Da Vinci Students Take on the SAT

The SAT is a well-known standardized test that students take to provide colleges with information about their aptitude in certain subjects. It is dreaded by many, but recognized for its importance in determining attendance of colleges and universities. It has become a common interest of high school students to practice for the SAT in applicable ways. The SAT is known for its unique style of questioning; often incorporating trick questions or similar answers to ensure the test taker is paying close attention.

To cope with and prepare for these problems, senior Jackson Terning shared some of the strategies he used to find success. “Well, I’d taken the PSAT in junior year. I think, actually, I took the SAT in junior year in May, so it wasn’t long after. I used Khan Academy and practiced on that for a few weeks. I also took a full practice test on Khan Academy.” He spoke highly of Khan Academy, a website that offers lots of educational lessons on a multitude of school subjects, and they are also well known and held in high regard for their great SAT prep resources.

Ms. Roper, one of the campus counselors, also praised the value of using Khan Academy. “Usually, if a student has taken the PSAT, then their scores link up to Khan Academy. That can be a helpful tool for studying for the SAT since it is specific to the areas they need additional practice in. It is also helpful to build in some time to study as part of a regular homework routine rather than cram right before the test. Take some practice tests online, Khan Academy offers a variety of them. Additionally, ask your counselor about some test prep courses if you’re interested in that.”

Credit Khan Academy

Jackson Terning also expressed an interest in the multiple books that have been published about the SAT. “I know there’s a lot of books about the SAT, but I don’t know if I would have preferred to read them instead of using Khan Academy. I’m not sure if I would have had time to read a book, but I feel like it would have been interesting,” he said. “I know that there’s a lot of trick questions on the SAT, and I feel like reading a book may have helped me identify those questions, or just have provided general strategies.”

When asked if he was planning on taking it again, Terning brought up an opinion a lot of other students seem to share about the SAT; it is not an entertaining experience. “I’m not going to take the SAT again, it just definitely was not very fun, and I got a good enough score that I don’t need to retake it,” he said. “Just sitting for hours with only occasional breaks is just not a fun thing to do ever. Unless it’s school, in which case it’s fun and great to do, and I love it. Sitting for long periods of time is not enjoyable, and it’s like a mental strain almost; lots of time with your brain working and not many breaks. I especially like taking walking breaks while doing homework, and you can’t do that during the SAT.”

Information and support for taking the SAT can be given to you by your counselors. Be sure to schedule a meeting with them on the landing page if you have any concerns or issues you need to discuss.

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.


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.

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 Visit from Your Future

This year, students have multiple opportunities to learn about colleges here at Da Vinci. With representatives coming from as far as Oregon, our students have the chance to ask questions about the process of applying to college as well as college-specific questions. Every college visit is free and open to any Da Vinci high school student.

Whether you can’t be transported to college campuses outside of Yolo County, or you have no free time outside of school, visits from these colleges take place during the school day and at lunch, so they are easily accessible to anyone on campus at that time.

For students who are wondering what to expect from a college visit, look no further than Da Vinci’s own counselors, Ms. Roper and Ms. Strand. Although Ms. Strand recognizes that Da Vinci only hosts a handful of colleges, Da Vinci students are also welcome to attend Davis Senior High’s college visits.  She notes, “The College and Career Center at DHS has multiple college visits every week.” On the topic of how students can get updates on events, Ms. Strand said, “Juniors and seniors are encouraged to view and sign up through Naviance for the college visits at DHS.” Sophomores – don’t forget, it’s never too early to sign up for Naviance and get ahead in life.

Becca Wittman, a Da Vinci senior, has firsthand experience in attending a college event. The event taught her many helpful things. On the event, she commented, “We get to talk a lot about requirements for the college, about clubs that are offered on campus, student unions, music programs, sports teams, that kind of stuff, and where it’s situated like if it’s in the city or if it’s out in the wild.” These are all factors that go to making college an enjoyable experience, so it’s important to know! She also spoke about the importance and exclusivity of the events, with her experience going to the Lewis and Clark college visit, saying, “it was really helpful because not everybody is going to have the chance to visit them because they’re so far away.”

UCLA will be visiting from SoCal

The college visits at both Da Vinci and Davis Senior High are great opportunities for our students to be exposed to helpful college information and to ask the representatives any questions. Look forward to upcoming visits from U-Oregon, UCLA, and U-Puget Sound in the coming month. If you miss any of these, Ms. Strand encourages students to “visit the school’s website, take a virtual tour, read the view books in the College Corner in the presentation room, or consult with their counselor.”

Gather your questions and look forward to answers!


“Shelley; or, The Mother of Science Fiction” A Review

It has been two hundred years since Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley published her famous story “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus,” however it is often surprising how different people’s perceptions of the story are. From the fact that the monster isn’t named Frankenstein and could talk quite eloquently, to how Victor Frankenstein wasn’t a doctor, many details of the original story have been distorted by countless remakes. So, I decided to take a look at the original and find out what is at the roots of this horrific tale.

Frankenstein is a very interesting discussion of scientific license and a warning of deadly consequences of improper use. Consider that this came before the infamous “Manhattan Project,” where nuclear weapons were developed. Similar to how Victor is horrified by his creation, when the researcher Julius Oppenheimer saw the first atomic test he thought of this quote “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

This book is also beautifully written, with complex sentences and interesting vocabulary throughout. This format makes the book have a slow but building pace, allowing tension to gradually build up until the finale. However, it wouldn’t be honest of me if I didn’t mention my feeling towards the structure of the book. It opens and closes from the perspective of an arctic explorer who complains about not being able to meet any friends. I felt like this part was mostly just a framing device that ultimately doesn’t matter, because eventually Victor shows up and starts narrating the story from his perspective. Then, within that narrative, the monster shows up ands starts telling the story from his perspective. Lastly, the monster overhears some people in a cottage telling a story from their perspective. I just feel like all this complicated structure add only confusion and annoyance to my reading and nothing to the plot.

Throughout the novel, little sympathy seems to be given to the monster, and he is characterized as almost pure evil. Listen to this quote of the monster after he meets a Victor’s young brother William and finds out the two are related, “Frankenstein! you belong then to my enemy―to him towards whom I have sworn eternal revenge; you shall be my first victim”(Shelley 139). Many supervillains struggle to sound that evil on a daily basis. I kid, but I resent the monster’s characterization mainly because I see him more as a victimized child.

My greatest annoyance throughout the novel was my lack of sympathy for Victor himself. It is clear that Victor is intended to be the tragic protagonist of our story, and I feel for until the scene where he creates the monster. As previously discussed, he is horrified by his creation coming to fruition, and because of this he casts out his poor defenseless illiterate creature into a world that will never accept him. It was at this point my sympathy lay with the monster, the abandoned child, and not Victor, the horrible father. From this point on I felt like I must be reading the book wrong because how it tried to characterize Victor as the hero, when he was so clearly not, in my mind of course.

Look out William! Image from Frankenstein, The Ballet

Though I didn’t like this book, I do recommend watching the ballet. No joke, there is a Frankenstein ballet, it was made a few years ago by Liam Scarlett. I don’t know if there are any live performances, but you can buy a version that was taped at the London Opera House. It isn’t as good as the live performance, but it still displays a much more emotional and intense rendition of Shelley’s masterpiece. Although, you definitely are intended to read the book first since next to nothing is explained.

DVTV’s Back!

Da Vinci’s main medium of relaying school news to students is the daily morning announcements, but recently, a fresh news hotspot has also risen from its recently dug grave. In the 2017/2018 school year, DVTV was launched with high hopes from the team behind it, with a disappointing final product. DVTV was determined to put out weekly episodes, a goal that was completely missed by the team. This year, a new team has taken over, with more reasonable goals and a vastly different initial product. Met with a positive response from the student audience, the start to the program this year looks much more hopeful. However, the show’s launch wasn’t completely flawless. Sophomore Joseph Hendrix shared his thoughts on a couple of the first episode’s weaknesses. “DVTV; I thought it was great, but the cuts were too long, and the audio was messed up. And the green screen didn’t work.” The public reception was mostly positive, but they still had feedback to give.

The second episode is in production now, backed by a determined team. Juniors Carter Adams, Fiona Herner, and Zachary Swart are the driving force behind DVTV. “My overall experience with working on DVTV has been very positive. It’s a lot of work, probably more than you think, but I love writing the script and interviewing people. We write the script in about a day, film for a few days, then Carter edits it,” says Fiona Herner, DVTV co-anchor. “Having to watch yourself speak is a little bit uncomfortable, but I think that I will get used to it. I know that there’s lots to improve on, but I think we’re doing an adequate job right now.”

The future of DVTV is looking very hopeful compared to last year. In the Leadership class, DVTV has even received its own committee, fully committed to the program. The program has made a lot of strides in technological aspects, thanks in part to Beau Runyan, one of the campus’s technological supporters. With brand new microphones, a fresh green screen and professional lighting, the video and sound quality have increased exponentially. With a lot of positive and constructive feedback from the community, DVTV is on the road to becoming a much better medium for putting out the news.

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!

Davis Blue Devils Showing Their Horns!

The football season just started for the Blue Devils Varsity Team and they’ve already fought their enemy from the year before and ended their losing streak.

After a whole year without a win the Davis Blue Devils came back stronger than anyone would have thought possible. After some starting problems against Grant, the Devils showed their horns!

On Friday, August 24, the Blue Devils destroyed Cordova with 69-20 in their home stadium and ended their losing streak with a big bang. They showed their qualities and kept working hard. The Devils didn’t stop getting better and practicing harder than before to receive their guests from Woodland. The Devils proved their commitment and  a score of 42-6 and got a positive record of 2-1 for the first time for over a year. The devils win the following week as well, this time with a score of 51-13 against Pioneer.

Friday, September 14, was a very hard game for the Devils. They played a tough game against Elk Grove, but were ultimately defeated with a score of only 14-21. The score showed that the Devils fought hard and are hungry to come back stronger than ever before against the best team in the league. We had a by-week, or like Coach Smyte would say, “A get-better-week” in which our players would attempt to increase their focus and their drive to win in order to play against the number one team in the league. On September 28, the Devils played against undefeated Sheldon, and after a hard fight, Davis sadly lost with a score of 21-28.  The Devils would have won this game with a bit more focus and discipline. The defeat will hopefully inspire them to work harder than ever before to be the best team in the league.

Gun Violence in Our Nation

On February 14th, 2018 a gunman massacred 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. What followed this tragic incident was the beginning of a national debate we have frequently in the United States: what do we do about guns in our society?

The shooting, in addition to sparking nationwide debate on firearms, also inspired local action. On April 20th, 2018, several hundred Davis High Students walked out of class to meet with Davis Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) and express their concerns about their safety to him. Eleanor Richter, a former Senior at Davis Senior High School read the names of the students slain in Parkland and added “that could’ve very well been us”

Though the fears held by High School students are legitimate, author and Harvard professor David Ropeik writes in the New York Times that: “the statistical likelihood of any given public school student being killed by a gun, in school, on any given day since 1999 was roughly 1 in 614,000,000. And since the 1990s, shootings at schools have been getting less common.”

Though school shootings and violence generally are becoming rarer, many still want change, Including progressive Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who said in an Interview with NBC news on February 18th, 2018 that “I believe that we should not be selling assault weapons in this country. These weapons [AR-15’s] are not for hunting, they are for killing human beings.” Despite attacks on AR-15’s specifically, they account for relatively few murders nationwide. A study by the National Shooting Sports foundation and the FBI found that despite AR-15 sales soaring in 2012, murder by rifle accounted for only 374/10,303 or 0.036% of all gun deaths in 2016.

However, this isn’t to say that Congress is at a dead stop. Laws and regulations are being worked on in order to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. President Donald Trump on October 1st, 2018, said that his administration is in the ‘final stages’ of a nationwide ban on ‘bump stocks’ the tool used by the Las Vegas shooter to mimic full automatic firing. “We’re knocking out bump stocks,” Trump told reporters at a press conference “I have told the N.R.A — bump stocks are gone”. In addition, conservative activist and shooting survivor Kyle Kashuv has been quietly working with Senate Republicans to pass safety measures. Meekly and quietly, Kashuv has represented a rebuke to his fellow survivors, mostly advocates of gun control. Despite being in the minority, Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have secured funding on a “Stop School Violence Act’, and have managed to have their bill passed in the house, awaiting a vote in the Senate. However, It remains to be seen if the Senators and the President can get their policy proposals fully implemented. Just this April, Kashuv flew out to Nebraska to escort a high school senior to her prom after she had discovered Kashuv when he rose to prominence. In the debate about gun violence It is easy to dehumanize the opposition, however moments like these help to remind us of just how human we really are.