Archive for the ‘Campus & Student Life’ Category

Students share keys to high school success

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

By Marcus Ismael

For most students college is still just a few years away, but for some, college is tantalizingly within reach. Students like seniors Emily Sison, Matthew Tan, Nathan Huey and Sammie Mui, have started early reaching for success. They have involved themselves in community and school programs as well as maintaining good grades and have been rewarded with early acceptances into the colleges they wanted.


Art Christen Alqueza

For Emily Sison, being a successful student is being a person who is, “willing to learn, retain the information and apply it to their life.” Sison has made it through four years of high school with excellent grades in all her classes. She has also taken the time to balance out her academic life with athletics because to her, extracurricular activities are just as important as school. “I recommend students to start extracurriculars early and stick with it for a long period of time,” Sison said. She also recommends that students have some sort of idea of what major they may want to take in college and then research the colleges that cater to their needs. Then students should maintain their grades as well as involve themselves in many of the community service opportunities offered at school. Sison has been accepted into UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, UC Merced, and UC Riverside. Her early acceptance is attributed to her ELC (Eligibility in the Local Context) which allows students in the top four percent or their class to be accepted early.

In Matthew Tan’s opinion, grades and extracurricular activities don’t mean anything if a student does not have the skills to back

Art Christen Alueza

those activities up. For him, being a member of ASB and Key Club, service is important, but it’s more of the traits of dedication and commitment that are more important. “You have to sacrifice your time outside of the classroom and commit yourself to extracurriculars and really make an impact,” Tan said. It’s true that colleges don’t just like to see that students are part of clubs and take an active part in their community, but also like to see long time commitment and dedication. Sticking to something over long periods doesn’t just make your applications and records look better, but also helps others.

Art Christen Alqueza

While maintaining grades is one thing Nathan Huey knows is important, he also agrees with Sison and stresses the significance of extracurricular activities. Huey has participated in many clubs at school such as Key Club and Interact Club where he volunteers for events like the Relay for Life fundraiser. “Service is important to me because it helps the part of the community that cannot help itself,” he said. Not only has Huey taken advantage of the many opportunities provided by clubs here at El Camino, he has also participated in sports like football, wrestling and track. For Huey, sports and volunteering are just as equal as grades. Admissions officers look to see that students are willing to reach out to their community.

One of the top students in her class, Sammie Mui has made her academic efforts stand out amongst her peers. She has been in yearbook since her sophomore year and is now the editor-in-chief. She is currently part of El Camino’s ASB, Key Club and Interact Club. While extracurricular activities are important to Mui, school takes center stage. This year alone, she is enrolled in three AP classes and is able to balance work in and out of school. For all students, doing the work is one thing, but when it comes to challlenges, students often struggle not in the homework itself, but rather asking for assistance. “If I’m confused with anything, I ask for help, whether it’s from friends or from the teacher,” Mui said. For Mui, success with homework, projects and extracurricular work is simple. “Every assignment counts, no matter how little points it’s worth,”Mui said.

Art Christen Alqueza

Successful students are successful for a reason. They put in the effort to make sure that they get and maintain good grades throughout high school. Successful students also utilize all volunteer and extracurricular activities whether it be through school clubs or sports and remain committed to these activities. Finally, the key to being successful isn’t just measured in grades and service but through commitment and dedication. Being a part of the school and community shows colleges and employers that one is prepared to do anything and everything.


Colts practice diverse traditions

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

By Christen Alqueza

As third quarter comes to a close, some students may have noticed how the spirit and festive feelings of the holidays have all but disappeared. Since we live in a dominantly Christian country, many Americans are ignorant of the celebrations of other cultures, such as those of China and India. Just as Christians experience Christmas spirit in the winter, the holiday spirit of some other cultural holidays can be experienced throughout the year.

One such holiday is Chinese New Year, which was celebrated just a month ago starting on February 3 and lasting fifteen days. Although it fell on a weekday, it is supposed to be a fortunate day devoid of negativity, so some students still made efforts to celebrate. Senior Janice Wong celebrated the first day of the lunar new year of the hare with excessive amounts of food at family gatherings, lighting fireworks, and the traditional exchange of red envelopes filled with money. Sophomore Jenny Tai commented, “I only got two envelopes this year, but that’s okay.”

Even some teachers joined in on the festivities; Ms. Vosberg handed out red envelopes to her Chinese students. Some of the more traditional observers have unique customs for Chinese New Year, such as not washing one’s hair that day so as not to wash away the good luck, or refraining from saying or writing the number four because it is similar to the word for death in Chinese. Following the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year comes several more days of symbolism. The seventh day of the New Year fell on February 9 and is called Yan Yat, which is everyone’s birthday, symbolizing the day man was created. Another holiday, Diwali, a Hindu festival that many Indian students celebrate here in the U.S. In the fall, celebrators of Diwali prepare lots of sweets weeks in advance. Then, during the actual five-day festival, families come together to pray in traditional Indian garb in order to thank the gods for bringing light into the world. “The sweets are gifts to god and they also symbolize the ‘sweet’ year we will have after the prayer,” senior Avasinita Kumar said.

El Camino students of different ethnicities observe Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, which occurs in different months every year. This year in May, observers will fast for 30 days, only consuming drinks and beverages before dawn and after dusk. They also devote more time for prayer during this month. After the arduous fasting period is over, Eid el Fitar is celebrated, a day during which observers eat loads of food to make up for all the fasting. “My family and family friends prepare the food buffet-style, then we get together at like eight different houses, expected to eat full meals!” senior Swaaliha Abdul-Rahman said.


Teenage depression… Things can be better

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

By Kayla Kholmeister

Art Christen Alqueza

Have you ever felt like there wasn’t anyone there for you? Like you will always be alone? For people who suffer from depression, they feel this way every day. Depression isn’t just a disease that adults get and isn’t reserved only for teenagers with “problems”. Many teenagers are depressed, ranging from middle school students to college age teens. Unfortunately, many have developed unhealthy ways to cope with these feelings including substance abuse, cutting themselves, eating disorders, and committing suicide.

In the year 2007, more than 42 million suicides were committed by teenagers ages 15 through 24. Many people believe that depression can only occur in people who live in abusive homes or have traumatic events happen to them. In actuality, people can become depressed from a chemical imbalance in the brain’s neurotransmitters which balance your emotions.

There are many things depressed people do to try and “escape”. One of the more widely known methods would be “cutting”. Cutting is when a person purposely injures themselves by actually cutting skin, usually on the wrist but also on the legs and sometimes the stomach. Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia can also be found in depressed teens. People may also turn to drugs or alcohol.

An El Camino student who asked to remain anonymous shared her story of her depression that started in sixth grade. Her reasons for cutting herself varied. “I had family that always made me feel terrible. They would say really mean things that always made me feel like less of a person. Also, my friends were always hurting each other as well as me. And lastly I was depressed because of things my boyfriends would say and do to me.” She never really considered suicide but she may have done so had she continued down that path. Because of counseling, her life is much happier and she hasn’t cut herself in over a year.

If you know a friend is depressed and is harming themselves, going to a counselor (is the best thing to do) or urging them to ask for help. Depression isn’t as far away from you as you think and no one is immune, but help is out there for those who need it.

Student Teachers to the Rescue

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

By Paula Eberle

This year, El Camino High School has resumed its relationship with San Francisco State University, allowing student teachers to once again take over classrooms and learn how to teach from veteran El Camino teachers.

For the first time in three years, El Camino has accepted seven student teachers to partner with master teachers to learn the practical application of teaching. This semester, classes will be taught by student teachers Alan Calac, Apri Chanenian, Bambi Fleemen, Brandon Chrale, Casey Peterson, Rachel Lauderdale, and Sal Costanzo.

“It was a little bit hard [to give up my class] because I got attached to my students,” English teacher Mary Sobrero said, “but I was glad to give it over because [Lauderdale] taught a few guest lessons and was awesome.” Sobrero also said that her students are a good fit for Lauderdale because the students want to do really well and impress both Sobrero and Lauderdale.

Science teacher Kathleen Ravano said that she was also glad to give up her class. “[Calac] is a great professional development person for me, in that he is a technology native and I am a technology immigrant,” Ravano said. To Alicia Vosberg, having a student teacher is really helpful. “I love having [a student teacher] because… they have fresh eyes on things and are very creative,” she said.

For the student teachers themselves, it is a very helpful opportunity. “It is intimidating and tiring, but fulfilling,” Calac, the student teacher for science teachers David Jordan and Kathleen Ravano, said.

Lauderdale, a student teacher in the English department appreciates the relationship she has developed with her mentor teachers. “My master teachers are extremely helpful. Anything I need help with they give me advice on, but are also open to my own philosophy,” Lauderdale said about English teachers Adam McLearan and Sobrero.

For students, having a student teacher is helpful. “They add insight and you can have more one-on-one conversations,” senior Brian Trinh said.


Student Survival Guide: Web Etiquette

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

By RJ Refuerzo

Picture this: You’ve just attached your personal statement to your scholarship application. You receive confirmation that your application’s been successfully sent. You’re free… right? Not quite.

Your application joins every Tweet, every hastily posted Facebook update, every incriminating photo of you ever posted. With more and more frequency, colleges are searching the web for the “real you.” Here are some tips to keep colleges from redflagging your apps and maintain respectable web etiquette:


1. Yeah, we all know Facebook and Tumblr are hot sites to post photos, but the world doesn’t want to see photos of your “first binge!” or “getting high!” Even if the photos are fake, colleges and school administrations won’t know the difference. Posting on the world stage and not expect any negative repercussions is just plain naive, especially when attempting to persuade authorities that the beer bottle is just root beer. A picture is worth a thousand words, and one of them is likely to be, “Denied!”

2. Speaking of words, the other thousand is a word limit on each update, yet people still find ways to butcher the English language in 420 characters or less. I get it: abbreviations are meant to cut back on character counts and time, especially when you’re on the go, but where’s the line separating efficiency from readability and appropriateness? The line is before “lol wat didu do 2day @ da park?” and definitely before “hEY wh@’2 7Eh PL4n 70D4y?” Even worse is the way people curse more than a Harry Potter movie, and purposely throw grammar out the window. People get offended when others assume things based on how they speak online, but these assumptions are never unfounded. If you speak “jankily”, you’re presented as “janky.” Bonus tip: Lay off the caps lock. No need to scream that you’re at TANFORAN with your “PEEPS”; we won’t read your post any louder.

3. Watch what you say in your profile. This should be the most obvious, but for some reason it’s the most overlooked. Try your best to keep your profile information as current as possible, because is the worldwide representation of who you are. Just as important as your status updates are those Facebook groups you “like” because you find them funny or relatable. These pile up on your page faster than Tetris blocks, but never clear away. Colleges won’t find “NAZI PARTY!” anywhere as funny as you hope they will. Take some time to take the embarrassing ones off your profile before colleges take you off their lists.

4. Did you know that the very first thing teachers and colleges see is your email address? Students tend to miss this completely, firing off professionally written emails and submitting over-the-top applications without considering that colleges may be put off by “” Complete your web presence with a professional address using your real name and perhaps a meaningful year, and use a modern supplier like Google Mail. Guys, this doesn’t mean you need to stop using “”; just make sure colleges receive a good email.


Counselors and Career Center increase post high school informational events

December 10, 2010 Leave a comment
By Bisma Shabhaz
Over the last few years, the Counseling Office and Career Center have increasingly been reaching out to students by planning events and conducting one-on-one meetings to educate students on their options after high school. Possible career options include trade or career schools, armed forces, with an emphasis on colleges and four-year universities. “The better and earlier students are prepared the better they will be,” Career Counselor Yamila Dielacher said.

As college entrance requirements get tougher and tougher every year, counselors Patty Vlahakos, Jocelyn Pascoe, Lea Sanguinetti and Dielacher are working harder to emphasize how crucial it is for students to be aware of the college entrance requirements. With hopes of an increase of enrollment in colleges and four-year universities from El Camino students, counselors are talking to every grade level so they can reach out to the entire student population. Counselors called down English classes for CSU Mentor presentations that many students found useful.

“It showed me my options for colleges which was really helpful,” sophomore Ashley Bowerman said. Among the events planned were presentations by six different colleges held for students which included Dominican University on September 27 and University of California, Berkeley on September 22.

“We hope to start them on the process and we are here to guide them into the right direction,” Vlahakos said.

Furthermore, the counselors provided students with new editions of the “Life After High School” booklet and encouraged students to take part in practice SAT tests. To encourage more parents to participate, counselors have organized parent nights and financial aid workshops such as the upcoming Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) workshop on January 11, 2011 which provides a step-by-step guide for parents to find out how much money their student can qualify for college.

Students also have the benefit of having one-on-one time with both the Career Center and their counselors. “Students don’t realize how lucky they are to have help right at their fingertips; some even look at it as a waste of time,” Pascoe said.

With one-on-one time, students have the opportunity to get information on deadlines, scholarships, applications, college requirements, internships and learn whether they are qualified for financial aid. Many students have already had one-on-one time with their respective counselors and most students, especially seniors, found it helpful.

“They answered questions I had and told me important information I never knew prior to meeting them,” senior Lianne Capistrano said. By spending time with students, counselors create awareness and ease any anxieties students have about college.

On October 12, El Camino held a College Career Fair open to all students. El Camino was the only high school in the district that was able to organize 35 different colleges to take part in their College Career Fair, an increase of 10 colleges from last year.

Attending were Stanford University, Academy of Art University, California State University-East Bay, FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising), NROTC (Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps) amongst others. College representatives were very impressed with the response and how respectful El Camino students were and expressed their intentions of returning next year according to Vlahakos and Dielacher.

Early on the counselors and Dielacher had faced some difficulties dealing with college representations that were not committed and were also faced with financial challenges while organizing events like the College Career Fair. However, they continued to persist and eventually Dielacher was able to find sponsors such as Jim Cullen from JSI logistics, Kraig Moore from Giustos Vita Grain, Starbucks, amongst other smaller organizations from the community. Student participation and interest contributed to the event’s success according to Vlahakos.

Students are encouraged to make appointments or come in before school, lunch, or after school to meet with their counselors and with Dielacher in the Career Center if they need more information or have further questions.


Freaks come out at night

December 10, 2010 Leave a comment

By Ray Concepcion


(Art Christen Alqueza)

Bow chicka wah wah–your favorite song comes on at the dance. The bass is slapping and next thing you know you’re pressed up against a stranger. Ten seconds later you’re being escorted out in the cold wondering why you’ve been kicked out.

It’s true that school dances are meant for students and their friends to dance together, however “dry humping” to the beat can hardly be considered dancing. It may not seem like a big deal at the smaller informal dances, but imagine paying anywhere between $20 and $100 to get kicked out of a formal dance. In reality, hardly anybody gets kicked out of formal dances for dancing inappropriately, or “freaking”.

Principal Adele Berg believes the reason for this is less a money issue and more a wardrobe issue. “It’s a noticeable behavior change when you see somebody in casual clothes as opposed to formal clothing. Even look at the football players on game day, they tend to be more well behaved in class and when they’re just hanging out at lunch,” Berg said.

Another likely cause of freaking is the dance venue. At a normal courtyard dance, about ten percent of attendees are removed from the event. At a formal dance such as Junior Prom or Senior Ball, it’s extremely rare for someone to get kicked out or even dance inappropriately. Unfortunately, at this year’s much anticipated Homecoming dance in the big gym, about 50 percent of attendees were kicked out due to freaking. “I was appalled to see so many people breaking the rules like that, it hasn’t been that bad since before I instated the zero-tolerance for freaking policy,” Berg said. Berg believed, at first, a dance in the gym was a great idea. However, after the Homecoming dance, she believes another dance in the gym is unlikely to happen.

Some, like freshman Geli Maurille, believe that it was not entirely the students at fault and that security was partly to blame for the high percentage. Maurille explained that in most cases, security gave no prior warning before escorting a student out of the dance.

There is a zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate dancing of any kind and not only is it against the rules, it may also have negative effects on your future dances at El Camino.