Finding Unity and Plurality by Rohini C.

This is the first in a series of articles written by student leaders on issues to raise awareness and share a fresh perspective.


Rohini C.

6 Jan 2018


Finding Unity and Plurality


All school leadership at Berkeley High aims to build community and foster a sense of unity among all Berkeley High students. For a school of 3200 students, and five learning communities, this is no small task.

We recognize that, in such a large student body, and in such an open and diverse campus as Berkeley High, that many perspectives will flourish. We as individuals are encouraged to bring forth our voices and our ideas into the classroom and our communities. We have a plurality.

In a plurality, and in a campus that is organized by smaller learning communities, the challenge of unity and community becomes complex. Individuals from different backgrounds will naturally gravitate toward those with whom they share common interests or heritage. Students of South Asian descent, like me, might find others of South Asian descent to form a club or group. We share common music, common food, and a common background. We naturally will share an identity separate from those of other classmates. Building unity is a challenge that we face with a diverse and large student body.

We, in leadership, have approached this from the perspective of unity through the exploration of our individual identities: a mosaic of students. We think of ourselves as capable of several identities, just as an individual tile can have many colors. We may consider ourselves South Asian, female, an IB-student, or a musician, and also a Berkeley High student. That is the basis of all of our activities in ASB: being a Berkeley High student is common to all of us, and we accept this identity along with other aspects of ourselves. We are pushing toward a shared sense of identity, a shared unity.

With the basis of a mosaic, we have decided to organize all school events to help build community and a sense of a shared unity. We are putting a lot of thought into designing activities that would pursue these goals above all else. One activity that we, as freshman, are organizing is class to class presentations among freshmen to enhance the community of the Class of 2021. We are brainstorming several options, including playing a game of Jeopardy in each class with categories based on the identities of the members of that class.

It is our goal that, ultimately, these activities will help bring forth a collective: that by sharing our identities with each other, together we can push beyond the natural tendencies of separation and find a common language and shared destiny as students at Berkeley High.


Holiday Meal 2017 Recap & Gratitude

 Thank you to the many volunteers and donors who supported the 2017 Holiday Meal. It is still a really amazing thing that a public school opens its doors to host this community gathering. We look forward to supporting the community in future events. If you are interested in serving the community through meal service or in related ways, please scroll to the bottom of the leadership post for a list of organizations.

***If you took any photos or videos of the event, please send them to Nishat, so we can compile a video for next year. Thanks!

2017 Berkeley High School Holiday Meal

Over 225 guests were served a freshly prepared meal and heartwarming entertainment. The weather was perfect for event day.Nishat Sheikh, Chief of Service, and some members of the Holiday Meal planning committee met for a months to organize a successful service event.The 2017-18 BHS Cheer Squad led by Coach Tiffany Williams represented some of the over 350 volunteers at the event. The Donation Station featured contributions of warm clothing and toiletries among other items from staff, students, and local businesses like Mt. Hardwear.The Dorothy Day House also provided items for the guests.Milton & The Innovators bring their feel good vibe in the form of great music to the BHS Holiday Meal. The meal is comprised of contributions of pre-cooked turkeys, hams, side dishes, salads from community members and staff members. Thank you!!!We also featured volunteers from the Parents of Children of African Descent (PCAD).

The BHS Band & Orchestra, fresh off of their winter concert, welcomed and entertained guests.  Any leftover items are brought to the University Avenue Goodwill.  Any leftover canned goods are picked up by the Alameda County Food Bank.

We baked over 400 chocolate cookies for the event.

Rayene is seen here writing the thank you letters to our financial donors. Thank you to everyone who helped us surpass our fundraising goal of $4,000.

Tashi, BUSD Chef, seen here preparing a pasta dish helped tremendously in meal prep.  There were also many parent and student cooks that put a great deal of effort into preparing the meal. V, BHS Chef, served tremendously in the behind the scenes preparation of the meal.

Much gratitude to Mark Coplan, retired BUSD Info Officer, who always takes these great photos. Felicia Phillips, Academic Choice VP, also plays a vital role in event support. Check out his Flickr account for

Berkeley High’s Holiday Dinner 2017 Photos:

We were able to serve all guests with a great meal. We were able to send any guests home with to go boxes of food, while all leftover food (turkey, pasta, bean salad) was provided to the local shelter.

  The Coat Check volunteers are usually the first set of faces that greet our guests. Thanks again to all of our volunteers and food contributors who brought in delicious dishes like this ready-to-mix salad. Students spend Friday night and Saturday morning decorating the cafeteria.

Tom Watts is a regular volunteer who takes a lead role in the kitchen. We are appreciative of his service as well as Sydney Kennedy, who helps each year to organize the menu. This year, he also help mix the dough for the 400 cookies at home.

Appreciation for Sara, Steve, Stacy and Juan for providing safety and event support, as well as good cheer. (Sara and Steve seen here)

all photos taken by Mark Coplan

List of Organizations

Organization Description Phone Website
Alameda Family Services
DreamCatcher Youth Services
2325 Clement Avenue
Suite A
Alameda, CA 94501
DreamCatcher Youth Services has been the only safe landing for homeless and disconnected at risk youth in Alameda County who are between the ages of 13-18. 800.379.1114
All Souls Episcopal Church 510.848.1755
All Souls Episcopal Church
2220 Cedar (@Spruce)
Berkeley, CA
Meal Service 510.848.1755 2nd Sunday @ 4:00 pm 510.848.1755
Berkeley Food and Housing Project
1901 Fairview Street
Berkeley, CA
Berkeley Food & Housing Project works with people who are homeless to move them into affordable permanent housing as quickly as possible – and to help them remain housed. To facilitate this, we provide an extensive range of food, housing, and social support services at 6 sites over 3 counties – Alameda, Solano and Contra Costa.
Mon, Tues, Thurs & Fri* 3:30–4:45pm*A free spaghetti meal is provided by the Lutheran Church of the Cross on Wednesdays
from 4:00–6:00pm.
BOSS Multi-Agency Service Center
1931 Center Street
Berkeley, CA
The mission of BOSS is to help homeless, poor, and disabled people achieve health and self-sufficiency, and to fight against the root causes of poverty and homelessness. 510.843.3700
Dorothy Day House Community Meal
2138 Cedar St
Berkeley, CA 94709
Our community breakfast is provided 6 days a week, year-round, at Christ Church of Berkeley, located at 2138 Cedar Street (at Walnut) in north Berkeley. Anyone in need of a hot breakfast can join us between 7 and 8 am. 925.519.9881
Dorothy Day House
P.O. Box 12701
Berkeley, CA 94712
P.O. Box 12701
Berkeley, CA 94712
First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley
2407 Dana Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
Come be a part of God’s work in the world! Twice a month, the Street
Meal serves nutritious hot meals to people in need in the Berkeley
community. Volunteers are needed to help in the kitchen and greet the
guests; contact Don Louie to sign up (information below). We are
especially looking for people who can serve on a regular basis as
assistant and lead cooks; to find out more about leading in the kitchen,
contact Fran Sheppard at (510) 524-8003 or
Dates: 2nd & last Saturday of each month
Street Meal
Location: Gym (John Knox A), Westminster Hall
Time: Volunteer between 2:00 & 7:00 pm: Set-up at 2:00 pm; Kitchen Crew Leads at 2:30 pm; Greeters and Hosts at 2:45 pm; Kitchen Crews at 3:00 pm. Dinner begins at 5:00 pm
Harrison House
711 Harrison St. (at 4th.) Berkeley, CA
You must be referred through the Berkeley Shelter Hotline at (866)-960-2132.
Shelter is closed from 9am-5pm every day, open 24 hours for families. There is a separate wing for women and children.
866.960.2132 none
Night on the Streets
Catholic Worker
In addition to weekly meals, NOSCW serves the neediest residents in the East Bay with an overnight storm shelter in winter (at the Dorothy Day House), pantry operation, soup nights, and a variety of other mail, legal, tax, and health services and other outreach that ranges from hospital and prison visits to advocacy for healthcare for the homeless. N/A
Online Homeless Resource webpage none
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
2300 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
Hot Meals for the Hungry
On the third Saturday of each month, volunteers from St. Mark’s
and the wider community cook for 120 guests. The volunteers work in two
shifts. From 1:30-4 p.m. volunteers set tables, prepare and cook the
meal, and prepare box lunches. From 4:30-6:30 p.m., volunteers serve the meal and clean up.
All volunteers are welcome, including one-time or walk-in
volunteers. Call (510) 848-5107 for further details or just show up and
introduce yourself.
United for Health – Suitcase Clinic (18-25 years old)
2300 Bancroft – St. Marks Church
The Suitcase Clinic is a humanitarian student organization and volunteer community offering free health and social services to underserved populations since 1989. Structured around the principles of public health, social welfare, community activism and empathy, the Suitcase Clinic currently operates three weekly multi-service drop-in centers in the city Berkeley: the General Clinic, the Women’s Clinic and the Youth Clinic. 510.643.6786
Women’s Daytime Drop In Center
2218 Acton Street
Berkeley, CA
The Women’s Daytime Drop-in Center offers free services to any homeless woman and her children. Mon – Fri 8 am – 4 pm 510.548.6933
Youth Emergency Assistance and Housing (YEAH!)
1744 University Avenue
Lutheran Church of the Cross
Our mission is to support young adults (18-24) in Berkeley who are currently homeless. We provide basic necessities, offer case management and counseling, linkages to education, employment and housing, and opportunities for meaningful community involvement. Monday-Sunday 8 pm – 8 am. Hot meals, Showers, Pets Allowed 510.704.9867

World Culture Show video and Free Dance Classes

Just in time for the holiday break, the video of the 2017 World Culture show is available to be shared with family and friends. Enjoy!
Thank you to Solomon Chang for organizing, Valerie Pope for theater and tech support, David Verdin for hosting, and the Entire Newcomer Program for being so supportive of each other and their community for this event. THANK YOU!!!
If you are inspired by this event to share your talent with the world (sing, dance, comedy, circus, juggling, bands, etc…), BHS Talent Show auditions are in February!!!
And if you are motivated to learn some new dance moves, all students and staff are invited to attend upcoming dance classes in the Afro Haitian Dance Room (above PE Lockers) hosted by UC Berkeley AFX Dance. Classes take place:
Tuesday, 12/5 from 3:30pm-5pm
Thursday, 12/7 from 3:30pm-5pm
Bio: AFX Outreach is a branch of UC Berkeley’s largest dance organization, AFX. Outreach‘s mission is to bring dance to local high schools in the hopes of fostering a passion in students who may not have previously exposed to dancing. Outreach aims to make workshops convenient and comfortable for the high schools by covering choreographers, choreography, flyers, and logistics.
Here are some of the students you may see in the video:
  • ELD welcome
  • Marielle
  • Ms. Chen’s Mandarin class
  • Muslim Student Association
  • Khalil ​art Video
  • Daniel
  • ELD Banda/Bachata dancers
  • Leandro
  • Sanai & Kendra
  • Yesenia
  • Juan
  • AFX UC Berkeley promotion
  • Sumaiyah & Kendra

BHS Stop Harassing 11/8 Presentation, Assembly Video & Resources

Please access any and all of these resources at your leisure. There was a lot of good information that was shared and the awareness can be furthered by continually discussing these items in an open way. This presentation took place on November 8.


  • ​Eleanor Davis, ​Coaching Boys into Men. Learn more about this organization.
  • Joyce Dorado Co- Founder and Director of UCSF Healthy Environments and Response to Trauma in School (HEARTS)
  • Discussion Panel- Kiernan ​Rok (BHS Dean of Students), Emily L, Daniela V, Justice P, ​Eleanor Davis
​Resources information about the student group who are “dedicated to changing the culture of sexual harassment at Berkeley High, throughout the BUSD (Berkeley Unified School District), and beyond.”
“What Our Country Gets Wrong about Masculinity” Marie Folreo discussion with Lewis Howes, author of the Mask in Masculinity. Good for talking points, maybe not a direct viewing by students… Features an interactive game, resource toolkit (scenario scripts!!!), and other useful things.  “national public education initiative that partners with young people to help raise awareness and bring educational and organizing tools to communities to address dating violence, unhealthy relationships, and digital abuse.” The parent organization for many organizations on this topic. “FUTURES has been providing groundbreaking programs, policies, and campaigns that empower individuals and organizations working to end violence against women and children around the world.”
Healthy Environments and Response to Trauma in School (HEARTS) Background info on the collaborative program with SFUSD “to promote school success by decreasing trauma-related difficulties and increasing healthy functioning in students…”
Seven Ways to Stand Up to Sexual Harassment & other engaging articles at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley

Holiday Meal 17: Your $$$ goes further thanks to matching donor!!!!

Folks, We have exciting news. A generous donor has stepped forward and pledged to match each dollar donated to the BHS Holiday Meal from now until November 30…Thank you!!!

BHS Holiday Meal on December 8-9, 2017

The 2017 Holiday Meal is an awesome annual event where over 250 guests receive food and good cheer from 200+ Berkeley High volunteers. Although some of the guests typically are living without full-time housing, the doors are open to anyone who wants a heartwarming meal and entertainment.
We invite the entire BHS community to get involved in this service event in any or all of these ways:
  1. Donate Funds
  2. Donate Food go/5080d4faea62da57-bhsholiday
  3. Volunteer link open on November 13
1. We have an anonymous matching donor from the BHS community. This generous donor will match your donation dollar for dollar to help us reach our goal of $4,000 until November 30. WOW!!! These funds offset staff costs, ingredients, supplies, decorations, and entertainment among other items. We are deeply appreciative of the many supporting donors who make the Holiday Meal possible. We accept CASH or CHECKS payable to “BHS ASB”.
Checks can be dropped off to Mr. Villavicencio’s mailbox or mailed directly to:
Berkeley High School
c/o Mr. Villavicencio BHS Holiday Meal
2. We are also in need of donations of canned goods and fresh food. Bins are located in the BHS cafeteria and we are accepting the following items:  
  • Beans (Kidney, garbanzo, black, green, baked, refried) Corn
  • Chili (Vegetarian, beef)
  • Soup (Chicken Noodle)
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Pumpkin Pie filling
  • Tomato Sauce or Diced Tomatoes
  • Pasta, Macaroni Noodles
Fresh Food donations of pre-cooked turkey/ham, desserts, side dishes, or beverages will be tracked online. Please visit our SignUp Genius page to pledge a donation of fresh food to be brought on the day of the meal. Thank you!!!
3. Holiday Meal volunteers have a tremendous impact on the event whether they are setting up the space on the day before the meal or interacting with guests on the day of the event. We plan to have space for at least 300 volunteers this year, so be on the lookout for the volunteer list when it gets posted in mid-November. The volunteer link will be available beginning November 13.
Please visit the BHS Leadership website to get more information about the event: leadership/?page_id=214

SHOW of UNITY 2017 video

UNITY WEEK CELEBRATES the PASSION, PURPOSE & PRIDE of our BIG RED & GOLD FAMILY. The Show of Unity is the kick off to our celebration of Red and Gold Day. It is a time to celebrate the three P’s- purpose, passion, and pride of our BIG Red and Gold family. Today we have a lot of performances to share with you so please give them your support.


Opening Message by Principal Schweng and Mr. Rok
Message of Solidarity by Ms. Malhi and Mr. Estrada along with students
Introduction by Genna S and Mr. V
Cheer Squad coached by Tiffany Williams
Sing Along Contest
BTA performance with Will Tinson
Class of 2019 performance
Class of 2018 performance take 1
Staff performance
Class of 2018 performance take 2

Thank you to our student videographers!!!  Liam C and Cosmo W.

ASB Speaker Series: Panel Discussion on Homeless Crisis

The ASB Speaker Series returns for the 2017-18 school year. We will offer student-led presentations each month hosted by student clubs and local organizations.

On Thursday, September 28th Berkeley High will host a school wide panel discussion regarding the homeless crisis in the Bay Area. We will be joined by The Honorable Mayor of Berkeley Jessie Arreguin, his senior advisor Jackie McCormick, Osha Neumann, East Bay Community Law Center), and Akiba Bradford (a senior field rep from Assembly member Thurmond’s office). In the panel, Soren W will lead a discussion in hopes to educate himself and his peers on how to proactively combat poverty, using our local public institutions.
ASB Speaker Series: Panel Discussion on Homeless Crisis
Thursday, September 28
2nd period and 3rd period (repeats each period)
Little Theater


0:00-6:15 Introductions6:15-12:00 Responses to who are the homeless and why is this happening?

12:00-19:30 Audience Questions19:30-25:15 Responses to What’s being done to address the crisis?
25:15-29:00 Responses to What can students do to help?
29:00-35:00 Audience Questions
35:00-48:00 Responses to What can students do to help?