Should we have different rally colors for each grade?

The Homecoming Rally featured students of each class wearing different colors, breaking the school’s annual tradition of a red code. Freshmen sported shades of yellow, sophomores dressed in blue, juniors wore shades of green and seniors donned red. For the first time in the history of BHS, all students wore not red, but different colors representing different Hogwarts factions and, now, each grade level. This break in our school’s classic tradition of “redding out” is what Burlingame needs to boost our spirit and pride.

Different schools throughout the San Mateo Union High School District such as Aragon, Mills and San Mateo all have varying levels of spirit as well as different ways of expressing their school pride.

At Mills High School, each rally that is held pertains to a specific theme from which their rally colors are based off of. According to junior Krista Woo, the school wears their school colors at the first rally, then each class is assigned a different color per each additional rally.

“Wearing different colors at each rally helps makes the experience a little different every time,” Woo said. “It’s fun to have a specific theme that the whole school goes along with.”

Similarly, students at Aragon High School don class colors that are specific to each grade level. For junior Cameron Ong, class colors encourage spirit at rallies even though the same class color is maintained year-round.

“The colors don’t get that redundant because they’re not our Aragon red and black that we would wear—if not for class colors.” Ong said.

At San Mateo High School, the school sports orange and black at its rallies and maintains a substantial level of school spirit. For junior Megan Saclayan, the school colors establishes a sense of spirit, unity, and school pride. Saclayan enjoys wearing the same colors to every rally because is able to see all her peers wanting to participate during the event.

“The students and faculty all deck out in orange and black,” Saclayan said. “Some wear face paint, tutus, fun socks, spirit gear, hair spray, etc.”

San Mateo High School’s leadership team has also started experimenting with class colors. According to Saclayan, the high school has only had one rally where each fourth period class was assigned a color according to the four elements: water, earth, air and fire.

“I think a change in rally colors would be beneficial to our school spirit,” Saclayan said. “That way we can express our love for our school in different colors.”

Although school colors do establish a sense of school pride, class colors are just what Burlingame needs to create school unity by embracing everything that is unique about each class and each individual.

According to Woo, rallies are the essence of “embracing our spirit and class as we all try to cheer the loudest and show the most spirit.”

“Coming together in one room or one area makes us visualize how the love we share at our school makes us a family,”Saclayan said.

 Freshmen show their spirit by wearing yellow during the Freshman dance routine.

Freshmen show their spirit by wearing yellow during the Freshman dance routine.

Posted on November 22, 2018 .

Asians lack identity in the eyes of college admissions

In second grade, I had a realization. I had been mistaken for four other Asian girls who looked nothing like me for the whole year. Two of them had glasses. I didn’t. Another had short hair. I didn’t. At that point I realized what it meant to be Asian in America. I was basically invisible, a small figure within the mass of identical Asians.

Posted on November 22, 2018 .

Lunch should be longer

High school isn’t just about grades, tests and college applications. An often neglected part of the high school experience is the social development that students experience as they transition from the protected school environment into the world ahead.

 Burlingame's schedule doesn't allow for enough student socialization

Burlingame's schedule doesn't allow for enough student socialization

The friendships and connections that are made in high school have the potential to last a lifetime. During the trials and tribulations of adolescence, teens can find friends through similar hobbies and interests, via shared social experiences. For example, a group of friends that is interested in debate, and debates during their lunchtime club. Even relationships with mentors can be formed that assist in the creation of opportunities for school and jobs further down the line.

However, Burlingame allows for little time within school hours to organically create such social connections. Every day, students have a 10-minute brunch and 30-minute lunch; there are 40 minutes per day not spent in class compared to almost six hours in class. That said, the brunch and lunch periods begin as soon as the bell rings for the end of the previous period, reducing those 40 minutes to 35 minutes maximum. The result is that about 9.7 percent of time at school is spent outside of the classroom, resulting in very little time to socialize or take a break from intense learning.

Aside from the individual student health value, longer classroom breaks would curb a recognized campus issue: lack of school spirit. Lack of school spirit correlates to a student body that isn’t well connected. Most student’s friend groups are limited to those they share a class or extracurricular with. Through these areas, many close friends can be made via undergoing challenges together.

This social setup contrasts the business world, where connections are formed when one takes initiative and introduce oneself to someone they’d like to meet. A skill even more crucial than what can be taught in class is the ability to communicate with others, and the only way to develop such a skill is via social situations where an individual makes the first move. Longer classroom breaks would give students more time to branch out, meet new people, and develop skill sets more important than what they just learned behind their desk.

One can only feel spirit towards a community they feel they are a part of, one with which they are familiar. Thus, school spirit can only exist if a sense of community is encouraged in the day-to-day BHS schedule. With more classroom breaks, and more time for student socialization, Burlingame will set their students up for lifetime success, and allow the creation of a spirited and connected student body.

Posted on November 22, 2018 .

Offensive Halloween costumes

Halloween is appreciated by many countries worldwide, as it allows individuals to become someone else entirely for a night. However, this opportunity to dress up is often mistaken as an opportunity to adopt the culture of others without truly considering how offensive it can be towards people of that culture.

The most common examples of these culturally offensive costumes include dressing as Native Americans, sugar skulls from Dia de los Muertos, using blackface and many others. Using culture as a costume degrades all meaning behind that culture and also trivialize the experiences of its people.

“From personal experience, seeing a non-Mexican or Chicano person wearing a sugar skull costume belittles the amazing and culture-filled celebration that is Day of the Dead. By wearing the costume, the beautiful holiday is reduced to a fun thing to wear for Halloween, when it means so much more to many people with Mexican heritage,” junior Cecilia Lunaparra said.

By not knowing the true meaning behind these traditions, those who wear cultures as costumes are unknowingly feeding our ignorance towards other cultures. In order to truly appreciate every culture and its traditions, people cannot continue to use it as a costume.

Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of the loss of loved ones. Dressing as a sugar skull represents a departed soul and their rebirth, a beautiful idea of loved ones in the afterlife. By wearing sugar skulls as costumes, especially without knowing their meaning, people grossly disrespect the tradition. They fail to realize that they are making a mockery of people grieving and celebrating the lives of their loved ones.

Another example of cultural appropriation present in Halloween costumes is blackface. The idea of blackface goes back to slavery, when Americans would use it in comedic plays and musicals, rooted in the painful past of African Americans. This practice continued to spread stereotypes about African American culture and their experiences during slavery. Using blackface in a Halloween costume not only brings up that struggle, but continues to spread stereotypes surrounding it.

One of the most common forms of cultural appropriation is in dressing as a Native American. Yes, this includes dressing as Pocahontas. This costume is very offensive to indigenous people because it makes fun of not just their culture, but their struggle throughout history to maintain their heritage. Similar to dressing in a sugar skull costume, dressing as a Native American belittles the culture and traditions behind it, as those who wear it often do not understand their meanings.

“Dressing up as what one perceives as a Native person belittles their struggles in everyday society, especially considering the current administration’s attempt to silence their vote and continue to place institutions which keep many indigenous communities in poverty. When deciding to wear a headdress and other supposed symbols generalizing indigenous people, their culture is trivialized into a caricature, and the United States’ horrid history of deliberately murdering those wearing headdresses is erased,” Lunaparra said.

Americans are continuing the disrespect we have shown towards other cultures by wearing them as costumes. We continue to spread stereotypes by selecting the most attractive aspects of different cultures and portraying them without truly acknowledging all meaning behind it.

Halloween is a chance to become someone else. But this does not mean that one can adopt another person’s culture and overlook the emotional connection and meaning behind it. Culture should never be a costume. Respect other cultures. Don’t disregard them.

Posted on November 3, 2018 .

Born to be wild

Because our generation is the first to grow up with iPhones and social media, we are a generation defined by our access to technology. People have more access to information about typically taboo subjects, like sex and drug use. By discussing and educating ourselves on these subjects, our generation has the lowest teenage pregnancy and alcohol or drug abuse rates in decades. Yet, at Burlingame, students seem to be engaging in the same behaviors as past generations, and to a greater extent.

 Our generation has less sex, but this trend doesn’t extend to Burlingame.

Our generation has less sex, but this trend doesn’t extend to Burlingame.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey found 14 percent of high school students nationally used illicit drugs in 2017, a decline from 22.6 percent in 2007. Comparatively, the 2017-2018 San Mateo Union Healthy Kids Survey revealed that 55 percent of high school seniors in our district used drugs or alcohol in their lifetime, 54 percent used illicit drugs to get high and 35 percent were engaged in drug or alcohol abuse on a regular basis.

“Drugs help me to disassociate from everything. It takes away the stress for a few hours and I can just sleep or relax without feeling all over the place,” one Burlingame junior said.

As colleges become increasingly competitive and academic pressure peaks, teenagers have to deal with hours of homework, college applications and involvement in various extracurriculars to build their resumes. So, they turn to alternative methods to deal with their scholastic stress. In our school, it’s the students taking five AP classes who use drugs most often, showing that drugs have morphed from a recreational habit to self-medication and escape.

The national survey found that 47.8 percent of students interviewed by the national survey in 2007 had had sex, while only 39.5 percent had by 2017. However, the Healthy Kids Survey does not provide statistics on Burlingame student’s sexual activity.

“Oh, in the fifties and sixties it was unheard of. Nobody talked about sex at all,” Health teacher Donna Krause said. Playboy and the occasional ‘dirty flic’ used to be the apex of a teenager’s access to sex, and social themes stigmatized sex into a shameful and condemned subject.

Our generation has an increased awareness of how society sees sex, creating a fear of stigma and making teenagers less inclined to engage in sexual activity. Mandatory health class and years of being told unrestricted sex and drugs are bad for us has made our generation more wary of the dangers of traditionally ‘unhealthy’ behaviors. Anti-smoking campaigns and urban legends about teenage ruin at the hands of drugs has led teenagers today to engage in fewer risky behaviors.

However, our generation also has access to sexually explicit movies, online pornography and the over-sexualization of women over social media. Pop culture reinforces a trend of seeking physical intimacy over real relationships through apps like Tinder and titles like ‘friends with benefits.’

“[Teenagers] are more into hooking up because sex is a biological need,” chemistry teacher Susan Marcan said. “You can date, but you're not developing relationships in the same way. You're getting the quick intimacy, but you're not doing the foundational work.”

While our generation shows an overall trend of engaging in fewer risky behaviors, contradictions on a local scale mean teenagers are participating in more sexual activity and drug use than before. As we grow up in this information era, awareness about sex and drugs is increasing, and the normalization of these behaviors is prevalent in Burlingame.

Posted on October 28, 2018 .

We all have a story

All women have a story. It could be a catcall as you walk down the street. Or a demeaning joke that you don’t know how to react to. It could be an unwarranted grab or a squeeze that nobody else notices. It could be a forced kiss or something even worse.

Posted on October 25, 2018 .

Evacuation frustration

The evacuation site for C and D building classes has been changed to the tennis courts in an attempt to reduce congestion on the football field. This change brings up some concerns and questions regarding the tennis courts’ safety and effectiveness as an evacuation site. 

   The tennis courts are enclosed by ten foot fences with locked gates.

The tennis courts are enclosed by ten foot fences with locked gates.

Last year during an evacuation at BHS, most of the students would have to walk through the basketball courts and the single 10 foot wide entrance between the football bleachers and softball cage onto the football field. The C and D building students would enter the football field from in between the tennis courts and swimming pool. Although the change in evacuation site was made to reduce congestion while going to the field, diverting only the C and D building students should have no effect on the massive congestion between the football bleachers and the softball cage since the C and D building students already enter from a different entrance in the first place. Not only is the change in evacuation site ineffective, it is also unsafe and dangerous in the case of an emergency.

The tennis courts are an enclosed area with 10 foot high fences on all four sides — an obstacle that is difficult to scale for many. The tennis courts’ access points consist of two doors: one 48 inch wide door and one 96 inch wide door. With the C building holding anywhere between 300 and 500 students at a time, these two access points are not adequate to allow the fast flow of students in and out of the tennis courts. Furthermore, the doors to the tennis courts are normally locked to prevent unauthorized usage. During an emergency, it would be impractical to require someone to unlock the doors to the evacuation site. If it were to be necessary for students to leave the evacuation site because of a school shooter or an approaching fire, it would be a slow process, threatening the safety and well-being of the students. 

“It’s almost as if we are going into a cage,” sophomore Arthur Powers said. 

When questioned about the topic, sophomore Aaron Becker said that he “won’t feel as safe [on the tennis courts] as [he] would on the field” during an evacuation.

With obstacles such as 10 foot tall fences, limited and locked access points and failure to address the problem of congestion, the tennis courts fail as a safe and effective evacuation site. To properly address the problem with congestion, it may be a worthwhile investment to move the softball cage elsewhere, which would widen the entrance to the football field significantly. Outside of the softball season, it serves no purpose other than as a storage area. Another solution could just be to evacuate onto the softball field. It is not fully enclosed and even larger than the tennis courts. 

Posted on September 28, 2018 .

Parents need to check themselves

If you’re a kid in the U.S. talking to an adult to whom you have never spoken before, you know that an extremely predictable set of questions is coming your way.

“What’s your favorite subject in school?” 

“What do you like to do?”

“What sports do you play?”

The question about school makes sense — every kid has to go to school. The question about what you like to do also makes sense, as everybody likes to do something, and most people are keen to discuss their passions. The sports question, too, is a logical one to ask a kid. After all, how many kids in America have never played a sport before? But some of the answers the sports question can elicit from a kid warrant more scrutiny than they typically receive.

“I play on a year-round AAU basketball team and I play baseball too.”

“I do cross country, track, and lacrosse.”

“I do gymnastics and club soccer.”

More often than not, kids will be multi-sport athletes, and many of them play sports competitively. The time commitments some competitive sports entail are inordinate. A top-level 10-year-old club soccer team will practice four to five days a week, with games every weekend and sporadic tournaments occurring throughout the year. Kids are usually expected to arrive early for games, sometimes an hour in advance, and games are frequently an hour-long drive away. It is no different with competitive cheer, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, football, or any other sport. 

What is odd, then, is how many kids are involved in high-level sports. One would think that for parents to be complicit with driving their kids all over the place and sacrificing their weekends for the sake of a youth sports team, they would have a good reason for doing so. Maybe they’re convinced of their kid’s ability to earn an athletic scholarship or become a professional athlete. Maybe they think that their kid’s childhood will be significantly enriched by the camaraderie and discipline fostered by high-level sports. 

But if every parent of a kid who plays a high-level competitive sport had to justify their child’s expenditure of time on sports, would most of their answers be justified? I seriously doubt it.

Go to a few AAU basketball games. Regardless of how old the kids are, one consistency will make itself evident: inexorable shouting emitted from the sidelines. The source of that shouting? Parents. 

Anyone who has played a youth sport, competitive or otherwise, is familiar with the trope of the sideline coach. That one parent who somehow knows exactly what their kid should be doing at all times, and who feels obligated to stridently vocalize their analytical prowess from the start of the game to the final whistle. At some games, parents who are not sideline coaches are the minority. 

The prevalence of sideline coaches at youth sports games is indicative of a trend: lots of parents want their kids to play competitive sports so that they, along with their kids, can bask in the glory of a win, and so they can vicariously experience all of the emotions sports evoke. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Parents should be allowed to be proud of their kids, and if they can derive some happiness from watching their kid play a sport, then good for them. 

 “It’s like pretty much watching yourself,” said Kai Galia, a BHS senior who has been playing high-level competitive soccer since he was in elementary school and whose dad has always been vocal from the sideline.

Galia has never minded his dad’s presence at his games, and why should he have? Playing soccer always brought him joy, and sharing that with his dad was never a problem. But there are plenty of parents out there who push their kids into playing high-level sports without asking if their kids actually want to be playing competitively.  

“You shouldn’t be wasting your time just because your parents are forcing you to play something,” Galia said. 

Galia noted that in Switzerland, where he lived for one year towards the end of elementary school, his teammates were far more spirited. 

“Over there, they want to play the sport. They want to go pro, they want to be like their idols,” he said. “The kids have more passion. They want to win the game.”

Until parents stop being more passionate about their kids’ sports than their kids are, time will continue to be squandered driving to practices and games, and Swiss soccer fields will continue to be more passion-filled than American ones.

Posted on September 28, 2018 .

The value of individual sports

It’s 3:45, a half hour after school lets out. Some student athletes jog out to the field, some trek to the pool and some navigate through locker rooms smelling of sweat and deodorant. All of them have to go to practice.

Sports hold an important place on the campus, not just for athletes. Players, band members and spectators all play a role in the athletic community.

   Varsity swimmer sophomore Cherilyn Yu races in the 100 meter.

Varsity swimmer sophomore Cherilyn Yu races in the 100 meter.

All sports are different in the skills they require of participants, both physically and mentally. But in general terms, sports fall into one of two categories: team or individual. While both hold value in the skills they develop, individual sports have a much longer lasting and meaningful impact on athletes, both in the lessons they teach and opportunities they present. 

Team sports are enjoyable  because they give athletes the chance to bond. Making friends, socializing, and having a good time all have value. However, team sports lack any long-lasting emotional and psychological benefits for athletes. 

“I like the relationship I build with my teammates and working together as a group,” said junior Connor Kall, who is a baseball and football player.

This camaraderie definitely holds social merit. But for many athletes, that’s the extent of their team experience. The idea of dependence on teammates misleads many less-experienced players, causing them to be carried by the more experienced. 

For example, the star players on the varsity soccer team travel to CCS with the benchwarmers. Some say this is an opportunity for players lacking skill to learn from better players. However, more often it creates a sense of unfulfillment among lesser players who feel it was just a victory for the team’s top members. The myth that all players on the team have an equal stake in success is far from reality.

On the other hand, individual sports curb feelings of hierarchy and skillful deficiency. Individual sport success is 100 percent up to the athlete, the individual.

“Individual sports build perseverance,” said junior Alec Sasano, who participates in swim. ”You definitely need to get in the mindset where you don’t give up, whereas team sports you can depend on others.”

With individual sports, achievements, failures, wins and losses can’t be blamed on teammates or corrected with a switch of positions. This total responsibility makes losing much harsher and victory immensely more rewarding. However much effort an athlete puts into training results in that much success; never more and never less. 

Most importantly, committing to individual sports imparts a lifestyle that indicates success later in life. Several years down the road, studying at 2:30 a.m. on a Wednesday night for a college exam in the morning will require perseverance and willpower.

The skills of determination, perseverance, and self-reliance are a cornerstone of individual sports. These values aid athletes throughout the rest of their lives. 

While team sports provide a fun athletic social experience, individual sports allow one to commit to achieving self-set goals and learn an unparalleled level of perseverance.

Posted on September 28, 2018 .

Social Media is controlling our social lives

In our era of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, many people argue about how social media is leaving a lasting impact on the new generations. As social media becomes more and more ingrained in our culture, the question comes up: How is this virtual world of posts and likes changing how people act in the real world?

“It isn’t reality… and for teenagers there is less of an understanding that social media is not reality,” said chemistry teacher and Instagram user Susan Marcan.

When students see all these Instagram posts showing how exciting everyone’s lives are, they are made to feel like their own lives are inadequate. Because social media only shows the parts of students lives that they want to share, social media lives can seem deceptively perfect to onlookers. And when everyone else’s lives look perfect, students start seeing their own lives as boring, and not up to standard.

“They’re not working on being more interesting, they’re working on making themselves look more interesting,” Marcan said.

When social media appearances take priority over actual, real-life social ability, students start feeling pressure to excel in their media platforms, rather than in more substantial areas of their lives. Because we have a culture revolving around social media, kids are beginning to act certain ways to fulfill the picture of popularity as seen on Instagram.

Some students will go to the city, nice restaurants, museums, or hiking trails, and instead of valuing the actual experience, they’ll care more about the photo they get. Some even feel the pressure to hang out with different people, to increase their own social media popularity. Many students feel the need to dress in certain ways to entertain popular aesthetics. As Marcan puts it, “They’ll pose in front of a beautiful piece of art, but not look at the art.”

Social media values image over substance. On Instagram, it does not matter how nice or funny or smart you are, because people are judging a compilation of photos you’ve chosen to represent you, instead of judging you as a person. As a person scrolls down your feed, they are judging the parts of your life you’ve chosen to share, not necessarily the person you are in reality. Instead of liking people, we are liking media. And born out of this judgement, is a need for validation. Born and raised into believing validation comes not from a sense of self, but from the amount of likes you get, students are starting to change their real lives to improve their Instagram pages. Often, students will be more preoccupied with getting the perfect picture than enjoying their friend’s company. We’ll be more interested in how the view will enhance our photos than the actual beauty of it. Social media causes us to care more about the appearance of our lives than the actual substance.

Posted on May 28, 2018 .

The dilemma of angry American boys and guns

There is something seriously flawed with the cult of American masculinity, and the problem has never been more evident than within the American mass shooting epidemic. According to statistics from Statista, between 1982 and February 2018, there have been roughly ninety-seven deadly mass shootings in the United States. Ninety-four of these atrocities were carried out by males. The unproportionally high percentage of male mass murderers cannot be mere coincidence. As much as this could be labeled a sexist claim, the numbers do not lie; there exists an issue with American men. 

Posted on May 3, 2018 .

Not-Your-House Party

With Prom on the way, Burlingame juniors and seniors have a lot of planning to get ready. Students have to coordinate outfits, makeup, dinner plans, and, of course, after parties. During this festive time, upperclassmen are faced with finding a large and safe venue to celebrate after Prom, and the company Airbnb offers a solution.

Posted on May 3, 2018 .

Math pathways inflict confusion on students

The standard path for entering students is first Algebra I, Geometry and then Algebra II courses which many agree are too easy. The other option is to take an accelerated class which isn’t suitable for most students. It is also possible to take Geometry over the summer, although counselor Karen Latham does not recommend this option, as it means completing an entire year of math in a window of a few weeks’ time. The school has tried to avoid this dilemma by implementing the accelerated track, but this solution comes with problems of its own. 

Posted on May 3, 2018 .

Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts continue to the reinforce the same gender stereotypes since their establishment

When people think about Girl Scouts, the first thing that probably comes to mind are little girls selling cookies; when they think of Boy Scouts, most think of camping, knot tying and other activities deemed masculine. These are common misconceptions about these gender-based groups. However, there is an evident and significant separation between these groups and the benefits it can serve to its members.

Posted on March 28, 2018 .

The realities behind mixing alcohol and hook-up culture

One in four girls and one in 20 boys are sexually abused before they turn 18, with alcohol and drugs playing a factor in many cases. “Almost every female can tell you a story about that, whether they’ve been made to feel uncomfortable or worse,” history teacher Peter Medine said. “And I think the big shocking thing, for me as the guy, is just how common it really is.

Posted on March 6, 2018 .

My generation: The Revolutionaries

My generation grew up hearing about the Columbine shooting. We watched first-graders bury their best friends after Sandy Hook. But following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. that left 17 dead, we’ve decided we’ve had enough. Things must change.In an unprecedented awakening, high schoolers are leading the rallying cry to revise gun control laws. Passionate and articulate students from MSD have inspired students all over the nation to unite and demand change. Like other communities, Burlingame High School is also feeding off the Parkland momentum. Senior Claire Beswick is part of a district-wide group helping organize a San Mateo March for Our Lives event.

Posted on March 6, 2018 .

Burlingame students rank Oscar-nominated films

This year, there are nine movies nominated for the Best Picture at the Academy Awards. This year there has not been a clear frontrunner throughout the awards season. Considering what happened last year, when “La La Land” was predicted to win and was announced as the winner, only to be told that had been a mistake and “Moonlight” was to receive the Best Picture award, anything could happen this year. I, along with 14 other Burlingame students, saw all of the movies nominated for Best Picture.

Posted on March 3, 2018 .