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.

Remembering 41

“Where we goin’, Bake?” former President George H.W. Bush asked, prompted by a visit from longtime friend and former Secretary of State, James Baker. “We’re going to heaven” Mr. Baker responded, “That’s where I want to go” Mr. Bush uttered.

It was on that day, only 13 hours later, at 10:10 PM,  that President George H.W. Bush’s monumental and prestigious story would come to an end. Minutes before, former President George W. Bush received a phone call, where he was informed his father had just moments to live. Put on speaker phone, unsure of whether or not he could be heard, he said “Dad, I love you and you’ve been a wonderful father”. Despite suffering from Vascular Parkinsonism, making breathing and speaking incredibly difficult, “I love you, too” his father responded.

Surrounded by family, pastors, caregivers and aides, Mr. Baker characterized his passing as “gentle”, noting that “If those things could be sweet, It was sweet”.  Shortly after death, the former President’s body was flown from Texas to Washington D.C., in the Presidential Plane on a journey aptly named “Special Mission 41”. His body laid in the rotunda of the United States Capitol from Monday, December 3rd at 7:30 PM to Wednesday, December 5th, at 7:00 AM. Following a memorial service at the national cathedral, he was flown back to Texas where he laid at Texas A&M university for a short while, before being buried in his Presidential library. President Bush now lays next to his wife, Barbara Bush, and his daughter, Pauline Robinson “Robin” Bush.

George H. W. Bush is often cited as one of the most impactful single-term Presidents of the United States, and It’s not hard to see why.  Graduating from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, he had already been accepted into Yale University when he made the decision to not attend, and instead to enlist in the U.S. Navy Reserve. At 18 years old, he was the youngest pilot in the United States Navy. During his service he was shot down by enemy combatants over the pacific ocean. After graduating yale with a B.A. in economics he refused a job at his father’s prestigious banking firm, and instead worked manual labor for an oilfield supply company. In 1964, he ran for U.S. Senate but was defeated by future President Lyndon B. Johnson, but just 2 years later he became the first Republican to ever represent Houston in Congress. Vying again for that Texas senate seat, he was again defeated. However, his efforts did not go unnoticed. President Nixon tapped H.W. Bush for Ambassador to the United Nations in 1971, Chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1973, Director of the C.I.A in ‘76, and special Envoy to China in 1974.

He would end up running for President in 1980, but as the story goes, his party gave the nomination to President Ronald Reagan. Shockingly, President Reagan tapped H.W. Bush to be his Vice President, and they won in 2 of the largest political landslides of American history. What would end up being his final stint of public service, he was elected President in 1988. While in office, he signed the landmark piece of civil rights legislation known as the “Americans with Disabilities Act”. A committed environmental activist, President George H. W. Bush appointed the first professional environmentalist to lead the E.P.A and signed a series of landmark environmental bills in the form of the “Clean Air Act”.

Former President George H. W. Bush lies in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018, in Washington. (Pool photo by Morry Gash via AP) (Morry Gash)

President H.W. Bush is understandably lauded for his foreign policy. In 1989, Bush’s foreign policy team became aware of a coup brewing in Panama, aiming to take out military dictator Manuel Noriega, but refused to aid the coup, calling it “unorganized” and “sketchy”. Though congressional Democrats criticized the President for failing to seize an opportunity, his instincts proved correct. Bush would lead “Operation Just Cause” a few months later, which successfully brought Manuel Noriega back to the United States and sent him to prison. President Bush also presided over the reunification of Germany after the Cold War, and negotiated a historic arms control agreement with the Soviet Union. Most notably, President George H.W. Bush received congressional authorization to begin “Operation Desert Storm” and in less than 2 months, Bush had successfully ensured the sovereignty of Kuwait and the defeat of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi military. Bush’s successes, and his failures were informed by a 23-word creed: “Tell the truth. Don’t blame people. Be strong. Do your Best. Try hard. Forgive. Stay the course. All that kind of thing.”

Lights shining on the U.S. Capitol the night that former President George H.W. Bush arrived, December 3rd, 10:32 PM. (Blayne Clegg)

What was a lively, bustling hall filled with tourists and guides, myself among them, was turned into a solemn funeral hall for a titan, overnight. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Americans from all across the country, we mourned the loss of a dedicated public servant. Standing in the rotunda, with my eyes enamored by the deep blues and powerful maroons of the American flag draped over his casket, I had no concern for the latest controversy at the top of my twitter feed. Being able to hear the echo of tear drops hitting the floor, and of fathers pulling their sons just a little closer than normal, made me nostalgic for a period in time I never got to experience. Watching the changing of the guards, who saluted for hours on end, stood in stark contrast to the status quo of American politics: toxicity, resent, and triviality. There is no rule, no natural law, that says that nations like America must exist, or will continue to do so. It is Much like a ship, we require renewal, upkeep, and maintenance, and it isn’t easy. We require a captain, and that captain might not always be your fist pick, but nonetheless, captain they are. Before you hit send on your provocative tweet, or impugn his motives, or offer your snide disregard, sympathize with the difficulty of what being that captain entails. George Herbert Walker Bush was given a single opportunity to be that captain, and with a steady hand, he stayed the course, and we are all better off because of him.

Secondhand Smoking?

In late November of this year, air quality in Davis reached unhealthy levels, prompting many schools to cancel classes until air quality improved. UC Davis was one of the first to close its campus due to health concerns on Tuesday November, 13th.  While DJUSD closed campuses on Thursday of that week. What are the health effects of smoke, and why do they warrant closing down schools?

The fact is that particulate matter in the air can potentially be very dangerous, even with only short term exposure.Nathan Kwan, Da Vinci Environmental Science teacher, recommended that if you are bicycling in smoke you should try to get to your destination as quickly as possible without over exerting yourself. He also highly recommended purchasing a filtration mask.

The smoke made the air hazy and apocalyptic.

Two main types of mask seem to be popular, both produced by 3M: the N95 and N99. Their names reflect the approximate percentage of pollutants of a size .2 microns or larger, 95% for the N95 and 99% for the N99. While this is good, it was estimated by the EPA that around 50% of the toxic particles in the air were smaller than that and also more dangerous.

The smaller particles can penetrate much deeper in the lungs than the larger ones and pose a threat to both healthy and unhealthy people alike. Some side effects include aggravation and swelling of the lung aolia. While a very small percentage of the side effects are permanent or life threatening, the EPA’s top recommendation is to stay inside as much as humanly possible.

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!


Breakfast at Tiffany’s? More Like Breakfast at Da Vinci!

It is a well known fact that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s an easy thing to forget when you’re rushing through your busy mornings. Luckily, with the new breakfast service offered here at Da Vinci, you don’t need to worry about forgetting breakfast anymore! Breakfast is now being offered in the MPR after second period.

There are a variety of options such as breakfast burritos, breakfast sandwiches, and pancakes with a side of sausage and cereal. The breakfast offered is not only a great way to stay energized throughout your school day, but it’s also very affordable. The full price of any breakfast option is 2 dollars and the reduced price offered for some students is only 30 cents. If you are still unable to afford breakfast at school, you can talk to one of the counselors that will help you receive free breakfast. 

Da Vinci students such as junior Nathan Ceppos are responding positively to the new service stating, “I really like the breakfast sandwiches. I usually sleep in too late in the morning to eat breakfast so It’s really convenient that I can get it at school now.” It’s a common theme amongst teenagers that sleeping in is a huge part of why so many students come to school without having eaten breakfast. Principal Tyler Millsap also commented, “It’s really important for students to eat breakfast because when students are hungry, it’s harder for them to focus and the brain doesn’t function at its peak. Some students don’t necessarily get proper nutrition outside of school and I want school to be a place where students can receive it if they need it.” Breakfast at school is helping to accommodate the busy mornings students face every day with healthy and affordable options everybody can enjoy.

Tree of Life Shooting

On October 27th, 2018, gunman Robert Bowers took the lives of eleven congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Amongst the dead were Daniel Stein, 71; Joyce Feinberg, 75; Richard Gottfried, 65; Rose Mallinger, 97; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal 54; husband and wife Bernice Simon, 84 and Sylvan Simon, 86; Melvin Wax, 88; and Irving Younger, 69.

The gunman, Robert Bowers, had a track-record of deeply anti-semitic behavior. In addition to yelling anti-semitic epithets, he also attacked on Saturday, which for observers of Judaism is Shabbat, a day of rest and relaxation. Shortly before entering the building, Bowers posted a message on social-media platform Gab.

Gab, a website with almost no content restrictions, is favored and used by many fringe radicals. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics. I’m going in,” the post wrote.

Bowers is being charged with 44 criminal counts, 11 of which are federal hate crimes, all of which carry the maximum penalty of death. U.S Attorney Scott Brady is leading the charge to prosecute this act of grotesque violence, and he has filed motions to pursue the death penalty.

President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have both signaled their interest in pursuing the death penalty, with President Trump not mincing words: “When people do this, they should get the death penalty”.

Beyond anti-semitism, It is unclear what motivated Bowers. Bowers said in a post on Gab four hours before the shooting, that he didn’t vote for President Trump, because he perceived President Trump to be too supportive of the Jewish community. President Trump visited the scene, placing a stone he brought from the White House on the fence outside of the synagogue, with the First Lady placing a white rose, both Jewish burial traditions. As President Trump’s motorcade passed by protestors, he spent more than an hour at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center visiting victims and police officers.

In the wake of the shooting, many have taken steps to politicize the massacre. Many opponents of the President have accused him of being partially responsible for what happened on the 27th of October. Paul Carberry, a resident of the neighborhood where the shooting happened told the Star Tribune that “He didn’t pull the trigger, but his verbiage and actions don’t help.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued a statement where she urged congress to “finally act on commonsense, bipartisan gun violence prevention legislation”.

However, Shayna Marcus, a nurse who helped victims on-scene shortly after the shooting believed focusing on the President wasn’t the right thing to do, “I don’t think focusing on Trump is the answer — or on politics”, Kellyanne Conway, counsel to the President, buffed the sentiment, stating “If people are there to protest, that’s their right. For the president, it was not a moment for politics”. Neither Democratic or Republican leaders were present in Pittsburgh after the shooting, despite being invited by the President.


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!


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!