The Urban legend
volume 17, Issue 2
THE DAY THE POLLS FAILED by Jack Cogen staff writer
In the wake of Donald Trump’s narrow presidential victory over Hillary Clinton, many on all sides of the political spectrum have been asking one question: “How?” How did Donald Trump win, despite nearly every poll projecting a Clinton
win? Trump’s early assertion that the polls were rigged against him seems to have gained credibility, but there is still no hard evidence that the accuracy, or lack thereof, of polls in the 2016 election was intentional in the slightest.
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Election cycle exposes POLITICAL CYNiCISM AT URBAN by Kian Nassre staff writer
“I'm so infuriated and disgusted at all the politicians who are not in it for the community they swore an oath to but for their greedy selves,” tweeted by Miss Peregrine @Dafifthsistah on Feb. 8th, 2016. This is one of many tweets from this election cycle exhibiting po-
litical cynicism: the belief that politicians are motivated almost entirely by self-interest. Several news outlets have theorized that a growing amount of political cynicism has translated into reduced voter turnout and allowed Don- coNtinued ald Trump to win the election.
Local Prop to lower voting age fails by small margin by Katie Jonchkheer staff writer
Voting is an integral part of American society. In the wake of the 2016 election season, many have been analyzing, studying and dissecting its complexities. Although the presidential election may be taking up media coverage at the moment, it is extremely important to pay attention to the
local ballot measures that will affect us most immediately. The proposition that is perhaps most relevant to the Urban student is Prop F, which was designed to expand “voting rights to 16 and 17 year old citizens on local and school board elections,” according to the campaign’s website, vote16sf.org.
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The end of the 2016 election cycle has revealed an ever deeper politcal divide than once thought. Politics are as polarized as ever, and Americans everywhere are struggling to come together after a long and highly contested presidential election.
Snapshots of new faculty and staff of the Urban School of San Francisco Photos by Imogen Budetti
by Vivien Manning staff writer
The Urban School hired 16 new staff members for the 2016-17 school year and these are highlights from interviews with several new staff members. More interviews can be found on the Urban Legend website.
Erika Lygren Digital Communications Associate
What did you do before you came to Urban? I went to Bennington College. What is your favorite part of Urban? The work that students are doing by way of equity and inclusion. I love the Month of Understanding. What would you be doing if you weren't at Urban? Writing applications for film grad school in Canada and fretting. Favorite food: French fries and tomato soup Favorite television show: I’m very excited for upcoming SNL season, especially Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. In one word, describe your high school experience: Enough Least favorite subject: Math Favorite subject: Theater. I acted in a lot of productions.
Christopher Williams Admissions Associate and Outreach Coordinator
What did you do before you came to Urban? I was a full time substitute at MetWest, a public school in Oakland, and worked at Aim High for the past four summers. What is your favorite part of Urban? I like the way people interact with each other, it is a very respectful, comfortable environment. It is a great team, every department is very cohesive and effective and I love the personalities that Lauren and Bobby bring. What would you be doing if you weren't at Urban? Subbing at high school and coaching basketball. Favorite food: I am a New Yorker, so I need good pizza. Favorite television show: "Game of Thrones," "Bob’s Burgers," or "Seinfeld" www.urbanlegendnews.org
Favorite movie: “Space Jam” or “Breakfast Club” Favorite book: “This is How You Lose Her” by Junot Diaz In one word, describe your high school experience: Hybrid. I went to an all boys Catholic high school, I was a super nerd with broken glasses and also a basketball player. I was a nerd-jock combination. Least favorite subject: Religion. It felt irrelevant. Favorite subject: Any science class because the teachers were quirky.
was vast. We had a couple of rich alumni who were only interested in sports, so we had a multi-million football stadium, but at the same time, the school’s academics were so poorly funded that there weren’t enough copies of “The Great Gatsby” for all the students, many of which couldn’t afford to buy their own books.
Brooke Steele Choral Director
Anthony So English teaching fellow and co-advisor of Gender Sexuality Alliance
What did you do before you came to Urban? I taught at Next Generation Scholars, a non profit in San Rafael that works with low income students, providing a college preparatory program, social services, leadership training, and psychological services. Why did you choose to teach at Urban? The English fellowship position was the best fit for me- I wanted a fellowship position because I still wanted to prepare for grad school. I wanted to teach at a school that would allow me to focus more on depth of understanding rather than test scores. What is your favorite part of Urban? I like the striving for inclusion. Urban is not completely inclusive, but it is at the forefront of peoples’ minds. What would you be doing if you weren't at Urban? Writing. I am an aspiring writer as much as an aspiring teacher, so I would be doing editorial work. I write fiction that grapples with paradoxes of being Cambodian American, so funny stories about trauma. Favorite food: Cambodian version of pho Favorite book: “Slaughterhouse 5” by Kurt Vonnegut. It was the first book I understood and loved. The way Vonnegut handles trauma from WWII resonates with my own experiences hearing about the war and regime my family experienced in Cambodia. In one word, describe your high school experience: Bad. I went to an underperforming school in Stockton, California, where the socioeconomic gap between the rich students and the poor students
What did you do before you came to Urban? I was an AP music teacher in Pleasanton. What is your favorite part of Urban? The people. The kids, staff, and faculty are great. What would you be doing if you weren’t at Urban? Reading, playing fetch with my French bulldog Dobby, or baking. Least favorite subject: Math Favorite subject: Music Favorite food: Ramen Favorite television show: "Game of Thrones" Favorite movie: "Star Wars" or "Indiana Jones" Favorite book: "Harry Potter" Describe your high school experience in one word: Fascinating. No one really knows what’s going on.
Christa Bon Sims Assistant Director of Stewardship and Special Events
What did you do before you came to Urban? I was in the hotel industry managing sales and marketing for boutique hotel brands. I wore many hats in the past eight years – everything from coordinating national sales meetings and special events to developing campaigns and marketing initiatives. What is your favorite part of Urban? The students and faculty. I love the conversations around important issues like diversity and inclusivity. I felt welcomed here from my very first day.
Why Urban? I had heard so many wonderful things about the work environment and students at Urban. I loved my time working at a charter high school in Arizona years ago and the opportunity to come back to an academic environment and manage special events is the best of both worlds for me. Favorite tv show: I do watch "Anderson Cooper 360" on CNN and secretly watch Bravo network shows - “Odd Mom Out” is the best. Favorite book: “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “Just Kids” by Patti Smith and “Bossypants” by Tina Fey. Favorite movie: All-time fave would be “The Wizard of Oz.” Describe your high school experience in one word: Momentous. I attended a parochial college prep school. At first, I was very nervous to go to a school outside of my neighborhood with a reputation of being tough academically. It definitely challenged me to think bigger. I’m forever grateful to my parents for all of the sacrifices they made to send me there.
Stacie Muñoz Director of Educational Technology
What did you do before you came to Urban? I was a digital learning specialist at boarding school in Baltimore. Why Urban? I grew up in LA and wanted to return to California. What would you be doing if you weren’t at Urban? I studied film in LA, but I have also always been interested in midwifery. What is your favorite part of Urban? The relationships between students and teachers and the mix of casual and academic attitudes. Favorite food: Mexican and Korean food Favorite book: "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Favorite movie: “It’s a Wonderful Life” Favorite tv show: “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Gilmore Girls”, HGTV, “This is Us”, “Parenthood” Favorite subject: Newspaper and art classes in film and design Least favorite: Math Describe your high school experience in one word: Manageable please recycle
From computer science to global literature: how Urban’s electives come to be Sophia Vahanvaty staff writer
From Modern Middle East to Infectious Disease, Urban’s curriculum boasts a strong course catalogue of diverse elective offerings. Each course comes to fruition with a process much more complex and interesting than first apparent. The process starts in different ways depending on the department and other factors. Sometimes the idea for a new course is proposed in departmental conversations “when a teacher has a real passion about a topic and they want to pursue it [and] sometimes it’s perceived there is something missing from a departmental curriculum, like there’s a need for more non-UAS classes in a department,” said Academic Dean, Geoff Ruth. Discrete Math, a proposed elective for the 2016-17 school year, was born out of a need for non-UAS math classes. “It’s difficult to make non-UAS math classes because at some point math is abstract and therefore more difficult. So we had to think through what it is that we could take from the different disciplines of math and keep it interesting but not make it too difficult [because we don’t want it to be] only for the people that really like math,” said Math Department Chair, Parisa Safa. In contrast, the English department recently added Global Literature: Nigeria for the 2016-17 school year after “looking at the bigger elective offerings…and we felt like we had a ton of American literature offerings and they were really popular but we had some gaps in offering global literature,” said English Department Chair, Courtney Rein. The English course Sci-Fi and Dystopian Literature, taught for the first time in the 2015-16 school year, came after “we noticed there were huge gender discrepancies in who was signing up for electives...so we were wondering how could we diversify our offerings so that there would be more classes that boy students would be interested in,” said Rein. However, Rein said,
“what we found out with sci-fi is that it’s equally interesting to all genders.” Across the board, student interest is also a driving factor in the creation of courses. At times, departments reach out for student input, such as the survey of the student body done by the English Department two years ago that indicated a strong desire for sci-fi. In other instances, faculty have picked up on the interests of Urban students outside the classroom, as exemplified by the presence of a Computer Science club that showed interest in a continuation of the initial CS 1 class. After the idea is initiated and the rough idea is approved by Urban’s Curriculum Committee, which regularly
Across the board, student interest is also a driving factor in the creation of courses. reviews Urban’s curriculum, a lot of work goes into developing the curriculum. For example, teachers must come up with assignments, decide the readings, and making sure that the class meets UC requirements. When it comes to choosing readings, the English Department first looks back on the skills and understandings they wanted students to develop, which they brainstorm at the beginning of the process, and use those to inform book decisions. Additionally, “for Nigerian Lit, Amanda and I are teaching it and both of us love the
Urban Students in a Global Literature class. Photo by Olivia Meehan, December 5th, 2016
Nigerian authors we’ve read but for neither of us is this our area of expertise so we did a lot of research and a lot of reading this summer. We’ve also reached out to a Nigerian American playwright and asked, ‘if you were designing a Nigerian Lit course, what would you want to teach?’,” said Rein. When deciding the curriculum for Computer Science II, “the thing that was the most useful was this course that was being taught at Berkeley, their intro [to CS] for non-majors,” said Safa. Additionally, her undergraduate degree in Computer Science meant she knew what crucial parts of Computer Science are important to introduce. After the curriculum has been developed, the departmental presentations in the spring before class signups are key to attracting students to the class, according to Academic Dean, Geoff Ruth. “Teachers in particular classes will talk about the [new] class. For example, in a Math 3 class, teachers will often talk about math electives so students know what it is that they
can take,” said Ruth. When new electives are not sufficiently publicized, there is a risk that too few students will sign up for the class, in which case the course cannot run, as was the case with Discrete Math. “It’s an incredibly cool topic, but I think students didn’t sign up for it because they didn’t know what discrete math was,” Ruth said. The process continues during and after the first run of the class as well. In Sci-Fi and Dystopia, after the first term of the class readings were switched from several novels to a couple novels and a diverse array of short stories, which seemed to work better with the class, according to Rein. Though the process is laborious, electives “are what’s awesome about Urban,” said Rex Hirschorn, Urban student and student representative on Curriculum Committee. “They focus on some amazing things and give students the opportunity to take classes that they are actually interested in...It’s key to what Urban stands for in terms of passionate learning.”
Research highlights further health benefits of transplanting human feces by Lola McAllister staff writer
When one’s body creates harmful antibodies that attack its own tissue, or in other words experiences an autoimmune disease, the cure might be a loved one’s, or a stranger’s, poop. Data collected by the Fecal Transplant Foundation revealed a 90 percent success rate for the treatment of a common and sometimes fatal intestinal bacteria called Clostridium difficile, or C. diff., by fecal transplant. The procedure is simple: a healthy donor’s stool is transferred non surgically to a person lacking healthy bacteria, restoring a prosperous and diverse population of microorganisms in the gut. According to a study released by the Center for Disease Control in 2015, 6 percent of the year’s approximately 500,000 U.S. cases of the infection were fatal. Despite its effectiveness against C. diff. infection, fewer than 500 patients in the United States have replease recycle
ceived fecal transplants. In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration classified the transplant as an experimental procedure, meaning it can only
"Whether we like it or not, ‘big pharma’ has a big influence on the FDA and other regulators" -Dr. Jayne Danska
be performed on a trial basis, and it is not covered by medical insurance. “There aren’t a lot of big drug companies behind this- at least not yet,
and the reason is that you can’t patent bacteria from somebody’s poop. You can’t call it your property as a company, and that’s how pharma works,” said Dr. Jayne Danska, Chair in Molecular Medicine, Genetics, and Genome Biology at the University of Toronto. Danska said, “Whether we like it or not, ‘big pharma’ has a big influence on the FDA and other regulators.” Dr. Danska sees an urgent need for a change in the mindset about microbes that live in and on our bodies and contribute to our health, referring to what she calls the “ick factor”. “In our grandparents generation people were terrified of microbes because some of them have caused fatal infections,” Danska said. However the majority of microbes are not harmful. In reality, the relationship between a person and their microbes is a mutually beneficial one: Danska said that “optimizing our microbes’
health optimizes our health.” Both in response to this sensitive “ick factor” and in exploration of potential uses of healthy microbes, there have been efforts to grow more refined combinations of fecal-sourced bacteria in labs. “It has been shown with very good experimental evidence that being obese is associated with having a disturbed composition of gut microbes,” Danska said. This recent discovery, she said, “could be part of the cause of obesity.” The fecal transplant, or a transplant of a more selective group of bacteria, “could be a part of the cure for obesity, by modifying those organisms to try to come up with a composition that provides for a healthier metabolism.” The bacterial communities in our gut have broad impact on our bodies, so deliberate alteration of this community has the potential to address and possibly cure many diseases. www.urbanlegendnews.org
Features December 2016
The leaning tower of San Francisco by Ian Shapiro staff writer
Robert Springer (‘18) taps his electronic key fob against a scanner as he comes home after a long day of school. His key opens two big glass doors that lead to the luxurious and artfully decorated lobby of a 58 story glass high rise. He taps his key another time in the express elevator; He presses “34” and waits 30 seconds for it to bring him to his condo. He opens his front door, picks up a golf ball, and places it on the floor. What happens next shows what every San Franciscan already knows: the Millennium Tower is sinking. Located at 301 Mission Street in San Francisco’s financial district, Millennium Tower used to be the neighborhood’s highest and most exclusive residential tower. At one point, Millennium was the residence of sports icons like Joe Montana and Hunter Pence,
Its construction was a milestone in the redevelopment of the once arid South of Market neighborhood. and billionaires like the late venture capitalist Tom Perkins. Its construction was a milestone in the redevelopment of the once arid South of Market neighborhood and has arguably spurred the dozens of high-end construction proj-
ects in the vicinity. Today the building’s reputation is in shambles, condos are no longer selling, and its once impressive height is now eclipsed by two taller highrises just next door. It all started on August 1st, 2016, when the San Francisco Chronicle broke a story revealing that the 58 story highrise had sunk sixteen inches since its opening in 2009. This is significant when comparing Millennium to the much taller Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which have only sunk ½ inch since their completion, according to Stanford professor Greg Deierlein. In fact, the sinking is so significant that the tilting was noticeable from a European satellite orbiting high above the atmosphere. The satellite found that the tower was sinking faster than once thought, and showed that Millennium has sunk as much as two inches per year. The news of the sinking has angered residents and investors alike, who have sued multiple groups and agencies for the faulty design. The Homeowner’s Association (HOA) first sued the developer, New York-based Millennium Partners, and then the Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA), the publicprivate partnership group tasked with developing and building the multi-billion dollar transit center and the 1080 foot Salesforce Tower right next door on Mission street. Much is at stake for the developer and the Homeowners Association. No unit has sold since the news first broke in the Chronicle. Additionally, many
homeowners are worried that their multi-million dollar investments are at risk of depreciating. The witch hunt for those culpable has extended past the confines of the tall, glass-clad building, and has sparked conversation and debate in City Hall, around San Francisco, and around the country. According to Dennis Herrera, the city attorney who recently sued the tower’s
Many homeowners are worried that their multi-million dollar investments are at risk of depreciating. developer, Millennium Partners “knew for years” about the sinking. In the past months, it has been well chronicled that people around San Francisco have known since as early as 2010, only a year after the building’s completion. Herrera, as well as other City Hall progressives like Aaron Peskin, have slammed the tower for continually selling units and deceiving homebuyers, despite their knowledge of significant sinking. However, Millennium Partners is selling a different story in order to protect their reputation as a quality luxury developer. They claim that the construction of the nearby underground train station has compromised the landfill
foundation of the Millennium. However, if the developer knew they were building an especially heavy building in a seismic zone, why would they not anchor it in bedrock? Accusers such as Herrera point to Millennium partners cutting a significant cost. During construction, the contractors anchored the building in a concrete slab located eighty feet below in landfill. For comparison, the building ascending nearby at 181 Fremont street was anchored 260 feet down in solid bedrock. Structural engineers are all too familiar with the consequences of anchoring a building in landfill, as was exhibited in the Marina District during the 1989 earthquake and fire. In the end, solutions to the sinking are neither simple nor cheap. Engineers hired by the developer have proposed either anchoring the building with new concrete pilings or building an equally large building next door to counteract the sinking. Both are extremely costly and the latter is practically impossible as the surrounding land is either developed or is under construction. In spite of the sinking, life goes on for residents, one of whom is an Urban student. Although multiple Urban alumni have lived at the Millennium, only Robert Springer (‘18) currently holds the address of 301 Mission St. “The value of the building has gone down,” said Springer, who is not bothered by the news. “There’s annoying construction,” he said, but “the effect has been very minimal” for the residents.
Urban students' effect on Haight Street commerce by Tikloh Bruno-Basaing staff writer
With off campus lunches and breaks during school hours, the businesses in the Haight have a big impact on the lives of Urban students. However, what is less obvious is the impact that Urban students and faculty have on these businesses. Many students from the Urban School are walking around the neighborhood everyday with money in their pockets, creating opportunities for the businesses in the neighborhood to establish their customer base. Amel is the co-owner of Amal’s Deli, the family run market most commonly referred to as “the Corner Store” by Urban School students. Every day of the week, Amal’s Deli receives about 20 to 30 kids from the Urban School, most of them
buying a snack or a drink. Each small purchase adds up significantly, and for a small business like Amal’s Deli, it makes a meaningful impact. “You guys help keep us going,” said Amel. Amel feels that the deli and the Urban community have a much greater connection than just a store and its customers. “I talk to a lot of kids of your school,” she said, “I always keep an eye on you guys, as a mother and not as a business women because I do care about you.” Over the twenty two years that Amal’s Deli has been in the neighborhood, Amel and her two brothers have not only gotten used to Urban School student’s frequent pit stops, but have grown
quite fond of them in a very familiar way. The impact is not a one sided thing, Amel says, “[students] who graduated and went to college are still visiting us.” Feelings like these represent how big of an effect seemingly meaningless routines can have on relationships. Alex, owner of Hippie Thai Street Food, also recognizes the Urban community’s impact on his restaurant. For a popular restaurant like Hippie Thai Street Food, there is abundant business coming from tourists, specifically during the tourist season in the summer. When Urban starts back at school again, Alex says, “[business] picks up for us and a sizable amount
of our income for lunch at least comes from the school, so it's a vital part of our income and our customer base.” Although the Urban School doesn’t make up the majority of their profit, students still play an important role for their business during the school year. According to Mia ‘19, “school would suck a lot more” without the shops that we have access to, and they depend on us as well. Every day as Urban School students walk onto Haight street in search of morning coffees, lunches, or afternoon snacks, the impact of their purchases has a great effect on the small shops that create the vibrant Haight neighborhood.
Photo of Jammin on Haight storefront by Olivia Meehan www.urbanlegendnews.org
Features December 2016
This is your brain on gut bacteria by Alyssa Romo staff writer
Have you ever felt your stomach drop before a big presentation? Does seeing a picture of your favorite food make your stomach growl? Does meeting eyes with that special someone in the hallway give you butterflies? Chances are, just by living your normal life, you are already familiar with the relationship between your gut and the brain. The gut-brain link has been closely studied for many years. Deemed the “gut-brain axis” by experts in the field of gastroenterology, it is widely known that the two systems communicate bidirectionally via the central nervous system and enteric nervous system, consisting of the brain and spinal cord, and a mesh-like system of neurons that governs the gastrointestinal system, respectively. The scientific community is now exploring the complexities of this relationship, more specifically the “microbiome-gut-brain axis”, or how
Illustration by Blake Case
the bacteria in your gut controls your mind. The area of integrative psychiatry, which combines traditional psychiatric models such as therapy and prescriptions with nutrition, metabolics, and hormones, has already been working to treat the psychiatric implications of gut bacteria imbalance. “We have close to 4 pounds of bacteria in our gut, which is pretty much the size of the human brain, and the gut produces this bacteria which helps us absorb nutrients, it makes nutrients for us, and it protects the gut wall,” said Dr. James Greenblatt, a pioneer in the field of integrative psychiatry and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine and Dartmouth College Geisel School of Medicine. Environmental conditions that disrupt this internal system, most commonly long-term use of antibiotics, in turn affects the rest of the body. Sometimes antibiotic use can affect gut bacteria “to a point where you have an overgrowth of yeast… and sometimes the yeast can produce byproducts that can affect behavior,” Greenblatt said. These effects include anything from cravings to mood changes to a variety of psychiatric disorders. “It’s not just one [psychiatric disorder],” continued Greenblatt. “We’ve seen it across depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, so it’s pretty safe to say that we’ve seen implications across all psychiatric disorders,” including learning disabilities such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). An article by ABC News described a case in in which a teenager with severe OCD reached out to Dr. Greenblatt for
Later starts address teen sleep concerns by Lily Daniel staff writer
Teenagers need sleep. With copious technology and vast amounts of work, many teenagers are barely able to make it through their long days without being well rested. According to a recent survey, almost 60 percent of Urban students said they needed 8-10 hours of sleep a night to function well the next day. However, on average, students were going to bed between 10 and 11 and waking up between 6-7. 79.3 percent of respondents indicated the want for more sleep and a late start at Urban. How can Urban allow for more rested students? As countless studies are being released focused on the over-stimulation of teenage brains, little is being done to respond to this epidemic. Not only do teenagers get little sleep, but America rounds out to be one of the lowest countries in terms of how long its citizens sleep per night. According to pediatrician and New York Times writer Aaron E. Carroll, Americans average 6.5 hours of sleep per night; that’s 3.5 hours less than what teens should be getting. According to a recent New York Times article, the epidemic of sleep deprivation in the United States is so drastic that, “By some estimates, Americans sleep two to three hours fewer today than they did before the Industrial Revolution.” Many doctors have recommended that teens get an average of please recycle
8-10 hours of sleep a night, though a recent study found that only 15 percent of teens were sleeping more than eight and a half hours a night. In early 2014, the American Associa-
treatment. “Mary's parents had been running around for many years and she'd had a poor response to medicine," Greenblatt said in the article, "When a patient doesn't respond, that's a red flag." According to the article, Greenblatt was able to “dramatically” reduce her symptoms by using high-powered probiotics to boost good bacteria followed by antibiotics. Though this is mostly a new area of study among the scientific community, research to back up this type of treatment is incredibly compelling. A study conducted by McMaster University gastroenterologist Premysl Bercik, MD found that giving antibiotics to BALB/c mice, a type of mouse that is usually shy and timid, dramatically changed the composition of their gut bacteria and consequently changed their behavior to bold and outgoing. As soon as the antibiotic regimen was stopped, the mice returned to their cautious selves and their brain chemistry returned to its normal composition. The American Psychological Association (APA) reported that Bercik also found that infecting mice with a parasite that induced chronic, low grade inflammation of the gut suppressed levels of brainderived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurochemical that promotes neural connections and an important factor in memory and mood in the hippocampus, and caused the mice to behave more anxiously. According to the APA, “When mice were then treated to a 10day course of the beneficial microbe Bifidobacterium longum, their behavior normalized, as did their BDNF levels.” These types of studies indicate a clear connection between mental health and
have total authority, many Bay Area high schools have recently taken initiative in response to new sleep studies. San Francisco schools like University High School, Sacred Heart, Lick-Wilm-
Graphic of late starts in selected San Francisco schools, by Lily Daniel. Grey box indicates the start/end time varies.
tion of Pediatrics released a statement recommending pushing school start times to 8:30 or later. While the American Association of Pediatrics might not
erding and Lowell High School have pushed their start times back on either certain days of the week, or everyday. 2016 marks the 50th year of Urban, but
Illustration by Blake Case
gut bacteria, so why can’t you reach out to your doctor for a prescription probiotic to treat your depression or OCD? Despite heightened interest in this area of study, there is very little research confirming a clear link between gut bacteria and mental health in humans. “Before probiotics could become an established part of treatment, we would need to learn more about how they might affect the brain, how the effects of different probiotics might differ, how long the effects would last, what dosages would be effective, and whether there would be any risks to such treatment,” said Charlotte Armstrong, a representative of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Organizations like the NIMH are already supporting research to investigate the relationship between gut bacteria, the brain and mental health in humans to provide information to guide the development of treatments using probiotics. “The punchline is that we have lots of research,” says Dr. Greenblatt, “and what needs to get better fined tuned is the clinical implications.”
fifty years later, Urban still maintains its 8:10 start time. For many Urban teachers and administrators, it really comes down to “how we can adjust the schedule and still meet classroom needs, co-curricular needs and sports needs,” said Charlotte Worsley, Assistant Dean of Student Life. According to a recent interview with head of school Mark Salkind, Urban students, administrators and teachers alike are generally in agreement that even a slightly later start time would benefit everyone, allowing students to be more awake and ready to learn. So what would it take for Urban to start at 8:30 or even 9:00? Shorter lunches? Shorter E periods? No long breaks? Less time to carve rock sculptures or study the limits of infinity? Urban’s plans for a new schedule “got serious last year,” says senior and Curriculum Committee member Rex Hirschhorn (‘17). “Teachers at Urban notice that students come into class exhausted in the mornings and have read and agreed with studies about the importance of teenage sleep,” further motivating them to agree to the later start. The scheduling committee has struggled to find the right balance “because if you make the start time too late then kids will just start staying up later,” said Hirschhorn. For now Urban still starts at 8:10, but our future seems well-rested. Sweet dreams, Blues! www.urbanlegendnews.org
Graphic by Kian Nassre.
s e n t out a survey to the Urban community on the Monday after the first Presidential Debate. One question, “Broadly speaking, who won the debate last night?”, received 145 responses, all stating that Donald Trump won. All 145 responses were sent in under 1 minute, from one IP address. After finding the student responsible for coding the bot with such high aspirations to Make America Great Again (a Clinton supporter who chose to remain nameless clarified that he’d written the bot as a joke), I wondered if I wasted my time sending out the survey. Online political polls are demonstrably unreliable, prone to spamming, usually harder to detect than in my case. What makes the time-tested phone poll accurate, and how do organizations like the website FiveThirtyEight sort through the hundreds of opinion polls conducted each year to find what the general public actually thinks? This election cycle, there has been a lot of talk that public opinion polls are skewed and rigged. According to Harry Ente,
senior political of FiveThirtyEight – famous for its nearly perfectly accurate predictions of the 2008 and 2012 elections as well as its applications of statistics to sports – random-sampling polls conducted via telephone are generally accurate within their own margins of error and “aren’t skewed… not in 2012, and not now.” There are certainly some inherent inaccuracies in phone polling, such as the fact that older adults tend to answer their phones more consistently than millennials. However, randomsampling phone polls remain the most accurate measure of public opinion – far more accurate than online polls, which are vulnerable to botting or multiple responses from the same person. There is also the issue that polls showing a candidate’s share of likely voters do not reflect our electoral system, which is not simply based on popular vote. Polls may not be skewed and are most likely not rigged, but they are vulnerable to the inherent unreliability of measuring a population’s views. So what went wrong this time? First of all, many polls do not attempt to predict electoral college totals. The numerous polls showing a Clinton lead in the popular vote were in fact correct, with the former Secretary of State
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obtaining over 2,000,000 votes more than her opponent. In this way, the idea that Trump’s victory is a massive upset is not statistically true: the electoral college worked in his favor and his more quiet supporters in the Rust Belt were able to flip Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, and Ohio. Pollsters’ data was not ac-tually as inaccurate as everyone thought; the expectation of a Clinton presidency was so strong that data seemed immaterial. Second of all, we are living in a post-telephone call world, particularly among young people. Few people pick up the landline or even cell phone when their own friends call them, let alone pollsters who are frequently mistaken for telemarketers. This possibility is far more frustrating for the polling industry, representatives of which (specifically at Five Thirty Eight
by Jack Cogen staff writer
and SurveyMonkey) declined to comment for this article. If the time-tested phone poll is no longer a reliable barometer, what is? Are we doomed to cycle after cycle of unpredictable results? The 2016 election will almost certainly be studied for years to come, but in the immediate future, the polling industry has questions to answer and models to correct, or it will rapidly fade into irrelevancy.
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ince the deciding states on election night had margins often under 100,000 votes, one of the main factors in Trump’s victory in these swing states was a lower voter turnout in specific Democrat counties such as those surrounding Milwaukee and Philadelphia. When asked if he has witnessed political cynicism at Urban School, Civics and Elections teacher Dan Matz said, “absolutely, in the past and this year as well. And I would ask how could you not be cynical? High school students coming into their own political identities want to see goodness, want to see possibility, are idealistic in their approach to politics. And then to get hit by the reality of politics makes students cynical.” Charisse Wu, who also teaches Civics and Elections, said “I find that most of the time Urban students are less likely to view political actions and actors as being motivated less by self interest and more to do with beliefs and ideology,” also attributing the cynicism she has witnessed to the current political environment. She further said the problem is, “political disaffection, the fact that you are distancing yourself and not wanting to engage whatsoever in politics because of a level of grossness in watching either political candidates speak or debate, or what the political parties stand for.” A survey conducted by The Urban Legend between October 14th and October 20th confirms Urban has a tendency towards cynicism. Out of 75 persons surveyed, 61 agreed with the statement, “people are usually motivated by self-interest.” In regards to political cynicism, 44 agreed politicians put economic self-interests above those of the people they represent and 49 that politicians put partisan interests above those of the people they represent. Both Matz and Wu said their hope was the election classes at Urban provide a platform to confront political cynicism. By bringing the issues inspiring political cynicism into the academic spotlight, they aspire to leave students with enough information to process them instead of just falling into cynicism. “In an ongoing way I think that this election has gotten uglier, so I do want to give students an opportunity in the last
by Kian Nassre staff writer
four or five weeks of the election to think about politics in a more positive light. To that end we are going to look at some local issues, not that the local scene doesn’t have its own ugliness, but just to get away from these candidates. Thinking about activism and policy making at a local level might make a difference,” said Matz. “The reason that Urban has the Civics and Elections class is to combat that very phenomenon and trend we are seeing especially among young voters who feel like, ‘what's the point’ or ‘how does this work’ and to see that actually in many ways we need a more educated and diverse set of people to enter into politics,” said Wu. “My hope is that the Civics and Elections classes are there for us to have a designated space to engage and to struggle with feelings of disaffection. What I’ve seen from Urban Students is that they are actually more driven, especially in the elections classes, to dig and figure out ‘what do I believe? and that is what I believe we want out of an informed citizenry.” Wu’s logic for engaging with political cynicism is based on the concept that “if anything, critical thinking creates the need to see that democracy is created by the people who are involved in it and the people who care. It actually matters for you to express your political stance and to know what it is that you believe. We actually need an informed electorate to shape our policies, to hold our leaders accountable and to change the political terrain.” In response, Matz said, “the reality is that we have a broken system, from gerrymandering, to the electoral college, to election finance, to voter ID laws; students will not come out with a rosy view of politics, but by thinking critically about politics, and even coming to negative conclusions about it, there can be a lot of learning.”
t is important to note that, as explained by a Huffington Post article detailing the results, “It would not (give) them voting rights for statewide candidates and ballot measures or for federal candidates.” Unfortunately, the proposition did not pass, but only by a narrow margin; 52.1 percent voted no, and 47.9 percent voted yes. I believe that the Proposition should have passed. It has more significant benefits than downfalls. Several of the arguments against the Proposition center around a lack of education and knowledgeability of youth. Firstly, this can be dismantled by taking into account that those who would be voting in these elections, elections that affect them directly because they are simply those involving the local and school board decisions, are young people who care. Voting is not a requirement, thus only those teenagers who were passionate about politics and educated in the field would be the people tak-
From left to right: Rose Fajans ('17), Histoy teacher Dan Matz, and Hannah Platter ('18), work at a Clinton Campgain Office in Reno, Nevada.
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by Katie Jonchkheer
ing advantage of this. Madeleine Matz (‘17) works on the San Francisco Youth Commission and has an understanding of the motivations behind the proposition. She said, “There is very little [that is] different about the average 16 and 17 year old brain in terms of logical thinking, but the way that city props could affect them could be very different.” Many may argue that there is no reason to lower the age just two years, but the reality is that those who are 18 are not the ones who would be most significantly affected by the outcomes of these smaller San Francisco elections. If this proposition had been for less localized voting and more for voting on a nationwide scale, perhaps backlash and skepticality would be more justified, as most teenagers have not fully come to enter and understand how the country works at such a young age. Yet I can definitively say that those teens who have lived in the city for their entire lives and have been schooled in these systems and by these people, understand the city well enough to be able to make decisions about it. Matz offered interesting insight, stating similar points, and said, “many youth from groups that often have especially depressed voter turnout, such as Black people or Latinos, said that
they would be interested in voting.” Although the passing of the Prop would not have guaranteed the votes of these groups, the fact that it even got them interested is important and could lead to beneficial changes in the future. Getting young people involved and interested in making changes for their community will prepare them to make changes on a greater scale as adults. A small, localized outlet could make all the difference in the future. According to a Vox article entitled The case for allowing 16-year-olds to vote, it is reported that, “The 2014 midterm election saw the lowest turnout rate ever recorded: a mere 19.9 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds voted. Even worse, only 46.7 percent of these voters registered.” The participation of the youngest members of the voting population is as crucial as that of the older ones. “Next steps are unfortunately pretty minimal,” said Matz. “We could try to get it put on the ballot again but that seems pretty unlikely, and even if it happened I'm not sure we could pass it.” However, progress has been made outside of the city: the same Proposition passed in Berkeley under the name Y1. Yet perhaps the mere fact that this Proposition made it to the ballot in the first place is a sign of hope and progress.
Opinions December 2016
URBAN "SNAPS” AFFECT PROTEST IS PATRIOTISM CLASS PARTICIPATION
by Emmy Hicks-Jablons staff writer
Sitting in the Saint Agnes Gym the morning after the 2016 presidential election, everything felt cold. Students sat beside their friends in a large circle, holding hands, crying heavily onto each other, staring blankly at the blue floor. Together, students reflected on Hillary Clinton’s unpredicted loss, sharing their confusions, fears, and unsettled emotions. In a moment of such emotional vulnerability, I felt newly appreciative of an Urban phenomenon I find myself questioning more recently: the snap. As students voiced their concerns and opinions, the sound of peers snapping filled the silent gym. These snaps were exactly what students needed to hear that Wednesday morning, these snaps in themselves were a way of saying I hear you, I support you. Unfortunately, I find that the experience of snap culture at Urban is not always this successful. While snaps are incredibly useful in opinionated environments such as forums and panels, their purpose is often lost in the classroom setting. As snapping is typically an accessible, non-distracting way to show agreement with a peer, many students associate the amount of snaps they receive for a given idea’s worth. Garrett Sharp-Craig (‘17) said, “Sometimes I will be raising my hand for a while, or feel like I have a really strong point, and if I don’t get any snaps or if I get disagreements from my classmates, not only do I sometimes feel ashamed or embarrassed but I’m also less inclined to participate next.” Enyolli Martinez (‘17) said her reaction to receiving snaps is more subconscious. “I’m not immediately thinking about if I get a lot of snaps, but it does feel nice to know that people are thinking the same thing.” While students feel a certain amount of validation when their ideas receive snaps, they also acknowledge that this may indicate a lack of originality. Mariel Solomon (‘17) said, “There are always those comments that everyone snaps for so you know that was an idea everyone was thinking about. If everyone is thinking it, it doesn’t mean you have such a great idea, it just means that you were able to articulate something that a lot of people were thinking.” Similarly, Martinez said, “Even though it does feel good to get snaps, I’m personally okay if people don’t snap. Maybe it’s just me thinking outside of the box.” She concluded that, “For me, it doesn't really matter what other people think especially in a learning environment. The only validation that I really find is from myself.” www.urbanlegendnews.org
However, many students—including myself—do not share this insight, and continue to seek academic validation through snaps. Sharp-Craig said, “I think this is a negative aspect of snapping because it’s a system where your idea can still be right, it just might be different.” While I am not proposing that snaps should no longer be implemented in the classroom, I encourage students to limit the extent to which they evaluate their ideas based on the volume of snaps they do or do not receive. Sharp-Craig said, “I think that maybe there is a better way of doing it because it seems like sometimes the same students get the same amount of snaps and the same students don’t get any snaps. I don’t know if it’s whether their ideas are stronger, or more articulate or someone just assumes that their ideas are better.” In light of this, it is important that we keep in mind the ways in which snap culture may be misleading, or at least not wholly accurate. Like Martinez, there are times in which we need to place less emphasis on others’ evaluation of our ideas, and pay closer attention to our own sense of self-validation. Also, there are other reactions we can seek out in the classroom. Solomon said that, “I feel like I’m more validated by my teachers’ reactions than my classmates.” Although snapping is not always effective in the classroom, I strongly believe in the importance it can hold in other Urban community platforms, especially when every student does not have the opportunity to vocalize their opinion. While snapping can interfere with a student’s comfort to speak up in an academic setting, there is a certain ease that snapping brings to opinionated discussions in Urban spaces that expand the classroom, such as forums and panels. Snapping is a powerful way to agree and validate the ideas of our peers and community members. We have to recognize, however, that while receiving snaps may be validating, it does not necessarily measure the worth of our ideas.
by Jack Cogen staff writer
Urban recognizes that democracy does not start and end in the voting booth. On November 9, 2016, 159 Urban students walked out of school to peacefully protest the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. I did not attend the protests because of a commitment at my Service Learning site, but I support those who did and intend to protest on January 20, 2017, at Trump’s inauguration, which also happens to be National Strike Day. In this article, I will wear my biases on my sleeve but focus on the importance of protest rather than the specific circumstances of this election. Those who are now protesting after voting for a third party, not at all, or even for Trump himself are hypocrites looking to feel morally superior, but those who could not vote because of age or other restrictions or voted for Hillary Clinton (the only candidate with any chance of defeating Trump) have every right to be frustrated and make their frustration known. If you believe that Donald Trump is unqualified and unsuited to be President— that future generations will look back at the early 2000s in America and ask how people could possibly have let this happen, you must be the voice that resists the government. You do not have to argue that the results of the election should be invalid because the outcome was undesirable for you. In fact, I find the people protesting on those grounds to be naïve and misinformed.
Instead, you must be able to look your children in the eye and tell them that you did everything in your power to prevent Donald J. Trump—the first President of the United States with no government or military experience, who was elected while facing multiple charges for fraud and sexual assault, the first to not release his tax returns since the 1960s— from acting without pushback or dissent. John Adams, second President of the United States, warned of a “tyranny of the majority” in which those unrepresented or underrepresented in government would have their rights infringed upon by the majority in power— though Trump, winning via the Electoral College, did not carry a majority or even a plurality of the popular vote. Regardless of the results of the election, I personally would still support any and all peaceful protests by Americans looking to make their voices heard. After Barack Obama was elected 44th President of the United States, protests spread like wildfire throughout red and purple states. I’ll make no secret of the fact that I have supported and continue to support Barack Obama, but those protesters were utilizing their freedom of speech and doing their patriotic duty by making their dissenting voices heard. And many Trump supporters have made it clear that had Clinton been elected, they wouldn’t have taken the result lying down. Former congressman Joe Walsh tweeted, “on November 9, if Trump loses, I’m grabbing my musket.” He later asserted that he actually meant peaceful protests and acts of civil disobedience, though his phrasing was poor if that was the case. The fact of the matter is —with a few exceptions that should and must be unequivocally condemned– protesting Trump’s election hurts no one. Even if it is truly meaningless outside of the catharsis it provides to the protesters themselves—a big “if ”, in my opinion– the peaceful expression of political beliefs in public, especially when they go against the group in power, should always be encouraged.
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Opinions December 2016
RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE NECESSARY FOR INCLUSIVE COMMUNITY
by Catherine Silvestri staff writer
For the first nine years of my education, I took three religion classes per week, had morning chapel every Friday and was exposed to Christian values. Suddenly, within three months of leaving that school, religion was no longer a part of my education. At first, I was too wrapped up in the excitement of freshman year to notice that religion was seldom mentioned at Urban. As a freshman, I thought this might be due to the fact that many of the students at Urban are non-religious, or that perhaps I just wasn’t looking in the right place. I soon came to realize, however, that religion was present on campus, but talked about minimally and often irrelevant. My elementary school defied many of the assumptions often made about religious schools; we had a homosexual Latin teacher, we learned Darwin’s theory of evolution in science classes and we were taught not to interpret the Bible word for word. However, when I arrived at Urban, where one of the core values is to “honor the uniqueness of each individual and embrace diverse backgrounds, values and points of view to build a strong, inclusive community,” I heard religious assumptions made in class and in the halls. One such assumption involves connecting one’s religious identity to their political beliefs. At Urban, a predominantly liberal school, I have often heard people link Christian-
ity to the Republican Party. I am Christian and lean democrat, so it is troubling to hear these comments given Urban’s commitment to celebrating differences. “Typically people see religion through politics as someone forcing their religion down someone else’s throat because of the idea of separation of state and how many conservatives and religious people believe it should not be separated,” said Latté Hutchinson (‘18), who practices Christianity and believes that in terms of politics, church and state should be separated. While my religion does not dictate my political views, I still attempt to follow the main values of Christianity, which I believe to be grace, hope, love, faith, justice, joy, service, and peace in my everyday life. “I have heard the occasional joke of people not taking prayers or blessings seriously, which is somewhat uncomfortable,” said Lizzy Hayashi (‘20), who regularly attends an Episcopal church and is a part of its youth group. “I have heard people say, ‘I am going to temple this weekend’ with the response ‘oh, that's cool,’ but when someone says ‘I have to go to church this weekend,’ people are like ‘why are you going?,’” said Kelsey Puknys (‘19). Puknys described the lack of spaces offered at Urban for religious people to convene. “There is Jew Crew, but there is not a place for people of other religions,” she said. Puknys was
unsure whether she would actually attend a club or affinity group dedicated to a religion, but agreed that religion is often stigmatized at Urban. “People at Urban are very vocal about why they are not religious and kind of convey that maybe you shouldn’t believe in that either,” she said. In a recent survey conducted by the Urban Legend, 28.9 percent of the 180 students surveyed considered themselves religious. The lack of religious students could be due to the fact that San Francisco is the second least religiously affiliated metro area in the United States, according to the American Values Atlas. Although prospective students seeking a religious education may be m o r e likely t o look into Saint Ignatius College Preparatory, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, Immaculate Conception or other religious affiliated high schools, it is extremely important that Urban creates a space for religious dialogue at Urban. “Urban is a values-based institution … we want kids to be understanding and self-reflective, and I would say that those are all fundamental components of having any type of religious or spiritual practice. But we are not a religious institution, so we are not trying to educate people on various doctrines or theological beliefs that guide a religious
experience,” said Clarke Weatherspoon, Dean of Equity and Inclusion and history teacher at The Urban School. Weatherspoon said that there is room to talk about religious experiences, but like most other affinity groups and clubs, further conversation would have to be driven by students. “We wouldn’t start a group for religious people if people didn’t want it,” said Weatherspoon. As Weatherspoon mentioned, it is important to remember that Urban is not a religious institution. However, I often feel that religion at Urban is neglected in conversations about identity. The topic was brought up once in my Service Learning class and several years ago an event was held during the Multicultural Celebration about religion. However, considering that almost one third of students surveyed considered themselves religious, it strikes me that Urban rarely brings up the topic outside of those spaces. Affinity groups and clubs are run by students who are passionate about a particular topic or want a place to be with people of similar identities. If 28.9 percent of surveyed students claimed they were religious, then why is there no interest from students in creating a space available for religious dialogue? Discussions about religion must not be stigmatized because these diverse beliefs will help lead Urban to a more diverse community. While it may not be necessary to create religious affinity groups or clubs, a conversation must be had about religion at Urban in the classroom, during forums possibly held during Multi Culti week, or at All School Meetings.
Infographic designed by Kian Nassre. Images supplied by Wiki Commons.
The Urban Legend From the Urban Legend 2016 Application: The Urban Legend is a vehicle of student freedom of expression and a public forum for The Urban School community. It is a forum for reporting school, community and global news and for the exposition of student-generated news coverage, commentary and wit. Journalism students strive as a team to find, create and publish excellent student work in a timely manner and to provide their peers and the school community with fresh, pertinent news and diverse perspectives on a variety of events and topics. The Urban Legend seeks writers of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, cultures, races, religions, and sexual orientations. The Legend is published in print and online several times a year. Find us at www.urbanlegendnews.org. Adviser and Journalism Teacher: Raina Mast Fundamentals of Journalism Teacher: Sarah Levin
2016-2017 please recycle
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News Editor: Katherine Weltzein Opinions Editor: Olivia Mitchel Arts and Culture Editor and Instagram Manager: Katie Jonckheer Editor-in-Chief of Layout and Design: Features Editor: Emma Draisin Sports Editor: Catherine Silvestri Olivia DiNapoli Caboose Editor: August Ackley Asssistant Editor of Design and Head Photographer: Olivia Meehan New Staff Writers Editor-in-Chief of Online News: Colin Special Assignments: Editors-in-Chief of Magazine: Olivia Mitchel and Catherine Silvestri
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A look into the Urban School runner's mindset by Ana Gorski staff writer
“I swear to god I’ve run longer than 3.1 miles.” “Oh no is that a cramp?!” "What if I just stopped?" Sound familiar? Chances are that you are on the Urban Cross Country team. Running competitively requires being both physically and mentally fit. “Physical is a more important development than mental [while racing], but as you progress physically you have to start developing mental stamina. To tell yourself ‘yes I can do this’ and when you find yourself lagging, to be able to push on faster at that point--that’s mental,” said Bill Cirocco, the Urban Cross Country coach. Mental toughness is a term used in sports that describes the athlete’s mental capacity to continue working despite external conditions. James Loehr, a sports psychologist who created one of the first descriptions of mental toughness, proposed seven dimensions of mental toughness: “self-confidence, attention control, minimizing negative energy, increasing positive energy, maintaining motivation levels, attitude control, and visual and imagery control.” Many Urban Cross Country runners have attributed their success to their ability to stay mentally fit and positive throughout the race. Having an unshakeable belief in ability is critical in performing that some
elite runners practice cultivating a positive belief in their ability in their free time. Methods such as visualization and meditation curb anxiety and prepare runners for races. “I recommend athletes practice meditation and visualization skills on a daily basis by setting aside 1015 minutes each day. I ask that my athletes focus on positive images because negative images can create anxiety and tension that could hinder their performances. Positive images help to relax the mind and body, which can lead to enhanced performance,” said Dr. Kristin Keim, who has a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology with a focus in Clinical Sport/Performance Psychology. “Almost all of it [running] for me
How is that guy passing me?
is mental because you have to push yourself to the limit. Everybody’s bodies, although they are not all the same, theoretically can all do the same amount of work. It’s just if you can tell yourself that you can do it or not,” said Simone Alunan (‘20), who is in her first year of high school cross country. “Running is something that has helped me realize the benefits of pushing myself and really going literally the extra mile. That’s actually motivated me to push through when it’s really hard because I know what the feeling is like at the end. Knowing that feeling and being able to consistently have that feeling after races because I’ve had more as of this year has really helped me in the moment during races to really I am going to drop out.... I am going to drop out... NO NO NO I CAN’T THOUGH
You're almost there!
Urban girls Varsity Cross Country team at meet Oct. 20, 2016. Photo by Will Hoppin. Text in the bubbles are thoughts that anonymous members of the cross country team said run thourgh their head while running.
Turnout remains low for certain Urban School sports teams Fan turnout at Urban sporting events varies greatly depending on the sport. According to Athletic Director Joe Skiffer, teams like boys’ tennis, girls’ softball, and swimming typically have a low fan turnout. However, some Urban teams have recently won several tournaments and broken school records. In the 2015-2016 school year, boys’ varsity soccer won the Western Bay Counties League and the North Coast Section tournament, boys’ varsity basketball won BCL West and were NCS tournament semi-finalists, and boys’ lacrosse made it to the NCS tournament. Girls’ teams have also achieved recent successes, with girls’ varsity cross country making it to NCS and coming in 12th place at the state meet, girls’ varsity soccer winning BCL West and making it to the NCS tournament, and girls’ varsity basketball winning the BCL tournament. As more emphasis is placed on Urban sports through the construc-
tion of the Salkind Center and the emphasis on our teams’ recent successes during the admissions process, one might reasonably assume that more students attend Urban sporting events. While students have turned out in droves for Friday night soccer games, it is rare that even a single student fan shows up to a boys’ tennis match or a girls’ softball game. “The typical turnout is either just a few parents of the kids, and occasionally someone from Yearbook will come and take photos. That’s about the extent of the fanbase,” said Izak Sheinfield-Kandel (‘17), a player for The Urban School’s tennis team. Sheinfield-Kandel attributed the low turnout to a combination of factors. “First, the matches aren’t on campus, so people have to walk twenty minutes to go to them. The sport itself is not very entertaining at the level that we play it at. You can have a high school soccer match, a high school basketball game be enIllustration by Olivia Meehan, Asssistant Visuals Editor.
just push a little harder even though it may seem impossible,” said Lily Niehaus (‘18), a returning runner from last season and leading scorer for the girls varsity team. Although cross country is a demanding sport, running is a practice that many people find hard to do without. The repetitive motion of feet pounding against earth, a steady breath, and a clear mind are what keep runners loving the sport. Jonathan Howland, Dean of Faculty and English teacher at the Urban School, ran competitively from ages 35 to 45, and runs anywhere from two and a half to 14 miles everyday. Last year, he ran 350 days in a row and then stopped counting. “I think running has helped me be more supple, appreciative, openlunged and open-hearted. The hurt, strain, and challenge I've experienced running has led me to build a practice of yoga and 'opening.' The breath I need and appreciate while running, and the meditative space of the steady heartbeat has led me to take up (modest) meditation in seated/quiet form. Movement is awakening, for me, on every level – the mind, the heart, the feet, the cells,” said Howland in an email to the Urban Legend.
tertaining just because of competition and the sports themselves, but tennis, unless it’s being played at a high level, is really hard to watch,” he said. “A lot of our fan participation is parents, and occasionally teachers, but very rarely is it students,” said Stephan Ciulla (‘17), who had a similar experience playing baseball at Urban. Like Sheinfield-Kandel, Ciulla attributed the low turn to similar reasons. “One [of the reasons students do not come] is game time and the other is location. Location can vary, there aren’t a lot of fields near Urban, and those that are by Urban are difficult to get to after school. Our games are typically around 3:30, and we have to leave early from school, and it makes it difficult for students to come out to games,” said Ciulla. Exposure was also an issue some athletes pointed to. “There’s not a set place for people to sit down and cheer. I also think people aren’t as into tennis as they are into soccer because it’s not as advertised,” said Daniela Mortazavi (‘18), an Urban tennis player. Student-athletes were not very concerned about the low attendance, however. “It would effect me if there was literally no
by Colin Heath staff writer
one cheering, but because there’s people from other schools and our own team that cheer for us, it’s fine,” said Sophie Klein (‘18), a cross country runner. In the past, Student Committee and Urban Athletics Club have organized a taco truck at the boys and girls varsity doubleheader basketball game and passed out treats at Friday night soccer games. Sheinfield-Kandel mentioned that giving out food and promoting the event is a way to increase interest. “It wouldn’t be drastic, but I think if they offered a bunch of donuts or promoted it as a school event [more students would come]. University has big red Fridays, and they get people to come,” he said. Similarly, Ciulla believes that making traditions that involve the students will make the difference. “Other schools have something like a game at Oracle Arena, where you get a lot of people excited about certain sports...If we were able to have more formal venues for games there would be a higher level of excitement from the student body,” he said. Both students asserted that until Urban is able to build a culture that emphasizes sports more, the turnout will remain low. please recycle
Arts & Culture October 2016
Multi culti garners interest through variety of events Every fall, the leadership group Multi Culti, comprised of leaders of each affinity space, organizes Multi Culti Week, a week of forums and panels aiming to promote multicultural life at The Urban School and engage a diverse range of students. Affinity spaces are lunchtime clubs that are “closed”, meaning that attendees are only students who identify with the group and open members that want to be involved in diversity life at The Urban School. Multi Culti week is intended to be more of a celebration of culture rather than a time intended solely for difficult con-
"[The panel] refined the mission of [Multi Culti] and emphasized their power to unify the many voices of Urban students." -Leah Baron ('18)
versations. This year, Multi Culti week ran through Monday, October 24th to Friday, October 28th. To kick off Multi Culti week, musician Joe Kye came to Urban to play music and to speak to students and faculty during an all-school meeting. Kye was once an English teaching fellow at The Urban School. Today, he is a violinist who creates a unique sound
that according to Sacramento News and Review, “leaves everyone in awe.” He combines genres such as jazz, pop and world-folk music. During lunch after the all-school meeting, there was a question and answer session in which students inquired about his experience growing up as a Korean-American immigrant in the United States and further discussed his musical career. Multi Culti also addressed the difficult conversations about costumes that come along with The Halloween Assembly, an important part of Urban’s Halloween celebration. The next day, Clarke Weatherspoon, our Dean of Equity and Inclusion, gave a presentation to all grades about cultural appropriation in the context of Halloween costumes. On Wednesday, there was a panel featuring a representative from each affinity space leader. Each panelist spoke about their experience being a leader at the Urban School, and the myriad challenges that come with this responsibility. Kaylah Breiz (‘17) and Leah Baron (‘18) are both leading SWEAR this year (Students For Women’s Equality and Rights), and Breiz was one of the panelists representing the group. “[The panel] refined the mission of [Multi Culti] and emphasized their power to unify the many voices of Urban students,” Baron said, reflecting on the event. Friday featured another panel of sev-
by August Ackley staff writer
eral Urban School faculty members who talked about their experiences with interracial dating and relationships. This event had the highest turnout. The panelists, all of whom were teachers of diverse backgrounds and experiences, talked about their experiences with interracial dating today and throughout their high school years.
This year’s Multi-Culti week was a success and engaged many students. Now that the Urban School is in the midst of it’s winter term, all students, even those who did not attend any of the Multi Culti week events this year, can look forward to the Month of Understanding in January.
Faculty speaking to students at the interracial dating lunch panel in the Salkind Center. Photo by August Ackley, taken October 28th, 2016.
Spring Awakening takes Urban Theater in new directions by Blake Case staff writer
The Urban School of San Francisco Theater Department chose “Spring Awakening” for their fall production, an unusual choice compared to previous musicals. Fall productions in the past have included a musical adaptation of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” featuring 50’s music, and “Oh Kay,” a cheery prohibition period piece with music by George Gershwin. Spring Awakening was a completely new direction. The production went into depth on difficult themes, including teenage sexuality, rape, suicide, and abuse. As-
sistant Director and cast member Sarah Morse (‘18) took part in previous Urban School Fall Productions, and saw her senior production as an opportunity to spur conversation about the topics. “Instead of having this be like past fall productions, our goal is to make it so we are having a conversation with Urban, and it’s not just something that people come to see and are meant to think about by themselves,” said Morse. “We want to help the discussion.” The Urban Theater Department also has put on the Peer Ed show, which often tackles controversial themes
Amelia Tierney ('18), Jonah Fleishhacker ('18) and Sam Masto ('17) rehearsing a scene from Spring Awakening. Photo by Blake Case, taken November 1st, 2016.
among the cast, students, and Peer Resource members themselves, the stu-
“Being able to discuss [the character’s] actions as a cast is really important to “Instead of having this be like past how I want to play the character, befall productions, our goal is to cause it’s going to be sending an important message to the community,” make it so we are having a conver- said Masto, who played the male lead. sation with Urban, and it’s not just Discussion proved invaluable to cast, struggled to portray these themes. something that people come to who “It will inspire a ton of conversation see and are meant to think about and dialogue across generations, not only within the Urban community by themselves.” and amongst ourselves, but outside -Sarah Morse ('17) Assistant Director and cast member of Spring of it,” said Shafia Zaloom, a Health Education Teacher. “Spring AwakenAwakening ing” was originally written in 1891 by Frank Wedekind and was adapted for dent counselors and veteran performmusical theatre in 2006. However, the ers of the show. Similar to those who relevancy of the topics has been mainparticipate in Peer Ed theater, the cast tained, and the difficulty of coming of of “Spring Awakening” took proactive age has proved universal through the measures to start a conversation surpopularity of both the play and the new rounding difficult themes. Cast memmusical. bers Willa Barnett (‘18) and Sam Masto As Zaloom elaborated, the produc(‘18) reached out to affinity groups, intion gave Urban the opportunity for cluding Students For Women’s Equality students to dissect a concrete example and Rights (SWEAR) and Young Men’s of sexual assault rather than discussGroup (YMG), to create conversations ing something that happened at a party focused on tough conversations. on a Saturday night. “Something that “It’s been helpful for me to try and actually has some distance to it, but is lead the conversation a bit more, so still concrete and real,” Zaloom said. To that I’m less anxious about people comhave created this opportunity for Urban ing to it and just getting the shock value students to discuss a real scenario prestuff,” said Barnett, who played a lead sented to them through the theater was role in the musical. The cast itself took an important experience for Urban; not time within their D-Period classes to only for the cast, but for the audience discuss the characters themselves and and greater community as well. how to create these difficult scenes.
Caboose December 2016
Things overheard at urban The Urban School of San Francisco has an abundance of strong opinionated voices, and many students are not afraid to speak whatever wacky and weird thoughts come to their minds. This deluge of voices makes way for an entertaining eavesdropping opportunity. I have taken it upon myself to bring the readers of the Urban Legend a few of the titbits overheard throughout Urban’s halls and classrooms. Read, and appreciate the humor, drama, and perhaps even wisdom of the following unsuspecting students.
Overheard at 5 pm, day 1 of the Junior Retreat, one boy to a group of boys: “Ferb [from Phineas and Ferb] is my celebrity crush. Tall, dark, and handsome.”
by Emma Draisin
Overheard after lunch on a Monday, Synapse lab: “I was all too happy. He let me brush his brows.”
ostrich; look how sticky it is!”
Overheard November 14, E5, library: “I really need purple for the sake of consistency in my recycle.”
Overheard at dusk, day 1 of the Junior Retreat: “Why would you ever need a green light? You’re not f**kin’ Gatsby.”
Overheard November 14, D period, Tamalpais room: “Well, this is physics. We don’t talk about things that would actually happen.”
Overheard at 11 am, day 3 of the Junior Retreat: 1: “Mission tortilla chips are the love of my life.” 2: “Maybe you should find humans.”
Overheard November 29, lunch, hallway: “It’s been a long week of one day. I’m done.” Overheard November 29, E3, Odyssey room: “You smell really good!” “Oh you know what it is? It’s this detergent I brought back from Amsterdam.”
Overheard November 16, lunchtime in the lobby: “I actually want a baby
December horoscopes by Zoe Meneghetti
Aries (March 21 - April 19)
Taurus (April 20 - May 20)
Gemini (May 21 - June 20)
Aries are known for being short tempered and impatient. Remember to take a deep breath if you are frustrated during a group project or if your FARE bowl takes longer to make than you wanted.
This December, your stubborn nature may get the best of you if you let it. If you are struggling in a class, release your negative energy and ask your teacher or a peer for help.
It doesn’t take much for a Gemini to feel nervous or stressed. Consider asking Clarke Weatherspoon for some meditative techniques or joining Urban’s Yoga physical activity.
Cancer (June 21 - July 22)
Cancers are known to enjoy calm activities. This month, spend a day at Ocean Beach relaxing near the water. Maybe head to the library to check out a book and then head to Alexandria.
Libra (September 23 October 22)
Leo (July 23 - August 22)
Leos tend to be slightly arrogant or selfcentered. This December, consider holding a door open for a freshman or wishing a senior good luck with their college admissions.
Scorpio (October 23 November 1)
Libra’s are known for their kindness and gentleness. Try smiling to everyone you pass in the hallways. But also remember that it is okay to say “no” to your friend asking you to help them with their homework.
Scorpio’s tend to enjoy time with a good friend. This December, allow yourself time to go out to Haight Street for lunch with an old friend.
Capricorn (December 22 January 19)
Aquarius (January 20 February 18)
This December, take advantage of your determined and hardworking nature. Don’t leave your science homework until 10 minutes before class or your English essay for the night before.
Aquarians are known for being easily stressed out but also to enjoy spending time with nature. Aquarius, this December, consider doing your homework at the park or at the beach.
Virgo (August 23 September 22)
This December, let go of your cranky nature and embrace your peer reliability by helping out a friend in a class they are struggling with, take them to the library during E3 and help them study for that math test next week.
Sagittarius (November 22 December 21)
Generous and enthusiastic, attend an Urban sports game this December, Sagittarius. Use your energetic nature to pump up your classmates and cheer on the Blues.
Pisces (February 19 - March 20)
Pisces, try to let go of your fear of nature and take risks this December. Let go of your typical lunch and try the new FARE bowl you have been itching to taste, or take the risk in your History essay. Illustrations by Blake Case