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 .

What to take away from the Mills basketball game

On Friday, Jan. 12, during the first boys’ varsity basketball quad game of the year against Mills High School, several Burlingame High School students began chanting “You can’t see us” in response to “We can’t hear you” being chanted from the Mills student section.Principal Paul Belzer shut down the cheer immediately. However, it was reported that other comments were being made to players as they ran up and down the court.

Posted on February 12, 2018 .

When “AP” stands for “academic pressure”

AP classes are an opportunity for students to earn college credit while challenging themselves to learn more about a given subject. They contribute to an impressive college application and provide that grade bump that everyone loves. Many students choose to take AP classes, and some enroll in as many as four or five of them. Currently, Burlingame has 17 different AP courses from which to choose.

Posted on February 12, 2018 .

An argument against irreversible fantasy football punishments

Year after year, avid football fans immerse themselves in the action of the National Football League. Sometimes it is to root for their home team, but more often than that, it is to keep up with the performances that their fantasy team players have.Fantasy football, a simulator in which participants draft a team of their choosing to compete for prizes or bragging rights, has become a prime focus of many on gameday.

Posted on February 12, 2018 .

Objectivity is needed

It is impossible to enter into a discussion when objectivity has been lost. When debating controversial topics, such as what role colleges and the government have in restricting personal expression, people on both sides of the argument have to understand the content of the argument should center on facts and logic, not cries of one’s personal emotions holding the power to override anything.

Posted on February 12, 2018 .

Sleeping through the missile warning

On Saturday, January 13, everyone in Hawaii received a message on their phones alerting them of an incoming ballistic missile threat and advising them to “seek immediate shelter.” The  message was written in all caps with a grim “this is not a drill” tacked on the end.

Posted on January 22, 2018 .

Changing rallies for the better

The rallies at Burlingame High School are well organized and go smoothly every year, but these rallies are not very engaging for students. Each year, students participate in the same activities during rallies, but the repetition of events gets uninteresting after a while.

Posted on December 20, 2017 .

PC Culture from a Moderate’s point of view

As students living in the Bay-Area, many of us have grown up learning to be respectful of each other, and most of us have heard in the news and in our own lives  ‘PC,’ or politically correct. Schools like UC Berkeley have appeared in the news boycotting conservative speakers in the name of being PC have led many to question PC culture as helpful or harmful

Posted on December 19, 2017 .