel Sports Editor and Opinion Editor The 2017-18 school year came to an uneasy close as the negotiations between FUSD and the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association (FUDTA) remained unresolved. However, during the summer, FUDTA ratified the tentative agreement of a 1.05 percent increase on and off the scale in salary for the 2017-18 school year, which is a one percent increase in salary overall and a $1000 bonus for each teacher. The ratification ended last year’s work-to-rule situation and began the preparations for salary negotiations for the 2018-19 school year. According to Bargaining Committee member and AP Statistics Teacher Jan Frydendahl, FUDTA’s initial ask was a two percent increase in salary overall and a one percent bonus. FUSD did not offer any change in salary. After 13 consecutive months attempting to come to an agreement, FUDTA declared an impasse, which is when the conflict remains in deadlock, and members officially began work-to-rule. During work-to-rule, teachers only worked the specified hours outlined in their contracts. Teachers did not agree to write letters of recommendation, chaperone school trips, advise club activities, and host extra lunchtime and after school tutoring sessions. In addition, the state-run Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) sends a mediator to these negotiations to help the

two sides come to an agreement. At this point, the FUSD and FUDTA were on the brink of transitioning from impasse to “fact-finding.” This process is when a “fact-finder” from PERB — usually an accountant — analyzes FUSD’s budget and spending, issues a non-binding report, which in turn legalizes striking. Before this stage was reached, however, the tentative agreement that was proposed passed with about 90 percent of the 2017-18 FUDTA members in favor.

However, the tentative agreement that was proposed passed with about 90 percent of the FUDTA members in favor. The FUSD Board initially offered stipends to teachers as opposed to an increase in percentage for the salary schedule. Vice President of the FUSD Board of Education Michele Berke said that their limited funding from the state made it difficult to grant FUDTA’s demands for an overall salary increase. Berke said, “In the beginning of last year — prior to last school year — the state [could only provide] all the school districts one-time funds. So at that time, that is what the Board felt comfortable communicating – that we can only offer one-time money because we only got one-time funds.” Later in the school year, the Board received word that they would have access to some ongoing money from the state. “As


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the budget picture changed, negotiations changed,” Berke said. Funding for the raise will come from FUSD’s general and one-time funds from the state. At a total amount of $6.4 million dedicated to the raise, $4.5 million will be designated to FUDTA while the other $1.9 million will go toward other bargaining groups in FUSD, such as the California School Employees Association, Service Employees International Union, and Student Resource Officers. Additionally, Board members remarked on the lack of funding they receive from the state for various endeavors. Board of Education Student Member Pallas Chou said, “Everyone wants to give teachers a raise, but where do you get this money from? If we increase the salary for teachers, we would have to cut back on something else.” This lack of funding made the Board hesitant to grant FUDTA’s initial demands before a compromise was reached between the two parties. President of FUDTA Victoria Birbeck-Herrera commented on this argument by the district, and said “While we are sympathetic to that, we are hopeful that ... we should be able to recapture a bit of that loss from last year.” Herrera and several other teachers voiced their dissatisfaction with the current agreement, including Librarian and Secondary Director of FUDTA Maile Ferreira who said, “What is $1,000? You go to the grocery store and you see items that have gone up


Three new faculty and 12 new teachers joined the MSJ community this fall. Check out the Centerspread section and online to learn more about the supporting members of the MSJ campus.

maybe 30 percent, and we got $1,000. So no, I would say a majority of teachers are not happy.”

While the signed agreement for the 2017-18 school year may not have satisfied most teachers, both sides are looking to find a peaceful compromise this year. While the signed agreement for the 201718 school year may not have satisfied most teachers, both sides are looking to find a peaceful compromise this year. FUDTA has now proposed a four percent increase in overall salary, and FUSD has offered 0.5 percent. Both parties hope to find a resolution quickly. “We respect everybody’s right to protest, but we’re very hopeful that it doesn’t get to the point it did last year,” Berke said. “We know that teachers prefer to be in the classroom teaching –– they don’t want to go to Board meetings –– just as much as we want to have things run smoothly in the district. So we’re hoping that things can be resolved much sooner, for both FUDTA and all of the bargaining groups, and for the district.” The FUDTA negotiations team has already requested to bargain, according to Frydendahl. The first meeting, which was initially slated for August 21, was postponed due to conflicting schedules. As of now, meetings regarding salary will start soon, with the outcome of these negotiations still uncertain for the current school year. ▪



2 News


The Smoke Signal

Friday, September 21, 2018

FUSD partnership with Peachjar saves trees Electronic flyer company Peachjar helps FUSD distribute information online By Michael Ren & Ian Hsu Sports Editor and Staff Writer FUSD recently announced that it will continue its partnership with Peachjar, which helps school districts distribute electronic flyers to elementary school students as an environmentally-friendly alternative to printed flyers. Peachjar was founded in 2013 as an allin-one solution for schools to distribute information to their community electronically. Parents and students alike can register for a Peachjar account from the company’s main website, then choose their specific school and school district. Once registered, users can view district newsletters and flyers from after school programs, academic competitions, and other organizations. Since its inception, Peachjar has risen in popularity and has also extended its solutions to other businesses such as tutoring programs and sports teams such as the Golden State Warriors. FUSD’s partnership with Peachjar began during the 2016-17 school year. Since the

program’s implementation, estimates show that FUSD has saved more than 24 million pages, or the equivalent of 2,900 trees. This comes with the added benefit of saving on ink and paper costs for the district and its schools.

... FUSD has saved more than 24 million pages, or the equivalent of 2,900 trees. Currently, Peachjar has more than 23,000 registrations across the district which reach 77 percent of the FUSD community. It has also continued to add to its services and technologies since beginning its partnership with FUSD. Peachjar’s services are also viewable to the visually impaired with increased font regulation. “Last year, [Peachjar] added a feature to make all our flyers compatible with the American Disabilities Act, which we appreciate,” said FUSD Public Information Officer Brian Killgore. Peachjar is not used as much at MSJ

The Peachjar website displays electronic flyers that are accessible to parents and students.

compared to other schools in the district. Instead, MSJ distributes its own electronic flyers using SchoolLoop, which was already in place when the district initially adopted Peachjar. Instead, Peachjar is more widely used by elementary schools that do not use technologies like SchoolLoop. Despite this, FUSD itself still uses Peachjar to distribute flyers to the MSJ community; MSJ alone has since saved over one million sheets of paper, or 130 trees. Principal Zack Larsen said,


“The reason I like Schoolloop is [that] it’s pushed out to people, whereas Peachjar is more passive — someone has to go in there and see.” MSJ currently does not have plans to use Peachjar more frequently. However, FUSD is looking to continue its partnership with Peachjar. Killgore said, “We definitely plan to continue using Peachjar in the future and look forward to ... build on the momentum created [for] reduced paper usage.” ▪

Ardenwood Rail Fair: Showcasing the importance of locomotives to Fremont’s history Annual rail fair provides an interactive and unique experience By Anisa Kundu Staff Writer The Ardenwood Historic Farm hosted its annual Rail Fair throughout Labor Day Weekend, September 1 to 3, from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. each day. The fair supports a nonprofit known as the Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources (SPCRR), which aims to preserve or remake the railroads and trains in the area. The nonprofit was inspired by the Carter Brothers, a railroad company which had started one of the first narrow gauge railroads in the Ardenwood area after the popular Southern Pacific Transportation Company increased their rates in 1863. They thrived from 1872 to 1902 and built the cable cars now seen in San Francisco, but their largest

contribution politically was uniting people in passing the California initiative and referendum of 1911 to prevent railroad monopolies from forming. Showcasing their accomplishments, the rail museum attracted many of the fair’s attendees. The Ardenwood Rail Fair had many other activities including a ride around Ardenwood Historic Farm pulled by the train named “Katie,” a play area for children to build toy train tracks, a children’s library dedicated to train books, a model train display room, older versions of tractors and gas engines, the Patterson House, and the steam locomotive “Ann Marie.” Tourists were particularly fixated on the “Ann Marie,” an eight-ton steam locomotive built in 1890 by the H.K. Porter Company for transferring ores in the Cortez Gold

Fair attendees line up to enter the historic Victorian Patterson House, which was first constructed in 1857.

Built in 1890 and remodeled by co-owners Gary Smith and Tom Gazsi, steam locomotive “Ann Marie” was the main attraction of the rail fair.

Mine in central Nevada. While Gary Smith, co-owner of the “Ann Marie”, spoke to those interested in the history of the train and how he and his co-owner Tom Gazsi had remodeled and renamed the engine, children seemed eager to know what caused the black smoke to arise from the train, which Smith later explained was coal fueling the engine. “It was five and a half years of changing cylinders [of the train] and remodeling the train itself,” said Smith, referring to changing the train’s gauge from 30 to 36 inches to allow the train to run in different towns. “It’s the labor of love. It takes a lot of passion and a little bit of crazy.” When a parent from the crowd asked why the train had been renamed from simply “Cortez” to “Ann Marie,” Smith amused everyone with the answer. Since both Smith and Gazsi had wives and daughters with names containing Ann or Marie, they thought it fit

to rename the train after important women in their lives. Throughout the day, many railroad event volunteers commented on how the event had grown. Children were spotted riding the trains, building the tracks, and marveling at the carefully constructed models. Many were fascinated by the new computer aided designs made for the trains that were disintegrating and could not be presented at the fair. “The Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources and this fair is not only about preservation of railroads.” Frank Franco, a railroad event volunteer, said, “It’s about investing in remaking these trains for future generations to enjoy.” Residents of Fremont look forward to the Haunted Railroad, the next event to be hosted by the SPCRR at the Ardenwood Historic Farm from October 19 to 28. ▪ photos by staff writer anisa kundu



Compiled by Shiantel Chiang, Kelly Yang & Michael Ren Web Editor, Centerspread Editor, and Sports Editor




Full-scale cleanup effort of massive garbage patch in Pacific Ocean is spearheaded by The Ocean Cleanup.

Hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas, resulting in a death toll of 23 as of September 17.

The architect of ‘Plan-S’, Robert-Jan Smits, hopes to force a major change in the business model of academic publishers.

Plastic litter patch towed from Pacific Ocean near San Francisco Engineers deployed a trash collection device into the ocean between California and Hawaii on September 8 to clean up the massive floating garbage patch. The device will tow the garbage from San Francisco to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an island of trash bigger than Texas. An organization founded by Boyan Slat called The Ocean Cleanup created this U-shaped barrier that is intended to trap most of the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic trapped by ocean currents. Slat and his team plan to deploy 60 of these free-floating barriers in the Pacific Ocean by 2020.

Hurricane Florence causes major flooding in the Carolinas The Category 5 Hurricane Florence, which hit North and South Carolina on September 11, led to major flooding and a death toll of 23 as of September 17. The cost of the hurricane’s damage is estimated to be between $17 million and $23 million, making it one of the top ten most costly hurricanes in US history. On September 17, President Donald Trump approved both North and South Carolina’s state of emergency requests, granting the states access to federal funds.

European Commission Initiative Opens Access to Scientific Journals The European Commission recently initiated a plan that would make thousands of research papers free to access as soon as they are published. Currently, journals either ask researchers to pay for their publication in the journal, or journals themselves charge a fee for those who want to read the publication. In contrast, the Plan-S initiative would require research funded by certain organizations to be published in open access journals only as well as under a license which would allow free distribution. The policy will be implemented starting Jan.1, 2020.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Smoke Signal

toshali's take

The Smoke Signal Mission San Jose High School Est. 1964 Vol. 54, No. 1 | September 21, 2018 www.thesmokesignal.org

Why you shouldn’t “find” your passion


vic ki’s voice

Staying informed is imperative 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.

Everyone has at least once in their life been advised to spend time “finding their passion.” We spend innumerable hours trying to find the field that interests us, that we are willing to dedicate our careers to. This search is what most of high school and even the initial years of college revolve around — arguably, it is what our entire existence amounts to. But the ideal of “finding” one’s passion is misleading on several fronts — first and foremost being that it implies that passion must already exist. New opportunities are constantly cropping up in our ever-changing world, something we often overlook when planning our futures. With the onset of artificial intelligence, social media, and other advancements, every field as we know it is on the brink of change. With this change comes a shift in the range of occupations we spend our lives working towards, and it is crucial to keep an open mind in accepting these new fields as feasible professions. Additionally, it is critical to recognize that careers are constantly evolving, and many fields that students today will eventually adopt don’t exist yet. Take digital entertainment. Many recognized names in the field, such as PewDiePie and Ryan Higa, did not perceive the space as a viable career option until much later in their lives. And yet today, being a social media star is a highly coveted profession. A 2017 survey by travel firm First Choice revealed that 34 percent of children ages 6 to 17 wish to be YouTube personalities, and another 18 percent bloggers and vloggers. The

relatively new occupation beat out traditional career choices such as doctor, lawyer, and athlete. Just as the most famed internet personalities today had never dreamed their jobs would be considered practical, so we should bear in mind that such changes occur around us daily. Moreover, discovering goals and lifelong passions is extremely taxing. Many students face the trying dilemma of deciding a major between the ages of 17 and 20, when our understanding of life and the future is still developing. Having to choose a life path out of the preexisting can feel limiting and hopeless — especially in a high school environment, where our exposure to unconventional paths is minimal. Many perceive their uncertainty as a sure sign that their life is bound to remain undirected, but reality is far from this. The careers that seem rewarding at this stage in our lives may not pan out as predicted in the future and vice versa — our futures may lead us to career paths nobody had envisioned. Rather than forcing ourselves to “find” our passion from a predetermined selection, we should make an effort to forge that passion if it doesn’t exist. It isn’t necessary to feel connected to an existing field. Creating our own fields may seem impossible at the moment simply because we have only been exposed to traditional pathways. But keep in mind that we can be the ones to invent our own unique realities. So, if nothing appeals to you just yet, don’t worry — you can build something entirely new when the time comes. ▪

The Opinion of the Smoke Signal Editorial Board

Charities: giving or getting? When we think of donating to charity, we expect that our money will be put to good use — but not all charities effectively use donations to benefit others. To guarantee a positive impact, we need to thoroughly investigate what our donations go towards before throwing our money at organizations we know nothing about. Facebook’s online birthday fundraisers allow us to set up online donations for a charity of our choice on our birthdays. Seeing these fundraisers on friends’ birthdays gives us more opportunities to support causes we care about. This can be a positive development, provided we research these organizations’ standards of governance and effectiveness and review all the programs and services the charities provide. However, when donating is just a click away, we may end up supporting fraudulent campaigns. In November 2017, Katelyn McClure and Mark D’Amico began a stirring GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $400,000 to support a homeless veteran, Johnny Bobbitt, Jr., McClure met at a gas station. According to CNN, Bobbitt’s attorney claimed that he only received $75,000 of the funds. Accordingly, Bobbit proceeded to sue McClure and D’Amico for fraud. Clearly, emotionally impactful campaign statements aren’t enough to determine whether the donations will go toward beneficial efforts. More importantly, the campaign organizers should explicitly state who the intended recipients are and whether beneficiaries control donation withdrawals. Before Bobbitt’s case went under investigation, McClure’s campaign only expressly agreed to direct funds toward getting him an apartment and food, allowing her to keep the rest of the donations. When it comes to larger charities, we

Opinion 3

should also evaluate their expenditures to avoid organizations that steal money from donors. A 2013 report from CNN highlights the charity Kids Wish Network, which raised millions of dollars in donations for dying children. However, only three cents on the dollar actually went toward helping the kids that they were openly marketing for. On the other hand, charities like Make-a-Wish America spend 83 cents on the dollar for the children in their program. All this information is easily accessible through online research. For example, Charity Navigator, a website dedicated to breaking down charities’ fundraising and expense statistics, scores organizations based on what portion of their expenses are used for the programs and services they exist to deliver. It also calculates the exact amount of money an organization uses for campaigning, and includes a full glossary of how each of their statistics and ratings are determined. Taking the time to visit such websites before hastily handing our money out is worth our peace of mind, once we know that that our donations are contributing to an honest cause. Poorly researched charity decisions not only result in wasted donor money, but also take away money that could’ve supported legitimate charities. Carefully evaluating the organizations and individuals we donate to can ensure that our contribution will make a definitive difference. ▪

In the film BlacKkKlansman, when protagonist Ron Stallworth tells the black student union leader Patrice to lay off the politics once in a while, she replies with something like, “I can’t ever stop talking politics. It’s 24/7, brother.” My immediate reaction was, “Ah, back when that was a thing.” Then, “Wait, it’s still a thing.” Finally, “Wow, just hearing her say that makes me feel tired for her.” Because politics is 24/7. The Flint water crisis is an everyday affair, as is the Dakota Access Pipeline. The violence in Yemen doesn’t stop for the weekend. Hispanic citizens who have been denied passports, even after sending in all their documentation, are still fighting for proof of their citizenship. Politics is 24/7, and that is overwhelming and exhausting. But from the past few months, I’ve noticed that falling out of the news cycle is nearly as easy as getting overwhelmed. The daily deluge of articles creates a numbing effect. Last year, as a junior floundering in more weighted classes than I should’ve taken, I found the outside world exceedingly easy to tune out. For instance, I figured I didn’t have time to read up on special investigator Robert Mueller’s examination because I needed to study for AP US History (kind of ironic, really). And the pile of TIME issues on my desk grew, untouched. Of course, I was mostly able to do this because of privilege. I’m lucky enough to live in an upper middle

class Silicon Valley neighborhood in the 21st century, where I’m not directly involved in any of the situations described above. I often saw my own attitude reflected in my classmates as well; “I’ve stopped caring about stuff other than what I have to get through because I’m so busy” is a common enough attitude. Meanwhile, Patrice is embroiled in a daily struggle for her rights, in a community where the Ku Klux Klan is entrenched. The threat of violence looms over her always. But even though the headlines may not directly impact us, we still have an obligation to understand them. Our privilege makes it all the more necessary for us to at least know of world events — so that we can develop empathy for those affected. We’re young, but none of us are that far away from adulthood. In a few short years, or even months for some of us, we’ll be registering to vote. Staying informed on current events is imperative so we can make our own judgments on current issues, instead of simply picking up someone else’s perspective — be it a teacher’s, a parent’s, or a peer’s. After all, as researchers Anthony Fowler and Michele Margolis find in a 2011 study, uninformed voters tend to vote against their own interests. To be fair, we don’t have to be involved 24/7. That’s a hefty emotional commitment to make. But we do owe a couple minutes each day to catching up on the world around us. That’s one step toward a more informed, understanding, and empathetic world, at least. ▪

By Lucia Li Graphics Editor

graphics editor lucia li

graphics editor lucia li

4 Opinion


The Smoke Signal

Friday, September 21, 2018

Root cause of tuition inflation By Shray Vaidya & Katherine Guo A&E Editor and Staff Writer

Rising college tuitions are the bane of students and parents alike. Since 1997, in-state public college tuition has grown 237 percent and out-of-state private college tuition 157 percent, according to a study conducted by US News. Even for upper-middle class families, tuition is becoming increasingly unaffordable, forcing students to either take out student loans that may take nearly two decades to fully pay off or skip pursuing a higher education altogether. It’s no secret that the vast majority of whitecollar jobs require some sort of college degree. Due to desperation created by advanced education requirements in the job market, college increasingly becomes a necessity for students looking to improve their socioeconomic status. Because these applicants need the university more than the university needs them, tuition is hiked up to the benefit of the university, not the students. Consequently, the wealthiest students graduate with minimal financial burdens while those who seek to advance their socioeconomic status the most are saddled with crippling debt. A 2017 report posted by the New York Times shows that 38 colleges, including five Ivy League universities, have more students from

This commercialization of education turns institutions into capitalist ventures, not places focused on learning. the top 1 percent of the income scale than the bottom 60 percent. This disparity allows colleges to raise their tuition costs, as a considerable portion of their accepted applicants can afford expensive costs. Similar to how corporations hike up prices according to their largest consumer demographic, colleges are setting their tuitions by evaluating the incomes of the top 1 percent. This commercialization of education turns institutions into capitalist ventures,

not places focused on education. This ignores students from low income families who are seeking a higher education. While in theory, the extra costs of tuition would help pay for the financial aid for poorer students, that is unfortunately not the reality. According to CNN, one applicant from a low-income household who was accepted to his dream program at UC San Diego was awarded only $3,000 in financial aid, and the college only allowed him to borrow $6,800 in federal loans. Those numbers may seem large, but that still leaves tuition

Because these applicants need the university more than the university needs them, tuition is hiked up to the benefit of the university, not the students. at $18,000 for the first year alone. The only alternative for students in similar predicaments is to take out student loans with hefty interest rates, creating an extra burden. Another factor that has led to increased tuition is the need for student support services like strengthened psychiatric support infrastructures, which federal law mandates must be offered to all students with mental illnesses. While this cost would be understandable if those resources were actually effective, recent events like the lawsuit against Stanford for repeatedly violating anti-discrimination laws protecting students with mental health issues indicate that the money isn’t always put to good use. Colleges also cite administrative costs like salaries for tuition hikes. Again, however, the recent fiascos where the exorbitant salaries of university chancellors were brought to light show that money is not being used efficiently. UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi was paid $424,360 annually before she had to step down as part of an ethics probe, after which she was subsequently rehired as a professor. Despite the fact that rising tuition has been an issue since the 1990s, past attempts have

often resulted in failure. Disparities in institution funding are exemplified by the increasing amount of financial aid and the decreasing amount of state direct aid, which is aid given directly to the institution. A study by the Brookings Institute found that the increased aid to students was not able to balance the decrease in state direct aid to institutions. Furthermore, most institutions receive no direct national funding. Expensive tuitions force students to choose universities that may not have the course selections or social connections necessary for their careers or to forgo higher education altogether. According to Forbes, 62 percent of students who were accepted to their first-choice college and didn’t go said the main reason was that they couldn’t afford the tuition. This reinforces existing socioeconomic disparities and places already disadvantaged students even further behind their wealthier counterparts. In order to make higher education easily affordable, the US government should begin national aid to universities. The necessary funding could come from the defense budget, which the Washington Post has described as unnecessary “at a moment of relatively diminished US military involvement.” Given the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of the US defense budget at the moment, redirecting funds towards educational

institutions would create faster results for US dominance. While nationwide policies have their pitfalls, the funding would be able to alleviate the growing issues with tuition hikes. By increasing federal aid but delegating fund allocation to individual states, we would maintain individual state control over universities while

Expensive tuitions force students to choose universities that may not have the course selections or social connections that may be needed in their careers or to forgo higher education altogether. decreasing the pressure that direct state aid places on state treasuries. On the state level, universities should encourage donors to redirect hefty research grants towards financial aid and take actions to encourage endowments from wealthy alumni and local companies. Much like how the State Universities of New York, City Universities of New York, and the New York University School of Medicine are waiving tuition for eligible students, CA public universities should take steps towards significantly decreasing college costs. Otherwise, many students may find themselves entrenched in debt for decades to come. ▪

Tuition has risen primarily as a result of decreased state support.

graphic by insidehighered.com, delta cost project

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Smoke Signal

Opinion 5


The decline of

American public transportation

By Kelly Yang & Tylor Wu Centerspread Editor and Staff Writer


Despite being well-funded by state and local governments, public transportation in the US and the Bay Area suffers from low ridership, long wait times, and scant service hours. To demonstrate the dismal state of public transportation in the US, the Smoke Signal looked into how money is spent on public transportation and compared our portation and compared oursystem systemtotoothers othersaround around the the world.

90 days

of BART strike In the US, public transportation workers often belong to unions such as the Transport Workers Union of America and the Amalgamated Transit Union, which were created in the early 1890s. These unions exist to protect the interests of their workers and can often go on strike to protest issues in pay negotiations. Although some cities in the US, such as New York City, prohibit transit worker strikes, the vast majority of places do not. In California, transit strike bans have come before the state legislature multiple times, but none have passed. At the local level, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI) workers have gone on strike many times when contract negotiations over pay become gridlocked. Although many of these strikes are short-lived, some strikes can last exceptionally long, such as the 1979 BART strike which lasted 90 days and a MUNI worker strike in March of this year which lasted more than a month.

employee unionization

US public transport ridership and funding have steadily declined over the past few years, and recent research suggests that this downward trend in ridership is accelerating. According to the American Public Transportation Association, total transit ridership decreased by 1.3 percent in 2015 and a further 2.3 percent in 2016. Recently, the Trump administration unveiled its 2019 budget proposal — which suggested an 18 percent decrease in transportation funding — which threatens current transportation expansion projects as well as repair efforts.

ridership and funding trends

You can’t neglect your transit system for decades, have it be in disrepair and expect people to continue to use it, especially in a day and age when alternatives are so readily available.


— Andrew Glass Hastings, director of transit and mobility for the Seattle Department of Transportation

(The Washington Post)


(2014 US public transport budget)

public transport abroad Compared to similarly wealthy countries, American public transit has very low ridership despite high funding. In Germany, 25 percent of the population uses public transportation at least once a week, compared to 9 percent of Americans. In Japan’s Greater Tokyo Area alone, 13 billion trips on public transportation were made in 2015. In that same year, the entirety of the US, which is 25 times the size of Japan, made 10.6 billion trips. However, Americans spend 87 percent more on transportation than the Japanese. Tokyo’s railways are privately owned and not funded by the Japanese government, which accounts for some of the decreased cost. graphic by openclipart.org

6 Feature


The Smoke Signal

Friday, September 21, 2018

Dear Diary:

A Week Without Wifi By Shreya Sridhar

Staff Writer Monday, September 10: It’s Day 1 of going cold turkey, and I think I am ready. After all, I have done much harder things in my lifetime, like waking up at 7:50 a.m. and making it to school on time. I rely more on my textbooks and planner than online resources and Schoolloop anyway. Messaging friends might be harder since I can’t use Messenger, so I guess I’ll have to rely on the 37 contacts in my phone. Tuesday, September 11: I woke up this morning and was about to press the beautiful, rainbow camera app screaming my name when I realized Instagram was another platform that was on my “can’t touch” list. Dejected, I went to school only to have my friend frantically ask me where I was at yesterday’s club meeting. Unfortunately, I had missed out on a surprise club meeting that would have been waiting in my notifications on Facebook. The worst part came at night when I realized I couldn’t stream Netflix or read from Overdrive. Wednesday, September 12: I tried going to school with a positive mindset today. I had a healthy breakfast and was on Palm Avenue at 7:55 a.m. when I realized that traffic was surprisingly nonexistent. It took a few minutes before my mom called and said she got a loopmail, saying there was late-start today. That’s. Just. Great. I could have slept in for an hour longer, and every student knows that we can’t go back to sleep after we’ve gotten ready. To make matters worse, some of my friends went out to lunch and guess who didn’t get the memo. I need to reevaluate if my FOMO trumps no WiFi.

Thursday, September 13: I finished all my homework in half the time it usually takes me. Maybe there is some truth to electronics distracting us from work after all. The day was still young so I decided to pick up a random book from my dad’s office and start reading. It’s been a fat minute since I’ve done some pleasure reading and even longer since I’ve read a physical copy of a book. I ate my dinner and headed off to bed a solid two hours before my regular bedtime. Friday, September 14: This morning, I had an epiphany and decided that today would mark the day of my new and improved lifestyle: a healthier, more rested me. I have never slept so soundly in my 16 years of living, and I finally woke up on the right side of the bed. Being a coffee addict since the age of 12, I think my biggest accomplishment of the day was limiting myself to not two or three, but a single Starbucks doubleshot espresso — truly a life-changing experience. I have so much more time to think about the world around me.

Saturday, September 15: I awoke to the beautiful melody of a bird’s song and the smell of freshly cut grass, a scene that could have been taken straight out of a Disney princess movie. There were so many things I could do without WiFi: brush up on piano, read a book, do homework, go to a coffee shop, call my friends, and talk to my family. It was only 8:00 a.m. so I decided to go for a stroll around the neighborhood. Without my phone I could finally observe my environment. Stumbling upon a little garden I — you guessed it — stopped to smell the roses. Sunday, September 16: After a week of no WiFi, I feel like a brand new human being. Although I felt like an outsider at first, I was ironically more present than many of my friends who were glued to their devices. We obviously can’t live without Wifi in this day and age but it sure does help to put the screen down once in a while. I will try to implement some changes like no electronics right before bed, but of course, like every other New (School) Year resolution, this will probably last a week at best. ▪

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"Buffer" By Evangeline Chang

Graphics Editor

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Smoke Signal


Feature 7

Summer 2018: Student Edition


by Officer Kelly Robinson

By Shiantel Chiang & Sahana Sridhar Web Editor and Staff Writer

Anuja Konda: June 18 to August 24

Senior Anuja Konda interned for the Department of Diagnostic Radiology at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, CA, where she was mentored by Assistant Radiology Research Professor Dr. Syed Rahmanuddin. Konda created 3D virtual liver reconstructions from CT scans for liver cancer patients. The virtual livers, which showed detailed fragments of the actual livers, will aid City of Hope surgeons in pre-surgical planning for the patients. At the end of the internship, she presented her research findings, comparing the up-and-coming 3D imaging software to the more widely used Maximum Intensity Projection imaging in Radiology, at the center’s annual Poster Session. She also wrote a paper detailing her research findings that is pending publication.

Kathryn Lee: August 3 to 13 As part of an entrepreneurship program organized by Innovate Shenzhen, Sophomore Kathryn Lee travelled to Shenzhen, China with high school students, professors, and CEOs from around the Bay Area. Through this program, she had the opportunity to tour multiple factories, startups, and makerspaces. Each of these places represented different steps in the product life cycle. She also participated in a workshop where she assembled her own camera with parts sourced from Huaqiangbei, a large electronics market in Shenzhen. Lee learned priceless knowledge about how high-tech companies in Shenzhen release products into the market and hopes to manufacture her own products in the future.

Lilian Guo: July 8 to August 3 Senior Lilian Guo spent one month exploring different art forms at California State Summer School of the Arts (CSSSA) in Valencia, CA. From painting to digital media, she spent her time there attending classes and meeting other artists from all over the country that had many different personalities and art styles. Through this experience, Guo realized her interests in pursuing art past high school and broadened her career visions overall. Her favorite moments were painting with her instructor, Mr. Stuckey, who had a unique perspective on abstract art and said, “If you enjoy working on your piece, then others will enjoy looking at it.”

Kikue Higuchi, Flora Chang, Tiffany Ho, Tarun Devesetti: June 27 to July 11

Seniors Flora Chang, Tarun Devesetti, Kikue Higuchi, and Tiffany Ho spent 16 days in Ecuador with the organization Global Glimpse. Through the program, they worked with the non-profit Fundación Betesda to install the foundations of a new food processing facility, which will serve as a source of income for the non-profit. Fundación Betesda provides free mental health services, such as counseling and long-term housing, for the people of nearby communities. They also spent time exploring different communities and villages in the area, like small manufacturing town of Salinas de Guaranda and the indigenous village, Tagma San Jose.

photos courtesy of anuuja konda, kathryn lee, lilian guo, shulamite cheng,

& kikue higuchi, graphics by pt.pngtree.com, gallery.yopriceville.com, ubisafe.org, & musicindustry.co

8 Advertisement


The Smoke Signal

Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Smoke Signal


Feature 9


Staying Organized By Joelle Chuang, Stephanie Dutra & Kelly Yang News Editor, A&E Editor, and Centerspread Editor

“Having a written plan and different checkpoints for long term projects is a great way to stay organized ... I find that setting specific times to finish specific tasks by is also helpful when I have a large workload.” — Vivienne Lin, 11

“I stay organized by clearly identifying my tasks ahead of time, sorting them by priority, and completing them diligently before due date ... Achieving balance is a state of mind — being focused on core imperatives with a balanced mind helps.” — Science Teacher Sai Kumar

In the spirit of back to school, the Smoke Signal compiled a list of ways to stay productive and asked students and faculty for tips on staying organized.

MINDFULNESS DAILY (free): Mindfulness Daily offers three to 30 minute sessions of audio-guided meditation to help reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and enhance performance. Some of its lessons emphasize breathing and focusing exercises, which can be helpful for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and other disorders.

FOREST - Stay Focused ($1.99) The app helps users stay away from their phones by letting them plant a seed that grows into an imaginary tree when their phone is not in use. If users close the app to use their phone, the tree will die. Users can also plant real trees around the world through in-app purchases.

TASKFUL: The Smart To-Do List (free): Taskful is a task manager app that breaks down all of the user’s tasks and displays only what needs to be done each day. The app has daily reminders and encouragement to motivate its users, and users can even add friends to track each other’s daily progress on tasks.

Sustainable Productivity Habits: “I always make use of all the time time I have. I sometimes work during lunch or break, and I’ll prioritize. I’ll make sure I get what I need to do finished.” — Ethan Wong, 12

Break large tasks into smaller pieces: By doing so, it makes your work much more manageable and less intimidating. Don’t multitask: Finish tasks quickly and efficiently by focusing on only one job at a time. Keep a ‘distraction list’: Whenever something distracts you, write down your distraction on a piece of paper instead of engaging in it. Complete challenging tasks first: By finishing the most difficult thing on your to-do list first, the rest of the day will seem to go by more easily.

“I just think [productivity] is really important because the more productive I am, the better education my students are getting. The most important part is making sure that they get the content, lessons, and experience that they need.” — Social Studies Teacher Spenser Peterson

Set defined goals: Setting clear and concrete goals helps you make meaningful progress. Even small goals improve productivity as they make starting a task seem less daunting. Tidy your workspace: It’s more difficult to be productive when your environment is cluttered. Take breaks: Take some time to eat, relax, walk, or do something enjoyable so that your mind can recharge. But make sure that the breaks don’t end up taking longer than necessary!

pictures by news editor joelle chuang and centerspread editor kelly yang graphics by freepik, app.tongbu.com, aptoide,

& coachdailyapp.com

10 Centerspread


New Faculty By Stephanie Dutra, Kikue Higuchi, Shray Vaidya & Christine Dong A&E Editor, Feature Editor, A&E Editor and Staff Writer

The Smoke Signal

Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday, September 21, 2018

Spanish Teacher Nancy Robles Gracida joined the World Language Department this year to teach Spanish 1 and Spanish 2. Before coming to MSJ, she taught Spanish for five years at multiple Bay Area schools. Her enjoyment of her own high school Spanish classes and appreciation for both Spanish literature and the language inspired her to become a Spanish teacher. One of Robles Gracida’s favorite aspects of teaching is cultivating student growth throughout the year. For the upcoming school year, she looks forward to becoming a part of the MSJ community. In her free time, she enjoys reading and creative writing.

Special Education Teacher Frank Arredondo is joining MSJ for his first year as a teacher after four years as a paraeducator. He will teach various classes while also working as a student teacher with History Teacher Tanya Salazar. Arredondo has worked with students of all ages since he left high school because he loves helping students find their own identity. He attended Ohlone College before transferring to CA State University East Bay, where he majored with a focus on American history. Currently, he is pursuing his teaching credential at San Jose State University, and he hopes to teach a history class next year. When Arredondo has spare time, he loves hiking with his wife, taking photos, and watching baseball.

Nancy Robles gracida

Frank Arredondo

Spanish Teacher | N10


The Smoke Signal

While Spanish Teacher Leticia Magana has been teaching Spanish for five years, this is her first time teaching at MSJ and at a high school, where she will be teaching Spanish 3 and AP Spanish. Previously, Magana taught at Lancaster University in England. Before becoming a teacher, Magana researched Spanish medieval literature with a focus on early printed books and manuscripts, an activity that she still enjoys doing in her free time. Magana’s favorite part of teaching is when students are engaged and responsive in class, traits that she has noticed and appreciates in her current students.

Leticia magana

Special Education Teacher | B6

Spanish Teacher | N11

P6 After spending her last four years as an Instructional Coach in FUSD and American High School’s Assistant Principal, Living Earth and Anatomy/Physiology Teacher Karrie Ware is returning to the Science Department, where she previously taught for 18 years. As an Instructional Coach, Ware learned new teaching strategies that she is excited to implement into her own curriculum this year. She looks forward to being back in the classroom where she can interact with teenagers, help her students grow, and become an ambassador for science. In addition to her love for science, Ware also loves art and plans on incorporating this passion into the classroom as well.

Karrie Ware

Living Earth and Anatomy/Physiology Teacher | N8

Social Studies Teacher James Nguyen is entering his third year as a teacher, and he will be teaching World History and Civics. Before starting his career at MSJ, he taught at his alma mater, Westminster High School, in Orange County. Nguyen attended UC Irvine and graduated with a degree in psychology and social behavior. In his free time, Nguyen likes to play badminton and volunteers with his church group. Nguyen is still trying to familiarize himself with the the dynamics of the Bay Area, but he says the staff has been welcoming. He loves how down-to-earth the students are, and he is excited to present new perspectives of the world to his class.

James Nguyen

World History and Civics Teacher | B33

MSJ’s newest Government/Economics Teacher Benjamin Cruse is excited to teach this year as he is already taken aback by the students’ genuine attitudes. Cruse majored in US History and minored in business, solidifying his understanding of economics, and he taught a variety of courses over the past six years at various schools. Before becoming a teacher, Cruse had many different jobs but he is happy that he can now give back to the community and share his passion for history. Cruse hopes to learn as much from the students and staff as they will learn from him. Outside of teaching, Cruse enjoys gardening, mountain-biking, hiking, and camping.



C6 N8

N10 N11

Benjamin Cruse


B16 b18



Una Park

Chemistry Teacher | C14

Before coming to MSJ, English Teacher Christy Lee taught at Malvern Preparatory School in Pennsylvania. This is her fourth year of teaching, and she will be teaching English 10A and English 12A. In college, Lee studied political science and English, with minors in law and justice. She planned on becoming a lawyer, but after working in a law office she decided being a lawyer was not the career path for her. She finished college in three years, enabling her to spend a year in Korea to learn more about her culture and try teaching. Outside of school, Lee is also a children’s pastor, and although both jobs require a lot of work, she can’t wait to begin working with her new students.

Christy Lee English Teacher | P6

English Teacher Chelbert Dai is teaching English 10A and English 10H. As an undergraduate, Dai majored in English with a focus on literary criticism and theory with a minor in education at UC Davis. Immediately after, he attended UC Irvine for graduate school and received his master’s degree in teaching. This will be his first year as a professional teacher, but he spent last year as a student teacher at Northwood High School in Irvine. Dai loves world literature and plans to make world literature a focus in his courses. One of his hobbies is filmmaking, which he hopes to incorporate into his curriculum.

CHelbert Dai

Social Studies Teacher | B16

Honors Chemistry Teacher Una Park joined the Science Department this year and will be teaching four periods of Honors Chemistry. This will be her fifth year teaching. In the past, Park taught at James Logan High School and Coastline Christian Schools. Aside from teaching, she has also worked as a researcher in academic and industrial labs. She believes her time as a researcher will help her this school year in explaining lab procedure and how to properly use equipment. Park teaches because she loves science and wishes to help students also learn to love and excel in the subject. Consequently, her favorite part of teaching is collaborating with students. When not working, Park enjoys pottery and cooking.

Centerspread 11

English Teacher | P7

As one of the newest members of the Math Department, Math Teacher Mugdha Patil will be teaching four periods of Algebra 1 and one period of Algebra 2 this year. Before switching to a teaching career, Patil worked as an engineer for 15 years, before deciding to take a new career path. After teaching fifth-graders at Jefferson Elementary School in San Leandro last year, Patil moved to MSJ to work with high school students. She enjoys the work ethic of students here and is excited to teach them a subject that she loves. In her free time, Patil enjoys reading, taking her dog on walks, and hiking Mission Peak.

Mugdha Patil Math Teacher | C6

MSJ Class of 2001 Alumnus Michael Jan is excited to return to MSJ to teach AP Computer Science and Geometry Foundational Algebra. Jan spent his last four years teaching various math classes at Washington High School. Prior to teaching, Jan worked as an engineer at many high-tech companies. After settling down with his wife, he decided to pursue what he always liked and thought he should be doing: teaching. He looks forward to building relationships with his students, becoming involved with activities on campus, and making an impact both on students and the school as a whole. In his free time, Jan coaches MSJ’s Girls’ and Boys’ Tennis Teams and recently became a Bay Area foodie with his wife.

Michael Jan

Computer Science Teacher | B2

The latest addition to the Math Department, Math Teacher Melissa Saldivar is teaching two periods of Algebra 2/Trigonometry and three periods of Precalculus this year. She discovered her love for math while studying engineering at UC Berkeley and went on to obtain her teaching credential from San Jose State University. Previously, Saldivar taught math at Washington High School for five years. She has found the MSJ staff to be very friendly and helpful in her time here so far, and she enjoys talking with the students. In her free time, Saldivar enjoys spending time with her family and two dogs.

Melissa Saldivar Math Teacher | B18

photos by a&e editor stephanie dutra, feature editor kikue higuchi, a&e editor shray vaidya & staff writer christine dong

12 Arts & Entertainment


The Smoke Signal

Friday, September 21, 2018

RESTAURANT REVIEW: TORO SUSHI STONE GRILL & BAR By Gloria Chang & Jonathan Ko News Editor and Editor-in-Chief

OVERALL: 3.5/5 Recently, Pacific Commons-based Japanese restaurant Kaenyama Sushi and Yakiniku held a grand reopening under new ownership and a different name: Toro Sushi Stone Grill & Bar. As mentioned in its name, the restaurant’s most attractive specialty is its stone grills. Additionally, Toro Sushi Stone Grill & Bar presents a wide variety of sushi rolls, sashimi, curry, and cook-it-yourself meats and seafood. Offering a limited-time 10 percent grand opening discount, the restaurant greeted visitors at the entrance of the Pacific Commons Asian Plaza. Various sushi, stone grill meats, and rice dishes are arranged on a table.

SERVICE: 5/5 The quality of the service struck us immediately when we first walked into the restaurant. The hostess greeted us with a broad smile and guided us to our table, where she smoothly handed us off to a waiter to handle our orders. The waiter was just as friendly and struck up conversation with us immediately about high school. The restaurant staff was very accomodating for any questions or dietary restrictions. Food was prepared within 10 minutes and restaurant staff checked in with us periodically, creating a stellar customer experience from a service standpoint. A colorful painting overlooks the room while customers dine.

TASTE: 3/5 The meats were of amazing quality and made up for their small portions with their juicy, tender succulence. Specifically, the sirloin meat was spectacular. The rest of the restaurant’s offerings were less astounding. Although the sushi had a nice texture and the fish was well prepared, there was little that was particularly noteworthy. Some dishes were in fact a little overdone; in particular, the volcano roll was an excessively Americanized dish — deep-fried seaweed wrapping with no rice and oozing with cheese. The roll’s creaminess crudely overpowered any delicate, raw flavors. All in all, the dishes painted with large brush strokes, instead of skillfully accentuating natural flavors. Kurobuta bara, a stone grill meat, sits garnished with a spring of parsley before it is grilled.

VALUE: 2/5 The menu starts off reasonably, with regularly priced appetizers and sushi rolls. That quickly changes, however, with $20+ price tags for the entrées. The portions also leave much to be desired, especially for the stone grill meats. For a truly filling meal, a typical customer might have to shell out more than $30. Even then, the odds of having any leftovers to take home are quite small, leading us to believe that the value is substandard. If we had a lot of money to blow, we’d be glad to eat at Toro every month or so — unfortunately, that’s just not the case. US Wagyu Kalbi, a Japanese beef known for its tender, high-end texture.

AMBIANCE: 4/5 The restaurant’s spacious, high-ceilinged interior and dim magenta lights create an atmosphere reminiscent of classy nightclub glamor. Each of the dark granite tables are neatly adorned with textured stoneware plates. The centerpiece of each booth, however, is the stone grill, where customers can cook raw meat at their leisure. Electric salt and pepper grinders also stand next to the grills, allowing customers easy access to seasoning for their dishes. As a small, eco-friendly, and sanitary innovation, the plastic chopsticks have removable wooden tips that are discarded after each meal. The restaurant also provides colorfully-lit, private karaoke rooms for large events and parties.

photos by news editor gloria chang

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Smoke Signal


Arts & Entertainment 13

C R I T I C S’ C O R N E R MusiC: tiphanie doucet, troye sivan | Film: blackkklansman, grave of the fireflies

blackKklansman comments on past and present Music review Under the radar troye sivan

tiphanie doucet

By Shiantel Chiang Web Editor Branching out of her comfort zone and hometown of Paris, France, singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet moved to America to explore her innate artistic sensibility and pursue a musical career. Her eccentric musical style grew as a result of this emotionally challenging journey away from home. Back in France, Doucet began in the entertainment industry at 15 years old, landing a major role in French film Le bébé d’Elsa and TV show Chante!, but left her cinematic success behind for music in her late 20s. Now 37 years old in New Jersey, Doucet retains her hometown roots through her music, writing both French and English songs. Her last album Under My Sun carries a balanced mix of the two languages, both of which have the same raw authenticity and calming sound. She channels the heartbreak and homesickness that she felt during her fresh start in America. Aside from her emotional appeal, Doucet’s recordings showcase her vocals with soft acoustic backings like piano or guitar, which adds a gentle melody rather than overshadowing her voice. Some of her past records, such as “Lucky Guy” exhibit more of her effortless range and louder backings with violins and drumming beats, while still keeping her mellow acoustic sound. Doucet is holding multiple upcoming gigs in restaurants, bars, and hotels around New Jersey and New York to share her passion and new music. Her latest single “Under My Sun,” released this past summer, is about growth and a positive outlook. Regarding her message in the song, Doucet said, “If you want to make your life warm and happy, you can. You are your own sun.” ▪

G a m e By t e s The Free Ones

By Maggie Zhao Feature Editor Despite the exploding cars and tense shootouts, BlacKkKlansman is more than just the latest action-comedy film to hit theaters. BlacKkKlansman explores renown issues of race and identity set in the civil rights movement, many of which still resonate with today’s audience. These themes appear in many of the films of director Spike Lee, an African American director who, for nearly thirty years now, has become known for provocative classics like Do The Right Thing (1989) and Malcom X (1992). Set in the 1970s, BlacKkKlansman follows Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), Colorado’s Springs’ first black police officer. Stallworth, along with his partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) infiltrate Colorado Springs’s local Klu Klux Klan (KKK) chapter. Ron, changing his voice to sound white over the phone, regularly converses with KKK Grand Wizard David Duke (Topher Grace), while Flip, who is a white-passing Jew, goes in person to chapter meetings. The duo uncover plans for a sinister plot against members of the local college’s Black Student Union, and work to stop it. The film is based off a book titled Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the

Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime written by the real Ron Stallworth in 2014. While the plot is overall fairly dynamic, the subplot in which Ron becomes romantically involved with the President of the Black Student Union, Patrice Dumas (Laura Harrier) is entirely unnecessary. Their brief romance is given little screen time in light of more important parts of the story, and only complicates the plot. Not every story needs romance in order to be complete, and Patrice’s character would add just as much to the plot as a friend than as a girlfriend. One of the most striking components of the film was the humor. BlacKkKlansman was produced by Jordan Peele, known both for his work on the 2017 thriller Get Out and on Comedy Central sketches as part of Key and Peele. Those familiar with Peele’s previous work will instantly recognize his touch in the many humorous moments throughout the movie. One technique the film consistently utilizes is dramatic irony. For instance, while the audience can see that Ron can code-switch and is merely altering his voice to sound white over the phone, local Klan chapter president Walter (Ryan Eggold) and Grand Wizard David Duke are completely duped. The most powerful part of the movie is its social commentary. Ron


Stallworth faces an internal conflict, as an African American police officer. Many of the other black characters in the movies believe that all police officers are corrupt, and call the police “pigs.” Ron is also initially treated badly by his police colleagues, but still retains a desire to try and change the system from the inside. Flip similarly faces an issue of identity, as he has Jewish heritage but is not raised strictly Jewish, and is forced to constantly swear against his Jewish heritage when infiltrating the Klan. Additionally, in the backdrop of the movie’s events lie historical movements like protests against the war in Vietnam, and the Black Panthers’ Black Power movement. The film aptly shows how these events contributed to tensions within the Colorado Spring community. The movie finishes by cutting to the modern day and showing footage of the Charlottesville KKK march. The movie’s closing serves to make its overall message loud and impossible to miss, a powerful ending to a moving film. Despite small detractions, Lee delivers on yet another cinematic hit. BlacKkKlansman explores heavy issues of racism in the 1970s, while still managing to add humor. ▪ Rating: A-

studio ghibli’s grave of the fireflies paints a beautifully tragic image of war

By Tylor Wu Staff Writer The Free Ones is an indie first person platforming game released on Steam set in a dystopian universe where a young man named Theo is trying to escape an unnamed prison island and free everyone on the island. Plot: 1/5

The story is forgettable, especially since there is very little set-up and context around the situation the player is in. The dialogue throughout the game also falls into the problem of telling instead of showing., like when Theo meets an escapee named Lana, the player is told, instead of shown, that she is trustworthy. G r a p h i cs: 2/5

Lighting in the game is incredibly well done and the outdoor environments are astonishing. Unfortunately, some of the textures are relatively low-resolution and the people are poorly animated. While non-player characters are talking, the words don’t line up well with the mouth movements and the faces themselves look like they came straight out of Mario 64. Additionally, there isn’t much environment variety, so after a while even the outdoor sections lose their shine. m u s i c: 2/5

The soundtrack is primarily orchestral and establishes a tranquil feeling during platforming sections. It is, however, a bit repetitive, and it feels like the entire game is set to one or two tracks. Fast paced songs also tend to cut in suddenly during high speed sections which can disrupt gameplay and feel quite jarring. ga m ep lay/u sa b i li ty: 3/5

The game revolves around the use of a grappling hook to navigate areas. The controls feel a little slippery, but using the grappling hook to fly around open environments is an incredibly satisfying experience. However, there isn’t enough variety in gameplay, and the coures are too repetitive. ov er a ll: 2/5


By Lucia Li Graphics Editor Studio Ghibli’s 1988 Grave of the Fireflies returned to theaters, digitally remastered and restored, during the 2018 Studio Ghibli Fest that ran from August 11 to 13. Beautifully animated, deeply heart-wrenching, and critically acclaimed worldwide, Grave of the Fireflies is a unique cinematic experience that casts light on a more emotional aspect of war. It is nearing the end of WWII in Japan, and Seita (Adam Gibbs), a teenage boy who longs to be a soldier like his father, and Setsuko (Emily Neeves), his cheerful little sister, are busy preparing supplies for an upcoming air raid. Suddenly, the sirens blare and the pair are forced to flee the village as fire bombs rain down around them. After returning to the village, they find their home destroyed, their mother mortally injured by the fire, and the two are suddenly left to fend for their themselves. With no other choice, they move in with a distant aunt, and begin a journey of childhood growth, grief, and survival. While most might not typically associate animated films with war, tragedy, and serious themes, Grave of the Fireflies does not shy away from these

topics. Blending Studio Ghibli’s signature whimsical, hand-drawn art style with gritty depictions of wartime tragedy and grief creates a stark, shocking contrast that is often not witnessed in war films. Hyper-realistic, historical, and graphic — that is the mold that most war films fall into. Grave of the Fireflies bridges the gap between a beautifully animated fairytale and that modern, industrial aspect of WWII. This might seem a bit odd at first glance, but it sets the stage for a new take on the themes of war in cinema. While in the past, the film was accused of being “anti-war” due to its depictions of human suffering in favor of more glorious portrayals of battle, director Isao Takahata stated that he intended to portray a more devastating, human aspect to war, and to allow everyday audiences to relate to war figures one deemed unreachable by their heroic statuses. Often, people become disconnected to wartime stories, treating them more as tales of the past or a history lesson rather than something that is a part of our legacy as people. Grave of the Fireflies’s portrayal of Seiko and Setsuko is utterly tragic, but deeply touching to the heart. Throughout the film, we are a witness as Seita struggles to protect Setsuko while si-

multaneously grappling with his own grief and desires. Despite having lost nearly everything, Seita and Setsuko still manage to remain lighthearted and happy, and their struggles and pain are punctuated with tender moments of sibling love. Additionally, brilliant storytelling in the form of careful detail, impactful lines, and some remarkable scenes, allows the film to tackle a wide array of ideas. Not only does the story explore the physical difficulty of survival during war, but it also tackles the emotional struggle that comes with such grief. While at some points this might seem a bit overbearing and weighty, in the end, it accurately reflects the complexity of human emotion. Grave of the Fireflies is a classic amongst Studio Ghibli’s cinematic masterpieces, despite its deviation from a typical tale of whimsy and wonder that the studio is so well-known for. The film, while controversial and weighty, connects its audiences to the events of history, depicting smaller, but equally devastating losses that often go unnoticed in the face of war. Studio Ghibli’s characteristically beautiful animations and storytelling paint this story of grief, loss, and joy in a way no other could have done. ▪ Rating: A

By Evangeline Chang Graphics Editor After a career spent holding back from the topics of his sexual experiences and queer identity so far, Troye Sivan takes a bold stance in his latest album. Through Sivan’s skilled lyricism and gentle electronic dance music style, Bloom marks a new chapter in his discography: a darker, more mature side of the growing artist. Since he came out as gay in 2013, Sivan has grown as a mainstream pop songwriter and artist, collaborating with many popular stars in the industry, such as “Wild” featuring Alessia Cara and “Dance To This” from Bloom featuring Ariana Grande. However, Bloom explores topics that differ from Sivan’s older albums, getting into the more intimate and personal parts of a relationship. Although the songs in the album feature synths and soft vocals like the rest of his music, they exhibit stronger rhythms and dive into more explicit themes. The album mainly explores queer sexuality, experimentation, and the concept of love through upbeat electric tunes as well as slower ballads. Sivan even gave his fans a peek into the album’s concept in the music video for “Bloom” released on June 6. The music video features Sivan sporting feminine makeup and bold, gender-defying fashion, exaggerating the stereotypical queer image in media. Sivan’s bold self-expression is also evident in his masterful lyricism in songs like “Plum” and “Postcard,” where he reveals everything from deep perspectives of relationships to his intimate history. Bloom is an album suitable for warm summer nights to satisfy a craving for quality indie music. But when listening beyond the soft melodies, deeper intentions behind each song shine through. Sivan left everything on the table with this album, exposing parts of himself many artists would find too personal to write about. He even shares an experience of his relationship with an older man and the loss of his innocence in “Seventeen,” and it is genuinely impressive that he was able to share an explicit part of his past so beautifully. Sivan really set himself apart from other artists through Bloom, being 100 percent himself the entire way. By expressing his raw identity and often unexplored topics through his music, Sivan took a risk that most other artists in the industry have avoided to maintain a wide audience. However, Sivan clearly reaped the benefits in Bloom, where his genuineness forms a bond between the artist and his listeners that simply can’t be fabricated elsewhere. However, one possible flaw that could be found within the Bloom album is that Sivan did not bring much new to the table musically. A few of the tracks can be considered to be more upbeat than his old songs, but it can be difficult to tell the difference. In the album, Sivan really only showcases two kinds of songs: slower lonelier melodies and electric dance pop. The album could have been even more dynamic if he had brought experimental tunes to match his progressive lyrics. However, it can be said that Sivan stayed in his comfort zone when it came to the musical style of Bloom, but despite this, listeners can truly appreciate how open he was with his lyrics. Overall, the Bloom album showcases Troye Sivan’s deep self-awareness and identity. Although most of the songs relate more to a queer audience, the album is worth a listen for anyone. Through the lyricism and personality of each song, Sivan has created an album that could bring change to the music industry, moving away from thousands of heteronormative love songs and bringing a LGBTQ+ love centered album to mainstream music. ▪ Rating: A-


14 Arts & Entertainment


The Smoke Signal

Friday, September 21, 2018

The James Gunn Phenomenon By Karen Li & Samir Jain Centerspread Editor and Staff Writer

In the latest uproar in the entertainment industry, the Walt Disney company fired Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn on July 20, when five to 10 year-old tweets displaying Gunn’s unjustifiable jokes about pedophilia, 9/11, and sexual assault resurfaced on Twitter. Gunn’s reputation was thus permanently destroyed by a couple of his earlier online comments. Since the incident, Gunn has accepted Disney’s decision with a calm, understanding attitude. According to USA Today, he released a public apology and said, “Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then ... all I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be.” Gunn’s recent behavior and his reaction to his predicament seems to show that he has changed and matured. The tweets are no doubt hurtful and offensive, but Gunn’s situ-

ation reflects a recurring phenomenon in the entertainment world, where old comments resurface and come back to bite celebrities, content creators, and entertainers.

While the comments themselves must not be forgiven, we should judge the people in question based on who they are now and not who they were then. One prime example can be seen in Paula Deen, who was a famous television chef on Food Network until her show was cancelled in 2013 due to the discovery of her use of racial slurs in the past. While the comments themselves must not be forgiven, we should judge the people in question based on who they are now and not who they were then. Perpetrators deserve to have a fair chance at redemption based on their present attitude and actions if they have shown genuine remorse and significant change in perspective. Society has recently begun to support the idea of second chances, which is seen in early release with parole in the criminal justice system or new opportunities for alcoholics fresh out of rehabilitation. But when it comes to

Taking away a form of free expression limits public discussion about social and political opinions.

Paula Deen, who lost her show due to racist remarks.

cases such as Gunn’s, it seems as if all of that is disregarded. People spread forgiveness to friends and family in their daily lives, but they do not apply the same forgiveness to huge media stars who are forced to face a disproportionate level of scrutiny. However, the best of us are flawed, and improvement is

James Gunn (far right), pictured with various members of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 cast.

a process that takes time. Sometimes, people mistakenly view celebrities as superhuman; however, it is important to remember second chances apply to them as well. Allowing media figures to make mistakes and accepting public apologies after evidence of real personality change helps curb our underlying obsession with perfection. While society as a whole has become less occupied with the idea of a utopia, we still openly expect the gold standard in certain aspects of our community, such as the behavior of famous individuals. Celebrity culture dominates many aspects of our lives, influencing the way we view ourselves, how we act, and our future goals. If we continue to place taboos on mistakes in celebrity culture, we are ultimately limiting ourselves. In her article on society’s fascination with refined popularity, Nora Turriago says, “the American public is able to indulge in its disgruntled adoration — a mixture of jealousy and disgust — of the celebrity, hating them for their perceived perfection ... yet all the while wishing we were just like them.” We will continue to be fixated

on becoming something we aren’t. If celebrities are forgiven for their mistakes, we can begin to accept the beauty of our flaws as well.

We will continue to be fixated on becoming something we aren’t. If celebrities are forgiven for their mistakes, we can begin to accept the beauty of our flaws as well. Many celebrities such as Gunn have been ousted for negative comments made years ago, but their posts only represent one stage of an individual’s personality. It is, of course, still important to emphasize evidence of true change of heart, but those posts and comments are not fair representations of the present. People who have reformed their lives and attitudes do not deserve to be thrown under the bus; such culture only adds more pressure to the stereotype surrounding perfection and creates further illusions of the impossibly ideal celebrity profile. ▪ photos by bbc.co.uk, imdb.com.

Crazy Rich Asians: A Landmark Film for Asian-Americans By Shreya Srinivasan Staff Writer

Rating: A-




Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) meeting Nick Young’s (Henry Golding) mother Eleanor Young (Michelle Yeoh) for the first time.


nick y ou

nese-American one. The cinematography is filled with extravagant shots of Nick and his associates’ rich lifestyles juxtaposed with the more simplistic life Rachel leads in New York. The writers cleverly weave elements of this differentiation into key parts of the film, setting important scenes in more commonplace environments that are atypical for Rachel’s companions. The movie’s soundtrack appropriately reflects the characters’ emotions during the high points and low points they encounter throughout the film. Overall, the majestic scenery and music contribute to its captivating storyline. A large point of criticism is the movie’s portrayal of of Singapore. The citystate is known for its institutional racism against the Malays and Indians living there. Despite painting a diverse picture, Chinese citizens are upheld at a much higher standard in the status quo while others are treated with disrespect. A film featuring a young, rich Chinese man and his family is commonplace there, and only contributes to the existing erasure and underrepresentation of Malays and Indians. Had they given actors of relevant ethnic backgrounds accurate and present roles in the story, it would have better tied in to the depiction of Singapore. Ultimately, the movie is a necessary stepping stone for Chinese-Americans in America. It symbolizes a major push away from the stereotypical supporting roles they’ve been forced into for years in cinema. Crazy Rich Asians’ success paves the way for representation we’ve long been waiting for, bolstered by the wonderful cast and spectacular acting – enough so to move viewers to tears. ▪

ung yo

eleano r

Jon M. Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians has racked up a large following since hitting theaters on Aug 15, 2018. An Asian spin on the classic trope of an average girl swept into a world of riches, the movie is the first to feature an all-Asian cast in Hollywood since Wayne Wang’s The Joy Luck Club in 1993. New York University Economics professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) accompanies her long-time boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) to Singapore for his friend Colin’s (Chris Pang) wedding. She discovers Nick is much more well off than she’d assumed, while attending lavish parties on palatial properties and meeting Nick’s inner circle of friends and family. Things quickly take a turn for the worse when she finds herself a social outcast. Unwanted by many in a society where family appearance and status mean everything, Rachel is forced to fight for her place. The movie’s unique portrayal of Asian culture elevates it above traditional dramatic comedies. Before direction and casting began, when the movie was in its beginning stages, Crazy Rich Asians book author Kevin Kwan received offers from directors that intended to whitewash the cast and scripting. However, the basis of the conflict lies in the Chinese ideal of family above the individual, a concept that isn’t reflected often in non-Asian cultures. Nick’s mother, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) values the Young family reputation above all else, to the point where Rachel feels vilified by her and others with similar ideals. For them, the idea of sacrificing that image is preposterous in its entirety, something the actors portray with awe-inspiring sincerity. The Asian-American audience can genuinely relate to the struggles Rachel faces not only as a Chinese woman, but as a Chi-

Played by Constance Wu, Rachel Chu is an Economics professor with a focus in game theory at New York University (NYU). Raised by a single mother, Rachel managed a comfortable life, though nothing near the scale of the Youngs’ extravagance. Having attended Stanford University and later Northwestern University, Rachel is described as motivated and career-driven as well as, in Nick’s opinion, funny and beautiful. Henry Golding’s character Nick Young, boyfriend to Rachel Chu, is also an NYU professor. He keeps his family’s wealth a secret from Rachel for a good chunk of their relationship, content to let her assume he is an average man and be treated as such. Nick finds himself stuck in a dilemma, forced to choose between the family he adores or the woman that he loves. Eleanor Young, played by Michelle Yeoh, is Nick’s mother. Having met and married his father while she was at Oxford University, Eleanor has spent her life since striving to live up to her mother-in-law’s standards. For this reason, she finds Rachel lacking, believing that her American upbringing was too centered in individualism to sacrifice her life for the Youngs as Eleanor did. photos by imdb.com, sfgate.com, vulture.com, wired.com

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Smoke Signal


Sports 15

Jess McCauley Special Education Teacher Jess McCauley has always enjoyed the outdoors and began rock climbing in 1994 and mountaineering in 1999. Since then, he has climbed multiple peaks including Mt. Shasta, Mt. Rainier, various Yosemite trails, and a Himalayan peak near Mt. Everest. Although he now climbs recreationally, he has previously coached numerous students to national championships at his gym, Twisters Rock Climbing Gym. Despite the small size of his team, they were nationally recognized, and he had been considered for coaching the 2020 Olympics. In the future, he plans to go climbing with World History Teacher Toby Remmers, who also enjoys mountaineering and climbing. McCauley has also translated many of his skills as a rock climber into the workplace. “Climbing uses so much brain and body awareness that you really gain a better understanding of a lot of other things through it.”

Donny Hui Digital Imaging Teacher Donny Hui began his volleyball career as a student at Hopkins Junior High School and has continued to play in competitive leagues ever since. After playing semipro volleyball with the team Norcal Premier for three years, Hui now organizes several adult teams, one in which competes in the annual Industrial Volleyball League and the USA Volleyball Open National Championships. As an Asian-American athlete, he describes facing much adversity growing up when he expressed his desire to play at the collegiate level. Today, Hui continues to work to inspire and stand up for Asian-American athletes. Hui also runs a YouTube channel, called Elevate Yourself, which shares informational volleyball tips and videos of his team competing. Much of Hui’s drive to play volleyball comes from the reward of seeing his hard work pay off in spite of difficulty. “[Playing volleyball] has taught me that if you put enough work into something you can be good at it — regardless of what advantages or what talent you may be born with or not born with,” he said.

By Lucia Li, Christine Dong & Katherine Guo Graphics Editor and Staff Writers

Introduction Often, in such an academically-focused environment as school, it is vital to spend time playing a sport or participating in some other kind of athletic activity. Staff members are not exempt from this. The Smoke Signal sent out a Google Form to all staff members open from August 29 to September 2 and selected a few teachers who participate in athletic activities to spotlight.

Kim Mathis

John Boegman English Teacher John Boegman is very active, enjoying many athletic activities like swimming, cycling, and hiking. He began swimming competitively as a young child and continued competing until his late twenties. He now swims recreationally. He has also hiked and biked recreationally since exiting college. In the past, he swam with Math Teacher Jan Frydendahl at UC Santa Barbara. The two still have a strong bond today, and have gone hiking together as well. Boegman also enjoys biking with Science Teacher Charlie Brucker, and they are currently planning a bike ride in Monterey for next month. His many years as a competitive swimmer have shaped him into a dedicated and goal-oriented person and taught him essential lessons about hard work, time, and effort. Although he is no longer a competitive athlete, he still loves sports and exercise in general. “There is an intrinsic value in the exercise itself and, of course, it’s good for the body. It keeps you healthy,” Boegman said.

Math Teacher Kim Mathis enjoys playing soccer in her free time. She has played the sport in the Old Sunday Stumblers Soccer League as a member of the Livermore Grizzlies team, participating in weekly games for the past 15 years. In addition to playing, Mathis also referees games and coaches her son’s U12 for Fusion Soccer Club, the Bandits. She first experienced the sport as a child when she played from ages seven to nine. After many years without soccer, she began playing again as an adult. “It’s a nice release of energy and exercise and a getaway for 90 minutes every week to have fun,” Mathis said. “I like to tell my students it’s important that they have something like that because it’s a good break. You don’t always have to be working.”

Jan Frydendahl Math Teacher Jan Frydendahl swam competitively for 17 years and now recreationally for 20. He discovered his passion for swimming in elementary school when his parents installed a pool in his backyard. Since then, he swam competitively as a member of UC Santa Barbara’s swim team, served as an assistant coach for Fresno State University, and coached for MSJ for 18 years. Although he no longer competes or coaches, he still tries to exercise every day, often incorporating other activities such as hiking, surfing, and weightlifting into his exercise regimes. Frydendahl also exercises with his fellow faculty, such as swimming with English Teacher John Boegman or surfing with former Social Studies Teacher Jamie Richards. For him, his continuous involvement in sports has played an integral role in his life. “An exercise program keeps structure to your life. I [actually] feel very down and irritable if I don’t exercise every day. It’s a benefit, because it makes you more productive,” he said.

photos by graphics editor lucia li, staff writers christine dong & katherine guo, courtesy john boegman, jan frydendahl, donny hui, kim mathis & jess mccauley

16 Advertisement


The Smoke Signal

Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Smoke Signal

This year, Cheer consists of almost an entirely new team made up of mostly underclassmen. As many of the girls are cheering for the first time this season, Cheer Coach Tiffany Stelle has been focusing on building basic skills before practicing stunts. “Our main goal is to learn all of our cheers so that when we get out there, we’re smooth with how we can support our team. And also just building positive spirit around school, putting posters up for games, and focusing less on the higher level skills," Stelle said.

Gymnastics had a rough start to their season. Having not been able to find a coach, they are now being coached by Irvington High School gymnastics coach Kristen Buehler. With many new additions to the team, gymnastics will be able to field a Junior Varsity team as well this year. Captain Senior Samantha Wang said, “Our goal is to have everyone place in at least one event for every meet and try to place higher in MVAL Championships this year than we did last year; hopefully we can snag second place.”

Boys Water Polo lost most of their starting lineup last year, but their new coach, MSJ Alumnus Ryan Tang, isn’t worried. There will be no major changes to the team’s offensive strategy; the team has also been extensively conditioning to build up their defensive strength. However, their main goal is to have fun. Tang said, “The biggest thing is spreading the love and joy of water polo. We have a really talented squad and I want to do right by them because I know how hard they have worked.”

Sports 17


Cross Country is looking at a relatively strong team, welcoming many new runners after losing some key contributors after graduation. The team has also started weekend running practices to serve as a supportive bonding experience and increase training opportunities. Coach Edward Njoo said, “I’d like to see some runners make States [California Interscholastic Federation State Cross Country Championships] this year; we were really close last year. If not, that’s fine too, but that is the goal.”

Girls Golf lost many of its upperclassmen varsity players from last year, so the new team is more inexperienced. However, Girls Golf Coach Tai Chung hopes to overcome the challenge of a young team and balance his efforts across all levels of players. This year, Chung has also increased practices up to one hour and 45 minutes to compensate for any possible cancellations due to weather obstacles. He hopes to cut six strokes off each player’s score and finish second place for MVALs this season.

Fall Sports Preview

Girls Tennis has significantly increased in size this year, with a much younger team comprised of mainly underclassmen. This year Girls Tennis Coach Michael Jan hopes to keep the team’s title of undefeated at MVAL and to get past the first two or three rounds of NCS. “We didn’t go as far as we wanted to in NCS last year. We are planning to incorporate more breaks this year and hopefully a more balanced way of practicing to help us be more fresh on the court,” Jan said.

Girls Golf | Girls Tennis | Girls Volleyball | Girls Water Polo | Boys Water Polo | Gymnastics | Cheer | Cross Country

By Kikue Higuchi, Karen Li, & Riya Chopra Feature Editor, Centerspread Editor, and Staff Writer

Girls Volleyball made significant changes to its teams this year, choosing not to field a freshman team for the upcoming season to increase the quality of the remaining two teams. The main goal is to learn how to compensate for the team’s lack of experience in comparison to other schools competing in NCS, which Girls Volleyball has participated in every year since 2014. “There’s three new concepts we’re trying to reinforce this year,“ said Girls Volleyball Coach Donny Hui. “Max belief, max intensity, and max effort.”

Despite the loss of many seniors last year, Girls Water Polo Coach Allison Lucarelli is optimistic about the team’s performance this year. According to her, the team has been growing in size and experience over the years due to a new club water polo club in the area. The club team attracts many new players, leading to an increased number of students who have experience with water polo and are interested in joining the MSJ team. Lucarelli said, “Our main goal this season is to build a more aggressive offense. I’m focusing a lot on outside shooting and driving.”

graphics courtesy b.kisscc0.com, commons.wikimedia.org, en.m.wikipedia.org, imagecloud.us, kisspng.com, pixabay.com & svgsilh.com







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The line between passion and perfection

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By Sahana Sridhar Staff Writer It’s no secret that competitiveness and ambition are critical for athletic success, but when this mentality intensifies as athletes reach higher levels, the thirst for perfection can begin to replace the passion that once drove them. When this is the case, athletes should remind themselves of what motivated them to begin playing in the first place. According to a 2017 Psychological Bulletin mental health study on the pressures of perfectionism, perfectionism entails standards beyond reach and reason and becoming overly defensive when criticized. Perfectionism is more than an unstable, externally driven form of motivation. For some athletes, it is the root cause of unhealthy thinking. It can result in an unwillingness to participate in sports if standards aren’t met; failure to recognize the demoralization that often accompanies unhealthy expectations could potentially lead to a loss of engagement with sports. In the sports world, the need for improvement isn’t always driven by passion. In attempts to set personal records, conform to parental pressure, or create a well-rounded college application, student athletes tend to forget that their drive should come from a place of enthusiasm. Crossing the very fragile boundary between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation proves to be damaging; a need to achieve perfection without internal motivation results in an large amount of stress, which can be damaging to physical health, according to the University of Texas at Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center. The same counseling source states that sports serve as a form of catharsis to relieve stress and anxiety. Us-

ing perfectionism as the standard for performance contradicts that ideal, defeating one of sports’ primary benefits in the first place.

Perfectionism is more than an unstable, externally driven form of motivation. For some athletes, it is the root cause of unhealthy thinking. Successful athletes like USA Beach Volleyball Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings had to learn through years of experience to rely on their own drive and motivation to survive in the Olympic field. “I want to be better than I was an hour ago. I want to be better than I was yesterday, and just keep going in an upward and forward trajectory. Perfection isn’t even in the cards,” Jennings said in an interview with Parade Magazine. In the competitive world of sports, it is important to set goals to improve while keeping the reality of progress in mind: that it is is gradual, and comes with setbacks. It isn’t the need for achievement where the issue lies. The problem is where the need for achievement in sports comes from: pressure from parents and peers, constant comparisons between teammates, a nagging desire to prove oneself. This competitive mindset, which is usually encouraged in sports, becomes fueled from the desire to surpass their peers rather than an internal drive to improve. In order to prevent passion from turning into an impossible quest for perfection, athletes must begin to recognize and modify their behavior when their motivation has developed from self-driven to externally driven. ▪


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Girls Tennis vs. Kennedy @ Kennedy

Cross Country vs. Moreau @MSJ

Girls Volleyball vs. Newark @Newark

Girls Tennis vs. American @MSJ

Girls Golf + Moreau vs. Irvington @Skywest

Gymnastics vs. Logan @Washington



Girls Tennis vs. Girls Golf + Logan Moreau vs. @Logan Irvington @Spring Valley Girls Volleyball vs. Moreau Gymnastics vs. @Moreau Washington @Washington

10/4 Cross Country v.s Kennedy @Kennedy Girls Volleyball vs. Kennedy @MSJ Girls Tennis vs. Washington @MSJ

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TheSmokeSi gnal Fr i day ,Sept ember21,2018