On October 6, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and actor Patricia Arquette held an hour-and-a-half long conversation at the Burlingame Main Library. The Burlingame Library Foundation organized the event as the second entry in their speaker series. A general admission ticket to hear the two women speak cost $25, and VIP ticket holders paid an extra $100 to arrive 45 minutes early and speak with Speier and Arquette individually.
The conversation began with a discussion of Arquette’s childhood on a commune in Virginia and her career aspirations. When she graduated high school, Arquette could not decide whether she wanted to become an actor or a midwife. Although she was apprehensive of spending time and energy pursuing a career in acting that could never become successful, Arquette decided to follow her dream of being an actor because she knew she would regret abandoning that opportunity.
“Out of high school, I either wanted to be an actor or a midwife. But, more than being either, I want to be a brave person, and the bravest thing I could do was take one year of my life, try to become an actor, and commit to failing,” Arquette said. “Every time I got feedback, and, boy, did I get a lot of feedback, I took it not as a way of crushing me but instead I saw it as a way to improve and grow stronger.”
Arquette also explained the thought process behind her decision to use her speech time at the 2015 Academy Awards, where she won “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” for her performance in the movie Boyhood, to advocate for equal pay for women.
“I didn’t hire a publicist when I was nominated, and everyone told me that was stupid. But I won, and I guess it was meant to happen so I could get up on that stage and deliver that message. It threw ripples through Hollywood that made a lot of people uncomfortable,” Arquette said.
Inevitably, the conversation turned to politics. Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh had been confirmed earlier that day, and the controversy surrounding the confirmation was at the forefront of the two women’s conversation.
“There really wasn’t a fair, thorough investigation,” Arquette said. “There were other accusers and witnesses that were never interviewed. Really, the FBI’s hands were tied in this process, and that’s like a fake democracy. To the world, we put on this show as if we were giving accusers their due process. But we weren’t; we were denying them their due process, therefore denying American people our due process to be able to properly vet people for one of the most important positions in the whole nation. I think it is a horrific thing for justice. I don’t think [Kavanaugh] told the truth, and perjured himself, and it’s just absurd that we could have a sitting justice who lies under oath.”
After some time, Speier and Arquette began to take questions directly from the audience. A wide variety of questions were asked, with topics ranging from sexual assault to the development of new weapons to the Equal Rights Amendment. The women discussed one particular question about cyber warfare for an extended period of time. Speier expressed her concern that aging voting technology could easily be hacked, even asserting that hackers have the ability to change votes.
Several BHS students were in attendance. Senior Lilli Hirth came to the VIP reception to speak to Speier and Arquette directly, then stayed for the conversation. After becoming more interested in government and politics through her experience as the BHS delegate for California Girls State, she stressed that having honest, open discussions with government officials is very important because it reminds politicians that they are elected to help the people they represent.
“Honestly, I think that people just need to focus on the fact that the government is here for the people, and it’s here to represent the people, and at the end of the day it should be doing as much as it possibly can to help the people with whatever the people need help in,” Hirth said. “I think the fact that there is so much protesting should be a huge red flag to the government right now about what is going on, and they need to, as hard as it would be, ignore partisanship and just start working together for the people.”
The event ended with a passionate plea from Arquette and Speier to vote, a plea that was particularly directed towards young adults, who have the lowest voter turnout of any age group.
“Young people don’t vote, even when they have the right to vote. They have the lowest percentage of voting in any age group, and yet they have the most at stake, since it’s [their] future that’s going to be impacted by decisions made today. When we add a trillion dollars to the national debt, that’s easy for us to do because we’re not going to be around to have to pay it. [Young people] will be, and [they’re] not going to be able to put the resources in other things because [they’re] paying so much interest on the national debt,” Speier said. “Any student who is eligible to vote should do so.”
On Oct. 26, students attended an assembly about consent, took the California Healthy Kids Survey and participated in a workshop centered around being an upstander and not a bystander. The three activities took 90 minutes each and students were dismissed at 1:30 p.m.
Two years ago BHS handled its recycling through Recology — a program that took trash and separated recyclable materials from it. However, this system proved expensive, and the district transitioned to its current program, Redwood Debris Box. Under the new program, if a green bin in a teacher’s classroom has even one piece of trash in it, the entire bin is deemed trash.
The search for a better recycling program has proven to be complicated, with no one really knowing the correct path to initiate change. In early October, associate student body president Lily Navab and freshman class President Zoe Steinberger wanted to bring BHS to the same recycling standards as the City of Burlingame and wanted to implement better recycling at BHS. They approached the city council with their grievances.
“We discussed the possibility of extending programs for city Burlingame [to BHS], but the city has no jurisdiction on the recycling program for schools,” Navab said. “So from there, we were put in contact with the district board.”
After contacting multiple district officials, Navab managed to put recycling on their agenda. However, the prospect of implementation is uncertain. When Navab tried to find out who at the district would initiate these changes, she was not given a clear answer.
“No one — the District Board, Belzer, City Hall — no one knows who is really in charge of our trash. There’s no set person who’s at the core of it, and every person who’s supposed to be in charge doesn’t really know who to go,” Navab said.
Navab explained that the recycling program was changed two years ago only because of “environmental companies in the area” supplying the school with grant money to implement recycling changes. These changes were mainly focused on recycling bottles, and as a result, the only containers for recycling outside of the classroom were for bottles.
“There was no private grant for an actual program, and so we just started circling around this issue because no one really knows what to do,” Navab said.
The recycling problem will be presented to the district board at an unknown future point. Changes are sure to be slow and deliberate, so until then, students will have to work with the current program and learn to recycle properly.
The Iron Panthers participated in an offseason First Robotics Competition (FRC) on Sept. 30. The tournament, Chezy Champs, was held in San Jose with some of the best robotics teams in the world. The Iron Panthers underperformed, placing 42nd out of the 42 participants in the tournament.
The robotics team lost many key members with the graduation of last year’s class, and as a result, it had had to work hard to fill their absences.
“Two people from our drive team last year left for college, so we have trained some new members to take their place,” senior Maxim Yu said. “Since they do not have as much experience with driving the robot, they could not [have performed at the same level] as the people from last year. However, I am fully confident that they can do so with enough practice.”
Chezy Champs is a highly competitive tournament that entails a rigorous application process, and the Iron Panthers competed with members who had only had a few weeks of experience compared to the seniors’ four years.
“I think we were too confident for [Chezy Champs], and we had too high expectations,” senior Junha Park said. The team was expecting a better performance, but the results, though bad, are not a great indicator of the team’s potential.
“[The team’s attitude is] positive . . . we're gearing up for the competition season starting in January,” senior and Programming Lead Andrew Cummings said.
Another tournament the Iron Panthers have been preparing for is the off-season Capital City Classic, which takes place in Davis, starting Oct. 26 and ending Oct. 28. Some members are looking to this tournament as a chance to redeem themselves and demonstrate the progress they have made.
“We are excited for Capital City Classic because we know that we can do better and we want to prove ourselves. Also, we learned a lot during Chezy and we have made a few changes to our robot,” Park said. “It's going to be an easier competition than Chezy, but we can't relax too much.”
Recent legislation proposed by California’s state legislature mandating a later start time for schools has been rejected by California Governor Jerry Brown. The legislation would have forced all California schools to start no earlier than 8:30 am each day.
The governor reportedly stated that local school boards should be allowed to control their start times, without interference from the state government. This would allow schools to plan around extracurricular activities which could need that extra half hour in the day. However, supporters of the bill believed that later start times would help improve student sleeping habits, citing pediatric studies recommending the 8:30 a.m. start time.
To senior Andrew Cummings, any legislation would be completely meaningless. “[Students] would just be sleeping later,” says Cummings. “All it would do is push my schedule later into the day.” However, other students have claimed that the extra half hour would help them wake up in the mornings, and that “it would be like late start every day.”
Schools will continue to have the freedom to choose their own start times, meaning it will be up to each individual school board to decide whether or not they will adopt a later start time. The bill can still be voted through the state Congress, however, so there is still a chance that this bill passes into law. For this school year at least, our schedule will remain the same as it has always been.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously this summer to ban plastic straws, even compostable ones. The ordinance, set to go into effect in July 2019, may severely impact boba businesses unless they can find a cheap alternative to plastic. Unlike other beverages, which customers can easily drink with nothing more than a cup, boba depends on a thick straw to suck up tea and tapioca balls at the same time. Environmentally-conscious tea shops such as Boba Guys, a trendy San Francisco chain, are working to find a solution, but non-plastic straws tend to be more costly and difficult to find, particularly in the special width needed for boba.
More recently, Gov. Jerry Brown passed a bill banning California restaurants from handing out straws unless specifically requested. This will also become a reality in 2019. The state-wide ban is part of a larger movement to ban plastic straws due to their harmful environmental impact. According to the World Wildlife Fund, there may be a pound of plastic in the ocean for every three pounds of fish as soon as the coming decade. In Taiwan, boba tea’s place of origin, the government has passed its own straw ban, which will also take effect next year.
Senior Carmen Lavilla has loved iTea ever since she first bought boba from their Irving Street shop in San Francisco. When the Oakland-based tea chain opened a Burlingame location, she was one of its first customers. She has now been working as a cashier at iTea since July. Lavilla loves her job, but the recent straw ban movement has shifted her perspective on the boba industry. She and her boss, Nancy Li-Chen, have discussed these straw bans and brought up solutions such as bamboo straws and straws that decompose in 30 days. Lavilla and Li-Chen both support such a change, but, ultimately, it is not up to them to decide.
“A lot of our customers ask us, ‘what are you guys going to do about [the straw ban]?’ and it’s hard to respond,” Lavilla said. “My boss really does care about it, but iTea has to use materials given to us by our one manufacturer, so it depends on the franchise. It’s their decision.”
While Lavilla does not believe the statewide ban will affect iTea as it is not a sit-down business, the chain’s San Francisco locations will have to deal with their city’s ban. In the meantime, Burlingame customers are doing their own environmental work. Giving everyone a metal straw may be too expensive for iTea, but customers are increasingly bringing their own water bottles, mason jars and metal straws to avoid the disposable plastic variety. Lavilla is happy to accommodate these efforts. She feels nostalgic for the plastic straws, but she believes their replacement will bring about positive change for the environment.
“The feeling of poking a boba straw into a cup is just part of the experience,” she said. “There’s just this satisfaction, but knowing now how it impacts our environment, it’s different.”
Lavilla is passionate about the fight against climate change, which helps her overcome her reservations about losing out on part of the boba experience. Even though she cannot make iTea change their packaging, she supports the plastic straw bans catching on worldwide.
The plastic straw ban is a relatively minor change in most industries, but its supporters are hopeful that it might eliminate plastic waste in the ocean that takes up to 1,000 years to break down and harms marine life. Nevertheless, critics have noted that plastic straws only make up 2,000 tons of plastic out of the almost 9 million floating around the ocean and that 71 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 are from 100 large companies. Environmental concerns on both sides are especially relevant seeing as the U.N. released a report this month that gave us 12 years to save the planet from irreparable damage due to climate change.
“We only have one shot to take care of Earth and make sure everything goes right,” Lavilla said. “We’re about to go into another extinction.”
In early September, junior Arianna Manning wrote a petition to change the BHS dress code. She stayed up until 2 a.m. formulating it. She was chiefly concerned with her observation that curvier female students receive more dress code violations for wearing the same rule-breaking garments as other students.
“We’re still put down for our bodies,” Manning said. The next day, Manning submitted the petition draft to @siliconvalleyprobs, an Instagram meme account with over 30,000 followers. The account featured the petition on its story, including a link to the petition on Change.org. As of Oct. 22, the petition has 1,015 signatures.
Manning spoke about the petition at the student council meeting which took place on Oct. 9. After, junior Katerina Rally recited the dress code regulation against “suggestive or revealing attire that would divert attention from the learning process or contribute to inappropriate conduct by other students.” She read the regulation from her phone. As soon as she finished speaking, the crowd of students erupted into disquieted murmurs.
“The trigger word for a lot of people is this idea of ‘distraction,’ that what I do and what I wear is my responsibility and how that impacts other people is their responsibility,” Principal Paul Belzer said. He initiated the dress code conversation at the student council meeting, allotting 15 minutes to answer questions and discuss the issue with students.
Belzer believes that there is a need to address situations in which students feel disrespected, but that there is also a need to cultivate a sense of professionalism and decorum at school. He repeated several times throughout the student council meeting that the issue requires the administration to “draw a line in the sand,” and listen to a wide variety of student perspectives.
“I think people are finding issues in something that is a non-issue,” senior Matt Zell said. He agreed with the idea posed by Belzer that the school environment warrants a level of professionalism. Zell also emphasized that there is a difference between dressing for the beach and dressing for school.
“Standards of decorum only ensure that students at school are focused chiefly on academics, instead of who is wearing the latest fashion,” senior Charlie Chapman wrote in a column in the San Mateo Daily Journal.
Associated with the current conversation around dress codes is the decision made by Alameda High School to dramatically roll back regulations regarding student dress. The new rule states that students are obligated to wear a top, bottoms, and shoes, while covering all necessary areas.
In response to the discussion sparked by Manning’s petition, Belzer is currently reviewing the wording of the dress code, specifically the regulation which contains the idea of “distraction.” If any revision occurs, Belzer plans to submit a draft to the Parents’ Group, the Associate Student Body (ASB)and staff and administration to review it. If the process does go through, Belzer hopes it will happen before the publication of the Code of Conduct for the 2019-2020 school year.
“It’s trying to find that balance between a certain level of autonomy and choice while maintaining a level of decorum and expectations for the community,” Belzer said.
Last week, Burlingame counselors joined with faculty to spread awareness about depression and suicide. The big event was Sept. 26, when local support resources set up information tables in the Main Quad during lunch. These groups handed out bracelets, talked to students and coordinated mini games and activities. September was National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month, but the counselors decided to focus on the week of Sept. 24 to Sept. 28 in particular.
The counselors hope that the event helped to destigmatize suicide. Students have many resources available to them, and last week made sure that they know what the warning signs of suicide are and what to do if a friend is displaying them. When people avoid talking about suicide, however, students do not learn how to deal with it.
“When we look at the Healthy Kids survey, more than a quarter of our kids report feeling chronically sad or hopeless in the last 12 months,” Latham said.
Last week was intended to complement the freshman health curriculum, which teaches students about similar topics. In addition, San Mateo High School screened The S Word, a documentary about suicide, on Sept. 19. StarVista, a San Mateo County mental health organization, was one of the sponsors of the screening. StarVista also had a table at the You Matter lunch event, as did HealthRIGHT360, the crisis text line, Behavioral Health and Recovery Services and San Mateo Pride. The organizations brought information to hand out and talked to interested students. The counselors also had a spinning wheel with a true-or-false game relating to suicide, and they passed out yellow bracelets for the cause.
“In our culture, when we have topics that are stigmatized, people don’t talk about them,” counselor Karen Latham said. “This is one of the topics we are starting to talk about now.”
After the August administration of the SAT, a standardized test designed by the College Board to measure reading, writing, and math abilities, the College Board was met with fierce criticism for reusing a previous version. Reportedly, the great majority of the test questions that appeared on the August SAT in the United States had been taken directly from a version of the SAT administered internationally in 2017. While the number of students who had officially taken the nearly-identical international test was low, that international SAT from 2017 had been leaked online, along with an answer key, and students had been using the old exam to study.
Many Burlingame students took the August SAT, and some, like senior Grace Chen, think reusing an old, leaked test betrayed the trust of test takers.
“I think reusing so many questions is unfair, since people did get ahold of it and were able to practice it beforehand,” Chen said. “You’d just assume they’d make a new one.”
Senior Chris Sung, who also took the August SAT, sees no excuse for the College Board to be re-administering tests.
“I just think it’s wrong that so many people spend so much money just to take the SAT and the College Board just reused the test,” Sung said. “It seems like they should be making a new test every time with the money they’re obtaining from every test session and the number of people paying for it as well.”
This scandal comes right after the June administration of the SAT, which also sparked outrage. Students performed better on the June test than expected, so, to maintain their regular scoring curve, the College Board penalized each wrong answer more than usual. The August SAT incident has only increased doubts about the SAT’s reliability as a method of objectively comparing students.
“I don’t like how the SAT decides if we get into college. I don’t think it’s a good test overall,” Sung said.
While most colleges require students to submit either the SAT or ACT, some schools have converted to a test-optional admittance policy, where prospective students can choose to submit standardized test scores but are not penalized for not doing so. Jonathan Dhyne, the college and career advisor on campus, believes that test-optional colleges are taking a step in the right direction.
“Some people are great at tests, but some people are super smart and capable but, for whatever reason, aren’t great test takers,” Dhyne said. “Test-optional colleges are good for those students.”
Still, Dhyne sees how schools could reasonably view standardized test scores as a valuable tool in admissions decisions.
“It’s tricky, right? When you’re trying to measure certain things, it seems like an easy way to survey a lot of people,” Dhyne said. “For CSU, on those types of application where they don’t ask for a lot of other information and they’re just looking at your SAT and your grades, there’s going to be more weight placed on scores.”
Since the majority of colleges seem to have no interest in eliminating the standardized testing requirement anytime soon, students losing faith in the SAT after this string of College Board missteps may opt to take the ACT instead. In fact, over half of states see more students take the ACT than SAT already.
When asked if she trusted the College Board, Chen did not hesitate in her reply.
BURLINGAME CA -- In response to a threat made on Snapchat by a student last Thursday Sept. 27, BHS and the Burlingame Police Department (BPD) had heightened security around campus Monday.
BHS and BPD has deemed it safe to continue classes and activities.
“As a district, our first priority is the safety of our students and staff. If our students and employees aren't safe, nothing else matters,” said San Mateo Union High School District Communications Manager Laura Chalkley in written response to The Burlingame B. “This is a guiding principle for all school and district administrators, and we take all threats very seriously.”
A telephone and email message was sent out to inform parents of the situation.
The student in suspicion is being investigated by the BPD.
To prevent future possible threats, Principal Paul Belzer stressed the importance of inclusive school culture.
“I appreciate that BHS has staff and students who work to connect and make a culture of inclusion and community,” Belzer said, “and that everyone feels supportive and safe.”
Nothing says “middle school” more than a bus packed with rowdy kids. When the children create more ruckus than normal, however, repercussions ensue. Such is the case at Burlingame Intermediate School (BIS), which has a private bus agreement with the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans). This year, SamTrans decided to send fewer buses to BIS after school.
The website of the Burlingame Aquatics Club (BAC) states that construction on the pool will end Sept. 4. A quick look at the current state of the pool suggests that this is far from the truth. Sept. 4 was the initial end date for the project, which started June 1 and consisted of the renovation of the 50 meter pool and pool deck.
The 2018/19 school year is the first time Burlingame will have not one, but two assistant vice principals. Markus Autrey and Michele Fichera have both been hired to take on the position, and they will be working alongside current vice principal Valerie Arbizu.
As of this year BHS will have two separate evacuation areas. The new administration, including vice principals Markus Autrey and Michele Fichera, spent the summer walking around campus and evaluating the safety of our current evacuation route. They have decided to name the tennis courts as a new evacuation area, in addition to the previous area of the football field. Depending on the time of the evacuation, certain classes in the C and D area will go to the tennis courts, while others will vacate to the football field. Details regarding semantics of the new evacuation plan are public, and a map to the new evacuation area is available.
Construction on the California Drive Roundabout is now entering its second stage, four months after construction began. The project, which received final approval in March, is scheduled to be completely finished in January 2019.
Facebook’s virtual reality division, Oculus, is currently negotiating with the city of Burlingame about moving to the Bayshore area within the next two years. Facebook is eyeing the 767,000 square foot area at 300 Airport Blvd., which was formerly occupied by a drive-in theater, but was closed 10 years ago.
Seven months after Deputy Superintendent Kirk Black announced the creation of the district’s homework committee, the Board of Trustees was presented with a summation of the committee’s findings and a draft homework policy. The committee, which was formed last fall to combat student stress and anxiety, is comprised of 23 individuals that represent each district campus and various stakeholder groups, such as the black and asian parent associations.