Young budding journalists try their hand at news writing

This summer, the Wildcat Tribune mentored several young elementary and middle schoolers, teaching them about the various steps and aspects of news writing. From all the students, the following three were chosen to have their final project – a news article on the topic of their choice – published in the Wildcat Tribune.

Kickball at Hirsch Elementary making a comeback

By Francis Luo
Sixth grader at Hirsch Elementary School

Two years ago, Hirsch Elementary School banned kickball from the school grounds because a teacher was struck by a kickball flying through a kickball unit. The change was not welcomed by the students — now, kickball is making a comeback.

Kickball is a sport similar to baseball in most aspects, except instead of using a baseball, a large playground ball is used. The “pitcher” rolls the ball and the “batter” kicks it. It is played on a baseball or softball field.

Hirsch School used to have an annual students versus teachers kickball game on the last day of school, and it was in one such game that Michelle Cosgrove, a fourth grade grade teacher at Hirsch, was knocked down by a kickball and carried away in a wheelchair. It was later confirmed that Mrs. Cosgrove broke her collarbone and missed the first two weeks of the next school year.

At the time, kickball was very popular at Hirsch, and after the ban there were many people milling about without much to do.

According to Fedor Khaldin, a student who used to be very active in kickball, “A lot of people played kickball … and if kickball were brought back, less people would be playing other games such as tetherball and four square.”

In fact, a group of sixth graders has even started a petition to bring kickball back. They were not available for interview.

The P.E. teacher at Hirsch, Kelsey Korycinski, is reintroducing kickball to physical education. She says “Kickball is a fun and exciting sport and I think that it helps build teamwork.”

As of now, it is unknown whether the ban on kickball will be lifted the following school year. However, Principal Muriel Evans is retiring this year and the next principal may lift the ban. The new principal is yet to be determined.

PUSD implements 1-on-1 laptop program

By Dennis Chen
Eighth grader at Harvest Park Middle School

The Pleasanton Unified School District is planning on rolling out a “1-on-1 program” that provides each student with a personal laptop. This coincides with a shift to more technology use within education in the school district.

“It is neither anticipated nor expected that students will be on their devices all day,” says Sebastian Bull, principal of Foothill High. “However, having regular access to a device will allow for 21st century instructional shifts to take place.”

According to the 1:1 website, the plan is for each incoming sixth through 10th grader to receive a laptop. These devices must be brought to school every day, and to ensure the laptops are being treated properly, students will randomly be called out for laptop inspection. Their plan is documented here; in particular, the 6th graders of 2019-2020 will be receiving the used computers from 2018-2019 eighth graders. To see the age of the computers you will be using, just find your grade in the 2018-19 year and go down and right diagonally.

The older laptops will be redistributed to fourth and fifth graders to reach a 1:3 device to person ratio.

These laptops will be used to complete online assignments at home and at school, and the school stresses that they are only meant for educational purposes. However, the school is not very consistent in its messaging. In page six of the Student Device Handbook, the district says that it will be monitoring computer use, including but not limited to internet searches and social media. Social media is not an “educational use,” but the school district has all but accepted that school computers will not realistically only be used for educational purposes. This does not mean they will not be lax about your activities though; while they accept their computers may be used for purposes such as social media or gaming, they still will be closely monitoring activities.

A concern from students is that they will not be allowed to use their own laptops in school. This disconcerts many because the computers provided by the school could be lackluster due to the expensive nature of this proposal. Petitions to allow students to use their own laptops have amassed dozens of signatures, and this is one of the more controversial parts of the proposal. Student Pratham Sarker, who started a petition that gathered over 100 signatures, stated that while he started the project, it lost momentum because it was getting increasingly difficult to amass signatures. However, the schools do have their reasons for it, though the legitimacy of those reasons is up for debate. The schools want to monitor student activity, as said in the Student Device Handbook, and personal computers may create a legal barrier to that. This in part is because of the amount of time students spend on games and the like during school hours; some students also play video games during lunch as well. Since some adults see no legitimate reason to enforce the (sometimes questionable) rules, the district feels the need to do so themselves.

The PUSD is increasingly transitioning and relying on technology for school purposes, and it may be of interest to note that the school will be supplying all the materials for students. After all, their website says, “It is our expectation that students care for their devices and bring them to school daily as they would a pencil.”

From Bucharest to California

By Annalisa Siu
Seventh grader at Creekside Middle School

*names changed to initials

Forty-nine-year-old E.S. says, “Life was hard in Romania, and it still is in America, but I have gained a lot of experience and happiness. I have never regretted moving here.”

On November 5, 2007, the S family migrated as immigrants from Bucharest, Romania to Castro Valley, California in hopes of finding a better life for their children. The S’s, consisting of a hard-working father in his 50s, a loving mother at age forty-nine (E), a young man in college, and an eleven year old girl, have lived in America for almost eleven years now.

E states, “My earliest memories are being strong and thinking that my children will have a better life.”

Before moving to the United States, the family had been planning to move here for about one year. E’s husband had won a visa lottery to be able to migrate here and E became the first one in her family to move to America. For most of the family, migrating overseas seemed to be a difficult change, but for A, she was absolutely comfortable because she was only about one year old when she moved to California.

Once they had arrived in the U.S., they immediately fell in love with their new home. There was the smell of freedom, plants, fresh air, and even hot dogs! However, there were many struggles to overcome. For their life in America had just begun. Language (speech, writing, reading), finding a job, driving a car, and buying a house were just a few of the struggles they were given. They stayed at a friend’s house for about three months before they started renting. Ever since moving to America, they have only visited Romania once, when E was forty-seven and A was eight, and stayed there for about two and a half months. A commented that, “It took about a little more than 10 hours by airplane to arrive at California with a total of about 6,304 miles to fly.”

Migrating to the United States of America was one of the hardest experiences of their lives, but at the same time, it was the best experience of their lives. It gave them hope, happiness, and freedom. They received more than they could ever ask for and that’s what made them who they are today; a glorious family full of happiness.

E says, “I could never imagine living anywhere but in America. It is the dream home that I have always wished for, and now, it is a dream come true.”