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Step by step: Completing senior project

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

By Katrina Nolasco

It’s interesting to see the mixed feelings every senior has about starting their senior project. I mean, sure, it IS a big deal. It is, after all, the determinant of whether or not you get to graduate high school, but I never saw it as a huge problem.. I wasn’t particularly nervous about this project until everyone around me began freaking out about the whole thing. The following is a log that I’ve kept, recording my experiences and challenges I’ve faced while keeping up with this project:

January 17, 2011

Just thinking about a good senior project theme that both interests me and is deemed appropriate under the new rules and regulations is difficult enough. As of now, making the first deadline seems out of the question. Less than four days to find a project theme, mentor and some sort of non-profit volunteer site is beyond ridiculous. How am I supposed to focus on finding people that have expertise in a specific field that I haven’t even come up with yet while simultaneously balancing homework and work for the next four days? In some ways, I think teachers tend to overestimate the time AP students have. We can’t juggle everything at once. Then again, I’m going to try anyway – I have no choice.

January 18, 2011

To me, the most difficult part of this entire project is actually finding the tools necessary to get started. When one is on a time budget, the pressure to succeed with flying colors increases. Nonetheless, I can’t let my motivated brain fail me now.

Step 1: Find a project theme

The seniors of 2011 have had to deal with new restrictions regarding picking a project theme. We gripe and complain for a good 24 hours about how cooking and job-shadowing have been scratched off the list, then get over it and move on. When one looks at the big picture, one will see that there’s still a broad list of themes to choose from that doesn’t involve “food preparation”, “police-ride-alongs” and “bring-your-kid-to-work-day”. Upon reading the official handbook a few times, a good, feasible, seemingly worth-while idea came to mind. This may be a stretch, but stay with me here. There’s no specific name for this, so I’ll just throw it out there and see what everyone makes of it:

For my spectacular senior project, I’ve chosen to do charity work. But, wait! There’s more. While working at various volunteering sites, I’ve decided to record my experiences and post them up on the internet. My main goal here is to prove to the world that the internet is a valid resource for spreading information that has a positive effect on society. I really hope to inspire the web community to follow my example and perform their own acts of service and selflessness. How I’ll be able to find someone that has at least a tiny bit of expertise in this particular field is beyond me. All I know is that I have less than two days to do it!

January 19, 2011

Things are finally falling into place. I got off my lazy butt and finally began researching. Ironically, the one piece of advice the seniors of 2010 gave me was “Don’t procrastinate on your senior project!” Well, look at me now!

Step 2: Find a project mentor

In my opinion, this is probably the most stressful part of the entire project. Hours of research on the internet and playing phone-tag with local businesses is something one wouldn’t usually enjoy doing with their time. At one point, I was honestly ready to just give up. But, I finally found salvation the minute I logged into my e-mail account and saw that I had one new message from Facebook. At first, I was ready to delete it, thinking it was just spam, but I glanced at it again and saw that it was a message from my cousin’s friend. My heart jumped and I was cheering loudly in my mind. I read through the entire message and was excited to see that he had agreed to be my project mentor. I had this great urge to…

All I need to do is get my mentor agreement form signed and I’ll be on my way to starting senior project.

February 2, 2011

Organization is really one of the key factors of being successful with this project. It won’t do anyone any good if you lose a signed contract or spill coffee all over a research paper draft. A tip that I strongly suggest everyone follows concerning this project is to keep all of your things neat and tidy. That way you won’t have to worry about losing any important documents. I know that, personally, organization and tidiness isn’t exactly one of my strong suits. I’m so happy that my teacher provided us with a little “senior project file” in her classroom. Now all I have to do is pull up my folder if I need to find something. This makes things so much easier. I really didn’t want to carry around piles and piles of lose paper anyway. Thank God for “neat and tidy” Ms. Panosian!

February 11, 2011

Receiving any messages from my project mentor makes me really glad. Checking my e-mail to see that I have one new message from him just shows me that I’m making progress on this tedious project. Though, thinking about it now, work isn’t necessarily “tedious” if you have fun doing it. I mean, I honestly thought that going into this senior project would almost be like hell, but, actually sitting down and being productive about it actually makes me happy. Truthfully, that’s a big tip for anything. Being productive will make any person happy, regardless of what they’re doing. Now, as far as senior project goes, it also helps to choose a topic that you can be excited about. I’m meeting my mentor for my 1st mentoring session in a few days. FINALLY!

February 14, 2011

I met up with John today. We didn’t really do anything too productive for my senior project. Today was, I suppose, a sort of “introduction” day. He wanted me to grow comfortable with walking around his company building and introduce myself to some of his friends/workmates. I learned today that working for a successful internet company has its perks! We started the day by taking a tour around his office. I was fortunate enough to get a good feel around the office. I thought it was amusing – most of the employees there seemed like total “nerds”. There were life-sized lego statues and a lot of people walking around with thin-rimmed glasses. I felt like I was surrounded by a bunch of geeks with pocket protectors and silly novelty ties – my mentor included. What I loved most about visiting John’s workplace was that face that people there seemed so comfortable with being themselves. It was really refreshing. At the end of the day, I was really happy with my choice of project mentors.

February 20, 2011

Like I established before, my project theme is very unique, in my opinion. Coming up with a volunteer site relevant to my project seemed quite difficult. Luckily, I found my way around the subject. I came to my teacher ahead of time with this proposition – since my project is about spreading good things through the internet, I thought that maybe I could just do that. So, I got it approved. For my community service hours, I’ll be joining a non-profit organization and making videos about my experiences at the site and the benefits of volunteerism as well as environmentalism (I’ll be working at a very pro-earth organization). I really cannot wait to get started. All of this seems so over-whelming, yet I’m having the greatest time!

February 25, 2011

I’ve learned quite a bit from my project mentor. I was able to speak to him over Skype and interview him for a few minutes. I’ve basically learned about the foundation of his company, what his job is about, and any other basic knowledge that he has about internet sharing. After this quick interview, I thought for a long time about what to do for the research paper. At first, I was a little nervous about starting this paper. I looked over some sample papers (i.e. Lauren Eberle) and they seemed really long and thought through. But, then I thought about it again, and read over the papers a second time. I had realized that these papers were pretty much just retained information! There really isn’t that much effort put into these papers except looking up the information, retaining the information, and spitting it all out in your own words across 6 pages of paper. Pretty simple, yet pretty tedious. Though I’m not looking forward to sitting down and doing research for hours and hours, I’m not worried about the paper either. Plus, with a project like mine, it shouldn’t be too hard to find something to write about.

It may seem scary at first, but the senior project really isn’t something any senior should be nervous about. Through my experiences explained above, it’s easy to see that it really takes to have a successful project is a lot of dedication. If you focus, follow instructions carefully and NEVER procrastinate, you’ll be able to push through this with flying colors.  

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Editorial: Choosing the right path: Gangs or success

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

By Catherine Tadina

It’s everywhere: it’s in the music we hear on the radio every day, the graffiti on the streets, to the different colors and symbols in the outfits teens wear. It’s in the news: teens dealing drugs in the streets and dying in drive-by shootings. The increasingly overwhelming persistence of gangs has a negative effect on society and the surrounding communities. The sad truth is, more and more teens are falling prey into the allure of gangs without knowing the full repercussions of their choices.

While there are some reasons why teens join gangs that simply cannot be prevented, such as a dominant gang influence in their neighborhoods, there are some reasons that can be avoided. One of them is family ties to gangs. A teen may have a family member who belonged to a gang, and thus may feel the pressure to follow their footsteps. Although it may not be easy to stand up to the pressure, it’s in one’s hands to break the tradition. Go to college, make something of oneself and wrench oneself free of gang influences. Just because they didn’t go to college and made a life on the streets does not mean one has to follow the same path.

There are also instances wherein teens are immersed in family problems at home that they resort to a life living in the streets with gangs, who become a “second family”. Such teens may have parents who are never present, and the street becomes their home. What they have not realized is that there are lots of other people out there who can listen to them … people who are not gang-affiliated and have their best interests at heart. The community is overflowing with people willing to lend a helping hand. There are school counselors, teachers, church leaders, willing to give mentoring and advice. Moreover, there are numerous community groups that can help teens get off the streets and out of gangs—establishments such as the Boys and Girls Club, local churches, or the city library. Never think that one is destined for a life of crime. Look elsewhere for activities to channel one energy positively!

Perhaps the number one reason why many teens want to join gangs is because they want excitement, financial gain, and respect from their peers. However, there is more to gangs than just that. Most gang members are pawns used to make other gang members rich and feared. Gangs force members to rob, steal, fight, and even kill. Did they think they were going to become rich and famous after dealing crack on the streets? Did they think everyone was going to respect and revere them, now that they’re a member of a gang? Many people who join gangs end up regretting it in the end. A lot of gang members who have spent a majority of their lives in and out of prison regret the opportunities they missed as a result of joining gangs. Does a group that advocates violence upon joining sound like a healthy organization?

Gangs have no contributions to society other than crime, death, and burgeoning prison membership. Unfortunately, individuals who feel that they have limited prospects in life are the most vulnerable for falling into gangs. However, gangs only offer false hope; a supposed life of financial and economic progress only consists of a life of crime and violence. Sadly, many teens will continue to fall for that false hope, and too often the realization of a wrong decision made only comes after serving a long prison sentence or after lives are destroyed.

If you can’t say something nice…STHU

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

By Katrina Nolasco

We, the students of El Camino, are fortunate to attend a safe and well-educated high school. We’re lucky enough to have brilliant teachers that care about their students and an organized student government that actually listens to the student body about what it wants. Although if the average student walked the halls of our school and listened to the conversations that float around the hallways between classes, they might think otherwise. Teenagers seem to complain about everything and not appreciate what they have. We have the tendency to desire something, receive it and then complain because it’s not exactly what we expected. We constantly criticize the staff and ASB on fundraisers and dances. The secretaries constantly recieve rude students that complain. We even like to bash the Video Art team on the weekly video announcements. We enjoy complaining about what everyone else is doing, but really, what are we doing to make the school better?

It’s a sad day when someone works hard on something and they get bashed for it. Teenagers like to point out the tiniest of mistakes, but sometimes fail to see the big picture. They like to ignore the good things and fixate on the bad. For example, students look at a beautiful mural that took years to complete, and they make fun of it because there are a few smudges in the corner, or “hate” it because the EC is in South City blue.

The following are just a few of the many things that most students should, but don’t really appreciate at school:

School comparisons

We have beautiful buildings, sizable classrooms and the fairly solid scenery. The people are friendly, the rooms are spacious and it’s not that difficult to get around. So, why do we love to compare our school to other schools around the Bay Area? Sure, it would be nice to go to a school with sharp, modernized buildings or a bigger football field, but, honestly, does any of that really matter? Every school has its flaws, but as long as you’re provided with a desk to sit in and a teacher that cares, you really have no reason to complain.

Student Publications

To some students, the school magazine might just look like a stack of paper stapled together. The yearbook might look like a giant book with lots of pictures in it. Yes, we all have our opinions about what’s written in the magazine or the way the pictures were taken for the yearbook, but most of the time, those opinions don’t make sense. I can take criticism. It’s acceptable to criticize something if you don’t believe it was done right.

The only problem with these incessant complaints is the fact that no one really has a valid reason behind why they have a problem with it. There are a few rare occasions where a student would throw the paper on the desk and groan “I don’t like it!” But, when someone would ask, “What’s so bad about it?” their response is usually “I don’t know, I just don’t like it!” If you have a real complaint that you want fixed, write a letter or approach a staff member calmly. You really don’t have to shout to the world how “stupid” these publications are. The bottom line is that you have the right to complain about whatever you want, but if you don’t have a good reason as to why you’re complaining, you may as well just keep it to yourself.

Spirit days/ School Events

There always seems to be that one kid that rolls their eyes at a lunch time event, or the one student that “boos” the performances at a school rally. Sometimes, it can be understandable, but mostly it’s out of hand. Why would you attend a school event if you’re just going to whine about it? If lunch time events aren’t really your thing, the practical solution would be to NOT WATCH THEM! You have no reason to hang around and make fun of the students that had the courage to get up on stage and perform.  These events are planned diligently by groups of students that take their time to give the student body a chance to have a little fun once in a while. If you’re going to be sore about it, you probably don’t deserve to join the party anyway.

It’s not against the law to complain about something you’re not particularly happy with. But, if you’re just complaining for the sake of complaining, your voice will most likely never be heard nor respected. It’s not crucial for one to be in love with every little thing that their peers do for their school. I’m only asking that you appreciate the effort that goes into every thing you complain about.

Senior Ball: Pro

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

By Marivic Victoria

Nails done, hair done, everything done. The day has finally come; Senior Ball is here. The perfect dress has been picked out, the perfect date is waiting in the living room with the perfect corsages, and the perfect limousine is waiting in front of your house.

Throughout high school, Junior Prom and Senior Ball are the most highly anticipated dances of the year. Months of preparation go into making this one night the most memorable nights of your high school life. New venues get proposed year after year, topping the previous senior ball venue, truly making it a night to remember. For girls, these dances are an opportunity to find elegant dresses, apply fancy makeup, and get their hair done in a classy up-do. It isn’t every day that a girl can wear such fancy attire. And it’s truly not every day a girl can feel like a princess.

As for boys, this is a time for them to show the girls how truly suare they really are, how classy and mature they be at an event like this. Formal dresses are the ultimate classy date.

Because Senior Ball comes once a year, it is a chance for seniors to enjoy one of their last dances together. It’s a time to dress like James Bond or Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a time for friends to enjoy each other’s company and enjoy one of their last big event before graduation.

Senior Ball: Con

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

By RJ Refuerzo

The key word: expectations. All year, we idealize this night to impossible proportions, tragically becoming victims of our own imagination. As a result, this year’s event is struggling to even begin to satisfy the expectations with its limited budget. All year, fundraisers have been planned and events scheduled, yet the lack of interest has defeated all efforts. I know I speak for them when I say how frustrating it is for so many people to expect so much while doing so little.

El Camino is a campus of tradition, which in this case is a fancy way of saying “we have to buy in, or else people will think we don’t care about El Camino’s history.” This creates tension between classmates, promoting competition to impress onlookers. And the costs! This year senior not only have to pay only for excessively pricy Ball Bids, but for attire, transportation, and everything tied to finding a date as well?

Thoughts of Senior Project, AP Exams, and finals inhibiting your ability to find your dream date? The easy fix is to not go! Ball’s notorious for breaking hearts, but no one ever talks about the shattered friendships over the night’s expectations, because what’s fun for one simply isn’t for others. Don’t bother with the ludicrous financial, emotional and psychological risks. People are best off having a blast with their companions elsewhere. The rest of the world is waiting to be owned.

The impossible expectations, outrageous costs, and physical and psychological stress make for a recipe of disappointment. All things considered, a ridiculous sum of money is dropped on FIVE HOURS, and even if someone can somehow shovel that guilt to the back of their mind the entire night, one still needs to contend with all of the drama. Besides its attendees, the only thing feeling more empty inside during Ball will be your wallet.

Editorial – Governor Brown: Good for education

December 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Editorial

(Art Christen Alqueza)

The battle between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman ended with Brown winning by a fair margin. Facing challenges with budget cuts and students’ underperformance in state standardized testing, a governor like Brown at the helm is a step forward for California. Brown’s policies are superior to Whitman’s in many ways: as opposed to the lacking business-like policies that Whitman would have tried to implement, Brown’s proposals are comprehensive and more personal, which shows his understanding of his community.

The budget cuts have caused a great hardship to the California school system. California’s reputation as a university research base is in danger. To mitigate this budget deficit, Brown intends to return funding from prisons to education as well as tighten the relationship between community colleges and the UC system, ensuring that the system can support itself.

The curriculum changes Brown proposes show his intuitiveness sense of community. Brown understands the merits in expanding technology in schools. Brown also acknowledges ESL learners, minorities, and low-income families to help kids with the most need.

Brown and Whitman agreed that the current funding system should be simplified. Brown will base the funding through a “pupil-weighted formula.” Whitman planned on instituting a system that grades public schools from ‘A’ to ‘F’. Moreover, Whitman places an emphasis on standardized test scores and supports giving merit pay to teachers whose students have high standardized test scores. There is something wrong with this belief: higher test scores don’t necessarily indicate higher performing students; the prospect of merit pay may encourage more teachers to cheat on such tests. Brown intends to broaden the students’ horizons in areas such as science, and history—not just math and English. Whitman had not addressed this issue at all in her educational policies.

Lastly, many intangible factors influence how well a school performs that it is unfair to base how much funding is allotted to a school over mere statistics. If Whitman won, she would have run schools like a business. Brown shows that he clearly cares about the students and recognizes their needs.

Although reforms in education may prove a challenging task for Brown due to the budget deficit, with his experience and his policies, the state of California’s education system will definitely be in better hands. While some aspects of Brown’s education reform policies are more ambitious, they are more tailored to the needs of the students, not money or figures—as would have been in Whitman’s case, had she been elected.

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Peer pressure; putting pupils into predicaments

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

By Katrina Nolasco

It’s easy to say that teenagers can be the most influential people – to other teenagers. From the things they say to the way they act, it’s difficult to understand how teenagers can let their peers squirm into their minds, severely affecting the way they think and live.

None are guiltier of peer pressure than teens. The basic idea is simple: a sinister teen need only persuade an innocent peer into agreeing with them. Peer pressure is the epitome of teenage downfall. The raw obsession with the idea of “acceptance” – something most teens strive to achieve – has driven many to do nearly everything they have to in order to acquire popularity.

Take the most obvious example of adolescent pressure: drug and alcohol use. For decades, smoking and drinking have been apparent definitions of “cool”. Poisoning the body with unnecessary substances has become the ultimate cliché of appearing “cool” to others. For some, if not to most, appearing “cool” and “careless” has become a priority as a young adult. In some cases, teens simply choose not to accept other kids that don’t agree with their shameful antics. It’s not difficult to give into these popularity “restrictions” either. One can just turn a street corner and easily walk out with a pocketful of whatever in a span of five minutes. If it’s so easy to become “cool” and “popular” just like that, then why not… right? How is slowly killing one’s body just for a brief instance of pleasure seem good? Since when is holding the title of “alcoholic” or “abuser” cool?

For some, it’s very important to please the people that won’t accept them for who they really are. It’s a strange concept to think about; a sudden increase in popularity occurs once one gives into the many pressures they were once taught to ignore. No one should have the power to tell another person that they are bad or un-cool. One who talks down to others for the sole pleasure of feeling a sense of authority doesn’t, and shouldn’t, make a person great.

So, why do so many teens give into peer pressure just to gain a brief sense of approval? It’s all thanks to a society that revolves merely around the idea of “fitting in”. Pressures of everyday life are reinforced through media and public beliefs. It’s funny to think that a society that encourages young people to be creative and to stand out at the same time expects them to follow a strict societal structure as they grow older. The public’s obsession with needing everything to stay in order and organized has led to forcing people to think and act a certain way in order to be accepted. Everyone has become so anxious to be a part of the crowd that they often times oversee the things they should really care about – being themselves.

Peer pressure is a truly unhealthy aspect of teen life. People need to realize that trying to be like or being manipulated by others for the sole purpose of looking good is a lose-lose situation. It’s easy to just copy a cool person and feel like one in the crowd, but is that really worth it? Is it really worth giving up one’s individuality? I suppose that’s up to everyone to decide for themselves.

 

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