Recognition and Finding Common Ground at Capital

Cayli Yanagida, Editor-in-Chief

On Friday, March 15, 2019, former Capital High School Senior Samantha Baker was attending the State competition for Theatre Arts when she received the news; her article from the Capital Outlook newspaper regarding the differences in recognition between sports and other extracurricular activities had caused widespread controversy within the school.

During the next few days, Baker dealt with the repercussions of her article. However, even though people were upset, she believed the situation would blow over within a weekend. 

It did not. 

That was one year ago. However, on a larger scale, the root of the problem is far from resolved. In a society expecting polarity, constantly demanding a them-versus-us mentality of extremes, it may be hard to find a middle ground in any situation regarding controversial subjects, including inside Capital High School.

Baker reflects on the events of last year, and even with the negative attention she received for the article, she said she doesn’t regret writing it. 

“It needed to be said,” Baker said. “I was speaking on behalf of students who participated in things that aren’t well-represented. I was speaking for students who work their butts off for a little recognition.”

Baker’s own experiences came into play when she wrote the article. As a former thespian, she said she believes Theatre and other activities like Speech and Debate, Robotics and Choir don’t get as much recognition as school sports. 

But what about the students who were juniors last year? Baker’s article caused the most conflict between her and the student-athletes in her own grade. What about the senior class of 2020?

Senior Tyghler Fiola, a four-sport athlete for Capital, said he supported Baker’s idea of equal recognition for all extracurriculars. However, when asked if he believes there has been more recognition of non-athletic extracurriculars, Fiola only said to an extent. 

“I think there’s a little bit,” Fiola said, “but not as much as there should be. I know a bunch of the big clubs or places to be, but I can’t say a lot of clubs are being recognized as much, and I think that’s definitely an issue we have.” 

Even as an athlete, Fiola still said he supported Baker’s message. Senior Teena Sanchez, a part of the leadership class, said she supported Baker’s main message as well, but also said she felt attacked when first reading the article. 

“I saw where the viewpoint was coming from.” Sanchez said. “I know there are a lot of other clubs that don’t get recognized, such as Robotics, Debate, and other clubs like that. But, as an athlete, I did feel personally attacked, and that I was being looked at wrongly because I played a sport.” 

Although the article upset many last year, it did have an impact on how the leadership class runs. Sanchez said the article influenced athletic recognition such as the Walk-to-State, a tradition for sports teams that no longer exists due to Baker’s opposition toward it. As well, Sanchez said the article influenced February’s Renaissance Assembly, where the focus was to recognize students who don’t receive recognition for their extracurriculars. 

Sanchez said she did everything in order to give people opportunities to be recognized through the assembly. She said the leadership class informed the student body through the announcements, letting people know applications of students worthy of recognition could be submitted. 

However, the results were underwhelming for the leadership class. 

“We got two submissions from students that were related to leadership or DECA.” Sanchez said. “Only two nominations within a three-week span.”

Sanchez’s dedication to representing all of Capital’s students can be seen through school functions like assemblies, where the leadership class works hard to make sure the events run smoothly. Through Sanchez’s experience with the Renaissance Assembly, it can be seen that it takes the cooperation of athletic and non-athletic students in order to make sure Capital’s students receive the recognition they deserve. 

On a larger scale, finding common ground, whether it be between athletic and non-athletic students or outside of school, is something Fiola thinks is important. 

“You will always find someone that doesn’t agree with you,” he said, “but you’re in a situation where it has to work. If you find that middle ground, it shows a sense of humanity within that person and yourself.”

Fiola doesn’t participate in non-athletic extracurriculars, but he used his own experiences to draw connections between sports and Theatre. 

“In football, we put so many hours into it.” Fiola said. “We could find that middle ground with Theatre: they have so many rehearsals. They have preparation, we have preparation. They have the big show, we have the big game.”

Besides the article’s influence, Sanchez said the diversity in the leadership class has also helped with working toward equal recognition. 

“We have kids of all kinds in the leadership class coming from many different groups,” she said. “There is no separation when it comes to big projects. A lot of kids are intertwined with different activities. I know people who do dance but are also involved in Drama. I know people who are in Choir but are also involved in athletics. There is a larger understanding and respect for the students who don’t get to be recognized in that way. There is a common ground that has been established this year.”