Fyre Festival

In 2017, over 5,000 people bought tickets to a mysteriously luxurious event expecting Coachella on a private island, but what they got was more like William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.

In 2016, Billy McFarland needed a way to promote his new talent booking app, Fyre. Essentially what the app did was it allowed normal people, for a fee, to have some celebrity hang out with them, or perform for them, or anything along those lines. Now what McFarland and his team came up with was a luxurious music festival on a private island, with great food and famous people and amazing scenery.

It was a chance for people to be able to escape their lives- but only if they could pay upwards of $1,000.

In conception, the plan was solid, and for a little while, McFarland and his crew were feeling confident. They hired many famous models like Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski, and Bella Hadid to shoot videos to market the festival. This phase of the plan culminated when around 250 influencers simultaneously posted an orange tile on their Instagram, reaching millions of people.

It was a perfect they were selling what appeared to be a dream, and people bought it. Issues started to arise, however, when the cost of putting on the event started to increase.

With dwindling funding and rising expenses, McFarland came up with a plan to get even more money from the attendees. In an attempt to make the event “cardless and cashless” they created a mobile paying device called “Fyre Bands” that the participants could load with cash ahead of time and swipe payment at the festival. He suggested loading $400 for every day that they planned to attend, and through this, Fyre was able to acquire another $800,000 dollars.

Fast-forward to just hours until the guests are set to arrive, and a huge rain storm hits the island of Great Exuma. This was absolutely the final straw and is the factor that demolished any possibility of the event being salvaged. The “villas” (which were actually hurricane relief tents with mattresses) were soaked by the rain rendering them unusable.

Trying their best to fix things before people arrived, the guests were taken to a beach party and provided with alcohol so they would (hopefully) forget that they were not getting the luxury experience they had paid thousands for. Unfortunately, people noticed after being there for six hours that something was up. Eventually, buses arrived and led all of the attendees to a very rude awakening.

Not only were their living quarters destroyed by rain, but the food was also far from gourmet with salad lacking dressing, and a sandwich comprised solely of one slice of cheese. These conditions caused the rich to revolt. People were stockpiling mattresses, toilet paper, and pillows. This was obviously brought on by a gross misrepresentation of the actual event but also because there were not nearly enough resources to cover all of the attendees.

After the disaster of the first night, people just wanted to leave, which was impossible due to the fact that the high volume of travelers overwhelmed the Great Exuma airport. Because of this, the already furious attendees were forced to stay at the airport with a lack of food and water. Eventually, they were all flown back to Miami and many of the participants decided to take legal action against Fyre.

In total, there were seven lawsuits filed against different people within the Fyre company. The first was a class-action lawsuit filed by Daniel Jung for millions of dollars on behalf of over 150 other participants that claimed Fyre breached their covenant of good faith, had negligent misrepresentation as well as many other things. The other six lawsuits had similar claims and all wanted a large sum of money as reparations for the damage and loss the event caused.

The lawsuits were not the only legal action brought upon by Fyre Festival. On May 17th, 2017, Billy McFarland was arrested for wire fraud. Later, he pleaded guilty to another count of wire fraud and was accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of defrauding investors by doctoring documents that lead investors to believe that the Fyre app was making much more money than it actually was.

The legal proceedings culminated when McFarland was tried on October 18th, 2018 and sentenced to six years in prison and had to pay $26 million dollars for wire fraud. McFarland is currently serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institute: Otisville.

Since then, two documentaries have been made about the scandal and this publicity has helped to crowd raise funds to compensate the people that had been left unpaid after Fyre Festival fell apart.

Although this story seems hilariously ridiculous from the outside, once you look closer the damage that it left in its wake becomes more evident. Thanks to Fyre Festival, all can laugh, but also have more caution about what is to be found on the internet.

How Did Da Vinci Spend Break?

As every student at Da Vinci knows, right around Thanksgiving there is a week with no school.

Although every student gets the same break, what they do with it differs greatly! From staying at home to traveling cross country, every student can agree that the break is greatly appreciated, and a nice rest from the stress of the school year.

Every year, sophomore Jonathon Huneke travels to Manteca with his family to celebrate Thanksgiving at his grandma’s house. While they are there, he enjoys watching football and seeing his grandma. As well as traveling during the break, Huneke played a lot of Fortnite, watched Disney Channel shows with his little sister, and hung out with his friends.

Senior Samantha Sheridan also left Davis for the break and drove to Lake Tahoe with her friends. They rented their own Air Bnb and while they were there they made pizza, ate cake, and played lots of board games. Sheridan said, “I was very grateful to be able to spend time with my friends as well as my family and for my wonderful group of friends. It was also really nice to be able to get out of Davis and into the wilderness.” She and her friends also have a tradition of doing a Friendsgiving celebration every year which is “Very important to me.” Sheridan notes.

Although Thanksgiving break is over, the holiday season is just getting kicked off! With Winter Break and then the New  Year not far out of sight, all students are excited for what’s to come. For now, however, the Vitruvian has collected data on what types of the pie the students of Da Vinci like to eat the best. This data will be viewable in a – you guessed it! Pie chart. This chart is as punny as it is informative, showing that apple is in the top spot with pumpkin and pecan not far behind.

Although Thanksgiving break is now over, everyone at the Vitruvian is wishing the students of Da Vinci a wonderful finals week,  Winter Break, and holiday season overall, and a very happy New Year!

Enter the Dragon’s Den

Davis, you’ve seen Shark Tank and Dragons’ Den on TV, but are you ready to see this action in your own hometown? Right in your backyard, at Da Vinci Charter Academy on December 14th from 6:00-8:00 pm, there will be a display of business pitches, ranging from foods to virtual reality.  Da Vinci’s seniors have been working on creating their businesses since the beginning of October. Now, they are ready to show the community and the Dragons all of their hard work – and to see if it is enough for local businesses to invest in.

If you come to this event, expect to see a wide variety of businesses and ideas presented by some of the most well-spoken seniors in Davis. In the past, seniors have created pet sitting companies, food delivery services, restaurants selling smoothies and even doughnuts, all with their own comprehensive business plans that include everything a legitimate business developer would need to know.

As Dragons’ Den is in its 15th year since its conception, it has been developed and refined greatly during that time. It was originally much less impactful than the project that it has grown to be today, with students only needing to apply for a loan and pitch to their class. While engaging students’ creativity, the Dragons’ Den project is also teaching them about economics and financial planning in a way that is beneficial to them in their lives outside of school.

In order to receive funding, the seniors must show that their business would thrive in our little city of Davis. They demonstrate this by conducting market research and considering the business climate of Davis to decide on a product that would really be beneficial and succeed in Davis.

This is where the Dragons (and you) come in! They are a group of local business owners and teachers in Davis that have the same job as the sharks in Shark Tank. After listening to the short pitches presented by the seniors, the Dragons must decide whether to make or break this business by either giving or withholding their investment. Even if you are not part of the group of Dragons, community members can vote on which business that they like the best and that will succeed the most in Davis.

We invite you, a citizen of Davis, to join us once again at 1400 E 8th St. on December 14th from 6-8 pm to help support our seniors in their business ventures and to spend a night to see what it would be like to hold someone’s future in your hands. Thank you in advance, and we sincerely hope to see you there!

The Pipe Bomb Scandal

As pipe bombs are delivered to many political leaders as well as news sources in America, Da Vinci students weigh in.

Throughout the past week, October 22-26, thirteen pipe bombs were mailed to different public figures and news outlets. Luckily, all of the packages were intercepted before detonation and none of the intended recipients were harmed. Some of these recipients included past presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, actor Robert De Niro, and senator Kamala Harris (D- CA). Other state representatives, news analysts, political donors and vice presidents were targeted by these pipe bombs.

Some of the packages did not solely include a bomb; the ones that were sent to Barack Obama, Maxine Waters (D-CA), former CIA director John Brennan and political philanthropist George Soros included a photo of each target marked with a large red “X”.

One of the packages containing pipe bombs sent from the address of a Florida senator

On Friday, October 26th, law enforcement officials arrested Cesar Sayoc, a Florida man who was arrested numerous times before and had a history of making bomb threats. FBI agents discovered Sayoc based on a single fingerprint. With this evidence, as well as his extensive background of criminal behavior, it was clear that the officials had found the culprit.

Many Da Vinci students had already heard of the events, as the story has made national news.

When asked what they knew about the bombs and how they felt, the students had different ideas as well as views that were common throughout the group. Junior Clark LiWang says, “Personally, since I support Trump, it kind of puts a bad reputation on Republicans because not everyone is going to send bombs to people – if we’re going to have an argument it’s going to be a civil discussion.”  

Other students thought that the access to media that everyone has nowadays could have led to his radicalization. “I would say that the internet is a big component in this,” senior Eleanor Jacobo-Becker said, “It spreads ideas that…can be harmful to people and it helps people that might have otherwise been considered crazy, it kind of reinforces them like ‘Oh I’m not crazy other people think the same way I do.’”

As for the way it made them feel, most students were not worried for their own safety. Junior CJ Fabionar said, “It’s not like I’m going to see a bomb when I open the mail from now on, but it’s scary to think that there are bombs out there.” Senior Ramiro Cabanillas-Lesdesma said, “It doesn’t particularly scare me, it just surprises me.”

Luckily, the suspect has been caught and this string of attacks is over. It is unknown what kind of events like this will occur in the future, but one thing we can count on, is the fact that Da Vinci students will be well informed!


Da Vinci’s First Music Class!

Have you heard music playing during your seventh period? If so, you’re hearing Da Vinci’s brand new mariachi band! The seventh period class is currently held in the presentation room and taught by DHS band teacher Mr. Slabaugh. The band originally started as an extracurricular, but with the help of Mr. Millsap and junior Sofia Huston-Isias, it turned into a full-fledged class!

The original mariachi club is still operating, and many of the club members have joined the class. In addition, this is the only class that DHS students have to travel to!

Huston-Isais enjoys mariachi band more than other bands because, “with mariachi music, you can play around with the music more rather than the symphonic band where you are always being told what to do. But in mariachi, there is a lot of improvisation.” She also explained that she enjoys the class because it is smaller than other bands and the size allows the class to work with other people that play the same instruments.

In addition, Sophomore Zoraya Phillips says, “I like being able to express part of my culture that I do not usually express.” Phillips plays guitar, and although this is her first year playing in a mariachi band, she has played many different instruments before.

The main instruments in a mariachi band are trumpets, guitarrons, armonias (an instrument similar to a guitar but smaller), guitars, and violins. When a musician’s instrument is not playing at that moment, they will most likely be singing the lyrics to the songs. All the songs that the band plays are in Spanish, therefore almost all of the students in the band speak Spanish.

Another member of the band, sophomore Antonio Velasquez, was and still is a member of both the mariachi club and class. When asked which he prefers he said, “Definitely the class. With the class, we have a lot more potential to grow and expand.” He also noted another difference between the class and the club stating, “We’re starting from scratch, we don’t have members that have been active for years.”

Despite the fact that many of the musicians are in a mariachi band for the first time, they play beautifully and the class has already performed in front of our office staff! Exciting things are on track for this class and Da Vinci is eager to see the concerts in their future!

Da Vinci Students Set Sail to the School Year with Projects

The sophomores recently finished their inaugural project at the high school, The Island Project. Students were tasked with creating a government that could withstand 100 sophomores trapped on a deserted island. On the English side of the project, the students read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies which relates quite literally to what is going on in the World Civilizations classes.

Photo of island project- Sophomore Ethan Horowitz presents on the differences and similarities between his island and the island in the Lord of the Flies

Many created outlandish governments that were too silly to exist, but other students designed more practical ways to govern themselves. Sophomore Na Leifson and her team created a theocratic form of government. “We have a lot of freedom to what our religion is,” she said. “It can be whatever we want as long as we have those people believing in it.”  

In order to present, students needed to have pieces of propaganda that supported their government, a flag for their government that had symbolic elements, and a PowerPoint presentation describing the inner workings of their government and how it relates to Lord of the Flies.

Da Vinci juniors started off their second year at the high school with a big project in their Humanities class, Whose Constitution is it, a debate from the perspective of different social groups on whether the constitution was created to be fair and equitable for all Americans.

Before the debates started, the juniors learned all about the Constitution and the government that followed. Although there was no book assigned on the English side of this project, each junior was given a packet of reading that they needed to annotate and use as evidence later on in their debates.

Juniors Justin Yeung, Amanda Kim, Maggie Watson, and Bradley Shaw strategize after a session of arguments from both sides

Some students represented the Founding Fathers, or Federalists, while others represented African Americans, women, Native Americans, and Anti-Federalists. Many students believed there would be no way for the Founding Fathers to win based on the beliefs of people today, but the end results of the debates surprised them!

Junior Owen Jee represented the Founding Fathers in a debate against women. When asked if he enjoyed the project he said, “It was pretty fun, but it was challenging, it was a lot of hard work.” It seems like Owen’s hard work paid off because his team was able to win their debate!

The most seasoned students at Da Vinci, the seniors also recently finished up their first project of the year Yo, Caesar! In this project, the students read William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar as well as many documents from different political philosophers.

The things they learned in their readings lead the seniors to create their final product. This was to reinterpret the play, Julius Caesar but with their own spin on it. They changed the country and time period in which the play occurred. Senior Charlie Teresi said that he liked the project because, “I enjoyed reading the political philosophers with their different ideologies, considering that they were very similar despite their small differences.”  

Now that these three projects are wrapping up, each class is rolling out new ones as well. Based on what has been done so far, what is to come will be just as interesting!