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Year 1 at ECHS: Blueprint for the Future

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

By Rebecca Gigi

“If you were to ask anybody what was special about El Camino, it was that they were innovators,” says Robert Keropian, the first principal of El Camino. Built on land that was once a duck farm in 1961, Keropian and community members built the school from the ground up and helped make El Camino known worldwide as one of the top schools in the nation at the time.

In order to lessen the overcrowding at South San Francisco High School with 2,200 students and double session shifts at 7:30 then at 10:30 a.m. “Camino Real”, the school’s original name, was built to accommodate 1,500 students. From the steel framework to picking the mascot, Keropian had a say in what El Camino was going to be like from the very start. He looked to community members and parents and asked what they wanted from their new school.

Twice a week for the first year, Keropian met with parents for coffee and tea where they helped develop  rules, philosophy, and curriculum. Structure, safety and athletics were some of the top priorities for parents but one thing that kept coming up is that should El Camino become known for its unique take on education.

Keropian met with business leaders and the South San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and invited them to become associate faculty members who taught in classrooms and vocational counseling for students. Students were regularly treated with “master-classes” from experts in numerous job areas, something quite unique for that time.

Keropian set out on a mission to find the best teachers in the country to help teach his future students. Flying to Arizona one week and Washington the next, Keropian recruited a brand new faculty, looking for those who would, “care more about their students than the subject they were teaching.” Keropian recruited people like Tom McCormick, former Green Bay Packers coach for the as head football coach, the world’s decathlon champion as a history teacher, and a high jump champion in the business department. When selecting his first faculty Keropian admits, “My opportunity [as principal] was different; I didn’t inherit any faculty, so I had an unfair advantage.”

In rare weather, it snowed on the first day El Camino opened in 1962. In addition, students from South City took ducks from the nearby cemetery and set them loose in El Camino’s pool in reference to El Camino’s history of being a duck farm. Not everything was there waiting for the first class of incoming ninth and tenth graders; El Camino was not the school we know today. The school was built in two phases. During the first year, only the cafeteria, academic building, science building, main office, and the locker rooms were finished. The next year, students were able to use the gym, industrial arts building, and Little Theater as they were completed.

The Little Theater was intended to be a particularly special element of the school. The initial plan for the theater was for it to be a circular shape with a rotating stage and small intimate setting of about 500 seats, unlike South City’s 1,500 seat theater. The theater was also intended to be available for the city to use for other events. But when the bids came in for the unique theater, they were too high for the existing budget, so Keropian was forced to downsize, resulting in the theater that exists today.

“We didn’t want El Camino to be like other schools. We wanted to be different with a lot of innovations,” Keropian said.

El Camino received national recognition in its opening years and faculty from schools from all over the world wanted to see what the fuss was about at El Camino. Professors from places like Moscow and Germany visited for one year to experience the high spirited atmosphere and teaching at EC while attending seminars Keropian created for them. With the publicity also came heavy criticism especially towards Keropian’s more controversial methods. Being sued for the school dress code and lobbying to change laws in Sacramento so students could go on trips around the world were just some of the hardships Keropian overcame.

“I told the Superintendent and School Board, ‘Let me coach my own team at El Camino, and if you don’t like me get rid of me,” Keropian said.

For 30 years, Keropian was principal, leading the school to school spirit awards, a 99 percent graduation rate, and groundbreaking two-hour lab classes, El Camino set the standard high for other schools to follow for many years to come.

“It makes so much sense that we’re all in the huddle at El Camino and that we’re doing this together in the end,” Keropian said.

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Staying on track with Senior Project

March 11, 2011 Leave a comment

By Rebecca Gigi

As the start of second semester rolls around, many seniors are feeling the pressure when it comes to beginning their Senior Projects. Senior Project is a “community minded learning experience designed to stretch a student personally, socially, and intellectually, and challenge them in a way they haven’t been challenged before.”

With all the deadlines for important documents needed to complete the project, seniors may feel the stress in trying to keep up with it all.

“Trying to get the paperwork signed can be very difficult because there are a lot of papers to keep track of and tryin to get a hold of mentors by the specific dates,” senior Amanda Cotla said.

As of right now, seniors should have their topic selected with their teacher’s approval, the Mentor Agreement form, Parent Permission Letter, and Plagiarism form signed as well as having their Proposal Letter and first draft of their paper completed. The total of 30 hours (15 with a mentor and 15 doing community service related to their topic) should be well on their way.

Teachers suggest that whenever students have the slightest question, one should ask immediately to avoid leaving out any details or paper work needed in the future.

Newly introduced this year to students was the need to create a blog online to record their experiences while working with their mentor and community service. The blog will be a part of the portfolio that contains everything students should have recorded during their project that both teachers and panelists will be looking at during presentations in June.

Overall, students need to remember that Senior Project is helping them prepare for life after high school and it’s challenges, as well as helping with communication skills, finding jobs, etc.

“I feel like it’s a good project to help students become more independent when they leave high school and are on their own,” Cotla said.

 

Categories: News Tags: , , ,

The truth about drugs and alcohol at El Camino

December 10, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rebecca  Gigi

(Photo Katrina Nolasco)

According to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health taken by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 57 percent of teens ages 12-18 have used illegal drugs some point in their lifetime.

Only 38 percent of students at El Camino have tried an illegal substance. This is a three percent decrease from the results reported by The Colt newspaper in a 2007 survey on drug use where 41 percent of students reported having used an illegal substance.

Twelve percent of El Camino students have also reported buying drugs on campus which is a two percent decrease compared to 14 percent in 2007. Sixteen percent of students reported have been either drunk or high at school, a six percent decrease from 22 percent in 2007 as well.

However, 59 percent of students ages 12 to 18 were said to have drunk alcohol in the national survey whereas 65 percent of El Camino students claimed to have drunk alcohol. This also illustrates a ten percent drop in alcohol use among El Camino students compared to 2007.

Many students see high school as an opportunity to experiment and “have fun” with drugs and alcohol as it seems acceptable among their peers. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, “youth’s immature physical, emotional, and psychological development make them more susceptible than adults to the harmful effects of drug abuse.”

Thirty-three percent of students surveyed that their use of drugs and/or alcohol is infrequent; eight percent said they used monthly and weekly, and 39 percent of students reported never using drugs and or alcohol. Sixty-six percent of students claim that it is easy to obtain drugs compared to 52 percent of students in 2007.

(Photo Katrina Nolasco)

Seventy-one percent of students find it easy to obtain alcohol in their communities which corresponds with the high number of students claiming to have tried alcohol at least once in their lives.

Although most teens don’t see drinking alcohol being as harmful to their bodies compared to drugs, it can be just as bad. Few students (three percent) reported that they use alcohol and/or drugs daily which is one percent higher than the previous survey.

Surprisingly, 37 percent of students reported first trying drugs and/or alcohol in middle school, 19 percent during their freshman year, 13 percent during their sophomore year, 10 percent during their junior year, and six percent of seniors reported using for the first time this year.

This early use of drugs or alcohol can result in “subtle alcohol-induced adolescent learning impairments [which] could affect academic and occupational achievement,” according to the Teen Drug Abuse website.

Kids in middle school range in age from 11 to 14, and with so many students report using at such an early age, memory problems and withdrawal symptoms, just to name a few, are the long term effects alcohol has on El Camino students. Most students cited that their main reason for drinking and/or using drugs was “to see what it was like” as stated by 24 percent of students. Coming in second was that “it is fun” at 19 percent, and “liking the feeling alcohol and drugs” gave students came in close at third with about 18 percent.

Contrary to popular belief by adults, “peer pressure” (six percent) and the thought that “everyone else is doing it” (two percent) were the last reasons why most students decided to try alcohol and drugs. Compared to results found in the 2007 poll of El Camino students, 30 percent used “to see what it was like”, 29 percent used because “it was fun” and 24 percent “liked the feeling.”

Although it seems to be easy for students to obtain drugs and alcohol, teens should be aware of the consequences these actions can have on their lives. The most common consequence students seem to face is getting into trouble with their parents, which 17 percent of students reported. Sixteen percent of students also ran into trouble with maintaining personal relationships while using drugs or alcohol.

A large amount of students declined to state any consequence received when using drugs or alcohol—about half of the students surveyed.
Teens see their years in high school as a time to have fun and enjoy themselves before having to enter the real world may soon find that the consequences of their actions now can cause them to live stressful and unhealthy lives.

Categories: Feature Tags: , , , , ,

The cons of watching reality television

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rebecca Gigi

(Photo Ray Concepcion)

Society’s definition of a “celebrity” has been clouded by the recent infiltration of spray tanned, under clothed and overly sexual fame monsters.The finest example of this explanation would be the cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore. Audiences are constantly sucked into these people’s inappropriate antics. These people are far from role models. When has it ever been okay for a regular person to in society to have a one night stand with a compete stranger? Never. So, why are these people being praised for the behavior parents strive to keep their kids away from?

Another reality show is Bridalplasty where brides-to-be compete in challenges to earn plastic-surgery procedures in a quest to win their dream wedding. These women are being put down and told that they aren’t good enough the way they are. By displaying self-confidence issues, it’s almost obvious why some girls idolize someone who has no substance.

None of these people would be “famous” if we stopped admiring them. It may be fun and games now but it may be more interesting to see how the choices The Situation will be faced with when he learns that there’s more to life than gym, tanning, and laundry.

Categories: Opinion Tags: , , , ,

New Moon review

December 10, 2009 1 comment

By Rebecca Gigi

(Photo Summit Entertainment)

Typical teenage love story with obsessive, love sick girl, plus “dreamy” vampire, divided by hunky werewolf all adds up to the highly anticipated sequel to Twilight is New Moon. Viewers pay ten dollars to view two long hours of teen drama that you could easily get for free at your local high school.

In the second installment of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, the romance between Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and her vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) grows in New Moon until Edward and his family abandon the town of Forks, Washington.

As heartbroken Bella goes through months lonely and upset, she finds that Edward’s image comes to her whenever she puts her life in jeopardy. With the help of her friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), Bella starts to recover and build a relationship with him, only to find he is a “monster” as well when he turns into a large werewolf. 

Once Edward comes back for Bella, he is faced with meeting the Vulturie (vampire royalty) and going through a vicious fight and vows to be with Bella forever in the end.

The special affects and action are drastically improved from Twilight. There were many intense fight scenes between the wolves and vampires that I did not expect after the inactivity relative to Twilight. The addition if the Vulturie also added some creepiness added to the suspense of the ending. New Moon has humor as well. There were many one liners that grabbed my attention and made me giggle in my seat.

However, the movie dragged in many points. The director could have cut out the scenes with Bella just staring off into space without dialogue or any hint of what she was thinking about. That probably would have cut down the movie to about an hour and 15 minutes from two hours. 

This movie had way too many make out scenes for my liking. Either Bella and Edward were eating each other’s face, or Jacob and Bella’s faces were so close that you knew what was coming. This movie made me sick to my stomach from being forced to eat so many the cheesy love lines. There were just too many clichéd “I never want to hurt you,” or “It’s not you it’s me,” lines.

What really irked me was how few characters were wearing shirts. Was there a real need to have the entire Wolf Pack shirtless even in the rain? When Bella was bleeding, Jacob’s shirt came flying right off with ease. The vampires did their fair share of baring it all as well.

Overall, I give this move 2.5 out of 5 stars. I really enjoyed the action and points of intense drama that continued through out the whole movie, but the annoying randomly shirtless boys and constant in your face view of intense teen passion was a turn off for me.

Categories: Reviews Tags: , , , , ,

The [Unofficial] El Camino High School Student Handbook

November 11, 2009 Leave a comment

By Rebecca Gigi

The Student Handbook is a helpful  tool for remembering what rules students need to follow while being at school. Some things listed in the handbook may not be as clear as others or just simply hard to understand. There are also rules that are constantly broken by students so it seems it’s time for a reminder of why El Camino has these rules in the first place.

 

DANCE POLICIES

The Handbook says, “Students who dance inappropriately will be ejected from the dance.” [pg15]

  • Why it’s important: A simple rule that’s broken at every dance. It’s prohibited for the fact that it’s just plain disrespectful and disturbing. Inappropriate “dancing” isn’t even dancing if you really think about it. If the way you’re dancing would embarrass your grandparents in any way, fact is that your teachers don’t want to see it.

The Handbook says, “… [Dance guest passes] may be obtained in the Attendance Office and must be approved by an Assistant Principal. All guest passes must be turned into the Attendance Office by noon the day prior to the dance.” [pg15]

  • Why it’s important: If you want your friend to come to the dance, get it done ASAP. It would be impossible for the office to handle something extra like dance guest passes when they have plenty of other work to do. Don’t wait until the last minute to pick up a guest pass or else your friend won’t get in. Late passes won’t be accepted.

 

ASB STICKER

The Handbook says: “Students are urged to buy student body stickers that are places on El Camino I.D. cards.” [pg16]

  • Why it’s important: The ASB sticker definitely pays off in the end because you get reduced rates at sports games, dis¬counts for school dances, plays, musicals, etc. Depending on how often you attend after school activities, will determine how quickly it pays off for itself. Buy one!

 

LIBRARY
The Handbook says: “An individual student visiting the library during class time must present his/her pass to the librarian or secretary immediately upon arrival for notation of arrival time and must register on the sign-in sheet at the circulation desk…. Students will not be allowed in the library during class time unless they have permission of their teacher.” [pg16]

  • Why it’s important: If you are going to the library to try and cut class, it’s not going to work, so don’t waste your time. If you’re caught without a pass you’ll get in trouble. If you’re not doing work in the library, then you’re just occupying space for some who needs to be there.

 

STUDENT I.D.’s

  • Why it’s important: Keep your Student I.D. with you at all times! You need it to buy your lunch, check out books, and get into student activities, among other things. It holds up the line when you have to say your number.

 

LOCKERS

The Handbook says: “…Students must use only the lockers which are assigned to them. Students may be referred to the deans if lockers are illegally shared…” [pg17]

  • Why it’s important: You picked your locker partner for a reason so just stick with them. Changing lockers leads to a big mess and they get overcrowded if you’re using someone else’s. You’re more at risk of getting your possessions stolen in a “friends’” locker.

 

PARKING

The Handbook says: “Students who wish to park on campus must obtain a student parking permit from the At­tendance Office.” [pg18]

  • Why it’s important: If you park on campus without a permit or in unau­thorized areas, you will get fined by the police and your car could get towed. You have enough expenses for school, don’t add a parking ticket when parking passes are free.

 

OFFICE SIGN-UP

The Handbook says: “All students who have business to attend to in the offices must sign-in and inform the secretaries in each of these offices. Any document given to the student by the teacher must be handed to the secre­tary…” [pg18]

  • Why it’s important: The secretaries have to know why you’re in the office. If you don’t sign-in and give then your pass, you’ll end up sitting in there not knowing what to do and wasting your time. If you get a referral and are sent to the office, it is not a free pass to get out of class. If you don’t show up to the office for a referral then you will get suspended. Is it really worth it?

 

ATTENDANCE

The Handbook says: “More than six unexcused absences in a class may cause you to lose credit for that class. More than 20 absences for any reason will cause you to lose credit for that class…” [pg19]

  • Why it’s important: Go to school. You’re a high school student for a reason so come! It’s as simple as that.

 

TARDY POLICY

The Handbook says: “…On the fourth tardy teachers send home a tardy card for ‘limit set’…On the seventh tardy the teacher calls home for a final warn­ing. The assistant principal will assign a Saturday School… On the eighth tardy is a referral to the assistant principal and the student may be removed from the class and may not receive credit for the course.” [pg20]

  • Why it’s important: Being tardy isn’t acceptable whether at work, an appoint­ment, or school. Why get into trouble when you can simply be on time to class? All being late to class does is bring more negative attention on yourself.

 

CHEATING POLICY

The Handbook says: :” Students [who cheat] get three offenses all which include parent and counselor notified by teacher or Assistant Principal, “F” grade or zero credit for the day, detention as­signed, and documentation of offense on student’s record.” [pg22]

  • Why it’s important: Cheating is all bad, and everyone should know this by now. Colleges really look down upon students if they have ever been caught cheating and may even deny you entry. You also lose Honors at graduation and other privileges. It’s better to take the “F” on one assignment, then to get caught in unethical mess of cheating.

 

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

The Handbook says:”’…sexual harass­ment’ means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual na­ture, made by someone from or in the work or education setting…” [pg23]

  • Why it’s important: Sexual harassment is something not to be taken lightly. If you sexually harass someone, you are subject to disciplinary action or even expulsion. You really have to be careful about what you do and say to people because it could be taken as sexually harassing them. They are the judge of whether they feel uncomfortable or not. If you are being sexually harassed, then you need to contact the principal to file a complaint.

 

THREE FIGHT POLICY

The Handbook says: “…First Offense –three day suspension from school, Second Offense – five day suspension from school, Third Offense – transfer to another school within the district…” [pg24]

  • Why it’s important: Violence is never the answer. If you really a problem with someone talk to them about it or get an adult involved. That’s why we have peer helpers at school. There is no need to get in a fight, and ruin your education over some­thing that can probably be solved by sitting down with the other person and coming to an understanding.

 

DRESS CODE

The Handbook says: “…Acceptable hats worn inappropriately, hoods or head coverings that violate the dress code will be confiscated and disciplinary action will be taken…” [pg25]

  • Why it’s important: Is it really that hard to just take the hat off inside? You’re breaking a rule that really isn’t that hard to follow.

 

DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION

The Handbook says: “Inappropriate display of affection will result in referral to the assistant principal.” [pg27]

  • Why it’s important: Oh love… keep it at home please. Is school really that roman­tic?

 

ELECTRONIC DEVICES

The Handbook says: “Radios, ipods, tape players, walkmans, pagers, laser pens and/or any other electronic devices (may not be used during school hours.) Cell phones may not be used and electronic signaling devices must be turned off dur­ing school hours – from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m….” [pg 27]

  • Why it’s important: Turn everything off! Better yet, leave it at home. You have less of a chance of losing it or getting it confis­cated if it’s at home anyways.

 

TEXTBOOK ROOM

The Handbook says: “…Students must cover the book and return it in the same condition as issued…” [pg17]

  • Why it’s important: Cover your books! It saves you money and a talk with Ms. Stilt­ner…

The Handbook says: “Money for bills for lost or damaged books will be collected during lunch or after school only, not dur­ing class time. Bills for lost or damaged books must be paid before report cards, yearbooks or diplomas will be issued” [pg17]

  • Why it’s important: Pay your bills or else you won’t get that yearbook you paid for. If you’re a senior and you still haven’t paid your book bills you won’t even get your di­ploma. Is it really worth it to postpone four years of hard work because you didn’t pay your Ceramics 1 bill?

 

Categories: Feature Tags: , , , ,

College Awareness Week

November 7, 2009 Leave a comment

By Rebecca Gigi

Students obtain information from a DeVry college representative in the cafeteria during College Awareness Week October 20. (Photo by Katrina Nolasco)

El Camino held a College and Career Week October 19 through the 23 to provide students with information to help start planning for life after high school.

“We are trying to promote a culture college awareness,” Librarian Bruce Cummings said.

This year the college and career week was much larger compared to what has been done to promote college in previous years. College representatives throughout California were on campus to answer questions and give information to students about their colleges.

There were also representatives from various trade schools in order to give students information about other options for post-high school education.
In the mid-90s, El Camino held a Career day once a year, but became unmanageable and eventually stopped. Also in previous years teachers would represent their colleges by sitting at an informational table in the courtyard sharing their experiences from their college. This year the week coincides with the South San Francisco and Jefferson School Districts, College Fair at the Serramonte Shopping Center in Daly City on October 22, 2009.

Students also obtain information from a Menlo College representative. (Photo by Katrina Nolasco)

“Since there were already going to be college reps in the area, we decided to build off what we used to have, and have them come to our campus,” Cummings said.

Students met with the college representatives in the cafeteria with their English classes between second and fourth period. Students were expected to arrive with set goals of what information they need from the representatives, much like a scavenger hunt for answers.

“Students should definitely take a lot of paper work [from the representatives] and create a folder,” Counselor Patty Vlahakos said.

Trade school representatives were also on campus during lunch to give specific information to students interested in different fields of work. These efforts address some items on the WASC critique saying that El Camino didn’t have enough opportunities for students looking into trade programs.

Sophomores also signed up on CSUMentor during the week. The website helps students plan and apply for California StateUniversities. For more information you can visit CSUMentor.

Everything provided is geared toward adequately preparing students for college.

“I want students to expand their horizons and learn about all the colleges in California, not just the ones in their comfort zone,” Vlahakos said.