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may 21, 2014 Issue VIII, Volume XLIV

It’s time. 21 SPECIAL REPORT


Moving forward with autism


Re-evaluating extra credit


Pearl milk tea decision tree


Year in review

Contents 39


Extra credit inconsistencies


Living and thriving with autism

OPINION 11 The benefits of a gap year 12

Guidelines for extra credit policies


Limitations of special education

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT 16 Year in numbers 18

Amol Pande | El Estoque

26 12

Find the best PMT for you


COLUMN: Out of the blue

SPECIAL REPORT 22 Wasted time is worth it 24

Teachers have the

Seniors reflect on their four years



Seniors recreate baby photos

to make their class

28 COLUMN: No monkey business 29

Physical and mental changes


Statisitcs of the class of 2014


Pros and cons of spring admission


Key plays, players from the year

Athira Penghat & Catherine Lockwood | El Estoque Photo Illustration



Staying positive during defeat 2

Columbia Records


Columbia Records


Capitol Records

Columbia Records

Domino Recording Co.




21840 McClellan Road Cupertino, CA 95014 Editors-in-Chief: Nathan Desai, Daniel Fernandez Managing Editors: Yifei Wu, Kathleen Yuan Copy Editors: Jady Wei, Varsha Venkat Webmaster: Varsha Venkat News Editors: Elia Chen, Maya Murthy Sports Editors: Alina Abidi, Amol Pande Entertainment Editors: Christine Liang, Sarah Ramos Opinion Editor: Gabriella Monico Special Report Editors: Kristin Chang, Harini Shyamsundar Design and Graphics Editor: Rhonda Mak Business Editor: Claire Lu Staff Writers: Rochish Ambati, Anjali Bhat, Ashmita Chakraborty, Tanisha Dasmunshi, Amrutha Dorai, Ambika Dubey, Karen Feng, Mihir Joshi, Elliot Ki, Colin Kim, Jennifer Lee, Yuna Lee, Steven Lim, Catherine Lockwood, Alaina Lui, Colin Ni, Pranav Parthasarathy, Athira Penghat, Yashashree Pisolkar, Shuyi Qi, Namrata Ramani, Neha Ramchandani, Ashish Samaddar, Manasa Sanka, Lydia Seo, Ruba Shaik, Eva Spitzen, Robert Sulgit, Sophia Tao, Joshua Tsuei, Joyce Varma, Neesha Venkatesan Adviser: Michelle Balmeo Credits Some images in this publication were taken from the stock photography website Mission Statement El Estoque is an open forum created for and by students of Monta Vista High School. Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the journalism staff and not of Monta Vista High School or the Fremont Union High School District. The staff seeks to recognize individuals, events, and ideas and bring news to the MVHS community in a manner that is professional, unbiased, and thorough in order to effectively serve our readers. We strive to report accurately, and we will correct any significant error. If you believe such an error has been made, please contact us. Letters of any length should be submitted via email or mail. They may be edited for length or accuracy. Letters cannot be returned and will be published at El Estoque’s discretion. We also reserve the right to reject advertising due to space limitations or decision of the Editorial Board that content of the advertisement conflicts with the mission of the publication.

MAY 21, 2014

Letter from the editors

Athira Penghat | El Estoque



hen we hear the word change, we tend to think of what will happen, rather than what has happened. Although we dwell a little on what we’ve left behind like friends and family, the bulk of our time is spent imagining the future. The most intimidating part about being selected as editors-in-chief is not the leadership portion of the job. It is not responding to angry emails or complaints either. It is not even worrying about whether we have enough money to print the next issue of El Estoque, a question we found ourselves stuck on a lot these last few weeks. It is far broader than that. It is the fear of letting down those who have preceded us. Having to lead a publication that has won countless awards in just our time on staff to new accomplishments and glory is a daunting prospect. We don’t want to be remembered as the editors the year when things went wrong. The year when things only went “okay.” Or even the year when we just weren’t great. When we leave high school, we leave our friends, our family and the safety of Cupertino, but we also leave expectations for the future. For some of us, our legacy may mean leaving a sports team with a streak of CCS victories, or a club with national awards. And while those all are important, our legacy is far more than the sum of our achievements. What we leave in our wake matters a lot — not only to ourselves, but also to our friends, our family, our school and our community. We leave far more than just medals, trophies and numbers — the things that we tend to associate most with legacy. Unfortunately, when we become so wrapped up with the tangibles of life, we forget about the less obvious, but equally important things that we leave behind. Did we help those less fortunate than us? Did we celebrate the achievements of ev-

ery student? Did we cheer our hearts our hearts out at rallies and sports events? As we step into our new role as editors-in-chief, we have to think hard about how we want to be remembered. NATHAN DESAI We want to make AND DANIEL FERNANDEZ sure that El Estoque is as remarkable an experience for our new staff members as it was for us at the beginning of our sophomore year. We want to make sure that our publication writes not only good stories, but provides meaningful coverage to every student on campus. We want to make sure that we don’t just stick to the status-quo — that we try new things and push the boundaries of possibility. We have to think about how we will be remembered in the long run, not just the immediate future. However, these kinds of questions are not just reserved to newspaper editors, business club officers, or leadership commission members. They are questions all of us need to consider. When we depart MVHS are we really leaving it a better place than when we arrived? Although time may be running out, there are always opportunities for us to have a positive impact on the world around us. Volunteer at the veteran’s hospital. Join study buddies. Find an activity or sport that you find meaningful. Do anything that helps make not only MVHS better, but our community too. You do not need a title or official position to leave a lasting legacy. You just need yourself. | 3


Fishing for

Points Estoque Colin Ni | El

Policy of teacher discretion on extra credit leads to inconsistencies BY JOSHUA TSUEI and VARSHA VENKAT

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to the question: How much weight should extra credit account for in the gradebook, and what qualifies an event or activity for extra credit? Business teacher Carl Schmidt declined to comment directly on his extra credit policies in relation to the DECA and FBLA conferences, but stated that as a department, Business places a 10 percent cap on the weight of extra credit in a student’s grade. However, 20 of 32 sources who have taken business classes stated that they believe attending conferences can account for over a 10 percent increase in a student’s overall grade. Schmidt confirmed that extra credit is offered for attending conferences, and there is a nominal difference in extra credit received by students who place well in competition and those who do not. However, the cost to attend — at times upwards of $300 — can make it challenging for students, and those who can’t find the money or are unwilling to request financial assistance to attend have no alternative way of earning the credit. Despite the high prices, some believe that the opportunities and learning experiences that clubs like DECA and FBLA offer stu-




dents merit the extra credit. “If you take Principles of Marketing or another business class, a lot of what you’ve been doing in DECA with your competitions overlaps with what you are going to be learning in class,” senior Sameera Vemulapalli, the club’s Vice President of Competitions, said. “So if it covers the same content and it goes over the same ideas... it makes a lot of sense to give them extra credit for it because it’s another learning opportunity.” According to teachers’ union site president Bonnie Belshe, there is no general policy concerning the weight of extra credit among all the departments. This liberty is declared in the teacher contract, which grants teachers sole control over their classroom affairs. However, with dif-




or one male sophomore, taking tests in Principles of Business was never worrisome — he believed that no matter what grade he received on the test or on any other assignment, he could count on getting an A. According to the sophomore, who asked that his name not be revealed since he is still enrolled in the class, all he had to do was show up at a DECA conference. But he is not the only business student to have relied on extra credit to boost his grade. Another student who is currently in a business class stated that her grade changed from a D to an A within a semester because of participation in a business club. Two former students also mentioned that their grades experienced the same increase. Despite the radical change, the current student believes that her grade is justified by the amount of work that she put into the competitions. Although these cases may appear extreme, teachers giving extra credit to students is not unheard of on campus. With the year coming to a close, students are becoming more and more concerned with not only the type but also amount of extra credit their teachers offer. All of this leads






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May 21, 2014


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“I’m a money-saver myself so I don’t completing a final assignment at the end of really like the idea of having to endorse the year, is open to all her students regardthat [students can attend opportunities less of their economic status. In addition to having equal extra credit that require money for credit],” Frazier said, “but I still think it’s important to en- opportunities, Frazier works to ensure that dorse because a lot of students work really these opportunities align with the course’s more abstract goals. hard on [these In her Java class, events that cost Frazier follows this money], and it of students have policy by allowing wouldn’t be fair relied on extra students to get extra for me to not credit to attain credit from a variety celebrate that.” their desired of opportunities that A lt hough grade in a class. demonstrate the apshe offers stuplication of the class dents a broader of students believe learning goals outrange of opthat all teachside of the traditionpor tunities, al classroom setting. Frazier still ers who teach “In Java, one of implements exthe same subject the goals is to celtra credit in her should offer the ebrate diversity and classes only as same extra credit. *From a survey of 357 MVHS students how people can a “little buffer” code or how people for students’ grades, out of her belief that these bonus can solve problems,” Frazier said. “I feel like opportunities should not distort from the if there are other events on campus where we can celebrate diversity for what students student’s average performance in class. However, teachers aren’t the only can do or accomplish, we should celebrate ones generally opposed to high-weighted them!” History teacher Margaret Platt offers difextra credit. In a survey of 357 students, an overwhelming 72 percent responded ferent opportunities based on the difficulty that they believe extra credit should have of the class. For her regular U.S. History a less-than-two-percent impact on a stu- classes, she is careful in offering additional dent’s grade. Despite this, 71 percent had opportunities as students can already get a taken advantage of extra credit oppor- number of “bonus” points on quizzes. On tunities that raised their grade by over the other hand, Platt has “built-in” extra one percent. Twenty-three percent of stu- credit opportunities to her AP U.S. History dents also acknowledged that they had students. “The class goes so quickly, the pace is changed a letter grade with the help of so fast, so we don’t have time like in other extra credit. While teachers are at liberty to cre- classes... So there are a couple of movies ate their own rules regarding extra cred- that we will offer throughout the semester it, they are not granted exemption from [for extra credit],” Platt said. “At the end objections and questions posed by stu- of the year, we have a series of little lunch time [free response questions]. They get two dents. Every year, Chang receives an invita- points an essay and as they complete these, tion to give extra credit to her students they are studying for their exam.” Extra credit at the end of a grading period who attend the Cure Cancer Cafe. She has always rejected the offer. Accord- often gives students the last little nudge for ing to Chang, students may not have the a higher letter grade. The magnitude of this transportation or money needed to at- nudge however, is solely up to each teacher‘s tend such events. She believes her pol- discretion, thereby creating a wide spectrum icy is reasonable and fair because the of extra credit values. maximum one percent of extra credit, | earned from homework passes and


ferent teachers offering varying amounts of extra credit to their students, cases like those of the students above arise. Such cases highlight the inconsistencies in grading that result from teachers’ discretion on extra credit. In data from an online survey of 357 students, 67 percent believe that all teachers who teach the same subject should offer the same amount of extra credit. This desire for consistency is a result of widely varying teacher policies: some teachers are opposed to the idea of extra credit altogether, while others — who offer extra credit — disagree on the weight extra credit should have in their classes. Chinese teacher I-Chu Chang follows a one percent extra credit rule that she says was implemented throughout the Modern Language department a few years back to ensure fair grading. The extra credit limit, determined arbitrarily, is just for students to have a chance to boost their grades at the end of the year. Chang’s policy is also distinct in its adherence to the idea that extra credit opportunities should be almost completely restricted to events freely available to all her students. While she only offers a small amount of equally accessible, free extra credit opportunities, other teachers are more open to allowing students to attend events or participate in activities with related costs — such as Octagon’s Cure Cancer Cafe — for credit. Junior Ruta Joshi agrees that financial concerns should be accounted for in determining extra credit events. However, she believes that the main concern should be implementing educational extra credit opportunities. “The purpose of extra credit — the purpose of any assignment — is to try to learn,” Joshi said. If you do extra credit for any other reason, then it loses value. Teachers need to take that into account when they assign [extra credit].” Java and AP Biology teacher Debbie Frazier believes that as long as there are equal opportunities, it is not necessary to restrict the opportunities offered to only free events. One of the events with fees that she offers extra credit for is Octagon’s annual Cure Cancer Cafe.


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Perched over albums oF

infants, Douglas Fairbairn and his wife Pamela sat around the small table, scrutinizing picture after picture of potential children to adopt. After examining hundreds of photos, one finally stuck out:



MARCH 13, 2013

by Daniel Fernandez


Nearly six months later — in October of 1996, Douglas and Pamela boarded a plane to Moscow, prepared to adopt their new son. Following days of cross-country travel, they arrived in Serov, a town nestled on the foothills of the Ural Mountains. Everything was going smoothly — after months of waiting, they were finally ready to meet their new son. When they arrived at the small orphanage, however, the thought of a perfect adoption began to fade. Excitement gave way to distress. “It was clear that when we arrived at the orphanage that there were big problems,” Douglas said. “The pictures we had seen were several months old and we did not expect to recognize him because he would have developed so much … But he looked the same.” At 17 months, senior Daniel Fairbairn looked nearly identical to the four-month-old photos that had enthralled his parents. He captivated Douglas and Pamela still, but not in the same way that his adorable younger self had. Daniel was malnourished, weighing a mere 17 pounds — almost half the healthy weight for a toddler his age. Douglas and Pamela would learn that Daniel faced circumstances far worse than just poor nutrition. Since birth, he had hardly moved from his tiny crib, receiving almost no attention or stimulation. Despite a harrowing first encounter, Douglas and Pamela remained hopeful. They could see that Daniel had developmental complications, but expected that with enough love, nourishment and attention, he could improve. They were determined to “fix” him. Nearly a year passed, and everything began to look brighter for Daniel. His weight was normal and he finally had a full set of teeth. He looked like a healthy baby boy. However, there were still alarming developmental signs — Daniel had not spoken a single word at age two and a half. Concerned by their son’s lack of articulation, Douglas and Pamela hurriedly consulted numerous pediatricians. While Daniel’s lack of speech was unusual, the doctors confirmed that he was developmentally healthy, noting that some boys “just take time before they talk.” At age three however, Daniel remained mute


ne of the primary goals of the special education department is to provide each student with an individualized plan that helps to enable growth and encourage success. Each year, special education teachers meet to brainstorm a list of potential vocational programs for each Assertive Community Treatment Program student. Teachers do their best to select programs they feel will enhance


and as a result, Douglas and Pamela quickly made plans for a full evaluation. The test results were neither anticipated, nor positive. “The audiologist told us that the results did not match what she expected,” Douglas said. “She had expected him to be fine, and the data said that he was not.” When the complete analysis came back, Douglas and Pamela learned that Daniel was nearly deaf. Daniel’s lack of auditory stimulation, combined with neglect at the orphanage, meant that crucial parts of his brain had not developed. Many doctors thought that these areas would never fully develop. Daniel had never heard his relatives, sister or parents speak. He had never heard his bedtime stories. He had never heard “I love you.” Restrained by his sluggish development, Daniel entered the first grade two years behind his classmates. Despite this, elementary school remained a struggle. At the beginning of fourth grade, the school district had advised Douglas and Pamela to pull Daniel from regular classes. Hoping to fill his many academic holes, his parents committed hundreds of hours to research and countless more time teaching Daniel. However, they achieved limited success, and by middle school, Daniel had been placed in a full

it did not really matter what grade he was in,” Douglas said. “The longer he stayed in high school, the longer it would take for him to get the job training skills he really needed.” The transition to high school proved challenging for Daniel, who had always struggled with anxiety. In spite of this fear, however, the prospect of new places and people thrilled him. “I remember it was a big change and I was nervous,” Daniel said. “But I knew there were going to be new people and the experience would be great.” Although excited by the opportunity to meet new students, Daniel often avoided social interactions altogether. He was happy to drift in circles around campus, day after day, week after week. Every day the same stroll around academic quad, the same quizzical glances from other students, and the same pervasive sense of loneliness. Daniel desperately wanted to find friends, but he was afraid that the “normal” students saw him differently. “I thought I was not smart,” Daniel said quietly, drumming his hands slowly on the desk as he gazed at the classroom wall. “I thought I was completely different from other people and that nobody was going to like me.” As junior year commenced, Daniel slowly

He had never heard “I love you.” time special education program. As middle school progressed, the family also received definitive news on Daniel’s psychological development. After numerous doctors and tests, Daniel was diagnosed with autism, a group of developmental disabilities characterized by abnormalities in brain structure and function. Based on these findings, doctors warned Pamela and Douglas that Daniel’s chance of earning a high school diploma was slim. This news prompted them to enroll Daniel at MVHS as a sophomore, hoping to increase his access to job programs, which are available to special education students until age 22. “When we moved to MVHS, we knew he wasn’t going to be on an academic track, so

began to overcome his anxiety, becoming an active member in Ohana, a club that works to integrate special education students with other students on campus. Although he had attended meetings since the beginning of sophomore year, Daniel finally began to reach out to other students rather than avoiding them. Daniel also began to take advantage of the job training programs offered to special education students. His Education Specialist, Heather Amirault, described this period as transformative, recalling how much success Daniel experienced as he overcame his apprehension. “Students with autism often fear the unknown, but if they can just give it a chance then it no longer is unknown and they can overcome their fear and find success.”

student skills, focusing on areas like improving customer service, building interpersonal relationships and behaving appropriately in the workplace and public. Building these skills has become an important component of special education programs over the last decade because they represent the most effective to way to promote student independence. With only about one in 10 students

with autism holding a part-time job after age 22, ensuring that students gain relevant skills at an early age has become a paramount effort of special education programs. When students enter high school, teachers begin with relatively small jobs and then progressively increase responsibility. “We start out with little [jobs], like doing recycling twice a month,” Education Specialist EL ESTOQUE

Senior Daniel Fairbairn prepares coffee at Perks Cafe. The cafe is one of many FUHSD programs that works to build job skills for special education students.

Catherine Lockwood | El Estoque As the year continued, Daniel moved from his position at the cafeteria, to K9 Crunchies, one of the many job training sites ran by FUHSD. Two days a week, Daniel traveled to the district office, where he baked and sold dog treats alongside other students. Daniel especially enjoyed the work because of its connection to animals. From a young age he had always loved animals, always feeling especially connected to them. This love for animals prompted Daniel to apply for a job at his local Petco early in his senior year. The group interview did not go smoothly. He spoke up once throughout the entire group interview, announcing that he “loved working with animals, but not people,” taboo words for an industry based on customer service. Although Daniel did not receive a job, the rejection came with hope — if he could improve his customer relation skills, the manager said he would be happy to take him on as an employee. Hoping to propel Daniel’s dream into reality, Douglas worked alongside Amirault and other teachers to match Daniel to an appropriate vocational program. Eventually, the family

settled on Perks Cafe, another program ran at the district office, which focuses specifically on developing customer service skills. Although his initial progress was slow, he eventually became comfortable around customers. As spring wore on, Daniel began to accept greater responsibility at Perks Cafe and continued to show growth. He refused to let his disability define him. “I think I can do it. I believe I can,” Daniel said. He pauses for a moment. His face relaxes. Slowly he smiles. “Nothing can stop me. I’m moving forward.” In early May, Daniel once again takes a seat outside the manager’s office at Petco. Unlike the previous interview however, Daniel appears relaxed, an unusual sight for the family. Confidently, he walks into the manager’s office. For 15 minutes, the family sits quietly, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. When Daniel exits the doorway, a smile washes over his face. He says the interview went great. His parents are not reassured — they have heard these exact words countless times before. “[Daniel] felt positive how the interview

Heather Amirault said. “And then depending on how things go, we increase [the vocational opportunities] availible to students.r.” Although introductory jobs like doing recycling or working at the copy center may seem simple, they work to build a strong foundation for students. Without skills like knowing how to follow a schedule or listen carefully to directions, it is almost impossible for students to

excel with the more challenging goals. “It is sort of a trial and error [process],” Amirault said. “We need to understand where students will excel… and then change things as time goes on.” Although teachers do their best to adapt vocational programs to student needs, sometimes students need to switch between programs throughout the year. However, Amirault

MAY 21, 2014

went,” Douglas said. “But I don’t always trust how he reads the situation.” The family waits patiently for the Friday phone call. It’s noon and the phone has not rung. It’s 3 p.m. and the phone has not rung. It’s 5 p.m. and the phone has not rung. While the evening is waning, Daniel remains optimistic about his job prospects. He thinks the manager “just forgot to call.” The sun is setting and there is still no word. For Daniel, the incident is another exercise in patience. He may have been rejected, but he certainly has not been defeated. After all, the manager does not care how many times he applies. Douglas continues to hold high hopes about his son’s future. “Daniel has grown substantially in his three years at Monta Vista,” Douglas said. “It’s not that he can’t do it, it just takes a long time... But if you keep working with him he keeps making progress.” Although the future is unknown for Daniel he doesn’t mind too much. He just keeps his head held high and hopes for the best. He just keeps moving forward. is careful to move students too soon because students can respond negatively to the initial change, even though many come to enjoy their programs later on. Nevertheless, Amirault carefully monitors her students and does her best to accommodate their needs. “I have to be careful not to push [students] too hard or too far or they can become obstinate,” Amirault said. “They shut down.” 9



breakaway Gap years before college give students financial, personal benefits BY ASHMITA CHAKRABORTY

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he transition from second semester senior to freshman in college is not an easy one. Students must enter the rigorous environment of college and learn to balance academics, honor social obligations and live on their own. Some students, however, aren’t ready for the degree of independence colleges demand right out of high school. For students who are not ready to leave their support system, a gap year could provide them with the time they need before taking such a big step in their lives. Gap years also allow students to explore careers and gain experience that can help them get ahead in college. For class of 2013 alumnus Tarush Sinha, taking a gap year was a decision driven by his desire to gain experience outside the classroom. Despite having been academically prepared for college, Sinha decided to defer his admission for a year because he knew that taking classes and gaining professional experience would help him prepare for college. Gap years allow students to gain applicable, real-world experience, such as working, taking college-level classes, or even exploring the world. Taking a year off can also help students understand what they want to do with their future, which reduces confusion and money spent for unnecessary college classes. According to Dr. Fritz Grupe, retired professor at University of Nevada Reno and founder of MyMajors. com, 30 percent of college freshmen who enter college immediately after high school do not return sophomore year. A study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education shows that the most common reasons students drop out of college are financial pressure and under-preparation for the academic workload and college environment. On the other hand, the American Gap Association, an organization dedicated to researching the benefits of gap years, reports that 90 percent of students taking gap years return to college for their second year. In taking a gap year, students do not lose a year of college. They gain a year of experience. And colleges know it too. With a graduation

rate of nearly 98 percent — one of the highest in the nation — Harvard University permits, even encourages, students to take gap years. In fact, the university’s admissions letter notifies students that should they wish to defer their admission for a year, the university supports their decision. According to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William Fitzsimmons in his article “Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation,” between 80 and 110 Harvard admits defer college until the next year to work, travel, or volunteer. Getting an internship or any sort of job experience is a hands-on method of choosing a career path. Initially choosing to major in economics and premedicine, Sinha found himself inclined toward computer science as he began an internship at a hightech startup. He later decided to declare a computer science major. The average college student changes his or her major three times, according to the University of Washington. That can lead to a four-year degree program being extended to five, even six years. It also means a lot of extra money being spent. Every class that a student takes in pursuit of one major must be accounted for even when they switch majors. This would mean spending more money for classes that wouldn’t count for credit. For students like Sinha, taking a gap year is a sensible way to explore their career interests without the college tuition figures adding up. Taking a gap year also helps students try out new activities solely for the sake of their own personal growth. Students can go ahead and take those long-overdue salsa classes or go on a backpacking adventure in Australia. Sinha’s reduced academic workload allowed him to take up his internship, which he began right after graduation. For students who want a leg-up upon entering college, a gap year might just be the solution. With endless opportunities at their disposal, students taking gap years are often more prepared for college life and beyond. “I know that because I took a gap year, I will be able to find my way through [college] a lot more easily,” said Sinha.



A Teacher’s Guide to Extra Credit A handbook to simplify and increase the fairness of all extra credit at MVHS


t’s lunchtime and room C106 is a fire hazard. APUSH students cover almost every patch of carpet; the lucky ones sit at desks, while those who arrived late must step over binders, backpacks and other students to find that one free spot on the floor. The room is abuzz with the click of binders opening and closing, the rustling of paper and the incomprehensible white noise of students trying to remember dates, facts and people they learned about many months ago. Then, as if the walls were suddenly made soundproof, everything goes silent as students frantically try to finish writing the essay on the day’s topic. Finally as the lunch period comes to an end, each student turns in his or her essay and leaves the crowded room. Another two points of extra credit into the grade book. Often a point of contention between

students and teachers, extra credit policies at MVHS vary from class to class and teacher to teacher, as each teacher has his or her own opinions on extra credit. From no extra credit, to an entire letter-grade difference worth of it, teachers’ policies often have a substantial impact on how students respond to the class in general, from doing homework to studying for exams. According to an El Estoque Survey, 36 percent of students at one time or another have relied on extra credit to earn the grade they desire. The El Estoque Editorial Board agreed upon a set of guidelines that we believe most accurately reflects what a constructive extra credit policy should look like. Drawn from our own experiences and those of our peers, this guide is meant to give teachers a better understanding of what

The purpose of extra credit is to enhance or supplement a student’s understanding of coursework in a manner that cannot be obtained from solely in-class experience. Often this correlates to experience based opportunities. For example, attending an art museum would be an appropriate extra credit opportunity for an art class. The artwork at the museum furthers a student’s holistic understanding of the subject matter in a way that is not possible during class time. According to Education Next, a program dedicated to providing data on all types of educative techniques, 82 percent of students that went to an art museum for an art class could not only remember the names of paintings they saw at the museum by sight, they could also remember the story behind the painting and the art techniques employed by the artist two weeks after going to the museum. Many MVHS extra credit policies prove that this criteria is not strictly adhered to. At times, teachers assign extra credit based 12


Extra credit should be relevant to the course


many of their students believe is a fair extra credit policy. Luckily, according to the survey, 65 percent of students believe most of their teachers have fair extra credit policies. With this promising statistic in mind, each of the three guidelines mentioned are already in use by teachers. Hopefully, it will inspire a few more to do the same.

on personal interests, which includes offering students extra credit for attending MV Multicultural Night, participating in Cure Cancer Cafe and participating in other club sponsored events that are not related to the course. While it might be appropriate for an economics class to go to MV Microfinance’s Cultural Night, a precalculus class has no reason for attending in terms of course enrichment. Extra credit is meant to enhance understanding of a topic, not bolster a teacher’s pet project. While Cure Cancer Cafe may support a good cause, it is still a disingenuous form of extra credit. Constructive examples of relevant extra credit opportunities manifest themselves throughout the school and serve as models for all forms of extra credit. AP Environmental Science teacher Andrew Goldenkranz sends students to various lectures and events related to the field of environmental science in general. For example, Goldenkranz offered extra credit for attending De

Anza College’s electric car show and Shailee Samar’s presentation on climate change. Both these extra credit opportunities are perfect examples of relevant extra credit.

Did You Know? 77% of MVHS students

have not had their letter grade changed due to extra credit

23% have had a letter

grade changed with the help of extra credit *Out of 357 students EL ESTOQUE

Extra credit should be free and if it is not, there should be a free alternative Public schools serve as the great equalizer of society. Their primary goal is to ensure that all students, regardless of socioeconomic background, have equal opportunities to succeed. To maintain the integrity of public education, any and every aspect of it, such as extra credit, should also be free of charge. Unfortunately, this is much too often not the case at MVHS. For example, business classes offer extra credit for attending busi-

ness club conferences. This is a multifaceted issue as these conferences cost money to attend and thus do not reflect equal opportunity. Secondly, it is very easy to pay for a conference and put in a limited amount of effort preparing for it, thus compromising the integrity of the learning experience. While it is true that these business conferences are relevant to business classes and a perfect example of experience based learning, the cost is still an unfair barrier for many students who are not eligible for the scholarships avail-

Did You Know? 71% of MVHS students think that


able, but for which the cost is still a problem. We understand, however, that some extra credit opportunities that cost money are too valuable for teachers to pass up. A reasonable compromise would be to provide an alternative to students who cannot or do not want to pay the necessary fees, a practice employed by many MVHS teachers. While the experience may not be equivalent to the paid extra credit, it still helps level the playing field by giving all students an equal chance at a higher grade.

extra credit should allow students a 1-2% increase in grade

28% think that extra credit should

allow over a 4% increase in grade

20% of MVHS have gotten extra

Extra credit should not have a substantial impact on a student’s grade

In many classes this principle is not adhered to. AP US History teachers gave out a possible 7 credit by participating in a club activity percent of extra credit last semester to their students, meaning that a student with a grade of 83 percent before extra credit would end *Out of 356 students up with the same grade as a student who earned a 90 percent or higher before extra credit. These Extra credit should help a student who two students displayed incredibly different put in a substantial amount of effort, but skill levels and likely put in drastically conwhose skill level fell slightly short of the trasting amounts of effort. These two stunext letter grade, an opportunity to earn dents are two very different students and a higher grade.T his translates to no more do not deserve the same grade. Extra credit than about one percent increase in the is not to be the safety net for students who overall grade when extra credit is factored are so far away from their desired grade. in. The board decided on one percent beRidiculous amounts of extra credit also cause we believe that students on the bor- leads to student complacency. Many studerline are the ones who are most likely to dents will put in less effort throughout the merit the next letter grade up. While a stu- semester since they know extra credit will dent with an 85 percent may have worked make up for their reduced diligence to the very hard, the skill level is not close enough subject. While teachers may think that to that of an A to merit that letter grade. students taking harder classes deserve exMAY 21, 2014

tra credit to ensure a higher grade, that is simply not the case. No student should walk into an AP or Honors level class expecting an A if his or her skills in that subject is not up to an AP or Honors level. Conversely, many MVHS teachers use extra credit done throughout the year as a factor taken into consideration when rounding a students grade at the end of the semester. This is an appropriate use of extra credit as it provides an extra push extremely hardworking students need to do better in their classes. Every extra credit opportunity should incorporate all three rules before it is assigned out. While extra credit policies at MVHS are vast and complex, as long as teachers follow these three simple guidelines the extra credit should be fairly conducive to a more positive learning environment. Teachers have the power to make their classes fair and welcoming for all students, and reasonable extra credit policies are a reflection of this educational responsibility. 13





tudents spend much of their days in school, and their classrooms can either help or hinder their learning. Special education programs strive to help students with special needs develop and grow during the school year. The program provides a beneficial learning environment designed around each student’s needs, however society impedes much of the progress made by the programs. According to a recent study by Texas University, approximately 43 million people are disabled, which is equivalent to almost one out of every five individuals. Many schools across FUHSD offer special education programs that aim to help special need students learn in a more comfortable environment. Special education classes are beneficial to students by successfully modeling typical classroom schedules and conditions. Based on a report by the FUHSD Schools and Programs, the district’s multiple special education programs offer traditional remedial classes for students and transition-to-highschool programs. Similar to the college prep classes offered to the mainstream student body, these classes meet five days a week throughout the school year. In addition, the district program also offers various careeroriented courses that effectively guide the students toward their career aspirations. These non-diploma courses are hugely beneficial to prepare students for their future jobs and provide the fundamentals for students to excel in their futures. Although special education programs successfully assist students on a personal basis, society poses many hindrances on the individuals’ abilities to achieve their goals

Students benefit from FUHSD special education program, but face challenges after high school

Shuyi Qi | El Estoque Photo Illustration

beyond the high school environment. ent categories that “Special Education students are the same a student can qualify for special education. as any other student. They go onto colleges, The categories range from Hearing Imvocational schools, or the working world af- paired to Learning Disabilities such as auditer high school,” Special Education depart- tory processing and dyslexia.” ment chair, Kathleen Tracy said. “When a When people encounter negative expecstudent receives a diploma from high school, tations they lose their confidence, ultimately the Federal IDEA law stops. At that point, hindering them from achieving their goals. the student is Ac cording no longer conto the Amerisidered a specan Psychologicial education cal Association, student and what society laws requiring believes about specific supan individual’s port end.” capability is diOnce these rectly correlated special educawith the person’s tion students professional abiligraduate from ties. Employers Special Education teacher Kathleen Tracy high school, will likely tend to most will no longer be living in a protective magnify abnormal behaviors of a “special environment in which they receive care, sup- need” employee that would be tolerated in port and attention. Only students with more another student considered to be “normal”. severe disabilities are able to pursue a nonThe stereotypes associated with the diploma career and continue to attain sup- term special need hold back the students port. A major hindrance that stands in the when society rationalizes low achievement way of the other students is integration into by citing preconceived concepts of the lathe outside world. bel. If society is already determined that the Society serves as a massive barrier that student is bound to achieve less, children lowers these students’ self-esteems. Simply will be hampered from attaining their full put, labels stick. Once children are catego- potential not only at school, but also in their rized with a mental disability they can be future careers. associated with deficiency and disability for The FUHSD special education program the rest of their lives. is necessary for special needs children. “Part of the issue is that many people However, it is important to strive towards think that special education means the more integrating these students into society so severely disabled,” Tracy said. “People need they can enjoy the same rights and benefits to understand that there are thirteen differ- as others.

When a student receives a diploma from high school[...], laws requiring specific support end. 14

MAY 21, 2014





Retrospective look at entertainment events of the 2013-2014 school year by the numbers


Check out category/entertainment for more restaurant reviews, music reviews and interactive maps

Colin Ni | El Estoque



MVSNL 2013 Almost Maine The Radio Show The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged 5. MV One Acts Leaves Out the Window Musical Revue














at USA Nationals in Anaheim

1st Place - Championship Kick 3rd Place - Championship Character 8th Place - Championship Small Lyrical EL ESTOQUE





ALBUMS 26% did not respond


released Nov. 27, 2013

Beyonce — Beyonce

12 released Mar. 9, 2014


high score of junior Kelly Wong

Columbia Records



PRISM — Katy Perry Capitol Records


released Sept. 20, 2013



GIRL — Pharrell Columbia Records


Love in the Future — John Legend

Columbia Records


Midnight Memories — One Direction

Columbia Records

10 %

AM — Arctic Monkeys

Domino Recording Co.

* Based on an online survey of 359 students MAY 21, 2014 | 17



Can’t decide where to go? We’ll help you pick your fix

Story and photos by Kathleen Yuan



HOURS: 11 a.m.—11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m.—12 a.m. Friday through Saturday

Clean and classic, Tapioca Express remains the most solid PMT place close to campus. Its small setting and warm glow may become cramped during break hours, but no matter how busy it gets, their PMT is always consistent. That is, consistently half-ice, half-drink.


How much money do you have on you?


How much time do you have?

What is your favorite color? LESS THAN 15 MIN



HOURS: 11 a.m.—9 p.m. Monday through Thursday 11 a.m.—10 p.m. Friday through Sunday

Tpumps' customizable combinations are one-of-a-kind and friendly to every palate, but also become subject to inconsistency. Additionally, Tpumps does not use actual milk; instead, they use a non-dairy creamer. However, it remains a solid location to get your drink and go when you're in the area — just don't count on that line getting any shorter.




How do you feel about vintage, hipster clocks? I GUESS THEY’RE OK


HOURS: 7 a.m.—11 p.m. Monday through Friday 8 a.m.—11 p.m. Saturday through Sunday

TEA CAFE VERDE HOURS: 11 a.m.—11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m.—12 a.m. Friday through Saturday

Despite the distance, Cafe LaTTea is worth the hassle. LaTTea's specialties include gelato honey toast and syphon coffee, which you can sit down and enjoy at numerous indoor and outdoor tables. You can choose the level of sweetness in their PMT; however, if you're used to the amount of sugar you'd typically receive elsewhere, 100 percent sweetness at LaTTea may not be enough.

Lined with booths in cozy, dark lighting, Verde is by far the best establishment out of all four for a relaxing meet up — if you can get over the comic sans sign . Verde's pearl milk tea comes at a considerable size for its price and has a richer, sweeter taste than other stores' PMT.





Spoiling the Spider-Man sequel


toque | El Es a Mak Rhond



nless you’ve been living under a rock, or have been frantically studying for the past two months (same thing really), you probably know what happened at the end of the “Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Actually, even if you have been living under that rock, you probably still know what happened at the end of the “Amazing SpiderMan 2.” On the other hand, if the slew of finals and borderline grades and frantic usage of finals calculators has bogged you down to the film’s conclusion is still a magnificent mystery, then I’d suggest you stop reading now. It’s been great and all, but I don’t fancy my final crawl to the finish line of sophomore year ending with my head on a spike a la “Lord of the Flies” because I spoiled the end for you. So a couple of Saturdays ago, a friend of mine convinced me to go and watch the “Amazing SpiderMan 2” with her. I say convinced, though in all actuality it was more like her asking if I’d like to come, and me latching on to any and all reason to not study for my upcoming Chemistry quiz. Besides, I’d seen the last one, and promptly fallen just a little bit in love with the dashing Andrew Garfield— I’m pretty sure he was the first guy I was able to admit was good looking without blushing furiously and running to my bedroom to hide beneath the covers. I went, looking for a good

MAY 21, 2014

time, an attractive guy and some nice special effects, especially considering the way I was conned into seeing the movie in IMAX 3D: guaranteed to make every shot of Spider-Man swinging through New York seem like you’re doing the swinging yourself. I guess two out of three isn’t too bad. I mean, Andrew Garfield seems to have gotten even better with age, and I truly was impressed with how they managed to create a villain made solely out of beams of light. But when I walked out with tears coating the back of my throat, cheeks flushed and hands balled into fists at my side, a good time was pretty much the furthest thing from my mind. Because, well, they killed her. Gwen Stacy. Dead. Gone. Six feet in the ground with no hope of resurrection. No block of ice to thaw her from, no Hulk to catch her, no powers of the Thunder God to magically reappear just when she needs them most. Gwen Stacy is gone, and for the life of me, I can’t even begin to imagine why. Now I know I don’t seem like your average superhero fan—I haven’t watched all the movies, or read any of the comics, and I certainly don’t sleep in superhero pajamas. But even then, even as just a casual observer of the age of the incredible, Gwen out of Stacy managed to mean something to me. Beautiful, brilliant Gwen Stacy who could dazzle her boyfriend with the speed of her mind just as easily as the flutter of her eyelashes was a shining example on the silver screen of a woman who’s got it all. The boyfriend, the brain, the beauty—when valedictorian Gwen Stacy gave her speech, she gave as a girl who was well liked, popular even. Watching her gave me hope that in the not-so-distant future I won’t have to give up any part of myself to sacrifice the stereotypes the world has built for me to embody. But it’s more than that. Gwen Stacy is more than just a feminist role model, though

if you ask me that’s plenty reason to not turn her into a mere plot device. The point of a superhero is to give the rest of us an ideal, a gold standard for us to aspire to become. What makes superheroes great isn’t the amount of cars they can lift or their ability to swing from the rooftops. What makes them great is the fact that with all that power they could’ve become tyrants. Superman could have just as easily decided to enslave the human race, and Spider-Man could’ve become the one committing the crimes rather than catching the ones who do. What makes them the bar for the rest of humanity to reach for is the fact that they instead decide to devote their lives to keeping us safe, while putting themselves in the line of fire and increasing the risk of their deaths almost exponentially. Self-sacrifice is a very powerful thing, and by making it such a huge part of those we call our heroes, we establish self-sacrifice as one of the qualities we value most. Every superhero makes the the blue choice to protect and serve, but Gwen Stacy made that choice too. She decided that her life wasn’t as important as saving her hometown, and more importantly, she decided that the love of her life’s life wasn’t either. She saw the bar, and dared to touch it, and for that the writers let her fall. They let her fall because they realized that if a superhero is meant to represent everything humanity has the potential to be, then Peter Parker, who saves with spider webs and spandex wasn’t our superhero after all. It was Gwen Stacy all along.




(408) 446-1956

TIME FLIES Whether we’re cheering at the last rally or hunching over a final exam, time is always rushing by. It soared as we won Powderpuff — first as sophomores, and then once more as seniors. It hovered as we waited for the completed cafeteria. It’s coming to a stuttering halt even now as we count down until the moment our names are called out at graduation. For the Class of 2014, time encompasses the past and promises the future. Now we are about to start afresh, flying toward new possibilities and new beginnings; where we land, only time will tell.

MAY 21, 2014



TIME MISMANAGEMENT Misusing minutes, making memories

by Anjali Bhat

The phrase “time management” is essential to the multitasking high-schooler. For four years, students are expected to successfully balance homework, extracurricular activities, socializing with friends and family and other activities. But these seniors agree that good things can come from mismanaging their time — sacrificing school or other activities for a great memory. Visit elestoque. org to read more about time-wasting seniors

TIME travel time wasted: 6:00 Last semester, senior Cathryn Yang watched the 50th anniversary episode of the British television show Doctor Who at AMC Theatres, which was screening the show only three days


senior Cathryn Yang

after it had premiered on television. Tickets for an earlier screening had sold out, so she had to attend a later show. “It started at nine and ended closer to midnight, and I told my parents I’d be done at 10:30 since I knew it was a school night — a Monday. I still had homework and college apps, but I pushed those things off,” Yang said. “I love the show, and I don’t regret it. I think it’s fine to mismanage your time once in a while, if you are prioritizing a memorable experience over math homework or something.” 22

japan adventures time wasted: I all year

Used with permission of Lilian Ngeow

WINNERS Seniors Lilan Ngeow, Lauren Chang and Tasha Trinh participated in the Japan Bowl in Washington, D.C. in April. They took fifth place and will travel to Japan in December.

n April, seniors Lauren Chang, Lilian Ngeow and Tasha Trinh traveled to Washington, D.C. to compete in The Japan Bowl, a national competition for students studying the language, culture, daily life and traditions of Japan. From the beginning of the school year until April, the three girls spent nearly everyday after school studying. Once second semester began, they spent at least six hours every weekend reviewing by making PowerPoint presentations. “We wanted to do this be-


cause we are really interested in Japan, and we just decided to go for it,” Ngeow said. “It’s something we’ve dreamed about doing for a long time.” “It was a ‘why not?’ decision,” Chan added. “If we didn’t win, we would still have had a good experience.” Their dedication to the subject they cared about required them to put off homework and other academic obligations — but they won fifth place and are now set to leave for a free trip to Japan in December.

time wasted per night:


“I’ve basically been doing school playing games, much so I think I deserve the break absolutely nothing senior of the work is abandoned until now,” Chan said. year,” Henry Chan said. “This minutes before his next class year, even if there’s a test, I — but he no longer cares. just tell myself I don’t really “The amount of time care and do whatever. I’m alI spent on school most always playing games.” last year was Chan ridiculous, is a fan of League of Legends, We asked 15 seniors re fo about their bucket lists. e Hearthb Here’s what they shared with us. stone and do Skyrim. to on a 3-day road trip to explore After the Bay Area | eat at 7 restaurants in a row | spending camping with friends | to bed by 10 p.m. | biking most of to Santa Cruz and back junior year trying to manage organizational stuff for dorms at the Container all of his classes, he does Store with friends | a hairless cat not feel guilty playing games when he is a potato party | a picnic with friends in the Rally Court extraordinarily bored with school work. how to dance the salsa | how to drive a stick shift Because he the beach | the Albany Bulb to see the urban art | Great spends so many America or Disneyland with friends hours after

s g n i g n h i t t a 5 u

1 rad g









SPARKLE My freshman year, I took Writing for Publication. For our first semester final, we had to read one of our pieces aloud. When I was done, someone said, “You’re such a good writer.” I frowned and said, “Um, no, not really.” Balmeo — journalism adviser, emotional guardian, provider of advice on all topics ranging from traffic etiquette to life — shook her head and said, “You really have to learn to take compliments.” I guess I’ve been working on it. Learning to take compliments is something all of us at this school could work on. Actually, that’s only part of it — we’re so afraid of taking pride in ourselves, of being selfassured. Confidence means arrogance, we think, and so we partake in constant self-deprecation. “Um, no, not really,” I say when someone compliments my writing. “Yours is better,” you say when someone says they like your art, your sweater, your sense of humor.


get into that college, to place at that speech and debate tournament, to be made editor of this publication? Or did I just get lucky? I’m not lucky. I’ve never won the lottery. Therefore, I must have deserved all of those things. That’s a hard thing to say: “I deserve this.” But claiming responsibility for and taking pride in the good things that happen to us improves not only our lives but the lives of the people around us. How does having pride in ourselves improve the lives of others? Some of the best conversations I’ve had in high school were interviews for this publication. I’d sit down in a stairwell or on a bench or inside A111 with some student — some science fair winner or published author or athlete — and we would just talk. It’s hard to hide behind a veil of modesty when your accomplishments are the subject of discussion. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s thrilling to hear people talk about whatever it is that they do well or whatever it is that makes them happy. They sparkle. And I guess you secondhand sparkle, because seeing people do amazing things makes you want to do amazing things, too — but you’d never know about those amazing things at all if everyone kept their accomplishments to themselves out of fear of showing off. So sit down with me. Tell me about that award you won, that song you wrote, that kid you tutored. I want to hear about it. Set aside your humility. It doesn’t suit you.

YOUR SELF-CONFIDENCE WILL MAKE THIS SCHOOL A BRIGHTER PLACE. “I just got lucky,” we say every time we accomplish a goal we’ve dreamed of and strived towards. Engage in enough self-deprecation and it becomes hard to distinguish false modesty — engineered to prevent the impression of arrogance — from real low self esteem. I’ve been at my lowest internally when I was at my highest externally because every accomplishment had an undercurrent of uncertainty: Did I really deserve to 24

I know that coming into Monta Vista, you have an idea of how things are going to play out. You’ll probably try to join a business club because that’s what all your friends are doing. You’ll get lured by the free pizza and t-shirts and the promise of being “(Back) On Top of the World.” Go ahead, enjoy the free food, but don’t convince yourself that you actually like business when you really just want to hang out with your buddies on trips. I know that “Grey’s Anatomy” has you thinking that you want to be a surgeon, saving lives and all that glamour. I’m sure you’ll join a medical club, maybe plan to shadow a doctor or volunteer at the Veteran’s Affairs as the tiny freshman that wheels veterans around the hospital, hearing war stories along the way. But let’s be real; the way the fetal pig dissection makes you squirm is probably a sign from the universe that you can’t handle it. Don’t listen to the boy in your history class who bitingly asks why you are taking Art 3 in the notoriously unmanageable junior year. So what if you can’t paint that landscape photorealistically: you may never have the chance to take an advanced art class, especially not one in which the students and teacher are doing work that continually blows your mind. And when you attend your first electrical training with the robotics team, kids will try to snatch your laptop away from you because your lack of coding experience puts you dead last in the imaginary race to be the best rookie on the team. You will try to convince yourself that you are not cut out for programming and that even giving it a shot would be futile. It’s not even a gender thing for you — it’s the idea of constantly having to prove yourself that scares you to death. You’ll most definitely have to deal with the doubters. Mom and Dad will throw around the word “prioritize” and express concern about how you have spread yourself too thin. Then there’ll be the onslaught of family friends, the worst being the Indian “aunties” EL ESTOQUE



who look at your SAT score as a measure of your intellectual prowess. You’ll shed tears, rant angrily on Tumblr and bang your head on your desk because the issue is not that you don’t know what to do, it’s that you want to do everything. But Namrata, your greatest obstacle will be you. You are going to try to find something you would sacrifice all your limbs for a dozen different times, and you are going to fail each time. Spending four years dabbling in art and particle physics and social justice and research and journalism is going to wear you out. But trying new things and hating them will make the things you realize you like that much sweeter. The time when a complete stranger tells you that your giant charcoal drawing is “cool” will ease your regret about the self-portrait that crashed and burned. Or the story you’ll write about your friend who lost a childhood friend to cancer will totally make the most stressful journalism late night of all late nights worth it. I swear this letter is not telling you to brace yourself for the worst. Each time you dip your feet in something new, you are emerging with a little lesson. It’s connecting those dots between seemingly unrelatable things that will inspire you to keep going. Trust me, I am about to rinse and repeat.

Every evening at around six o’clock I have an excuse to take a break from work. No matter how many entries I haven’t crossed off my “to-do” list, I make it a point to drop everything. I walk into the kitchen, pull out a teapot from the dishwasher and fill it halfway with water with two spoons of Masala Chai powder and one and a half spoon of white sugar. The tea heats into a boil. My mother enjoys the company of a tea-drinking partner. I’ve always preferred plain milk over tea and coffee, but tea time is our time to catch up. My mother and I entertain each other over tea. She tells me about the multi-cuisine potlucks her colleagues hosted in the office. I tell her to bring home some delicacies … no pressure though. These days, however, we switch back and forth between cheering for my fast-approaching college days and lamenting my inevitable departure. In waves of uncontrollable laughter and long silences, we sip away. Sometimes a layer of cream settles on top of the tea. It’s cold now. Hard to swallow. I wonder how we can ever brace ourselves for the 180 degree turn our lives are going to take in just a few months. No matter how many college-prep seminars we attend or how much time we invest in reading the comments on the admitted students’ Facebook groups, the X factor will remain. Tea time, as etched into my routine as it has been for the past four years, will soon cease to exist. Journalism late nights will be a thing of the past. My routine as I know it will no longer be the constant that I rely on to bring order to my life. Thankfully, I can also see the other side of things. What’s

so great about living a predictable life anyway? About a couple weeks ago I decided to do something spontaneous. It was a Saturday morning. I would usually be knee deep in homework. But that Saturday had something new in store. Without much deliberation, my family decided to go hiking at the Fremont Older Preserve off Prospect Road. As we hiked up to Hunter’s Point, the whole Bay Area came into view. Against the horizon to the right I could see the tall buildings of downtown San Jose. Straight ahead of me I could see

IT’S EASY TO SETTLE INTO OUR ROUTINE LIVES AS THEY FALL INTO AN UNBREAKABLE RHYTHM. MVHS — the red brick walls gave off a glow in the sunlight. The view from the top was extraordinary, nothing short of an impromptu plan gone right. Our ordinary lives make it easy for us to go with the flow, but along the way we forget to live the experiences that make life worth living. School-home-work-school is a comfortable rhythm, but if there was never anything more, we would be living the paltry life of a hamster. Where’s the glory in that? As we make our transition to college life, we’ll be getting surprises: good and bad. But if it weren’t for those surprises, we would end up reducing every exciting venture to some bullet point on a “to-do” list. I know that the pleasure we get while striking off tasks from our planners is unparalleled, but I like to believe that new endeavours will be just as pleasant. What they will be, I have yet to discover … I guess I’ll keep pondering … over my next cup of tea.


(COLLEGE) freshman namrata MAY 21, 2014



“ I would do a lot of things with my shirt. I would always take off my shirt and make it look like my hair. I think I’m still pretty goofy, but … my hobbies have changed. I really like cars. It was Hot Wheels then, and now it’s actual cars.


Used with permission of Mathieu Mai Athira Penghat & Catherine Lockwood | El Estoque Photo Illustration

I was on the AYSO team, and I don’t think I wanted to take a picture, but my mom forced me to wear those Hello Kitty pins, so I was angry, and I didn’t want to smile or anything … The girl in that picture was more moody. Sometimes my mom still annoys me when she wants to take family pictures, but I’m thankful that my parents gave me the opportunity to do things like play a lot of sports as a kid.

Athira Penghat & Catherine Lockwood | El Estoque Photo Illustration

Used with permission of Margaret Datu


Athira Penghat & Catherine Lockwood | El Estoque Photo Illustration



A little bit serious, quiet personality — that’s how I was when I was little … which is completely different from how I am right now. There is actually this really great quote I found the other day: ‘You don’t find out who you are, you create who you are.’ You can become who you want to become in this life. Just do stuff — do stuff that you think you’d never do in your life. If it doesn’t work, whatever. If it does, great.

Used with permission of Sravani Yajamanam

Athira Penghat & Catherine Lockwood | El Estoque Photo Illustration

On that day [when the photo was taken], my four siblings and I were all playing with our water guns. Nowadays, we don’t really talk, especially because my older brother and sister are off at college … [And] when I was a kid, I was very playful and social. That’s not really like me now. I’m not very talkative with people unless I know them very well. My mom always thought I’d be a lawyer when I was a kid because I’d always love talking and arguing, but that’s not really how it is now.


Used with permission of Fawaz Alharbi


Seniors recreate baby photos, reflect on past while looking to the future





THE LAST ONE Because it is.

I‘ve always wanted to live to be 110 years old.

no monkey business

I don’t think that’s my style.

But every time I see a picture of some old granny who’s wearing a 50-year-old dress from the prairie or something, it looks like this:


But then who knows if I’ll even live that long? I’m not in control of anything.

You just get on with it.

Because nobody gives less of a damn than time. “PLease, I just need a damn.”

Even though I like to think I am.

There’s no such thing as what’s supposed to be.

Either way, it’s pointless to think about life.

Only what is.

Not even me.

“I just don’t give a damn.” MAY 21, 2014


Swapnil Thombre | Lifetouch

Swapnil Thombre| Prestige Portraits

That was then, this is now


Natasha Agrawal | Prestige Portraits

From freshman to senior, what faces, friends, fortitudes 2014 gained and lost as seniors are out with the old, in with the new.


Natasha Agrawal | Lifetouch

enior Natasha Agrawal peers intently at the yearbook picture of herself as a freshman, inspecting it closely. Agrawal is recognizable in the picture, but she notices the differences. “My eyes are different. I look tired,” Agrawal said first. “I feel like I look kind of different, compared to now. Especially my hair — and of course I did my eyebrows, too,” she mutters quickly and laughs. In the picture, Agrawal wears a pink polo shirt, but she wouldn’t wear such clothing now. The conscious choice to change her style seems superficial, but it belies the confidence she gained after her freshman year. As a freshman, Agrawal was daunted by the transition to high school and she was intimidated by the rumors about high school she’d heard. To her, freshman year was a make-it-or-break-it deal: either she would survive or she wouldn’t. By the end of the year, Agrawal had survived and thrived. “I was over the anxiety that I finished one year of high school, that I was able to go through one year and come out of it,” Agrawal said. “After freshman year I realized that I really wanted to see what I can do with myself.”

Once she overcame the obstacle of assimilating into high school, it led to a new awareness of herself and the confidence to overcome other issues. Agrawal became conscious of her appearance, but she was determined to change herself in healthy ways. “I used to have more severe acne, so I tried eating healthy and it cleared up my face,” Agrawal said. “I would come in everyday with a big box of fruit and drink a lot of water. I remember sophomore year, specifically, that totally changed me.” Taking a look at her freshman picture again, wearing that pink polo shirt, Agrawal reveals that now she wears whatever she wants. It’s okay to come to school in sweatpants, she realized. Coupled with her newfound confidence from sophomore year, she became more relaxed and comfortable senior Natasha Agrawal with herself. Agrawal appreciates who she is now, as well as the changes she can and can’t recognize. Eating healthy and wearing makeup were positive choices she made to change herself. The confidence she gained allowed her to take control of the aspects of her life she realized she could actively change. “Freshman year I wasn’t as conscious [of my appearance],” Agrawal said. She looks at her freshman picture. “When I [compare it with] my senior portrait, I do look different … but I like my pictures now better.”


MAY 21, 2014

SENIOR SWAPNIL THOMBRE “In my life, every two years I used to move, especially in elementary and middle school … I lived in Novato, Calif. Before that I lived in Germantown, Tenn. Before that I lived in Irvine, Calif. And before that I lived in Plano, Texas. And before that I lived in Denver. ... So when I came to Cupertino, I stayed here and people here became closer to me. This is the closest I have to a hometown.”

Benjamin Yu | Lifetouch

SENIOR BENJAMIN YU “During sophomore year I took an interest in breakdancing. I’m a skinny guy and everyone knows I’m skinny, so I guess I took that up to try to make myself a little more muscular. I didn’t become more muscular, but I guess I became stronger … I just thought breakdancing was cool. I would say I’m more comfortable with my body now.” | 29




have been in a relationship during high school

56% have had a change in their group of friends 36% Will go to their first-choice college

reflections from


As the year draws to an end, graduating class looks back on experiences BY EVA SPITZEN AND JOYCE VARMA



Over the course of high school, did your relationship with your parents IMPROVE, STAY THE SAME, OR GET WORSE?


26% have used an illegal substance

13% are sexually active

52% have their driver’s licenses 30

30% have a part time job 36 % have attended a kick-back or house party

52 % have cheated in school EL ESTOQUE

If you had to attend high school all over again, would you pick MVHS?

in four years I hope to have... Fill out your responses, then cut along the dotted line. Save your answers, and in four years, see if you have met your goals.

graduated from



KNOWn majored in


traveled to Learned tried to






lived in

Did the “best day of your life” happen at school? *Data was taken from a survey of 205 seniors.

Which year were you most satisfied with your teachers? (IN PERCENTAGES




owned read found talked to seen





conquered | 31

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SENIOR NORMAN MU Major: Applied Mathematics School: UC Berkeley



nlike Mu, who will be residing close to his college campus during the fall semester, senior Matt Cheung will be looking forward to the break with some extra time to balance a job with community college classes before starting at the University of Southern California in the spring. For Cheung, the fall semester will be a time to explore his academic interests by taking pre-general education and Computer Science classes at De Anza College. “This is a period of time after summer and after a busy senior year. So it’s a good opportunity to just take a step back and prepare for college,” Cheung said. “I’ll have more time to think and reflect. I’ll be much more prepared.” MAY 21, 2014


s a spring admit, senior Norman Mu is part of the 4 percent of MVHS graduates who will begin college one semester later in January. Mu, who will be attending UC Berkeley, plans to spend his fall semester picking up some units at the UCB extension a few blocks away from the main campus. Mu will have two hard restrictions until he officially joins the university in the Spring of 2015. One: A 16 unit limit on classes at the UCB extension. And two: He will not be able to participate in NCAA sports, although he was not planning to. Although Mu had his doubts about spring admission, he soon realized that his close proximity to campus would allow him to have a smooth transition into student life and academics during the spring. “I am going to try to take advantage of the marginally easier classes at the extension,” Mu said. “Everyone says that classes there are GPA boosters, not that rigorous. I’ll be looking forward to a gradual transition to college because your classes are smaller, but not that different.” Mu hopes to use his accessibility to campus

as an impetus to meet students who are fall admits so that his late start at the university won’t cost him his social relationships. According to Mu, one of the perks of Fall Program for Freshman, offered specifically to UCB’s spring admits, is that he will still get to room with fall admit in on-campus housing. Additionally, Mu will be allowed to join clubs and intramural sports teams while completing his units at the extension. Tentatively, Mu hopes to play intramural ultimate frisbee to further integrate himself with the campus community. Looking back at the day he received his letter of admission, Mu admits that he was a little offput by the terms of his admission. Now, however, about two months later, he believes that there are no major drawbacks to spring admission. “Now I realize I’m going to be just like any other student,” Mu said. “At least in terms of having a smooth transition to college, which was my initial concern.”

Cheung’s fall semester plans include developing his leadership skills by working for his tennis coach. Although Cheung is uncertain of his official responsibilities, he imagines he will be working with children, helping them with the fundamentals of the sport. Cheung believes that developing his leadership potential will prove to be an asset during his college years when he will be expected to communicate effectively with his professors and peers. “At first [spring admission] might not be ideal, but if you look into it with an objective view, you will definitely find positives,” Cheung said.

of UCB spring admission

On-campus housing and dining


16 units course selection limit

Smaller class size


Can’t participate in NCAA sports


Can’t live in fraternity housing


Tuition for fall is $1000 higher

School club access Graduate same time as fall admits

CONS Senior Matt CheunG Major: Business Administration School: USC

I was at school and my mom saw the big red packet ... When I got home I opened it and I was very confused. I had no idea what [spring admit] meant.

I was actually pretty surprised. In my mind I thought [spring admit] was worse. I wondered: ‘Why not fall admit level?’ Then I realized this is a way for [the university] to offer admission to more students.




After a successful year of Matador sports — some continuing a long streak of winning CCS, some qualifying for the first time in a decade and some barely missing the cutoff — we take a look back at some key moments and players Mihir Joshi | El Estoque



Mihir Joshi | El Estoque

Memorable moment: CCS Qualification for the first time in seven years CCS ranking: 5th place Playmakers: Seniors Sarah Im and Amelia Strom and junior Janaye Sakkas (pictured) Overall record: 12-2-1 Playmakers: Sisters junior Christina (pictured above) and senior Stephanie Jennings CCS playoff ranking: 9th place Overall Standing: 14-8



School records: Senior Justin Cena, Total rushing yards, longest touchdown run, and longest run from scrimmage. Senior Tijani Karaborni fumble recoveries in a season. CCS playoff ranking: Eighth place Defensive stars: Seniors Faris and Tijani Karaborni and junior Sam Nastari Pictured above: Junior Max McCan

BOYS WATER POLO Playmakers: Junior Kevin Nordby and senior Ian Young Biggest achievement: Moving from last to third place in the league This season was dedicated to Young’s late father, Steve Young

Catherine Lockwood | El Estoque

Playmakers: Seniors Colin Hong (pictured) and Rahul Madanahalli Promising player: Sophomore Christopher Woodburn Memorable moments: 13-11 victory over Archbishop Mitty High School

Sarah Ramos | El Estoque


Amol Pande | El Estoque



Playmakers: Sophomore Madeline Sporkert, junior Justin Ma, senior Stephanie Lam and junior Harrison Ding (pictured) Biggest obstacle: Less team support than previous years Memorable moments: Playing with coach Charley Situ during practice


Ashish Samaddar | El Estoque

Playmakers: Sophomore Monica Polgar, junior Janaye Sakkas and freshman Kalpana Gopalkrishnan Biggest change: New coach DJ Driscoll Broken record: CCS qualification streak ended

Alina Abidi | El Estoque


Playmakers: Seniors Beverly Yu and Alice Liu Memorable moments: Winning their senior night game Overall record: 5-17

Manasa Sanka| El Estoque Used with permission of Kirk Flatow

Star athletes: Senior Bridget Gottlieb (pictured), freshman Kelly Bishop, junior Jenny Xu and junior Rohan Chouhudry Broken records: Gottlieb’s 11:51 2.1 mile and 17:58 2.93 mile, among others Memorable moments: Watermelon Run bonding before timed trials CCS Ranking: 1st place Girls, 5th place Boys Elliot Ki | El Estoque



League ranking: CCS and CIF Champions Playmaker: Junior Aishwarya Sankar Largest obstacle: Player injuries Pictured: Senior Jenna McGuirk

Playmakers: Seniors Beverly Yu and Alice Liu Memorable moment: Winning their senior night game Overall record: 5-17 MAY 21, 2014




Catherine Lockwood| El Estoque


Karen Feng| El Estoque

Star athletes: Seniors Bridget Gottlieb and Emma Seyer and junior Rohan Choudhury Broken records: Gottlieb’s 11:01 3200 m, Seyer’s 36’4” shot put throw Memorable moment: Earning 49 medals at SCVAL Championships Pictured: Juniors Albert Han and Chaitayna Adiga

Memorable moment: Junior Lucas Harjono placed fifth in CCS Girls record: 2-12, two more wins than the previous year Pictured: Freshman Amy Zhong


Ashish Samaddar| El Estoque

GIRLS SWIMMING & DIVING League ranking: First ever SCVAL De Anza Division championship Playmaker: Senior Carly Reid Broken record: Senior Sarah Kaunitz’ (pictured) 1:02.30 100 breaststroke Memorable moment: Two of three varsity divers making CCS

BOYS SWIMMING & DIVING Mihir Joshi | El Estoque

Playmakers: Freshman Danielle Koontz, sophomore Marissa Lee Memorable moment: Beating Santa Clara High School 2-3 and staying in the upper division Biggest change: A much younger team than previous years Largest obstacle: Maintaining a strong offense Pictured: Freshman Hailee Huber 36

Athira Penghat| El Estoque

Playmakers: Seniors Brandon Pon and Michael Chen and sophomore Keven Shang Memorable moment: Placing third in the SCVAL De Anza Division League Pictured: Senior Colin Hong EL ESTOQUE

Broken records: Two seniors, Aaron Wu (pictured) and Faris Karaborni both qualified for state, for the first time since 1999 College bound athletes: Seniors Tijani and Faris Karaborni to Universtity of Minnesota Up and coming: Junior Max McCann has placed fourth in CCS two years in a row Memorable moments: Beating the number two team in CCS, Fremont High School


Mihir Joshi| El Estoque

GIRLS WATER POLO Biggest change: Coach Don Vierra’s final season Playmakers: Junior Kylie Constant and senior Kristin Vrionis (pictured) Memorable moments: Beating Cupertino High School twice

Catherine Lockwood| El Estoque


Playmakers: Seniors Adi Raju and Ramana Keerthi League standing: 6-6 League records: Keerthi’s 2.2 blocks per game Promising players: Juniors Robert Lee, Ashish Kenan and Andy Wang Pictured: Junior Casey Parsay

Lead scorer: Junior Brad Ohadi Defensive stars: Junior Gregory Moe and seniors William Major (pictured) and Eric Polgar Memorable Moment: Fifteen minutes left against Soquel High School, Ohadi scored two goals, resulting in a 3-1 victory

Amol Pande | El Estoque

Alina Abidi | El Estoque


Playmakers: Seniors Ryan Bishop and Ryan Manley Notable: Ranked fourth in CCS and 32nd in the nation Promising player: Sophomore Alex Li Colin Ni | El Estoque

MAY 21, 2014 | 37


Since 2002 R

Your success begins here


While defeat dampens spirits, they re-emerge stronger than before BY PRANAV PARTHASARATHY WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ROCHISH AMBATI


he baseball team is struggling. Everything seems to be falling apart: players have to miss games, regularly stellar pitchers and batters aren’t up to snuff, and morale is low. However, one game changes this all. The game is against Milpitas, and the initial outlook isn’t very good. Down one run in the final inning, MVHS goes on to take the final inning 3-1 and its first league win on April 7. Sophomore Surya Kumaraguru secures the win with an outstanding performance on the mound, but the victory is a product of the whole team’s volition, according to varsity baseball coach Nick Bonacorsi. While this baseball example highlights the glory of victory, defeat is an inevitable part of the equation for all sports. When faced with defeat teammates have several options. Whether they affirmatively rebound and clinch victory or simply rediscover the camaraderie among their fellow members, the choice is theirs.

Amol Pande | El Estoque

Coach Nick Bonacorsi examines injured batter junior Sam Nastari. While baseball, very much like Nastari, encountered rough times, it managed to secure a spot in CCS.

tributed to their recent promotion to the De Anza League. Junior Hannah Pollek says the switch to a more competitive league lowered the win-loss ratio. As the season progressed the Difficult negative trend became clear. times Pollek also mentioned that the Bonapromotion to the more advanced corsi curleague affected their scoreboard. rently com“Our coach moved us around mands a a lot to try and change the scoreteam which board, but we only got worse besuffered cause we weren’t good in our new early on in positions... The season felt a lot the season less unsuccesful than it was. We’re — down actually a pretty good team. It’s 0-5 at one just that all the other teams were senior Danny McGarry point— but so much better,” Pollek said. has since Pollek says that they were very rebounded, currently standing at 8-7, inconsistent. The team would often be bursting qualifying for CCS . When describing with energy at the start of the game while tapering his team’s challenges early on in the out close to the end. season, Bonacorsi cited numerous fac-

You are not going to be successful all of the time. Focus on the positive aspects.

tors, including attendance, but he highlighted one key cause in particular. “We lost that first game of the season against Fremont when up by three runs leading into the final inning,” Bonacorsi said. “Had we not lost that [game], we could have picked up the next few and the momentum would have built in our favor. Instead, the opposite happened.” Much like baseball, girls volleyball met significant challenges. The team had a record of 1-18 which can be atMAY 21, 2014

Bouncing Back Despite the difficult circumstances, girls volleyball still found a way to make the best of the season. Pollek says that losing had a positive impact on the team: Although the team would not feel positive after losing, it pushed them to work harder at practice. Boys baseball also had some reason for optimism: A bleak situation started to reverse itself later on in the season, when a win against Milpitas sent the morale soaring back. Once the momentum starts rolling in the right direction, according to Bo-

nacorsi, results can only follow. They did in this instance. After the game against Milpitas, varsity baseball went on a five-game win-streak, in line with Bonacorsi’s optimism. Outfielder senior Danny McGarry explained this turnaround. “Doing the small things [is what helped our team],” McGarry said. McGarry believed that what initially held his team back was a failure to play cohesively: players were focusing too much on themselves. However, the team kept a positive attitude throughout. “We have a lot of potential on our team, a lot of strong players,” McGarry said, “once everybody learned to play together, it was great.” And that positive attitude was not baseless. The morale boost in particular was key to improving the team’s performance, for, according to McGarry, performance in baseball is based 80 percent on how the players feel. “If you go into the game with a positive mindset, if you go into the game wanting to throw strikes, you will,” McGarry said. “Mentality is very important.” McGarry offered a few words of advice to players angry over disappointing loss. “You are not going to be successful all of the time. Keep motivating yourself keep going out there.” McGarry said.“Focus on the positive aspects.” |



Senior Shiron Drusinsky takes senior Ryan Manley on a sailing adventure.



El Estoque Online


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Innovative and motivated MVHS students find their names on biology teacher Renee Fallon’s board following their successes at science contests.

MOST ADORABLE Staff members share their beautiful, cute and heartwarming experiences with their dogs.

MOST INGENIOUS Gender neutrality will spur gender equality.

Volume 44, Issue 8, May 21, 2014  

El Estoque print magazine