The Dems are in the Building

On Thursday January 3, history was made in the United States government as the new, diverse freshman class was sworn in as part of the 116th Congress. The group included 42 new women and raised minority numbers to 55 African-American members, 45 Hispanic members, seventeen Asian-American members, and ten openly LGBTQ+ members. The class also included other firsts such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn) as the first Somali-American member to serve along with one of the first Muslim women, and Rep. Debra Haaland (D-NM) as one of the first Native American members.

Among the powerful women sworn in is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who becomes the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at only the age of 29. Ocasio-Cortez’s platform includes the abolishment of ICE, medicare for all, and tuition-free public college. However, her progressive platform has not come without consequence. The representative has faced brutal attacks on her character, policies, and background from both Republicans and Democrats. Florida Republican Ron DeSantis went as far as to describe Ocasio-Cortez as “that girl … whatever she is.” Former Senator Claire McCaskill described the representative as “nothing more than a bright shiny new object.” However, Ocasio-Cortez didn’t come to Congress to mess around. She mocks her critics in a nasally voice. “We’re not scared of you,” she says, “we’re laughing at you!”

Along with Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, and Haaland, Congress will be joined by Veronica Escobar (D) and Sylvia Garcia (D), the first two Latina congresswomen from Texas. Andy Kim (D-NJ) makes strides as the first Korean-American elected from his state, along with Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass) and Jahana Hayes (D-Conn), who became the first African-American women to represent their states. Angie Craig (D-Minn) and Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) join the House as open members of the LGBTQ+ community, and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich) becomes the first Palestinian-American woman to serve. In fact, she swore in wearing traditional Palestinian attire, as did Rep. Haaland, who wore Pueblo attire.

Rep. Debra Haaland (D-NM)
Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn)
Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Tex)
Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH)
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn)
Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ)
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich)
Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn)
Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Tex)

Davis Police Officer Killed During Active Shootout

A Davis police officer was shot and killed on Thursday evening while responding to a traffic accident near the areas of 5th and D Streets downtown. Officer Natalie Corona was immediately rushed to the University of California Davis Medical Center in Sacramento where she passed. The gunman was found dead on Friday morning from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The suspect fled the scene resulting in an active manhunt that lasted from 7 p.m. Thursday evening until just before 1 a.m. Friday morning. UC Davis WarnMe systems had issued a shelter-in-place for students on campus and police were advising citizens to stay clear of the downtown area and remain indoors until further notice. Neighboring police departments from Vacaville, Woodland, Rancho Cordova, and even as far as San Francisco arrived in Davis to assist the Davis Police Department.

Around 10 p.m. on Thursday evening, police stated that they had a lead near the area of 5th and C Street which was later narrowed to a house on 5th and E, directly across from the Davis fire department. Police stationed outside the home until 1 a.m. Friday morning when the suspect was confirmed dead from a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Currently, there is no information regarding the suspect’s identity or the reason for the shooting. Police Chief Darren Pytel stated that the “case is currently under investigation, and there’s an active investigation going on. At this point, we’ve turned over the criminal investigation to the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department. They told us that they would take the lead, and we’re allowing that to happen.”

Pytel addressed the press in a statement around 11:50 p.m. Thursday evening regarding Officer Corona. Corona was 22 years old and had recently graduated the police academy in August of 2018. According to Pytel, Corona had finished field training right before Christmas and had only been on her own for a couple of weeks. She is survived by her parents; her father Merced Corona spent 26 years as a Colusa County Sheriff’s Deputy.

“She was just an absolute star in the department and somebody that pretty much every department member really looked to as a close friend, a sister,” Pytel said. “Natalie was just full of life and full of energy and just an absolute pleasure to be around. She loved being around everyone in the department and she just worked like you can’t believe.”

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

A Review of DHS’s Little Women, The Musical

On Friday, November 2nd, DHS’s production of Little Women opened its doors to the public. The play is based on Louisa May Alcott’s novel and featured several Da Vinci students, such as senior Neil Das as Roderigo and Mr. Laurence, senior Samantha Sheridan as Marmee, and senior McKella Van Boxtel as Meg. The play chronicled the lives of the four March sisters and their mother, growing up in the Civil War era, with their father away in the army. The audience comes to understand the similarities and differences between Meg, the girly grown-up; Jo, the ambitious tomboy; Beth, the gentle sweetheart; and Amy, the precocious child. Jo, portrayed by DHS senior Jordan Hayakawa, leads the story with brilliant vocals and excellent delivery of lines. Sweet Beth is played by DHS senior Savannah McCoy, and childish Amy is wonderfully portrayed by DHS junior Lily Linaweaver.

The story begins with a flashback to Jo’s experience in New York and her attempts to land a publishing deal with a New York company. We then jump back to the March home. The several transitions and flashbacks of this type can be a tad misleading for those unfamiliar with the story, but a little context clues help tie it all back together. Throughout the two and a half hour long production, the audience follows Jo’s quest to travel and write, Marmee’s difficulty raising four ‘little women’ alone, and Beth’s ultimate death of scarlet fever. As the actors took their final bows at the very end, the crowd was on their feet.

The production value was very well done, with excellently designed sets and beautiful vocals from each of the actors. In one scene, Beth and Mr. Laurence (Das) sing a tune called “Off to Massachusetts,” which I would rate as the best song in the entire musical. McCoy’s voice mixed beautifully with Das’s, sending chills down my spine. In addition, I was happily surprised by the sheer vocal talent from each of the actors. One can only expect so much from a high school musical, but the cast of Little Women exceed those expectations.

The musical continues the weekend of the 9th, and will finish its run on Saturday, November 10th. The cost is $10 at the door, and $10 well spent. I highly recommend taking a couple of hours out of your evening to support the kids of DHS and Da Vinci in their production of Little Women.


How Does Da Vinci Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is coming up next Thursday, giving students both time away from school and time to spend with family and loved ones! Although Thanksgiving itself stays fairly traditional from household to household, Da Vinci students have their own ways to honor Turkey Day.

Senior Samantha Sheridan loves Thanksgiving and recalls it as a family-centric holiday. “I spend it at my house and all my family comes over,” she said, “It’s kind of a tradition. We move everything out of my living room and rent tables. My siblings and I will wake up really early to watch the parade, and our job is always to decorate the table. It’s really wonderful.”

Principal Millsap also spends his Thanksgiving in a traditional way. In fact, he has two. “I do Thanksgiving with my side of the family on Thanksgiving at my house,” he said. “And then, with my wife’s side of the family which is much bigger, we go to a cabin in Kyburz and that’s a big old Thanksgiving in the mountains, which is pretty cool.”

However, turkey and mashed potatoes isn’t what everyone is chewing on next Thursday. Psychology teacher Brittany Rosenberg and her mother are both vegetarian. “I’m a vegetarian and so is my mom, so we get a turkey for my dad and husband, but we usually have sweet potatoes, and sometimes mac and cheese, and a salad and rolls.”

For junior Justin Yeung, even potatoes aren’t on the menu. He spends his Thanksgiving with family eating dim sum, but he still has his favorite Thanksgiving traditions. “My uncle and aunt do not like garlic or onions. We order this chicken dish with fried garlic, and my uncle was eating it, and he was like, ‘This is pretty good,’ and then his son said, ‘Hey Dad, you see those little things that look like rice? That’s garlic.’ Then he stopped eating it.”

Junior Ava MacDonald also has a favorite holiday tradition. “My family always does a puzzle,” she said, “We get out a really big puzzle and we do it all day.”

All over campus, Da Vinci students are preparing for their family holidays, which includes a vast majority of foods. Here’s what some of them will be eating:

“Mashed potatoes!” – Ava MacDonald (11)

“Stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, biscuits, cranberry, turkey!” – Ms. Barbie (student teacher)

“Tamales and turkey,” – Ramiro CL (12)

“Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, all the usual stuff, and then my wife’s mom makes one of those weird salads. It’s got jello with fruit in it and cream cheese on top. It’s a little weird,” – Millsap (principal).

Regardless of what will be on your table this Thanksgiving, make sure to enjoy it. From all of us here at The Vitruvian, happy Thanksgiving!

John Carpenter’s Halloween: Hit or Miss?

John Carpenter’s 1978 making of the film Halloween has immortalized villain Michael Myers in the horror movie hall of fame. His recognizable murder mask and Carpenter’s eerie soundtrack has remained a holiday staple for the past forty years before finally making a reappearance in theaters in 2018.

The 1978 version tells the story of Michael Myers, a sociopath with an intense passion for murder, after he escapes his holding asylum where he has been living since he was six years old. At the age of six, Myers brutally murdered his older sister Judith on Halloween night. His outbreak, as chronicled in Carpenter’s original film, allowed him to terrorize his younger sister, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) as well as other teenagers in the area. However, he is ultimately caught and transported back to his asylum.

The 2018 sequel continues the narrative Carpenter has so greatly painted. Set forty years after Myers’ last outbreak, the watcher discovers that although Strode has aged and started a family of her own, her life is still haunted by Myers’ crimes and her fear of him. Strode’s daughter and granddaughter criticize her paranoia, but her preparation ultimately is the divide between life and death for the Strode family when Myers breaks out and comes after them, killing many other unlucky townspeople on Halloween night. Strode luckily traps Myers in her basement and sets him on fire, allowing the watcher to believe that he has died. But has he?

Credit Nightmare Nostalgia

I never saw the 1978 version of Halloween. However, the 2018 sequel disappointed and underwhelmed me. The film was packed with a cheap storyline and lots of guts and gore to distract the watcher from the lack of effort in the script. Judith’s story is retold in flashbacks, but not once do filmmakers remind the audience that Strode is actually Myers’ younger sister, leaving the question, who is Laurie Strode, and why is she so infatuated with Michael Myers? A quick Google search solved that issue for me, but I found myself waiting throughout the entire film for some clue to be dropped without success.

The amount of brutal killings unrelated to the storyline make this film almost disgusting to watch. Myers has the tendency to hack anyone to death who stands in his way of ultimately reaching Strode. I would have prefered a structured storyline with perhaps some meaning to the deaths of the townspeople. I felt as though their murders were cheap ways to draw out the storyline before Myers reaches Strode at the very end.

I am by no means a film critic, but I would only rate Halloween (2018) six out of ten stars. I was definitely entertained, but I think next time I’d save the $8 and watch something with a little more substance. I’m also left wondering, is this the end? Is Michael really dead? I suppose the audience will have to wait another forty years to know.

A History of Dragon’s Den

On Monday, October 29th, seniors entered the biggest project of their first semester: Dragon’s Den. Throughout November and December, teams of seniors will research, design, and develop a business plan before pitching their million-dollar ideas to local business owners. The project, modeled after British television show Dragon’s Den and American television show Shark Tank, teaches students about economics through the process of building a business.

Sophomore World Civilizations teacher, Mr. Scott-Stephen Bell, introduced Dragon’s Den to Da Vinci fourteen years ago with the opening of the school itself. However, back in 2004, Dragon’s Den was known as a project called Business Time, and lacked the creativity and depth of its modern counterpart. Business Time consisted of only a loan application and a pitch to other students and teachers. However, Bell was shortly inspired by a television show he discovered while spending time in the United Kingdom. “We have a show called Dragon’s Den,” he said, “which came out years before Shark Tank in the United States, so we started calling it Dragon’s Den. We said “ooh, let’s figure this out! We’ll have the dragons come in, we would have real business people come in to raise the stakes and sit on the panel.”

Dragon’s Den has continued to grow and develop even after gaining a new name, but one could only wonder what inspired Bell to introduce the project to Da Vinci in the first place. “We had to teach economics,” he said, “and we wanted to make it more realistic and tied to things that might impact their lives. Davis has a lot of independent companies, not chains, so it seemed to fit the spirit of the town.”

Although the Davis community may be familiar with the night-time event, hardly any know what really goes into the project itself. Mrs. Gretchen Conners, the current senior political studies teacher, outlined the project in an interview. “Students in teams develop a business idea in the setting of Davis,” she said. “They have to do some market research, think about who their potential customers are, and based on that make a good, educated decision about thinking about what Davis needs.” Students will then create an entire business plan, featuring startup costs, location, and any other pieces of information that a business developer would have to discover. At the end of the six week period, teams pitch their ideas to the Davis Dragons in order to secure funding for their ideas. But will your idea be chosen?

Although Dragon’s Den can be a source of stress for some seniors, Conners and Bell remind students that the project is meant to be a fun experience. “Do your research and bring some fun to it,” Bell said, “and save the drama for your mama.” Conners advises that students pick an idea that’s feasible, “something that an eighteen year old could create.” And although the opportunity to be creative can be tempting, Conners explains that there’s a limit to how crazy the ideas should be. “Pick something that isn’t so big that you can’t get it done in six weeks.”

Dragon’s Den will continue throughout November and December and end on December 14th with the pitches. Save the date!

Around the World in 180 Days: How Life Back Home Has Changed for Exchange Students

Waking up, going to school, doing homework, and spending time with friends is a routine high school students know best. But imagine doing it all in an entirely new country. Exchange programs, such as the ones Da Vinci hosts, allow international students to leave home in search of a new experience in a new place, where they will live for a year with a volunteer family. After the year has ended, the students return back home and reintegrate into their lives back home. It’s not hard to imagine what kind of growth a year abroad can have on these students. In fact, three students from the 2017-2018 school year reminisce on their time in Davis to explain how the experience has impacted them, and how their time in America has shaped who they are.

Bruna Menezes, a student from Brazil who spent her junior year at Da Vinci, explains how life has changed since her year in America. “I do have a different perspective on stuff,” she writes. “I think I’m just paying more attention to most things and [taking in] more details to myself of what is happening each moment, and I started to do it when I was in the US, so I’m always going to remember each second [and] the way it was.” She also mentions a newfound sense of independence that came from being on her own. “Now that I’m back, I realize that I’m more responsible and independent than I was before.”

Menezes with host sister, Sarena Solodoff (second from right) (credit Bruna Menezes)

Menezes is not the only student who discovered independence. Alex Nitzke, a student from Germany who also spent his junior year at Da Vinci, remarks on the same idea. “I feel like I have mentally aged a lot in my year abroad.” Nitzke was excited to be re-accepted by his German friends like he had never been gone, but he also wouldn’t trade his experience for anything. “I would instantly do [an exchange year] again, and I would recommend it to everyone that has the chance of doing it.”

Not every exchange student experiences a change once returning home. Amélie Laloire spent her senior year in Davis, but upon returning home to Belgium remarks not really noticing a difference. “For me, [home] is the same, but I have [more] perspectives.” Although one thing can be universally agreed on: “It made me stronger,” Laloire writes.

An exchange year is a big adjustment, not only for the students themselves but for the families who host them as well. These families volunteer to take in an international student, house them, feed them, and give them the resources they need in order to thrive for the year. The students and families create bonds unlike any other, and especially affect host siblings who get the opportunity to experience life with a new brother or sister.

Aaron Eckey, a sophomore at Da Vinci, hosted Nitzke last year. Eckey has no brothers, but considers Nitzke to be the older brother he never had. “I got to experience what it was like having an older brother and watch [his] confidence change from the first week to the last.” Eckey also remarks on how hosting an exchange student has changed his own perspective. “I was not so confident before,” he writes, “but seeing someone come from another country alone to a family they do not know takes a lot of courage, and it made me feel stronger talking to them and [getting] their advice.” Although Eckey’s experience was incredibly valuable, he wouldn’t be interested in hosting again. “I had so much fun with my exchange student before [that] I would feel guilty and like I was cheating [by hosting another student].”

Da Vinci students Milo Goldstein and Blayne Clegg-Swan holding the American flag over the 2017-2018 exchange students. From left to right: Qais Badran, Hanna Sienknecht, Amelie Laloire, Bruna Menezes, and Alex Nitzke. (credit Bruna Menezes)

On the opposite side of town, Da Vinci alumna Sarena Solodoff, now a freshman at Reed College in Oregon, explains her experience hosting Menezes. Similar to Eckey, Solodoff has no sisters, and describes her experience with Menezes as a sisterhood. “My first experience having a sister,” she writes. “There were no expectations so everything just happened as it happened and we were always going with the flow. Getting to live with a new person and experience life with them so intimately was a beautiful thing.” However, unlike Eckey, Solodoff would indeed be interested in hosting again.

Aside from their experiences, the students also reminisced on what they missed about Davis and Da Vinci. Nitzke enjoyed the low-key and accepting environment of Da Vinci. Menezes loved her experience with the people, as did Laloire, who also notes missing the sunny weather of California. Asides from school, students miss spending time with their friends and visiting places that only Davis or America can offer. “Besides the people,” Menezes writes, “I really miss going to Central Park, Panera Bread, The Death Star, and the Farmer’s Market.” Nitzke channeled his true Californian soul, writing that he misses In-n-Out.

Exchange students get the opportunity to attend Prom regardless of grade level and often take American dates. (Left to right: Haadi Shaw, Hanna Sienknecht, Bruna Menezes, Emmanuel Navarrete, Amelie Laloire, Mckella Van Boxtel, Alex Nitzke, Natalie Vinh, Qais Badran) (credit Bruna Menezes)

Overall, it is evident that the students’ year in Davis has had a lasting impact on their lives. In fact, even a year speaking English has changed the way they might think. In a question added to the interviews to end on a light note, students were asked what language they think in. “Now that I’m back in Brazil,” Menezes explains, “I usually think in Portuguese, but sometimes I still catch myself thinking in English.” Nitzke explains how he thinks in both German and English. “It’s really weird,” he says. But regardless of what language flows through their brains, there is no forgetting their year in America. “It is the best year I had so far,” Menezes writes, “I really miss it.”