Smoke Signals The School Newspaper of West High School Tue, 25 Feb 2020 22:33:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Julia Traub: A Girl With Many Talents Tue, 25 Feb 2020 22:33:27 +0000

  Even with a busy schedule, loads of homework and the days counting down until graduation, senior Julia Traub has joined and led many activities and clubs to help reach out to students of West High and enjoy her last year as a high schooler. 

   Currently, Traub is involved in Advanced Dance and the reminiscent moments of joining dance as a beginner and being involved throughout the years are fresh in her mind. “I’ve always wanted to learn [dance] because it seemed like a lot of fun, so when I got the chance sophomore year, I decided to take the beginning class.” 

   Dance as a whole has helped Traub gain new memories and empower her motivation. “Part of what motivated me is seeing my teammates dance and wanting to get better every day. Even when it might be frustrating because I can’t get something just right the first time, I want to keep trying until I can do it.” Even through the hard times, dance has taught Traub to never give up. 

   But dance is not the only thing Traub is involved in. She is also a board member for Mock Trial, a club devoted to showing students what a trial is like and preparing them for a possible career in law. 

   As Publicity Director, Traub is responsible for reaching out to students and letting them know about the club. “I run the Mock Trial Instagram (@westmocktrial) and keep in contact with the board members. We reach out to the students by publicizing the club through social media, flyers, and announcements.”

   You may think these are the only things Traub is involved in, considering her extensive load of Honors and Advanced Placement classes, but yet she is also Captain of the Speech and Debate.  

   For Traub, Speech and Debate has become a deep passion, despite the challenges she may face: “I love competing. Being at tournaments all day can be a little draining, but I get to spend time with my teammates, and they’re always fun to be around. I love being able to speak in front of an audience and talk about something I care about or find interesting.” 

   All these activities have helped Traub find her passions in dance, promoting events, and public speaking. And each activity has allowed Traub to contribute to the school and promote West High.

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Girls’ Basketball Reclaims Victory Against North Fri, 21 Feb 2020 22:45:47 +0000    The West High Girls’ Varsity Basketball team redeemed themselves after a well-played game against North High on Friday, January 31st. 

   During the first quarter, a few of the Warriors grew concerned as North started off the game fiercely, earning themselves a ten-point lead. Players such as Nicole Chuang (9) expressed her worry by saying, “This game was important because we knew North was going to want to beat us on our home court. We wanted to be undefeated, so it was sort of nerve-racking.” In their previous game against the Saxons, the Warriors’ persistent efforts were overwhelmed by the equally powerful plays from North, causing the teams to go into double overtime. But this time around, they were determined to win. 

   As time passed, the Warriors began to quickly respond to their rivals’ plays as the score shifted back and forth between the teams. Learning from their recent encounter, the girls improved their strategies by moving the ball on offense and keeping their defense just as intense. Varsity Captain Jessica Yamashiro (10) explained, “I try to keep an offensive mindset when playing and looking for smart shots to take. And, in the hard times, I give support and lead the team as best I can.” The positive environment created by the combined players helped keep spirits alive as they entered the second half of the game. 

    During the third quarter, the score was nail-bitingly close with Warriors leading by five points. After a struggle for possession over the ball, Chuang managed to quickly dive and pass it to her teammate Piper Takenaka (11). With all eyes on her, Takenaka took her shot. The bleachers erupted in shrieks and applause as the miraculous three-pointer pushed them further in the lead. 

    West continued to dominate during the third and fourth quarter, showing that, despite a rocky start, they were going to continue a strong fight. One moment that particularly stood out to teammates Kaila Uyemura (10) and Varsity Captain Jordyn Morimoto (12) was when teammate Jaden Sanderson (11) took charge. “Jaden got a lot of rebounds throughout the whole game, letting us get more possessions,” Uyemura explained. Morimoto added to that, saying, “It changed the momentum of the game and brought good energy to our team.”

   With their strong sense of teamwork and perseverance, the Warriors secured the win against North. The final score was 59-49, placing them first in league. A sense of accomplishment and pride washed over the players, knowing they successfully regained the respect of their rivals. As league is slowly coming to a close, the team hopes that their encouraging attitude and hard work will help them end on a high note.

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Student Spotlight: Shin Mizutamari Fri, 21 Feb 2020 22:34:45 +0000    Not everyone possesses the ability to find what they love and truly, fully master it. But this feat proved to be no problem for Shin Mizutamari (12), the winner of this year’s annual talent show.

   Beginning in preschool, Shin’s fascination with magic was sparked by his teacher’s love for it. Shown a trick almost every day, young Shin was instantly and continuously captivated, and soon turned it into an art form of his own. Several years and many magic tricks later, he was ready to compete in West High’s talent show for the third year in a row, ready to seize first place once again. 

   This year, Shin prepared by looking back at his performance in the 2018 and 2019 shows. He rewatched his performances, analyzing and critiquing them in order to find ways in which to improve. This, combined with his dedication to practicing his craft secured him a win. “Compared to last year,” he said of this year’s show, “I think it was way better because I performed more than 100 shows at lots of places, including the Magic Castle.” Shin explained that he started performing at the Magic Castle in 2019, and since then he has done around six shows every shift, giving him a wonderful opportunity to practice performing in front of people.

   While Shin beautifully utilizes his talents to compete and perform, he also sees the deeper connections formed through magic. “My favorite part about magic,” he explains, “is how it can be a ‘communication tool.’ From little kids to the elderly, everyone loves magic tricks. Magic can bring people together.”

   In the future, he plans to continue to turn his captivating hobby into a meaningful and practical tool. Shin plans to become a performing artist and intends to create a show that has aspects of magic, drama, and theatre.

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Captured By The Arts: Lindsey Kim Fri, 21 Feb 2020 22:23:31 +0000    Students such as Lindsey Kim (12) have a lot to handle. While being an active member of Speech and Debate, Art Director of West’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and even co-owning a website, this West High student has a fair amount of responsibilities to manage. But aside from everything that’s on her plate, Kim has been able to find time to enjoy a new hobby: jewelry making. 

   This intriguing craft caught the attention of Kim when she noticed that stores didn’t supply the set of earrings her heart was set on. Kim thought, “Wow, it isn’t hard to make a pair of simple gold hoops. It would be a lot cheaper to make myself a lot of earrings I’d want to buy.” With materials as simple as a bit of wire, pliers, and a file, Kim has been able to make many incredible creations, from colorfully beaded necklaces to cute dinosaur earrings.

   “The most difficult thing is to estimate wire lengths — because I never measure them!” Kim said, explaining the jewelry process, “For a while I recorded wire lengths to cut for particular designs, but I stopped that because it’s much easier to estimate every time.”

   While she does find inspiration everywhere, many of her creations sprout from her personal style. Kim explains, “I really like to imagine things and design, which is why I think I am drawn to the more artistic pursuits.”

      Originally, Kim had planned on applying to a fine arts program in college, but ultimately decided to pursue her other dreams of Political Science or Marine Biology. Despite her choice to settle on a different career path, her passion for art is far from over. “I really like creating things: I like to work with my hands and make my ideas into physical reality.” Although Kim has a strong taste for making dazzling items, she recognizes her peers who share this passion as well. “I applaud all the other jewelry makers at West High. The ones who’ve been able to market their skills are really admirable.” Kim admitted that she had considered selling her works, but instead chose to focus on her academics and continue to use this hobby for her own personal enjoyment.

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Spicing Up Valentine’s Day Thu, 30 Jan 2020 22:35:15 +0000    Whether you’re a Valentine’s Day veteran or new to the occasion, spending time with your loved one is the best way to show that you care. But picking the perfect date idea to impress that special someone can be stressful. To accompany that box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers, here are the best ways to spend this Valentine’s Day.   

Movie Marathon – Sometimes kicking back with your partner and a bowl of popcorn is a classic and safe way to go. With an endless selection of movies at AMC, from Dolittle to The Turning, you’re sure to find the perfect one to suit the occasion. And if you’re short on funds, you could always opt for watching a Netflix series such as The Neighbor at home instead of going to the theaters. 

Dinner – Sometimes the simplest dates like a romantic dinner are the best choices. Sitting outside on the patio of Kincaid’s on the pier, watching the sunset is a sight that’s hard to beat. Or you could impress your date further by cooking up something special yourself. 

Arcade – Arcades like Dave and Buster’s in Del Amo Mall offer great opportunities for a bit of healthy competition. You could also kill two birds with one stone by having dinner there as well.  It’s so easy to lose track of your spendings, but it will be worth every penny. 

Bowling – This is one of the more underrated activities of the bunch. It works in any type of weather, it is inexpensive, and you don’t have to be particularly athletic to have fun. Having Gable House nearby makes bowling even more accessible. With the colorful neon lights and the funny bowler shoes, it will be time well spent. 

Ice Skating –  Though it can be challenging, this activity is a romantic way to spend time with your significant other. Even if you fall on the ice, there is someone to help you get back on your feet. The Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo is not only known for being the official space for the Los Angeles Kings, it is also open for public use. For those who are shy, it is also a good excuse to hold hands throughout the night. 

Amusement Parks – Whether it be Disneyland, Six Flags, or Knott’s Berry Farm, the fun that can be had is endless. Though the rides and food may be a bit pricey, the main attraction is being able to spend time with your loved ones.

Escape Room – From navigating your way through Blackbeard’s ship to escaping Area 51, escape rooms are a great way to spice things up. These rooms allow players to step out of their daily routines as they use teamwork to find their way to victory. Places such as Back In Time Escape Rooms, in the Del Amo Mall, feature tons of historically-themed challenges that are great for problem-solvers.

Take a Class – A great part of spending time with someone is being able to watch them grow. By taking classes together, such as painting pottery at Color Me Mine or cooking with CozyMeal, it provides a bonding experience that can bring couples closer together. 

Spend Time In Nature –  If you’re more of a Bear Grylls than a Gordon Ramsay, then going on a nature walk or a picnic is a good option for you. Redondo Beach’s Wilderness park features meadows, forests, and never ending trails, a beautiful landscape to spend the day in. Pack a basket of chips, fruits, and sandwiches to enjoy alongside your favorite person.

DIY Gift Together – Sometimes the best ideas are the ones that come from the heart. Simply create your own gift and exchange it on the day. With easy gifts such as a cute photo album or a thoughtful note, it won’t hurt your wallet.

   However you choose to plan your Valentine’s day, the most important thing is spending time with your special someone and showing how much they mean to you. 

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Trump Administration Announces E-Cigarette Flavor Ban Thu, 30 Jan 2020 05:03:24 +0000

Juul e-cigarette flavors in a Manhattan store. Photo courtesy of the New York Times.

 As concern for underage vaping continues to mount, the Trump administration announced on January 2nd that certain flavored e-cigarette pods would be pulled from the market temporarily.  The plan to ban flavors such as mint and fruit is a step back from the administration’s previously announced plan in September, which would have been a more thorough ban of nearly all e-cigarette flavors.

   Excluded from the ban are tobacco and menthol-flavored cartridges and open-tank systems sold in vape shops, which are not as popular with kids as other flavors are.

   Several public health groups have spoken out in anger, disappointed that the Trump administration chose to appease the vape industry instead of implementing a more strict plan. In particular, many were unhappy that menthol was excluded from the flavor ban.

   Matthew Myers, president of Tobacco-Free Kids, said, “This is a totally preventable crisis because we have solutions and first and foremost the solution is to sweep the market entirely of all flavored e-cigarettes.”

   Like Myers, others believe that banning certain flavors will only drive teenagers to switch to tobacco and menthol-flavored e-cigarette pods.  They maintain that a comprehensive ban of all flavors is the simplest solution to the underage vaping issue.

   West High speech and debate member, Shrutika Ezhil (10), commented, “On one side, I’m glad that the Trump administration has at least taken a step towards preventing this vaping epidemic amongst teens.  But then again, if he isn’t going to ban all the flavors just so that these businesses are somewhat pleased, then we know what Trump sees as more important.”

   Similarly, fellow speech and debate member Lindsey Kim (12) expressed her disappointment in the decision, and said, “The Trump administration has managed to disappoint the American public in almost every single dealing they’ve had with corporate problems.”

   The FDA has given manufacturers 30 days to take flavored vaping products off the market before taking action against them.  With the compromising ban, it is difficult to say if there will be any change in vaping habits among teens. 

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Simple Step Towards a Healthier Planet Mon, 27 Jan 2020 22:22:14 +0000 One statement that is shared by many animal welfare groups and environmentalists alike is to stop eating meat. But according to a study in 2014, 84% of vegans and vegetarians go back to eating meat. Many say that their reason for giving up was because it was hard to maintain a “pure” diet. This all or nothing approach is what makes a meatless diet incredibly intimidating.

   While it would be ideal for people to change their diet to be solely plant-based, it is truly unrealistic. For many, making the transition from regularly eating meat to eliminating it completely seems out of the realm of possibility. But instead of attempting to fulfill a nearly impossible task we should follow a solution that could yield better results: simply cutting out beef. 

   The United States beef industry is one of the major contributors to environmental impacts which include, but are not limited to, greenhouse gases, biodiversity, and pollution. Cattle produce more greenhouse gases than most other livestock, accounting for 20% of the U.S’s overall methane emissions. In addition to methane, their manure can give off nitrous gas, while fossil fuels used for beef production generates carbon dioxide.

   According to the World Resources Institute, beef farming is incredibly resource-intensive. It uses three times more water as chicken production which equals approximately 1,700 gallons of water per kilogram of meat. Compared to crops, beef requires 20 times more land per gram of protein. The majority of grasslands are already used for livestock, meaning that higher demand will result in deforestation.

   Based on the rapid growth of the global population, it is estimated that the demand for beef will grow 88%, continually increasing these impacts.

   But what about tradition? One of America’s staples in terms of food is hamburgers. For many, the taste is mouth-watering and it simply can’t be replaced by soy, bean, or meat substitute products. However which is more important: American tradition, or America? The taste of beef isn’t worth allowing irreversible damage to the Earth. 

   Others may argue that eliminating beef from one’s diet will actually create new problems. If people decreased their demand for red meat, the number of cows that have already been produced will continue to emit greenhouse gases. While I see how that could be an issue, the likelihood of it happening is low. The transition to no beef would not be something that could happen overnight. It would be a gradual decline in demand. The decrease in demand would cause a slow decrease in supply, eradicating the problem of a cow surplus.  

   For those who find difficulty in the change in diet, cutting out one type of meat is not only easier than becoming vegan, but that one small change can make a positive impact on the environment. With the mentality of meat reduction instead of complete elimination, taking beef out of your diet is one baby step towards a better future. 


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John Frusciante Rejoins the Red Hot Chili Peppers Mon, 27 Jan 2020 22:18:16 +0000   Longtime and former member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP) John Frusciante has been announced to return to the band.

   This has not been the first time Frusciante has returned to RHCP. Back in 1992, he left the band due to his uncomfortability with the band’s rising stardom, a heroin addiction, and slight tensions with the other members, but would return in 1999. In 2009 however, Frusciante left the band again due to his lack of interest in playing with the band, hoping to pursue his musical career outside of the Chili Peppers with no hard feelings regarding the other members. He was then replaced by the now former guitarist of RHCP Josh Klinghoffer, who played with the band for almost a decade. He had first appeared with RHCP in 2007 and then contributed to their two studio albums I’m With You and The Getaway and touring live numerous times with RHCP. His last appearance with RHCP was on November 2nd when the band performed at a charity concert featuring Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.

   Matthew Blanco (12) expressed his thoughts on Frusciante’s return and how he felt about Klinghoffer: “If you watch their live performances you can see the chemistry between [John] and the other members. But Josh still did wonderful things with the band. But to have Frusciante back, I’m excited to see what happens.”

   The three other band members of RHCP, vocalist Anthony Kiedis, drummer Chad Smith, and bassist Flea (Michael Balzary) made a statement on Instagram upon Frusciante’s return. “Josh is a beautiful musician who we respect and love. We are deeply grateful for our time with him, and the countless gifts he shared with us. We also announce, with great excitement and full hearts, that John Frusciante has rejoined our group.”

   What surprised most fans about Frusciante’s return was that it came as a complete surprise. There had been no preceding announcements or allusions to Frusciante’s return by any of the members. While there were rumors of a new RHCP album to be released between late 2019 to mid 2020, none of those rumors remotely hinted at Frusciante contributing or appearing on the album. 

   Kai Miyasato (10) addresses his thoughts on the new album and Frusciante’s return. “If the new album is sort of a corroboration between John and Josh, then we could really see how different they are.”

   RHCP fans wait to see how Frusciante will affect the story of the band.



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Student Teacher Spotlight: Mr. Forsyth Fri, 24 Jan 2020 19:55:51 +0000 For the last quarter, West High has given aspiring educators the opportunity to shadow teachers on campus as well as teach classes with the support of a certified teacher. Mr. Forsyth shares his experiences and why he chose to pursue the path of becoming an instructor. 

Q: What did you do before teaching and for how many years?

A: I had a 20-year career in Russian book publishing before becoming a teacher. My work was to find the best US and English language books and buy the rights to translate and publish them in Russia. I lived in Moscow for about ten years and then commuted to Moscow from Los Angeles every six weeks for another ten years. When that became politically impossible, because the Russian government no longer wanted to import American books or ideas, that career ended. 

Q: What made you switch to teaching?

A: My mother was a teacher, and my sister is a teacher, and for twenty years people have been telling me that I should be a teacher, so I finally listened to them and entered the CSULB credential program. Also, I realized about twenty years out of high school how much more my teachers knew than I thought they knew while I was in high school…

Q: What kind of qualifications did you have for your old job?

A: I knew from the time I was in high school that I wanted to have a career involving Russia, because at that time Russia was our enemy and because few Americans really understood it. So I first went to Russia when I was 20, in college, as one of the first US students to live with a Soviet family on a study abroad program. I knew a lot less Russian than I should have at that point, and so I had to learn the language on the ground. Academically, I have a BA in Soviet Studies from Claremont McKenna College and an MBA from UCLA.

Q: What periods and classes do you teach in our school?

A: I teach US History under Mr. Belcher’s expert guidance periods 2 and 4, and Economics under the watchful eye of Mrs. Cerda period 5.

Q: Finally what has your experience been like in West?

A: This has been an amazing experience for me and I’ve learned an immense amount. Mrs. Cerda and Mr. Belcher have been trying to teach me behind the scenes, and have definitely improved my understanding of how to be an effective teacher. I’ve also really appreciated getting to know the students here, you are an amazing bunch and I have learned so much from all of you. Whenever you get a chance to do an internship or practice in some career, take that chance: there’s no better way to learn what the reality will be like. I’d also like to thank my partners in crime at the woodshop for all their help cutting tennis balls.

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Pete Frates: Memorial to Trend Fri, 24 Jan 2020 19:26:02 +0000  On December 9th, 2019, a national icon died. Have you heard the name Pete Frates? My guess is no. Have you heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Most of us probably have, given the scale it had all over social media. Big names like Dwayne Johnson, Bill Gates, and Will Smith took a go at it. Since 2014, when the trend kicked off, it made 15 million dollars for organizations involved in helping those afflicted with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. 

   Frates was the man who popularized the Ice Bucket Challenge as a fundraiser. He didn’t start it, but his story was the catalyst that led to the challenge’s digital explosion. He played basketball for Boston College but was diagnosed with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that damages the central nervous system slowly over time. His family popularized the challenge by dumping buckets of ice water on one another in their backyard.

   Now, why the “Ice Bucket Challenge?” Why pour a bucket of ice water over your head in the name of the disease? It’s dark, honestly‒doing so mimics the feeling of having ALS. The numbness is almost a tribute to what those afflicted with it feel and it’s a shame to see people treat this more as a trend rather than as a memorial to Pete Frates and others with ALS. 

   Frates has even been lost by the medically enthusiastic: Jillian Siazon (11), on the board of West’s Med Club, hasn’t heard the name. When asked if she has heard of Pete Frates, she said “No, I have not! I didn’t do the ice bucket challenge, but [people] should be more aware.” Of course, Jillian isn’t to blame, in truth being well aware of social climate. 

   While the challenge was assuredly a blessing to the ALS community and their family, it’s sad that many have forgotten about the man who kicked it all off. More unfortunate still, we’ve lost Frates, a true internet trend legend and hero to the hopeful. 

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