Category Archives: Life of a Brave

Vaping Poses New Health Risks in High Schools

by Matthew Ruiz, George Holani, Elliston Ospina, and Jake Newman

“Vaping in general is a major health risk to teens and young adults for brain development, addiction, and behavioral risks.”

Teenage vaping of nicotine and marijuana can have long-term effects on the brain. When teens and young adults expose their brain to these substances, they are susceptible to side effects that include addiction, mood changes, and permanent lowering of impulse control.

Nicotine can also lead to addictions with more advanced tobacco products. Some evidence suggests that E-Cigarette use is linked to alcohol use and other substance use, such as marijuana.

According to The Guardian, Americans currently spend around $40 billion a year on legal and black market marijuana.

This intake is almost certain to increase, as marijuana becomes easier to access and is declared legal in more states across America. The “pot industry” continues to marijuana pot as compatible with a healthy and relaxing adult life.

The same is not true for middle and high schoolers.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 53 percent of people who have used marijuana began smoking between the ages of 12 and 17. Even more worrisome, 21 percent of high school students have reported marijuana use in the past 30 days.
This is extremely problematic as a lot of youth are not aware of the negative impact of marijuana on the teenage brain.

Marijuana is associated with the impairment of many brain functions. Teens develop weak memory recollection, difficulty understanding concepts and school subjects, and lower life satisfaction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The use of marijuana has been consistently increasing over the past few years as it has reached the highest point in the past thirty years according the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. This drastic increase in use is a result of extreme accessibility. Marijuana now comes in a multitude of forms such as: pens, vapes, and natural grown herb.

With the emergence of smoking in general, vaping, both of nicotine and marijuana, has become a major issue across high schools in America and at St. John Bosco.


Common Vaping Device

“[Vaping nicotine] was the same as patches and chewing gum that they would use to get smokers off of cigarettes and on a healthier plan with vaping,” says English teacher and former Dean of Students Mr. Derek Fernando.

Mr. Fernando supported vaping devices when they first came out, but has since determined that they influenced the wrong culture of teens.  

“There’s a problem with how they market the devices and vaping in general,” argues Mr. Fernando. 

Teens and young adults who vape see it as a fun thing to do, and ultimately aren’t prepared for the health effects and chemical changes to their body in the long and short term.

“The benefits of vaping aren’t meant to help people under the age of 25,” said Mr. Fernando.

Getting caught vaping is like getting pulled over for speeding or getting caught drinking underage, as there are consequences and certain fees you have to pay.

“I have not yet caught anyone in the act of vaping [at Bosco], but I have caught some students with the vaping paraphernalia on them,” Fernando said. “I have to put myself in the parents [of students] shoes and see how they feel about their son or daughter vaping and ask, why are they doing this to there body?” he said when speaking about students vaping at Bosco.

School President Dennis Mulhaupt obviously doesn’t condone vaping of  E-cigarettes or marijuana. His view is that, when in school, students are responsible for working hard and being responsible, not thinking about having to vape.

“It’s a socially cool thing to do,” said Mulhaupt. “We need to educate our students and show them why [vaping] is a bad thing. If students choose to vape on campus, it’s not permitted and disciplinary actions will be taken against them.”

Junior ASB member and student-athlete Nathaniel Quigg has a strong viewpoint on vaping within our school as well as outside of school.

“Vaping isn’t as harmful as smoking or doing marijuana, Vicodin, or Methamphetamine, but it still affects students regarding their learning capabilities and mental state,” Quigg claims.

Two anonymous seniors who play a sport and vaped at the same time possessed a negative stance on vaping.


Teen vaping has become a major issue across high schools in America.

“Vaping affected my studying and changed the way I think. It made me lazy and encouraged me to not do any homework,” said one senior, a single-sport athlete. “Vaping is a bad thing, but we all do things that aren’t good for us here and there.”

He says most students are influenced by their friends to vape, and in turn over time they become addicted. Sophomore and junior year this senior was addicted to vaping, and all because of some close friends who influenced him to do it at first.

“I don’t do it like I used to because I learned to grow,” said the senior of his situation now.

The second anonymous senior is a multi-sport athlete at Bosco, who also had a negative stance on vaping. Some of his views were similar to the first anonymous senior but possessed a different perspective.

“Vaping takes time away from school and everything I do in general. Obviously vaping isn’t healthy because it prevents our bodies from developing due to the amount of nicotine we inhale smoking it,” said the senior.

Vaping affects him in sports because it’s harder for athletes to breathe because they have bad lungs. The senior mentioned that the only reason he vaped was because he thought it was cool, but learned to stop and became more focused on his academics and sports.

All of the new technology poses a problem in itself as people may not be aware of what they are ingesting in their body. Increases in lung issues such as popcorn lung, a disease where holes develop in the alveoli in your lungs, have been on the rise.

Combining both the accessibility and the negligence of the product in a present-day problem. Our youth are harming themselves without knowing the outcome with little to no accountability. 

Vaping and smoking in general is a growing issue across America for all high school students and needs to be prevented before serious issues stem from it. We can start here at St. John Bosco High School by taking necessary actions and helping those that vape, stop.


Bosco: Salesian Week Is Here

by Nikolas Molina

The first Salesian week at St. John Bosco High School has come to a close. On Friday, January 25th Bosco held community time to allow the student body to play games and have free time with one another.


The games consisted of softball, beach volleyball and kickball against the teachers. These games are all for fun but there is a competition within each of the grade levels.

This year, Bosco brought back Gold and Silver Cups. The previous rallies held various competitions for the Silver Cup. With multiple games and competitions for the cup, the Rua tribe come out victorious in both of the rallies.

The Silver Cup is earned by the tribe who as part of our salesian values compete on the playground with character and pride.

The games were roughly an hour long which then led into lunch, and were very competitive, but came with smiles, laughter and bragging rights. Bragging rights are what teachers and students strive for here.

Being able to go to a class and brag to your teacher that your team beat their team is very satisfying.

This day of games will lead to a week of celebration and Bosco’s Feast Day on Thursday, kicking off the second Salesian week. On January 31st, Bosco will hold its feast day for our schools founder. We celebrate the gift Don Bosco and the Salesians have brought to our community. Feast day is the biggest celebration of the year for the Bosco community.

“It is a time for fellowship and family time. This is what Bosco wanted by making our salesian school a home, a playground, a school and a church,” said Brother James.

All four of these salesian virtues will be expressed and shown during this two-part Salesian week in which we as Braves will live out the ways over Don Bosco.


Bosco Theatre: A Great Experience

by Victor Curiel

Some of the qualities our school tries its best to instill in each of its students are those of leadership, empathy, teamwork, and compassion for others. It is the Salesians’ mission to make certain that all young men who pass through St. John Bosco leave with these lessons ingrained in their character.

Here at St. John Bosco, students are provided with various opportunities and pathways to learn and practice these skills. However, while some may argue that this is best accomplished in clubs such as youth ministry or ASB, there is nowhere that this is better exemplified than in St. John Bosco’s and St. Joseph’s theater departments. 

I’ll be honest, when I first came to St. John Bosco 4 years ago, the last thing I expected to catch my interest was the theater program. I assumed that it would be either subpar or that it’s content just wouldn’t interest me, but after much consideration, I decided to find out for myself and auditioned for the 2017 spring musical.

What I ended up finding was not just an engaging extracurricular but a family, one that John Bosco himself would be proud of. I feel confident that this realization is not just something I alone experienced but rather that it’s an inherent quality of the Bosco-Josephs theater department.

“I would say acceptance and like uniqueness. Everyone gets to shine and everyone gets to show off their uniqueness and their personality or their characteristics and it’s not always about physicality like in sports,” said Bosco junior Joshua Dreyer.

There is something truly special about the program, anyone can tryout, anyone can join and they’ll be accepted regardless of what sport they previously played, their beliefs, or their grade level. 

“Don’t be afraid at all because really everyone in theater is just accepting, that’s what I’ve seen at least. And it’s not only accepting, it’s like you’re encouraged to show your weird side,” said Dreyer.

“The journey you go through from auditioning for a show to putting it on and going through closing night is amazing, and when you go through that with a big group of people you bond with them. I think that’s pretty great,” said Veronica O’Connor, a current senior at St. Joseph’s. 

Another appealing quality of theater is the level of comradeship it allows between St. John Bosco students and their female counterparts at St, Joseph’s. The program has prided itself for being part of two schools yet remaining one program for years, a fact that members from both school’s enjoy and support. 

“I think it’s a great way to connect both the schools because it’s difficult with sports and stuff. You get to connect through the arts, which is a very wholesome way of connecting the two schools and you produce something in the end. So it’s not like fruitless interaction, you’re interacting for a purpose or for a goal. I think we could definitely use more programs like this,” said O’Connor. 

“I think it’s actually pretty fun to work with the girls because opening that up to women as well is a really good way to find people that are like you,” said Bosco junior Ryan Jones. 

Theater is accepting and it provides an opportunity to grow closer to our sisters at Joseph’s, but what does it do for students personally? Aside from the obvious public speaking skills, theater helps foster an environment where one can learn confidence and how to find empathy in others. 

“I think that theater does help me a lot with confidence and I think that theater helps me a lot with my social skills because I feel that I’m never necessarily a bad person socially because theater has taught me that you can talk your way out of all things,” said Jones. 

If you’re looking for an environment that will provide a challenge and a family, look no further than the Bosco-Joseph’s theater department. If you’re nervous about auditioning for roles or are unsure of whether it’s for you, don’t worry, it’s something all theater kids have gone through. 

“I feel that theater is something that some people see as just a hobby, that’s not as high or as important as sports. But theater is something that’s just as challenging and if you want to do it, don’t be too scared about it but at the same time realize how challenging it can be and don’t scare yourself because of it,” said Jones.

Don’t be afraid to try out for the next play or musical. You may not get the position you want, there’s not always enough roles unfortunately, but tech and crew positions are always available and are just as important and appreciated as lead roles.

It all really comes down to this, if you’re interested in finding a high school family full of people who will happily support you and your quirks all while participating in engaging, challenging, yet appealing work, the Bosco-Joseph’s theater program might just be the answer. So why not give it a try? 

Kairos 46 Reflection: Live the 4th

by Joshua Adoh

Out of all the retreats that St. John Bosco holds throughout a traditional Braves’ four-year experience, Kairos takes the cake.

Going on this retreat is a guaranteed eye-opening experience. I learned many messages, such as how to treat people the right way and how to spread love to others. One major thing I took away however is that you must first love yourself in order to love others. That will stick with me forever.

I have learned the importance of self-love and how it plays a big part in my life as a young man. Ms. (Mama) Valerie Shields opened my mind to the idea of going on this retreat, which helped me understand that I am never alone in this world as long as I have God, my family, and my close-knit friends.

At St. John Bosco, we are told since freshman year that we are brothers and that this is a brotherhood, but on Kairos this bond is truly emphasized. Nobody is perfect in this world, and with all the problems and hardships each of us go through on a daily basis, knowing someone has your back can go a long way.

I can honestly say Kairos has made me stronger in my faith to God and has given me confidence in my God-given abilities on and off the basketball court. This retreat has taught me what it truly means to be a Bosco Brave.

St. John Bosco is a great school and I have come to love all of my friends, the faculty and staff. This place truly is a home, school, church and playground.

If you are interested in finding out who you are as a young man and a Bosco Brave, then I strongly recommend going on this retreat when the time comes. Live the 4th!


Halloween: How To Make The Most Out Of Spooky Season

by Samuel Rodriguez

Halloween is around the corner, which means that there are a lot of fun new activities to enjoy in Los Angeles for all of October.

The Halloween season brings scary fright fests at various amusement parks, scary mazes throughout the city, and festive pumpkin patches. Such events include Universal Studios Horror Nights, Queen Mary’s Dark Harbour, Knotts Scary Farm, and Six Flags Fright Fest.


Knotts Scary Farm

These places are sure to include scary and twisted mazes, giving you chills but still offering a good time with friends and/or family. These amusement parks also keep their rides open in case you had enough scare for the night and need a different kind of rush. Students that have went to these events report a great time and would like to go again.

“I went with the homies and some girls from Joes [St. Josephs] and it was pretty chill. The mazes were actually kind of scary, and it takes a lot for me to get scared. Overall, it was super fun and I would recommend going,” said senior Andro Labastida about Universal’s Horror Nights.

Amusement parks’ special Halloween events offer a general admission price between $60-$100 depending on the day and park. Although it is a little pricey, the amusement parks offer lots to do and start early around 7 PM and end around 2 AM to provide enough time for you to experience everything.


Universal Studios Horror Nights

Other Halloween special events include the Los Angeles “Haunted Hayride,” pumpkin patches, and “Boo at the LA Zoo.” These events offer safe family festivities while still giving a scare to each person. The LA Haunted Hayride is located at the old Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park and their attractions include their famous hayride which “transports you into the unknown” and 3 other mazes that you can go to. The general admission, which grants access to all attractions, is $40 a ticket.


LA Haunted Hayride

Pumpkin patches are another desirable destination for families, friends, and couples. Pa’s Pumpkin Patch, located in Long Beach, offers a variety of rides, games, and pumpkins to choose from to take home, not to mention the petting zoo and pony ride along with fresh cooked food and a pumpkin wonderland. General prices for this pumpkin patch are $20 for 10 tickets, $50 for 30 tickets, or individual tickets for $2.50. Many people who came to this pumpkin patch report a good time with a family friendly atmosphere that is fun for all ages.


Pa’s Pumpkin Patch

“I went with my friends last week and it was pretty fun. It was a great place for everyone to get together and just relax and chill. We bought a few tickets and went on a couple of rides, but the best part was probably the pumpkins and getting to fool around and take pictures with it. The patch is also aesthetically pleasing and looks really pretty,” said St. Joseph’s senior Olivia Maxwell.

The Boo at the LA Zoo is another popular spot during the Halloween season. Boo at the Zoo offers special shows, a spooky stroll filled with various games and activities, and allows you to get up close with some zoo animals. Ticket prices for this vary, but the most expensive is for adults at $21.

“I went with my family and had a good time. It’s actually super cheap and worth it. We got to see two shows and they were actually kind of cool. At first I didn’t think I would like it, because I was with my family and stuff but ended up having a really good time,” said St. John Bosco senior AJ Castillo.


LA Boo at the Zoo

This Halloween season offers many events and festivities that you can do with your friends and family. Be sure to keep your eyes out and check out the coolest events that are happening near you to make the most of the season.


Life of a Brave: Nnamdi Chugbo Breaks the Mold

by RJ Johnson

Traditionally, the Brave of the Issue has been awarded to exceptional Bosco athletes and scholars, such as Jaiden Woodbey and Colby Bowman. However, even these illustrious awardees haven’t achieved some of what class of 2019 senior Nnamdi Chugbo has in his own time at St. John Bosco.

On December 24, 2017, Nnamdi launched his clothing brand ‘Saint’ with the release of his “The World is Yours” t-shirt. His inspiration behind  “The World is Yours” design came from his feelings toward life.

Nnamdi has always grown up not only believing, but knowing that he was destined for more in life than just traditional standards in which to conform.

If he was going to reach his desired point of success, it would be through an alternate route. A route that many of today’s youth are discouraged from taking because of how easy it would be to fail, which Nnamdi has no fear of doing.

“I’m really not meant to be average,” Nnamdi said.

Nnamdi’s freshman year on St. John Bosco’s campus, he began to realize that he didn’t like school as much as he thought he did.

“I began noticing I wasn’t into school a lot, I would get good grades and do my work, but it was never truly something I wanted to continue or had a passion for,” he said.

Nnamdi sometimes struggles to relay this message to his family members, especially since Nnamdi has seen how far school took them. Without educational success, it’s safe to say Nnamdi’s family would still be living in Nigeria without ever having the treasured opportunity of emigrating to the United States.

Although Nnamdi sometimes feels apprehensive about expressing his creative goals, he drew inspiration from the place he least expected it–in school–in the form of Bosco’s assistant basketball coach and AP English teacher Mr. Michael Bartelt.

“Coach Bartelt has been a great figure to me because of how expressive and artistic he is with his teaching style, also while finding a way to relate to his students,” Nnamdi said.

According to Nnamdi, he appreciates Mr. Bartelt’s lack of inhibition in being “out of the ordinary.” This alone made it easier for Nnamdi to grow closer to Mr. Bartelt on and off the court.

Another place Nnamdi drew inspiration from was the music industry. Being a huge fan of the artist Tyler, the Creator and his collective Odd Future.


“I liked their music a lot, but their sense of fashion along with the way they carried themselves really inspired me,” he said.

This gave Nnamdi the idea to start learning how to draw and concept some of his own fashion designs. Whenever he had the time in class or at home, he took the time to do whatever he could in his notebook.

Eventually with the feedback he was getting for his designs, and the fire burning inside him to showcase his talent, his first clothing release came December 1, 2017 during his junior year.

With this release, Nnamdi’s buzz and fanbase began to grow with the heart of it all being in the Cerritos area, which is also Nnamdi’s hometown. His brand began to expand into the schools in that area, like Gahr, Artesia and Cerritos High Schools.

The Bosco student body has always backed Nnamdi’s brand by wearing it, and posting any Saint t-shirts and hoodies that they buy.

“I feel like social media is a big part of everything bro, because nowadays everyone has an Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat and I even have my own website now which is,” Nnamdi said.

He credits a lot of his success to social media, allowing his clothing to not only be sold locally but with getting out of state purchases ranging as far as Germany.

With it being Nnamdi’s last year in high school, he can’t wait to tackle the real world in front of him. He hopes to gain plenty of internships within his business major and network with people who can get him contact with higher ups in the fashion industry.

“Other than the school aspect, going out into the world by myself, meeting more people in the world and making my own connections will be extremely important for my brand and is going to really help skyrocket Saint’s growth and sales,” he said.

Nnamdi has made it a serious point in his life to never be complacent where he’s at. He wants not only his brand but himself to continuously evolve. He believes that this is because of the hunger he has for his form of success.

“When I do something new, it is only cool to me for a few days. My main focus is to keep pushing and get better at the things I do,” Nnamdi said.

Keeping himself happy and making those around him proud is what matters the most to Nnamdi.

For those of you Braves who may have similar aspirations to Nnamdi, here’s his best advice to you: “If you are planning to do something, then do it. Don’t hesitate, we only have one life and you have to do what you have to do. If something makes you happy, don’t let others opinions get to you. No one else can make you happy except yourself.”

Bosco: Long Hair Not Cutting It

by Joshua Lucero 


As cliche as it sounds, many students believe their hair can be an important way to express their inner selves and their culture.

On August 21st, sixth grader Faith Fennidy arrived to school at Christ the King Parish School in Terrytown, Louisiana and received a notice about being in violation of dress code. The Archdiocese of New Orleans stated she was not expelled, but rather “withdrawn” from Christ the King. But what school administration didn’t bargain that day was this being the beginning of a problem for the school’s haircut policy.

Faith and her family were sidetracked and shaken by the news. Faith left her campus in tears after her natural hair didn’t meet her school’s standards. However, this was not the first time Faith received notice regarding her hair being in violation of dress code.

The first day of school Faith received a letter stating she must change her hairstyle to conform to the school’s policy. The first time her parents took her to change her hairstyle. But after receiving second notice of her violation, Faith’s parents were surprised at the suddenly harsher repercussions.  

In today’s society, we are taught to reform social standards for the betterment of all in order for us to become all we can be as individuals. Creating this sense of individualism can be difficult when students feel restricted in the expression of their culture.

Saint John Bosco has created a school community with excellent unity, openness and understanding. Unlike Christ the King Parish School, Bosco’s administration is open-minded about their policies.

When violations arise in dress code, students here are given an opportunity to correct them before facing punishment. But while the rules at Bosco are clear and known, many of us adhere don’t adhere these rules, creating at times an unneeded tension within the rules and the student community.

As cliche as it sounds, many students believe their hair can be an important way to express their inner selves and their culture.

“As a black youth growing up in a non-black environment, I feel as if my hair is one of the very few ways I can express my culture,” said junior Elijah McCray.

Through his hair, McCray is able to express his culture and who he is. This major conflict is something that he and many others are trying to bring to light. Some students of color feel they are trying to be molded into this “cookie-cutter” of a person when they do not fit the neatly into the descriptions outlined in the school’s policy.

Other students have expressed no problem with the school’s haircut policy. The caveat, however, is that many of these students wear their hair over the three-inch limit stipulated in the policy. They don’t have a problem because they aren’t being held accountable to the rules that are supposed to govern all students.

I’m a living example of the contradictions present in the enforcement of school’s current policy. My hair well-exceeds the three-inch limit, but because of my Latino descent, my straight, thick hair looks up to policy. One month into school and eight inches later, I haven’t been held accountable for my long hair since I served as a “big brother” at the freshman orientation in August.

For others, like McCray, who have curlier hair due to their ethnic background, it’s harder to fly under the dean’s radar.

This is no fault of the administration and certainly does not reflect purposely targeting certain students. Simply, it is not possible to catch every student in Saint John Bosco with hair over three inches. While many students do keep their hair cut within the rules, in other cases, students can break the “three-inch rule” but still present themselves as “well-groomed” and “professional.”

“Coming to Bosco, the hair policy is understandable,” said junior Ryan Jones, a participant in the Biomedical Pathway and member of Bosco’s performing arts program. “But in order to succeed in today’s society we should, as Braves, be able to express our individuality. Our hair can be a symbol of who we are.”

Jones, one of many who feels this policy can be revised for the better, believes if students stand together with the administration, they can impact more a culturally inclusive policy regarding hairstyles and show that Bosco is not like other private schools who have simply stuck to the book without adapting to ongoing social and cultural changes.  

Junior Brad Dominguez, another excellent student who is in the Biomedical Pathway, feels as if the haircuts are “fair game.” He expressed more concern with the the rules surrounding facial hair in particular.

“Students who shave on Monday and see that their beards grow back within two days should be able to have some leeway,” said Dominguez.

It makes sense for students like Dominguez, who have demanding academic and extracurricular schedules, to be granted some extra time to shave when they might not find the time to do so on a daily basis.

Students are not the only people at this school who believe the hair restriction can be changed for the better.

Mr. Mario Cordero, a well respected history teacher at Saint John Bosco, believes that the hair policy can be altered and justified by the way we present ourselves.

“I see hair that is out of compliance by students, but they take pride in their hair,” Mr. Cordero said, who himself has worn his hair long and is in favor for a revised policy.

That said, he understands that a Bosco Man must know proper etiquette and discipline. This is where he draws the line, as he is ultimately in support of the well-mannered and well-groomed Brave, conceding that hair can be outside of official policy while still being considered “well-groomed.”

Vice Principal of Student Affairs Mr. Adan Jaramillo understands where his students are coming from when talking about this issue. Being a former Bosco Brave, he has experienced everything we have.

Looking at the diversity of our school, Mr. Jaramillo understands that many students do have hair that looks longer because of their ethnic background and they can’t help it.

Mr. Jaramillo and other administrative members are looking through the current policies and considering amendments to those that may be culturally outdated.

He says rather than the handbook’s stipulation that students must have no facial hair and hair under three inches, we could potentially change to hair and facial hair that is simply “neatly groomed and presentable.”

How our community determines the definitions of “neat” and “presentable” remains unclear, but the issue certainly garnered attention at the start of the 2018-2019 school year.

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