Page 1



Monta Vista High School

Issue IV

Volume XLII

December 7, 2011

Don’t ask don’t

tell For two decades, Boy Scouts of America has legally discriminated against members’ sexuality. For gay Scouts, coming out clashes with the values they’ve always been taught News Page 4

FINANCIAL STRUGGLES special report Page 24 // WINTER SEASON PREVIEW sports Page 40 A SECULAR CHRISTMAS opinion Page 15 // LAST CAKE STANDING A&E Page 21







New district charity policy

Are self-harming students getting the help they need?

Confusion with the charity policy changes frustrates club officers

Pollution next door


Price of going to MVHS Providing financial aid to students should not be awkward

Scouting for rights


Why the policies against atheists and homosexuals in Boy Scouts are wrong

9 14

New EPA air pollution regulations affect nearby Lehigh Cement Plant


Secular decorations Winter Wonderland decorations brings up the secular nature of Christmas


Winter Wonderland Bull Spirit and Campus Climate give the school a winter makeover

Out of the garage

Financial Façade

18 30

Cupcake wars The cupcake shops that are most worth your time and those that are not


Cupertino residents reveal lifestyles contrary to demographic figures

Seventh Day Breakdown goes pro with their first EP titled Shades of Gray






Healing the scars








Financial disclosure Parents choose whether or not they discuss financial situations with their children

Tomorrow’s potential How senior Israel Young’s family financial struggles have shaped his academic future

Between leagues


New sport, new goals


Varsity girls basketball try to find a balance between the El Camino and De Anza Leagues

Junior Katie Byrne leaves a childhod dream behind for a new passion


Pushing the team forward New wrestling coach Kevin Klemm uses his experiences to help others succeed




21840 McClellan Road Cupertino, CA 95014 Editor-in-Chief: Karishma Mehrotra Managing Editors: Christophe Haubursin, Yaamini Venkataraman, Ashley Wu, Sara Yang Copy Editors: Karen Feng, Nona Penner, Lisa Zhang Webmaster: Akshay Agrawal Photo Editor: Kevin Tsukii, Elvin Wong News Editors: Akshay Agrawal, Aafreen Mahmood, Anushka Patil Sports Editors: Dickson Tsai, Patrick Xie Entertainment Editors: Yimeng Han, Pooja Ravikiran Opinion Editors: Smitha Gundavajhala, Kiranmayi Methuku, Laura Yang Special Report Editors: Cynthia Mao, Daniel Tan, Amelia Yang Business Editors: Rachel Lu, Albert Qiu Public Relations Editor: Emma Courtright, Angela Wang Staff Writers: Rachel Beyda, Nellie Brosnan, Carissa Chan, Stephanie Chang, Simran Devidasani, Amrutha Dorai, Kevin Guo, Gisella Joma, Megan Jones, Soumya Kurnool, Howard Lee, Forest Liao, Margaret Lin, Angela Liu, Jacob Lui, Alexandria Poh, Morahd Shawki, Emily Vu Adviser: Michelle Balmeo, Jay Shelton 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.

When a teacher says,

“Print this at home,” you need to have...






And not everyone does.


Sometimes, there seems to be this assumption at wanted to write this letter to persuade you that your assumption MVHS that the student who is sitting right next to is wrong. Even though the average you can afford it. Teachers assume students can print listing price for homes in Cupertino the PowerPoints at home. Clubs assume members is right now is $1,651,276, according can pay for the new t-shirt. Coaches assume athletes to the MLS listings, not every student can afford the sports equipment. Maybe these assumptions come about because at MVHS goes home to the same two-story surburban house. But, two girls wearing identical Forever 21 outfits could after realizing that even I cannot not be living two completely different lives at home. see the financial diversity within Two students with the same smartphone could have our student body, I am in the same completely opposite financial situations. Essentially, the modern affordability of material items makes boat you are. I still have this feeling, this hunch, that everyone class at MVHS even more confusing. Our Special Report this issue aims to counteract around us does not go home to the same financial those side effects of a blended class structure at status. But, I don’t know where that feeling comes our high school. It reminds us that the people who surround us may be at from. I cannot recall different strata in the specific incidents financial hierarchy. amongst my friends or Reporter Kevin peers that confirm this Guo highlights the belief. Karishma unemployed in the To find those stories, community through I went out and talked the Rotary Club, while to people who are more reporter Amelia Yang exposed to students with exposes how parents different income levels: keep their children in the teachers. I came back dark about their economic status and reporter Jacob with stories that shocked me. Stories of kids who live alone while their Lui presents the life of senior Israel Young, who was parents live in Asia. Stories of the student who has honest enough to let us look into how his financial to convince his parents to pay for prom. Stories of situation affects his academic effort. Sure, this isn’t some profound revelation — we the girl who can’t afford the thousands of dollars it takes to be a cheerleader. Stories of seniors all know that at well-off high schools, we tend to choosing community college though they were forget that the student next to you might not be at accepted into prestigious private schools. Stories the same income level. We tend to forget that that of the girl who has to wake up early to print her student next to you may not be able to print the assignments at school because she doesn’t have assignment at home — but as a staff, we decided it a printer at home. Did you know these students was too important to overlook any longer. went to MVHS? I didn’t.


Correction: On page 3 of the Nov. 9 issue the visual incorrectly stated percentages. 50.39 percent of Cupertino citizens are Asian while 75 percent of current MVHS students are Asian. DECEMBER 7, 2011



Christophe Haubursin | El Estoque

PRIDE OR HONOR Since its inception over 100 years ago, Boy Scouts of America has reserved the right to discriminate on the basis of sexuality and religion. The battle between their own identities and BSA’s ideals leaves gay Scouts in the crossfire


By Christophe Haubursin and Anushka Patil



On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.


t was late in the day when Boy Scout Troop 468 got back from the trail and settled in for the evening, bodies covered in dust and sweat. Everyone was tired. And everyone needed a shower. Usually the Scouts showered separately during summer camp, but their only available facility at the time was a large collective shower room. The boys filed in, some with bathing suits, some without. It wasn’t long before one Scout bent over, pulled down the waistline of his suit, tucked his genitalia behind the crease of his legs, and began to make suggestive maneuvers towards the other Scouts. He was “being their girl,” they said. The room exploded in laughter. Current UC Riverside freshman Kevin Chan, then a junior at Irvington High School, stood off to the side, silent. He left the showers early, walked back to his tent, and sat down alone to think. Scared straight Less than a year later, Chan came out, first to his school friends, and later to his fellow troop members in the Boy Scouts. Homophobic jokes had always existed between them — but now he was the target. Harrassment was sharp, and frequent. Jokes turned into insults, then to ostracization. “I always reassured myself by thinking that later in life, if I kept working, I’d wind up someone better than them,” Chan said. Under the traditional BSA guidelines, members must be “morally straight.” Atheists, agnostics, and homosexuals are banned from membership — a ban that has generated several lawsuits against BSA over the course of 30 years. The conflicts ultimately came to a close with the ruling of the 2000 Supreme Court case Boy Scouts of America v. Dale: as an allegedly private organization, BSA fully reserves the right to discriminate members based on the values they hold. Local governments and troops have put that decision under fire as BSA continues

NOVEMBER 9, 2011

from the Scout Oath

to receive federal funding against the conventional definition of private institutions. San Jose’s own Troop 260 was one of the first to declare a blind eye to matters of sexuality when accepting members in 1992. A community of their own Senior Wells Lucas Santo, an openly bisexual Eagle Scout and current member of Chan’s former troop, took Chan’s case into consideration during his realization of his sexuality. “I thought Boy Scouts was all about equal opportunities and free moral grounds,” Santo said. “As I started realizing my sexuality I started thinking about how it fit in with me being a Scout. Would I be breaking rules just by going to meetings because they didn’t support who I was? If I was [more open about my sexuality] would I be ostracized by the group, or would they still accept me as an individual?” Santo eventually did come out to his troop, irrevocably changing his dynamic with his peers. “That’s when it’s hard to tell them,” Santo said. “When you know that people might not look at you the same.” Chan, on the other hand, found that his situation drastically improved at UC Riverside, where he began to feel fortunate for his experience relative to others. At his on-campus LGBT center, he learned about other gay Scouts’ experiences, where heterosexual Scouts kissed one another and snuck into homosexual members’ sleeping bags for the sole purpose of fostering discomfort. Some of the troop members stayed, and kept quiet. Others quit. Another Scout Chan talked to did not come out until college for fear that his Eagle Scout position would be revoked. Chan never faced this possibility when coming out, not because of lax adherence to Boy Scout Law, but due to a troop culture that focused far more on academics than beliefs. James Kung, who has been the Scoutmaster of Troop 468 for four years,

says that he does not know of any openly gay Scout. “The way I look at it, my function as a Scoutmaster is to encourage and train them to be good leaders,” Kung said. “Sexual orientation has no bearing on my function ... I’m not here to judge them.” A hidden layer Kung believes that early exposure to many different types of people is beneficial to all scouts so that they can learn how to deal with it — though it doesn’t always have the intended effect. “In our troop, we have clearly stated there’s a zero tolerance for bullying,” Kung said. “Now, that’s only on paper.” Kung says he has heard phrases like “That’s so gay” in conversation among Scouts, but nothing extremely homophobic. “It’s possible [that there is ignorance],” Kung said. “It’s a subject that parents [and the troop] aren’t comfortable approaching.” Caught in the crossfire In an environment meant to facilitate the path from youth to maturity, for many Scouts the conflict can be an identity crisis. In 1991, BSA’s official position on homosexuality was that homosexuals did not provide role models consistent with the expectations of Scouting families. In 1993, the position was that “avowed homosexuals” would not be allowed to register as members or leaders in BSA. And in 2004, it was that “homosexual conduct [was] inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed.” The wording has changed over the years, but its effect on gay Scouts hasn’t. “You come to this line, where you start to think, ‘What’s acceptable?’ You have to take a step back,” Santo said. “I was raised with the Boy Scouts, and I grew up learning all those values. Now, those values contradicted who I had become.” |







of students admitted to selfharming

he burned the suicide note to her parents this past April. Since then, the sophomore girl, who spoke to El Estoque on the condition that she remain anonymous, has consulted a therapist for three hours, four days a week. She was recently accepted into El Camino Hospital’s After-School Program Interventions and Resiliency Education (ASPIRE Program), an intensive eight-week group therapy session for teenagers with depression and other mental health symptoms. Out of 589 students surveyed on the December El Estoque survey, 108 admitted to self-harming — 77 due to stress. In a environment in which acts of self-harming, such as cutting, is looked to as a solution for some, are there resources for students to cope without harming themselves? How it all started The sophomore’s first signs of depression began in seventh grade due to academic and social stress. At first, the cuts were small scratches on her hand. “I told [my mom] when I was in seventh grade, but at that point, it was just these tiny little things on my hands, and [my mom] said, ‘We’ll work on this. We’ll help you be happier,’” she said. “For her, [cutting] was a thing outside of therapy. And the fact that I didn’t feel any better made me want to do it more.” She continued self-harming through eighth and ninth grade, but not as severely. She had not harmed herself for five months her freshman year until she stumbled upon Tumblr posts, written by a peer who hoped the sophomore’s


Simran Devidasani,Aafreen Mahmood, Yaamini Venkataraman and Emily Vu | El Estoque Photo Illustration *598 students responded to this survey

a scarred

Students cope with stress through self-harm, then-current relationship with her boyfriend Low-stress home environment would not last. After discovering the posts, she The one thing that stops her urge to cut is had a panic attack and began cutting herself when her mom cries. again. Since then, she believes she has been “Usually my mom doesn’t cry, and I feel stuck in a psychological cycle of depression. horrible when she does and I know that I’m “Sometimes I’ll be really happy, and I just causing it,” the sophomore said. “I just feel like take things on. As I owe her to be happy. I start to go down, Depression isn’t just an instance of When she sees that my grades start to sadness. It’s weeks and months and I’m not, that hurts slip, I get socially her, and then that anxious more years of you feeling like you’re not hurts me.” often, and I just worth anything. Although the feel like I can’t sophomore does anonymous sophomore do it anymore,” value her mother’s she said. “I cut, and then I’m mad at myself. happiness, she does not talk with her mother Because I’m mad at myself I do it again, and about depression. However, her mother notes then I’m ashamed. And then I do it again.” that it is difficult to help her daughter if she Her depression has resulted in a diagnosis is unwilling to seek help, even after she has of borderline-personality disorder. She states harmed herself. that two personalities exist within her — an “I have found out [she’s harming herself] outgoing, confident one and a more introverted because there’s something that I hear from one. According to her, the confident personality upstairs, and I think something is wrong. So tells her that she’s worthless and that she I have gone upstairs, realized she’s in the should keep cutting. bathroom, and that’s most likely what she’s “One of my delusions is that if I go deep doing,” the mother said. enough, and there’s enough blood that comes Her parents have tried to create a low-stress out of me, all of this stress will just leave me home environment: A’s are not required and too, and I’ll be okay,” she said. “I’m really she is encouraged to pursue several hobbies. scared of it, at the same time wanting to do it. In addition, her parents do not require A’s to It’s an addiction.” relieve additional academic pressure.


boy scouts // mental health // charity regulations // mercury levels

community community encourages other options. by Yaamini Venkataraman and Emily Vu “I’ve seen some of the parents, and I just want to tell them to leave the kids to do their own thing,” she said. “You can see that these kids must be pushed so hard when they get home, and that’s created such a stressful environment. You just give them support when they’re struggling.” Building an extended community Often, individuals who self-harm attempt to hide it by cutting other parts of their body besides their forearms, wearing bracelets around their wrists or wearing long-sleeved shirts. But covering up their scars covers up the possibility of receiving help from others, which student advocate Richard Prinz and his intern Sherry Price believe can be the most helpful method of healing. The sophomore’s mother echoes this belief, stating that it the child’s responsibility to bring their parents into the situation. “She’s never come to us when she’s experienced something that’s triggered [her self-harm],” the sophomore’s mother said. “That’s something that her dad and I can’t be proactive with. You never know when she’s had a bad day — she always says ‘Hug me mommy’, ‘Hug me daddy.’ She has to learn to be open with us, whether it be with her emotions, her school, or anything.”

DECEMBER 7, 2011

Prinz, who has a master’s degree in family and child development, attends suicide prevention conferences every other year and offers therapy conferences in room D204. Prinz and Price stress the importance of an accepting and supportive community to heal the scars of those who self harm. Students are encouraged to inform Prinz, guidance counselors or any administration member, if they suspect others are selfharming. Challenge Day, which allows students to share their experience with each other, has been another option to promote the mental welfare of students. However, everyone has a unique coping strategy, some of which result in self-harm — Prinz and Price both emphasize that it is crucial to approach every individual differently. “It takes time to figure out a particular person’s makeup — what [are] the person’s strengths, emotional weakness, talents, interests — who that person is. Out of that, the person can find the perfect combination [of coping strategies] to help deal with their problems,” Price said. “Once you do that, you are set for the rest of your life. There is always something inside of you that you can constantly pull and use to help yourself.” Beyond MVHS, numerous programs exist to help students establish healthy coping


* of students know someone who has self-harmed

strategies. The ASPIRE program, offered after school at El Camino Hospital, stresses the importance of communication by creating a supportive environment for teens, and trains families and teachers to deal with such issues. Other programs Prinz supports include the Stanford Asian American Wellness Program, a mentoring program that helps promote mental health, and the Young Ambassadors program, in which students educate others about healthy coping strategies from their own experiences. Although resources are found in the larger community, the sophomore’s mother believes that the school should also try to be part of the solution by teaching students methods to cope with stress. Coping skills are exactly what the sophomore hopes to learn through the ASPIRE Program. For her, the program is a chance to find a source of inner motivation to stop self-harming, instead of relying on an external force, like her mother, to rid her of her current coping strategy. While programs like ASPIRE offer students a means to cope with their stress, Prinz emphasizes nurturing positive emotions instead of focusing on the negative. “Western psychology can be all about problems, but how do we increase positive emotions? Positive emotions like compassion, love, patience and tolerance are like flowers in a garden,” Prinz said. “If we nurture them, they will grow tall, and then there will be no sunlight for the weeds of problems to grow.” |



When change comes with confusion Miscommunication over newly altered charity policy leaves clubs frustrated by Carissa Chan and Margaret Lin

the new policy, clubs can now donate to Red Cross, or to other organizations on the hen senior Manvita Tatavarthy list, without re-applying for approval. The process of obtaining approval for first decided to raise money for the organization Free the Children charitable organizations, however, seems for her DECA community service project, perplexingly long to some clubs, like she thought she would be in for a long Muslim Students Association. According to process: countless forms to fill out, asking MSA social manager junior Iffat Junaid, the Leadership for approval and a presentation club originally planned to raise money in the 2010-2011 school year for Pennies for to the FUHSD Board of Trustees. But according to Dean of Students Mike Peace, an organization that builds schools White, the process — which takes four to six for young girls in Pakistan. Upon hearing weeks to complete — is not as complicated about the approval process, MSA decided and drawn out as Tatavarthy, along with to forgo the project. “We could [ask the Board of Trustees] many other students, first thought. According to White, a new policy to approve Pennies for Peace, but it would implemented by the FUHSD Intra-District be a long process,” Junaid said. “It’d be Council now makes it easier for clubs to too much work. We should spend our time raise money for charitable organizations. doing … [other] things.” In previous years, this approval process Previously, clubs needed to request both Leadership and the Board of Trustees had not been widely followed; many clubs privately raised money to approve the charity, to donate. This year, the although this process was They didn’t change process will be enforced not always followed. In the process ... this now that White has clearly 2011, the Board began actually expedites it. explained it. But the process to compile a list of large Dean of Students Mike White has also been simplified; charities to which all clubs organizations can now be could donate without needing to go through the process. The list permanently approved, saving future clubs now consists of the American Red Cross, the trouble of going through the entire American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, process again. Many people, like Tatavarthy and seniors American Heart Association, Second Harvest Food Bank, Operation Smile and Suruchi Salgar and Janani Prasad, who are working with Tatavarthy on the DECA Sunnyvale Food Bank. The Board is open to adding more community service project, heard about organizations upon request, meaning that the policy for the first time this year and clubs can donate to essentially any charity mistakenly thought that the entire policy as long as there is proof that the organization had changed and that they would have to is non-profit and non-discriminatory. And wait longer to have their proposals approved. for clubs that want to donate to already- But White says that the process has existed approved charities, White says, the process for years and the Board of Trustees has yet to deny approval of any organization. can take as little as a day to complete. “They didn’t change the process,” White “In this case, clubs can just ask [administration for permission to raise said. “They just added the pre-approval money],” White said. “Principal [April] part. This actually expedites it.” But Tatavarthy, Salgar and Prasad have Scott or the deans can just say, ‘Okay’.” White explained that once a charity has still found the process difficult to follow. been approved by the Board, any FUHSD They are still choosing to go through with club can request permission from school their project, though — the three have officials and start fundraising right away, recently submitted their motion to the which allows students to immediately start Leadership class for approval, though they raising money after natural disasters. Clubs remain unsure of what is to come. “The whole process is a little bit last year experienced difficulty fundraising after the Japan earthquake last year, as it confusing,” Tatavarthy said. took several weeks for FUHSD to approve | Red Cross as a charitable organization; with


Margaret Lin | El Estoque

Submit motion to Leadership. Council meetings are held every other week. Time: One to two weeks


Sara Yang | El Estoque

Work with MVHS’ IDC Representative, currently senior Neil Fernandes, to place motion on IDC’s meeting agenda. Time: One to two weeks


Margaret Lin | El Estoque

Complete paperwork. After presenting at the IDC meeting and getting approval, clubs are free to start raising money. Time: Two weeks


Four six weeks Four to sixtoweeks




IN THE AIR Lehigh Cement Plant potentially faces increased regulation for mercury emissions in 2013 by Nona Penner and Lisa Zhang


n the days of the Gold Rush, mercury was an essential tool in extracting gold from ore. The country was on a gold standard; preserving mercury was essential, leading President Lincoln to protect California’s abundant reserves of mercury. Today, this once invaluable mercury is causing potentially harmful repercussions for mining and cement production at the nearby Lehigh Cement Plant on Stevens Creek Boulevard. The plant has been operating largely unsupervised due to the lack of proper regulations since its construction in 1939. The pollution and violations had mostly gone unnoticed by Cupertino city residents, until they were highlighted by several candidates in the recent City Council campaign. Recently City Council elect Rod Sinks 10

ran on the platform of reducing emissions from the Lehigh Cement Plant. He and Bay Area activist Richard Adler are on the Board of Directors of an organization called Bay Area for Clean Environment, a nonprofit organization formed by Silicon Valley citizens to raise awareness about the neighboring cement plant pollution. According to Adler, in the past, Lehigh received several regulatory notices by the Santa Clara County, US Department of Labor, and Bay Area Air Quality Management District for not conforming to the pollution regulations in the nearby creek, but ultimately the violations were never resolved. This pollution continued for years without resolution. BACE’s statistics show that the cement

production at Lehigh contributes to mercury pollution in the nearby area. The plant’s heat processing of the quarry’s limestone converts it to cement, and, during this process, the abnormally high amounts of mercury in the limestone burns off as a gas and spreads out over Cupertino. The mercury then precipitates out to enter the nearby water supply. Lehigh is the largest cement plant in the U.S. that does not have a central stack — a tall structure in the center of a plant which allows pollutants to be dispersed over a wider area, minimizing the effect of the pollution on the local population. Lehigh currently uses a Teflon barrier, which traps the heavier mercury molecules from escaping into the air but cannot prevent the EL ESTOQUE

boy scouts // mental health //charity regulations // mercury levels ongoing air pollution. The mercury becomes part of the final cement output. “I understand [their perspective]. Lehigh is a business. They need to do what they need to do. And that’s okay with me,” Adler said. “[If the] elected officials and the appointed officials whose job is to make sure to protect us are not doing their job, then we have a problem.” According to Sinks, there was no substantial EPA air quality regulation until August 2010. Lehigh reportly emitted 1,200 lbs of mercury in the past year, but the new limit introduced in 2009 restricts annual mercury emissions to 88 lbs. With approximately 2 million people living within a few miles of the plant, all of these emissions are affecting highly populated areas in the South Bay. The new regulation is expected to decrease air pollution by 80 to 90 percent. With the EPA’s new limits, plants will now have to monitor 100 percent of their output, whereas in the past they were only required to examine samples. According to Sinks, Lehigh management believes it will have to erect a central stack in order to comply with the EPA’s standards. Lehigh was unresponsive to our attempts to contact them for an interview. However, Lehigh maintains that they

DECEMBER 7, 2011

are heavily regulatied and proud of their past ‘Who will prevail?’” and current compliance aur regulations. Lehigh is not under the jurisdiction of Sameer Kapoor, a resident of Foothill the city of Cupertino, but rather under Santa Village Apartments located close to the plant’s Clara County. As a result, the Cupertino base, has lived in Cupertino for City Council itself is unable to If the cost [of almost a year. He was unaware of take direct actions against the the plant’s violations, including cement] becomes plant’s pollution violations. the emissions contributing to air Sinks’ and Adler’s goal is to a little more and water pollution. expensive, so be it. educate resridents, especially “Maybe we should actually That’s the cost of those who are most affected raise voice and push legislation downwind of the plant doing it right. to close the plant, because it is through public seminars to City Council elect Rod Sinks so close to all these homes,” raise enough awareness for Kapoor said. the issue so the county will take action. The new EPA legislation is projected to “We just want to change the status quo take effect in 2013. Heidelberg, the plant’s and have a business operating efficiently parent company, looks to overturn the act by with the required regulations,” Sinks said. lobbying in Congress. They believe monitoring Despite this, Sinks and Adler believe the plant’s pollution output will cost too much that the benefits of the new EPA legislation to implement. House Republicans passed heavily outweigh its costs. The projected an amendment earlier this year to suspend benefits are estimated to be around $6.7 to funding for implementation and enforcement $18 billion of annual savings from reduced of the new legislation. illness and deaths. Costs for Lehigh are “Up here locally, [the Lehigh manager] expected to be at most $950 million. says, ‘Oh yes, we’re going to comply,’” Sinks “If the cost [of cement] becomes a little said. “But if your boss’s boss says ‘Hey, I’m up more expensive, so be it. That’s the cost of on Capitol Hill, it’s too expensive, and we can’t doing it right,” Sinks said. afford this right now,‘ then the real question is, |






Boy Scouts of America violates the First Amendment by discriminating against atheists and homosexuals while receiving government aid

Karen Feng, Kevin Tsukii, Laura Yang and Elvin Wong | El Estoque Photo Illustration


ii, Kevin Tsuk

“The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God.”

| El ura Yang

ng, and La

Karen Fe ra oto Illust

Ph Estoque tion



staff editorial // devil’s advocate // bottom line // commentary // comic belief // letter to the editor

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...” -First Amendment


alues, camping, young men: what could be wrong with the Boy Scouts? Quite a bit, actually. The storied tradition of the Boy Scouts of America has lasted for over a hundred years. And why shouldn’t it? Teaching responsibility and independence, the scouting way of life has molded over a hundred million boys. However, the problem lies with the lives it is not molding. For years the BSA has refused membership to atheists and homosexuals. Since 1991, the BSA has been noted for discrimination against homosexuals. Being homosexual goes against the principles of some religions that the BSA is affiliated with, and a BSA position statement declares that “[The BSA] believe[s] that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirement in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight and in the Scout Law that a Scout be clean in word and deed, and that homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts.” From as far back as 1985, if not further, the BSA has also excluded atheists and agnostics. It is not only the scouts themselves that must believe in a higher power; adult scout leaders are required to as well. Even merit badge counselors must adhere to the rule. You read correctly: believing in a higher power is a prerequisite for teaching coin collecting. The BSA youth application states that “The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God ... Only persons willing to subscribe ... shall be entitled to certificates of membership.” In addition, prospective Eagle Scouts are asked to provide a religious reference for their application. Of course, not all troops adhere to these

DECEMBER 7, 2011

guidelines rigidly. In fact, an anonymous Boy Scout from Los Altos Troop 75 stated that his Scoutmaster encouraged boys to lie about their religious or sexual preference if they were atheist or homosexual. But should boys really be forced to lie about who they are in order to stay in an organization that teaches supposedly trustworthiness? There is a simple solution to all this: stop discriminating against atheists and homosexuals. We live in the 21st century, and the fact that any minority group can be discriminated against is deplorable. The BSA is a great organization which teaches great values. Yet the opinion that only heterosexual theists can be upstanding members of society is not one of them. Some argue that because the BSA is a private organization, it has the right to deny membership to any parties. This argument would have weight if the BSA didn’t receive government funds. That’s right, the government is using tax dollars to help fund a discriminatory, “private” organization. Since 2005, our government has spent millions of dollars to help fund the BSA’s Jamborees, which are large gatherings of scouts on an international or national level. In addition, many Jamborees have been held on government bases, free of charge. In 2005, Congress even passed the “Support Our Scouts Act” in its defense authorization bill to ensure that the government will aid in future Jamborees. In 2008 Congress also passed the “Boy Scouts of America Centennial Commemorative Coin Act”. The act stipulated

that U.S. Mint would sell coins celebrating the Scouts’ centennial. The BSA stood to make up to $3.5 million from the deal. Our federal government’s support of the BSA can be seen as a violation of the First Amendment, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....” If the BSA wants to continue their practice of discriminating against homosexuals and atheists while remaining an ethical organization according to their current views, they should at least no longer receive government funding. The BSA is an organization that claims to be moral and just, but if it functions in such a gray area of the law, can it really uphold these values? And what about our government? People view the government with varying degrees of trust, but it is at least expected to promote equality and inclusion. If it decides to support one discriminatory organization for its own benefit, what’s to stop it from supporting others? Because the majority of Americans are Christian and heterosexual, they fail to identify with the plight of boys banned from Scouts. However, this is not a matter that only effects homosexual or atheist boys. Anyone part of any minority could be potentially affected, and who is not part of a minority of some kind? We, the public, must put more pressure on the BSA and the government to right this wrong. This is something that could be changed so easily, and once it is rectified, we will have a truly wholesome organization.



Why is Kim so flippin’ famous?

Kim Kardashian makes half a million dollars in five tweets. I am so jealous


im Kardashian. Talent level? Zero. (Or as I would argue, negative two). Fame level? A gazillion and two. Kim Kardashian, for those of you who’ve been living in an igloo with no cable or Internet connection these past few years, is America’s most popular reality television p er sonalit y, business m o g u l , m o d e l , actress, fashion designer, b o o k writer, and most

Margaret Lin| El Estoque Photo Illustration

recently, divorcee. Basically, she does a lot of things, although she isn’t terribly good at any of them. On Oct. 31, she and her then-hubby, basketball player Kris Humphries, divorced after 72 days of marriage, and she reportedly made nearly $18 million off her almost $8 million wedding. Instantly, a surge of searches related to her divorce sped through search engines. On Google alone, there were 90 million hits for “Kim Kardashian divorce.” Why are people so interested about some celebrity’s divorce? She rose to fame because she was best friends with Paris Hilton and her parents are rich, but other than that, does she have any other actual, honest-to-goodness talents? In order to try to find why she has such strong appeal to us Americans, I decided to search for just exactly why she is as influential as she is. I decided to start off this quest by listening to her music. She has released one single called “Jam (Turn it

up)” and it might be worse than “Friday” by Rebecca Black. “And they play’n my jam, they play’n my jam (x3), turn it up (x7), turn it up DJ, turn it up (x8), so I can rock my night away.” Talk about repetitive lyrics. After about four Margaret minutes of this autotune agony, I was done. I’m now 100 percent convinced she has no appeal whatsoever. But then I find out this: apparently, she makes $10,000 (10 grand!) every time she posts a sponsored tweet and $40,000 every time a new episode of her reality TV show, “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” which stars her family members, is aired. In 2010 alone, she made $6 million. Think about it; she makes what you need for a year to attend a typical UC, in four tweets. So jealous. I am furious. Beyond angry. I can now understand where those protesters on Wall Street are coming from. How can we just sit here and let this useless, talentless, and hopeless woman-person-robot earn so much money while there are still children in America who can not even afford three meals a day? But it’s no use. It’s clear that whether the talk is good or bad, she will always be gaining more fame.


The Bottom Line

After two canceled dances, ASB reopens dance floor for the student body

by Soumya Kurnool

The proposed January dance is a good idea — it is a sign that ASB officers really care about defending students’ interests. The January dance is not a response to the loss of Winter Ball, which lost the school $9,243 in 2011. In the matter of Winter Ball, the decreased turnout was justification enough for the dance to be cancelled. However, the administration wiped out the Farewell Dance without

consulting the current ASB officers, leaving them and the students voiceless. This new dance, proposed to take place Jan. 13, is a step in the right direction. ASB officers made it clear that their priority was to make sure that the students were heard to avoid the pitfall of the Farewell Dance discussion. By distributing a survey and using the results to propose the dance, the ASB officers demonstrated their interest in student

feedback. Because the dance is primarily based on the student body’s requests for a casual mid-year dance, the January dance is a fitting solution to the problem. This tireless effort in the face of opposition from the administration is commendable and should be a model for ASB officers in the future.

staff editorial // devil’s advocate // bottom line // commentary // letter to the editor

A secular

Examining the nuances of controversial current events

Winter Wonderland

“Winter Wonderland” sparks debate about the secular nature of Christmas by Laura Yang


or the first time ever, the school is all decked out in in wreaths, snowflakes and sleds. In an unprecedented show of holiday cheer, Bull Spirit and Campus Climate Commission are working together to transform our otherwise drab school into a winter wonderland for the holiday season. Paired with the gingerbread houses and cookie decorating events that w i l l soon be taking place, it is finally beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

The only thing that seems to be missing from this heart-warming celebration of merriment and good spirit is the term “Christmas” itself. The actual holiday that we are celebrating seems to be the red and green elephant in room that no one is acknowledging. But one has to wonder — with a “large MV spirit tree” decorating our campus and “Secret Santa”s going on even in Leadership itself — if all of Leadership’s efforts to censor “Christmas” are somewhat contrived. It is difficult to believe that the direct mention of “Christmas” is omitted because of any true regard for the sensibilities of those who may not celebrate this supposedly Christian holiday. MVHS is already going through all the motions and traditions of a Christmas celebration; the simple lack of a label is not going to change that. The level of offensiveness, or lack thereof, of embracing Christmas at school does not simply disappear with the omission of the title of the holiday. The deliberate omission of the holiday only adds an unnecessary layer of tension to the festivities.

To censor “Christmas” cannot be anything more than a way to side-step the technicality of “separation of church and state.” But the bigger question might yet be if Christmas itself has become secular. As is the case with MVHS’ decorations, religious images like the pilgrimage of the saints and birth of Christ have largely disappeared from the public scene. What have remained are secular and commercial, symbols, many with pre-Christian origins. And let’s not forget that Christmas day has been an official U.S. holiday since 1870. Perhaps MVHS is experiencing a case of reactive political correctness. MVHS is certainly doing the conservative thing by choosing to err on the side of safety, but as the saying goes: if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.

Emma Courtright | Illustration

Career Year presentations fail to educate or draw student attention by Kiranmayi Methuku

High school is the time to be exploring careers, but the new Career Year setup struggles to serve this purpose. Career Day in the past has been more than satisfactory. Students attended informative sessions with professionals in different fields of work and listened to a first-person perspective for various jobs. The day forced students to spend some much needed time to explore the possibilities for their futures.

Now, speakers are called in for Career Year (the recent Entertainment Industry speakers and an upcoming presentation on writing and equestrian studies). A total of three people showed up to an Entertainment Industry presentation. Three people. Clearly, Career Year is not doing so well. Career planning is a serious part of high school. It shouldn’t be set aside as just some voluntary presentation. Career Day gave the

necessary amount of importance to career exploration and allowed (and forced) students to think about their futures. The Career Day setup was helpful and organized. Despite the stress of organizing it, Career Day is a vital With their serious lack of impact among students, Career Year presentations are in need of serious reconsideration.


Class Advantage Cupertino is expensive, but that does not mean that everyone is rich by Smitha Gundavajhala

the recession impacts education the most. The MVHS school budget is relatively secure, but that only reflects the small community of he ever-changing environment of Silicon Valley business has Cupertino. provided the backdrop for many immigrants’ and other residents’ Cupertino has a very generous community that pays extra parcel unexpected rise to wealth. Cupertino property values have risen taxes year after year to keep educational programs from being cut, but because of the high academic performance of students here. In order to that is only at the most basic level. School should be the great equalizer, pay for these expensive houses, the people must be rich. Right? but since the quality of education has been impacted by the lack of Not exactly. Prices for activities are escalating beyond what most funds, well-to-do families are seeking accessories to their children’s people can pay. Field trips can get as expensive as the Government education elsewhere. Team’s, which this year costs $1400 per member. Bids for dances are Resources such as resume consultations, tutoring, test prep courses higher here than at other schools, with $95 on the upper end of singles’ and college essay editing are available to those who are willing to pay a ball bids. Why is it so expensive to be a student at lot of money. Much of MVHS social culture is grounded Participating in MVHS? The answer is relatively simple. in education, so students evaluate themselves and their Those that pay the prices control them. Those activities outside of peers by comparing test scores. Having money distorts that have enough money drive up the prices of that culture with a gap in opportunities to achieve the best class raises one’s status activities. This is reflected in the field trips, for scores. We judge our peers by academic performance, instance, and dances. Prices like our those of and creates bonds with but forget that much of it can be bought. our expensive ball bids are formulated upon the teachers and therefore As the first step in addressing this issue, we need to assumption that because Cupertino citizens are rich remember that while some students can pay high prices enough to live in the area, they are willing to pay enhances academic to get ahead, not everyone is able to. We must also realign extra for educational and extracurricular activities. performance. our social markers to expand beyond the narrow world According to a study done by David Hunt for the David Hunt, Sociological Spectrum of academia, where so many students live. Money and Sociological Spectrum in 2005, “the leading crowd academics are the main factors by which students judge theory hypothesizes that participating in activities outside of class each other, and we can break both barriers by first acknowledging their raises one’s status and creates bonds with teachers and therefore existence, and then by making an active effort to break it in our daily enhances academic performance.” This concept is obviously something interactions. that students have grasped, as is apparent from MVHS’s high scores. What they do not take into account is the huge disparity in the social dynamic of students that feed into MVHS. Because it is a public school, students come from $1595 apartments and large, $3 million mountainside houses alike. However, Cupertino’s unique financial dynamic, that of a Silicon Valley bubble isolated from America, leads many to forget this. While everyone feels the impact of recession, those that are more well-off are better cushioned from the it. But


Smitha Gundavajhala | El Estoque Illustration



Yimeng Han, Albert Qiu and Kevin Tsukii | El Estoque Photo Illustration

RALLY COURT From Dec. 5 to 9, Bull Spirit will be decorating the Rally Court with ballons, ribbons, and a festive holiday bush. Lunchtime activities include decorating cookies, writing letters to soldiers, and participating in a gingerbread house coin toss fundraiser.

Leadership commissions offer festive solutions to combat near-finals fatigue by Yimeng Han and Albert Qiu


tudents may have been shocked when they saw the campus this holiday bush. The tree is not hung with ornaments, but with paper cards week. Normally barren save for a few coats of old paint, the containing the gift requests of impoverished children. Students are halls are now lined with festive wreaths and bows. Meanwhile, a encouraged to pick up a card and pay for a present. 13-foot-tall holiday “bush” and a wooden gingerbread house sit idly in Not to be outdone by Bull Spirit, Campus Climate is helping to feed the rally court. The transformation is completed by piles of fake snow, the hungry. Their fundraiser encourages students to toss coins into the which despite their realistic apperance, are not edible. openings of a wooden gingerbread house, and the money collected Since Dec. 5, Bull Spirit and Campus Climate commissions have been is donated to Second Harvest Food Bank. With all these charitable working hard to bring Winter Wonderland to our student body. activities planned, it is obvious that Winter Wonderland has been “We’ve decorated the campus a bit [before] in previous years, but I created to both celebrate and give back to the community. guess this is the first year we’re going all out,” leadership commissioner “I hope there is enough money to buy some [gifts] for kids who junior Lyan Cogan said. “We really want to make it a big thing.” won’t get anything,” Dean of Student Activities Mike White said. “So I Armed with a budget of $800, the commissions divided hope the gingerbread house works and the Giving Tree gets the work to transform the school throughout the week. Both taken care of, and then everybody can have some holiday commissions have planned unique lunchtime activities, but [cheer].” a common sense of generosity and holiday cheer work Of course, while Winter Wonderland’s influence will together to make the week before finals a little more special. undoubtedly reach beyond the walls of MVHS, it was During lunch, Bull Spirit is setting up activities around ultimately designed to please the students within. the rally court, including a station where students can write “It’ll be nice to see everyone walking [around] and letters to soldiers. Students will also have an opportunity seeing all these decorations,” sophomore Campus Climate to create ornaments for the holiday bush, a Christmas tree commissioner Celine Mol said. “It takes all the stress out VIDEO: with the religious connotations stripped away. To capture To see the Bull Spirit and of finals, you know? All everyone thinks about now during these moments, commissioners will be taking instant Campus Climate prepare Christmas is finals, finals, finals. But now [with Winter for Winter Wonderland, Polaroid photos and giving them to the subjects. Wonderland], the spirit is back into the school.” or scan A Giving Tree was also placed in the library, but it serves visit this QR code. | a far different purpose than the Rally Court’s decorative

Kevin Tsukii and Albert Qiu | El Estoque Photo Illustration

ACADEMIC QUAD Campus Climate will focus on transforming the academic quad with holiday-themed decor. The second-story rails will be hung with wreaths and bows.




Seventh Day Breakdown releases EP, ‘Shades of Gray’

On any given Saturday afternoon, the piercing sounds of Seventh Day Breakdown 18

by Pooja Ravikiran and Kevin Tsukii

can be heard from cars and pedestrians as they pass by senior Max Sorg’s house. As the garage door rolls up, the daylight reveals four bikes hanging from the ceiling, old lamp fixtures against the walls and small buckets for storing used bottle caps. Below the bikes, a drum set, two guitars, mic stands, piles of wires and cords surround four guys. They are seniors Sorg, Wells Lucas Santo and juniors Adi Nag of MVHS, and Kieren Patel of St. Francis High School. Their story starts here. Do not let the image of grungy teenagers rocking out in a garage fool you — Seventh Day Breakdown is not your average high school band. They are consumed by their music. They hardly notice us as we walk around the garage. Sorg is on lead vocals and guitar with Santo on bass. Patel strattles a black

guitar and a crimson red drumset engulfs Nag who sits at the back quietly. But Nag is the first to break the silence. Their sound is a reflection of the band’s members and their diverse backgrounds — an unexpected melange of classic, hard and alternative rock with overtones of jazz. “We merge together so that we can jam together,” Nag said. They also write together, spending much of their time before recording this summer and the months prior sitting in Coffee Society with their guitars. The music is personal and speaks of moving on in “Parting Words”, unfulfilled romance in “Picture Perfect World” and regret in “Impulse”. Unlike most fledgling bands, they made the choice to perform selfwritten and composed music, as opposed to covering other bands’ songs. “We like different songs,” Santo said. EL ESTOQUE

art // theater // food // music // movies // profile // culture // technology // gaming // fashion // books

Kevin Tsukii | El Estoque

THE MUSIC MEN Moving onto bigger things, Seventh Day Breakdown has recorded its first EP over the summer and is beginning to distributie amongst friends.

“But we also like creating things on our own.” And it shows; it’s plain to see the connection they have with their songs as they perform their own creations. “All these things I’ll never look back upon All these words I used to drink Forever gone” As they end their song “Impulse” for us, we see that they are not a band interpreting older music and trying to make it their own — it is them, expressing their own thoughts, something that, in music nowadays, is hard to find. It is refreshing. Within the band, Sorg is known for his stage presence, echoing his inspiration from Billy Joe Armstrong. Santo is the self-proclaimed hipster in skinny jeans and leather boots, Patel cracks the jokes and Nag DECEMBER 7, 2011

wears the snarky t-shirts. But to call Seventh Day Breakdown fledgling would overlook the fact that they have a professionally recorded and mastered EP up for release, as well as various local performances under their belt. For two days during the second week of last summer, the band met at Sorg’s house at 6 a.m. to drive in his Mini Cooper, U-Haul-ing their equipment to the studios of Tiny Telephone Recording in the industrial area of San Francisco to create their first EP. The band was greeted by house engineer Ian Pellicci, a weathered man with a memorable moustache. Pellici has worked with Yann Tiersen and Rogue Wave. “I was sitting there going, ‘God I am so not ready for anything,’” Sorg said. Nag clarifies, saying that the group could only afford the $800 to rent a studio for two days. But in those two days, the band recorded all

four songs in their EP, a feat that traditionally would’ve taken four times as long. “We went from a rough track to a final thing, where we were like ‘Yes! We did it’” Nag said. “It’s stressful, you hear everything you do wrong ... we could’ve done so much ... but I was there the whole time to make sure we didn’t auto-tune.” You can hear Seventh Day Breakdown’s EP, Shades of Gray and all four songs at Battle of the Bands, Open Mic night, and at La Pluma’s Coffee Night. You can also follow their Facebook fan page. CDs are available through the band members and soon through a bandcamp account. | 19

Kevin Tsukii | El Estoque Photo Illustration

Some kind of wonderful feeling

Christmas trees, presents, and Santa bring about childhood nostalgia


want a real Christmas again. I want to have the bucket. Euphemisms aside, is there even a list of presents planned out and pinned to a purpose to look forward to the holidays my bulletin board. I want to write a letter to besides the presents? Why, yes. Yes there is. Santa. I want to still believe in Santa. It’s because they are opportunities to be a Even though we still give presents and thanks for friends and family, we lose that kid again. I know I am reminiscent about how expected joy of having a Santa to look forward childhood “wassomuchfun” but really, it’s the to. We see the holidays as a time to relax and holidays! That means the 25 days of Christmas on ABC family, the unwind after finals, Harry Potter movie and tend to forget that weekends, “Eloise Christmas and other winter holidays have at the Plaza” and been around longer “Eloise at Christmas Pooja Time” back to back, than finals have. the Charlie Brown I want to make Christmas special, the green paper cutouts of fruit cake that sits on Christmas trees. I want to make gingerbread the kitchen table for a month (okay, maybe cookies and make snow angels. But I can’t. Things end up going we can live without that one), and older siblings wrong for me. I would criticize the shape of coming home bringing laundry (again, I don’t my Christmas tree — it’d probably look like know why that’s exciting). But maybe it’s the a deflated plant. The gingerbread cookies sense of family and togetherness. Because no might burn due to my not-so-trusty oven. And matter how insanely stressed you are and how it doesn’t even snow in Cupertino. Childhood much work you have to do, it doesn’t matter, is long gone; that ship has sailed. It’s kicked because you have to be at the dinner table at 7



p.m. sharp for Christmas dinner, and you’ll still get up half past dawn. Or, you won’t need to even get up depending on how much sleep you get— or didn’t get — in order to open those presents. Remember the time you found out that Santa Claus wasn’t real? And that the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny were just concoctions of parents’ minds. Let’s forget that day happened. Let’s write a letter to Santa this year. Let’s put our baby teeth under the pillow. Let’s go on a hunt for eggs. Why, you ask? Well in the words of the dragon in “Grendel”, “why not?“ If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it doesn’t matter — just do what I tell you, no questions asked. And I mean that in the nicest way possible, of course. I’m looking out for you guys. These are the key factors that keep us “young at heart.” This Christmas, have yourself some eggnog, watch T.V., and start dreading the upcoming new year. Because that’s when reality starts sinking in again, and the fun starts leaving you like Santa leaves you on the morning of the 26th. EL ESTOQUE

cupcake wars

We do the testing, you do the tasting by Nellie Brosnan, Stephanie Chang and Danielle Kay


ive cupcakeries, three reporters, and one day. We traveled far and wide across the Bay Area, from Palo Alto to Campbell, to try out various cupcakes at five different bakeries. We based our ratings (see right) on taste, atmosphere, price, and service. Four hours and fourteen cupcakes later, we were ready to deliver our verdict.

DECEMBER 7, 2011

Stephanie Chang | El Estoque

CUPCAKE WARS To read the full reviews of the different cupcakeries, visit or scan this QR code

the cupcakeries Frost’s Cupcakes: 199 E Campbell Avenue, Campbell $3.25 a cupcake

Kara’s Cupcakes: 855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto $3.25 a cupcake

Sugar Butter Flour: 1875 S. Bascom Avenue, Campbell $3.00 a cupcake

Bebecakes: 230 University Avenue, Palo Alto $3.25 a cupcake

Sprinkles: 393 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto $3.50 a cupcake


Out of touch with the iPod touch

Centuries later, the supposedly user-friendly Apple gadget still befuddles me




he hype these days is The Phone. The iPhone 4, 5, 6, 7, whatever. However, considering the fact that they cost an arm and a leg, I do not see anyone lending me one to tinker with anytime soon. So I opted for the iPod Touch — the wannabe iPhone. Let me take it one app at a time. Cro-Mag According to Apple, the line of “i” products is supposedly so easy to use that even a baby could use them. iPod Touches are not grandma-friendly. Easily 7/8 of the games do not have instructions. We are not told whether to shake the iPod Touch, to stroke the screen, to commence a voodoo ritual — nothing. So when I selected to ride the Mammoth Mobile with the grunting cavegirl Grag in “Cro-Mag,” I always ended up in last place because I only went up and down a hill for the duration of the race. Only by asking the iPod Touch’s owner did I figure out that I was supposed to both touch the screen and turn the gadget to turn. And they call this user-friendly design? Tap Tap Revenge 2 Not only can the iPod Touch make you seem slow-witted, it can make you feel really just downright stupid. In “Tap Tap Revenge 2,” I had a genius idea to tap the screen continuously so I would be ready to tap the colored balls. I was tapping, tapping, tapping, and I felt pretty good about myself. And then I saw the score. -24,967. Ouch. I was deducted for my extraneous taps. I think even my own grandma does better.


Angela Liu | El Estoque Photo Illustration

Cooking Mama I will admit point blank that I have no clue how to cook. But thanks to “Cooking Mama,” I can at least be able to chop onions, sautée them and add ingredients. I just cannot figure out how to knead dough, though. I shook the iPod Touch furiously to no avail. Cooking Mama rated my cooking as “Fail” and glared at me with red eyes of fury. I had a feeling I would be seeing that face a lot more if I continued to play so I clicked the Home button. Talk about cyberbullying. Blocked My worst fear is that the line of Apple products will leave the populace with short attention spans and a one mph slow intellect. But never fear, “Blocked” is here to ensure that rationality and common sense prevail. Playing it brought back fond memories of the other brain development games I have

played. “Bloxorz,” “Brain challenge” — ah, good times. Doodle Jump It took me two days to figure out that I had to tilt the iPod Touch to jump and that I had to click the screen to send out snowballs (in snow mode), which have nothing to do with whether or not I reach my destination of the next snow laden stump above me. And every time I completed a humiliating round of the game to fall to the icy depths below, the game mocked me with its “Submit your score to Facebook” button. Do they really wish to defame grandmas like me who suck at “Doodle Jump”? Final thoughts Anyone know where to find a user manual? EL ESTOQUE

CoD 8 (14.03 million) Shadows of the Damned (60,000)

JUGGERNAUT In just three weeks, Modern Warfare 3 has sold more than 230 times the units of Shadows of the Damned, amounting to over 14 million copies sold. Shadows of the Damned was released in June to critical acclaim and yet sold terribly.

More and more of the same

Kevin Tsukii | El Estoque Photo Illustration

The video game industry is becoming oversaturated with sequels


he third Uncharted, Saint’s Row and thing; any good game deserves one to really Gears of War came out this year, as did improve upon itself, but there is a limit. There the fourth Assassin’s Creed and Forza are currently 15 Final Fantasy games — not Motorsport. The eighth Call of Duty game to mention spin-offs. Even worse, there have and the nineteenth Battlefield game cam out been 18 Need for Speed games since 1994. as well. Notice a pattern? Almost every single Long-running series aren’t the problem; series blockbuster game out this year has been a like The Elder Scrolls are high in number of sequel, often above the third sequels, but they only or fourth installment in the come out once every 5 or series. so years, allowing plenty And they are ruining video of time for others to games. compete. Morahd That’s not to say they are of So? What’s the harm? low quality, on the contrary, These games sell out every most of them are quite year, so developers keep excellent additions to their making more and more of respective series. But, save them. It is business 101: if for some minor improvements a product succeeds, keep the developers make every year, they are the making it. As a result, anything that isn’t a same games from a few years back — nothing sequel cannot compete. Any new property really new. You can polish a rock all you like, that dares to try something new either burns but it is still the same old rock. I know there out immediately or finds popularity among isn’t much you can do to change a sports a very limited audience. Gems like Shadows game, but the rest are inexcusable. of the Damned offered players a completely Many people who know me will say I hate unique, pulpy, hilarious and bizarre thrill-ride Call of Duty. This isn’t true. I hate what Call that often parodied other games. It comes as of Duty has become. I was one of the millions close to satire as a video game can and had who played the Call of Duty 4: Modern me thinking about it long after I beat it. It was Warfare religiously for months on end. It released in the dead of summer, with little to no was an incredibly innovative game that made fanfare and has sold only 60,000 copies since. shooters what they are today, but since then The game wasn’t cheap and took 4 years to there have been four more, bringing the grand make, so the odds of a sequel are microscopic. total to eight games in the series. To put that And who can blame the developers? If every in perspective, Halo 4 is coming out next year, consecutive Call of Duty game becomes the and the series started ten years ago. Call of best selling game of all time, why should Duty started in 2003. Sequels aren’t a bad Activision bother making anything else?


DECEMBER 7, 2011

So we get sequels. Every single year. Despite all the sequel overflow there is still an avenue for new material. Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network and Steam have become consistent suppliers of experimental games, usually from independent developers. But that is the equivalent of allowing only blockbuster movies in theaters we all go to. And it’s a shame too — games like Limbo, Braid, Bastion should be experienced by everyone. These games are some of the strongest evidence for the “games-as-art” debate and I guarantee you that only a handful of kids have played them. The overflow of sequels is not only hurting the video game industry; hollywood, broadway and television suffer iteration after iteration as well. The truly exciting, innovative experiences are forced to come out earlier in the year or through alternate channels. All the while, the same recycled, formulaic ones are released to long lines of rabid fans. True gaming enthusiasts are not starved for truly new games, but I think every other demographic is, whether they know it or not. The casual player buys the same five games every year, which is why people view video games as such a limited genre. While the sequels may often be fantastic, they are choking off other developers that try something new. With blockbuster sequels comes the death of competition. Lack of competition will eventually lead to dullness and conformity, and with the never-ending waves of sequels we receive every year, that may not be far off. Or maybe we’re already there. 23



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ollar lives? Cupertino residents reveal lifestyles contrary to demographic figures by Daniel Tan and Elvin Wong


n wake of the global Occupy movement and ongoing class wars, social class disparity in a previously ideal world is brought to light. As the nation witnesses protests breaking out across all major metropolitan areas across the US, one question arises: where does Cupertino stand? In a report from The Atlantic Cities on Oct. 31, Cupertino lands in the list of where the upper 1% of the American social strata lives, earning its place among well-to-do locales such as New York City’s Upper East Side, Chicago’s Lincoln Park, and the northern suburbs of San Diego. Cupertino boasts familial median income levels in excess of $140,000, according to the 2005-2007 American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, and home prices in Cupertino average at about $1.04 million. However, these are no more than names derived from numbers. And though numbers do not lie, they can be misleading.

His father is a construction worker and his mother does not work. As a result, the family does not have a steady source of income, and with that comes the financial difficulty. “Just the rent itself is killing us,” Mactal said. That does not even take into account the other bills his dad constantly has to juggle around. “He’s thinking about, ‘He can’t pay the rent, he can’t pay the rent, he can’t pay the car next month, he can’t pay the bills next month,’” Mactal explained. Some months, his family is not even able to pay the rent, and his father has to work a free job for their landlord as compensation. Consequently, Mactal turns to his friends for outside support. Whenever he desperately needs a ride to another city for an activity, he asks a friend to bring him there — his mother does not want to waste the family’s own gas for the trip. In senior Marcus Mactal the mornings, if he is hungry, he asks friends for a bite of their snack. Sometimes he goes to a friend’s house over the weekend for dinner. “I ask them for so many favors,” Mactal said, “and I can’t really repay them back in any way.” Mactal cannot enjoy things other students attending MVHS take for granted. “I’m missing out on a lot of opportunities because of the financial problem,” he explained. He could not attend junior prom last year because a bid was too expensive for him. He can’t join certain clubs on campus because he can’t afford the membership fee. He is even disadvantaged academically — in a household that only has two computers, usually in use by his relatives who are in marketing or his sister who is attending De Anza College, he sometimes does not have enough time on the computer to complete his homework. One of his most outstanding memories is that of a church trip to the

“Just the rent is killing us.”

Not the 1 percent Senior Marcus Mactal is someone who, at first glance, would never seem to be one of the less well off types in Cupertino. But ever since his family of five moved from Stockton to the MVHS area three years ago, they have been barely scraping by. Nine people — Mactal’s family, an aunt, an uncle and two cousins — live together in a two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-baths home. He sleeps on the floor at times. He never has breakfast. He almost never goes shopping, whether for food or for clothes — his clothes are handme-downs, from his father, his uncles, or his cousins, and many of his dinners are leftovers from his uncle’s niece’s Filipino barbeque joint. All of his family’s electronics are free or outdated.

DECEMBER 7, 2011



Do you own an iPod, iPhone, or iPad?*















56% 28%

2% 6 1%

5-6 TIMES A WEEK 13%




20% 80%


How many cars does your family own?*


How often do you eat out?

589 students responded to this survey.

Exploratorium last year — or rather the lack Mactal is attuned to the importance of a thereof, since he could not afford the train high-quality education. When asked about ticket to San Francisco, the food for that day what constitutes a rich neighborhood, he or even the ticket to the Exploratorium itself. specifically pointed out places with big houses, “Some of [the younger church kids] were expensive cars and great schools. disappointed, because I told them I would Aparna Venkatesh, whose child is in the go,” Mactal said. “They were looking up for seventh grade at Kennedy Middle School, that, to spend the time with me at Pier 39 in is part of another family who moved to the San Francisco.” There have been other church Cupertino area for similar reasons. outings, too, that he has not attended because “I think we pay for our homes because of of its costs. the schools and the location,” Venkatesh said. But he tries to be upbeat about his family’s “That’s why I’m sitting in a million-dollar home financial troubles. “I try not to worry about paying these huge property taxes in Cupertino it, because if I worry about it then I’ll just — and [giving] them a good foundation so that cause myself stress,” he if they want to explained. “Whatever achieve success, comes at me, I’ll just they could.” take it.” She has a Even as his family’s fiancee working financial hardship as a software threatens his current engineer at Cisco, way of life — Mactal who supports mentioned the the family with Cupertino resident Aparna Venkatesh a single income. possibility of his family moving out of the MVHS Because of the area because it is too difficult to make ends high cost of living here, she is currently trying meet — he is still thankful of his situation. to start a new company to get a second income. “We’re happy that we’re still here, and we’re That cost of living in the MVHS area has not being foreclosed or anything,” he said. affected residents’ abilities to pay for higher education. When asked if Mactal was applying Another form of wealth to any private or public universities, he Why did the Mactals decide to move to regretfully said he had known since freshman Cupertino and into a life full of financial year that he would not. Neither he nor his difficulties? The quality of the schools. family would be able to afford the tuition and Mactal’s father was against the idea of moving textbook costs. Instead, Mactal will go to De at first but was swayed because he wanted his Anza College once he graduates at the end of children to receive the best education possible. this year, just like his older sister.

“That’s why I’m sitting in a million-dollar home in Cupertino — and [giving] them a good foundation so that if they want to achieve success, they could.”


Contradictory affluence So what exactly constitutes being “rich”? Venkatesh thinks it is when a household can support its home and the lifestyle of its children. And despite living in a house that would generally be deemed rich, she disagrees that her family fits the definition. She believes the numbers do not add up to the nature of their owners’ lifestyles. Although most residents in this region live in homes in excess of $1 million, the cost of living within the Silicon Valley is much higher than that of other places in the U.S. — a $100,000 a year salary here may be equal to a $60,000 a year income elsewhere in the US. “If you just go outside of Cupertino,” Venkatesh said, “you would find that medianrange homes would be around four hundred to five hundred thousand, half of what Cupertino residents pay.” The same holds true for the Mactals. Their rent on a similar-sized house increased from about $800 a month to $2,100 a month just because they moved from the Central Valley to Cupertino. This higher cost of living prevents residents from living as richly as the incomes they earn, and though numbers rank Cupertino among the richest communities in the U.S., average residents are not quite as affluent as the “actual 1%.” So despite the million-dollar figures in home values, what we live are not exactly million-dollar lives. | EL ESTOQUE



Behind the scenes

Our community is not as well-off as it may appear

M by Kevin Guo

ark Jackson is homeless and lives out of his camper. Roger Barr maxes out credit cards to get by. Enrico Reineri works fulltime to deal with the burdens of unemployment. In Cupertino., there is an impression that everybody is financially well-off. It is easy to assume that all workers in the area have steady, high-paying jobs and can afford hightech gadgetry. However, there is a hidden side to our community: a world of financial troubles and unemployment far removed from the popular perception of affluence. In fact, the Cupertino Job Search Support Group, a group of unemployed Silicon Valley residents, gathers every Tuesday in the MVHS cafeteria to discuss employment opportunities.

Illusion of safety Many of these job seekers are facing tough financial times and limited employment opportunities despite college-educated backgrounds. Barr, who has been on the job

Roger Barr Unemployed since October 2009

Elvin Wong | El Estoque

market for nearly two years now, has studied both interior design and business with a focus on Human Relations. Reineri came to the US in 1999 as an international student from Italy, and has received degrees in both Computer and Electrical Engineering.

In September 2009, Barr’s financial situation took a serious turn for the worse with the economic downturn. He was laid off from the design firm he was working at and remained unemployed for a year, supporting himself largely through his wife’s income. Eventually, Barr took a seasonal job at a Halloween store, but it was so meager that his wife decided to cut him off. “The whole thing got turned upside down because of the fact that I didn’t have an income and because of the fact that my wife no longer wanted me to be a house-husband and decided that she no longer wanted to be the primary bread-winner and the supporter,” Barr said. Jackson, another member of the Rotary Group, also saw his financial situation worsen at around the same time. After many years of holding down various jobs, including taxi driver, rental car manager and salesman, Jackson lost his home in April 2010 and has been living out of a camper ever since. Four months ago, Jackson became unemployed when he was unable to keep his window coverings business going. After losing his home and his job, Jackson began to think seriously of where his life was going to go.

Lifestyle changes To accommodate unemployment and the

Enrico Reineri

Yet there comes a point when even tightening the belt and limiting spending becomes impossible. Cutting costs have been out of the question for Jackson: he is already living on the bare minimum. He lives off handouts from organizations that serve free meals, and without a home, downsizing his living space is impossible.

Unemployed since November 2010

Mark Jackson Unemployed since September 2011

New opportunities

Kevin Guo | El Estoque

problems that come with it, many members of the Rotary group have had to start cutting costs and making significant lifestyle changes. “I try to watch my spending as far groceries and food,” Barr said. “I haven’t traveled anywhere, I haven’t [gone on] any excessive trips ... I tend to go out less and I tend to take on inexpensive or free activities.” After losing his job, Reineri also began to reign in the amount of money he would spend. He has all but abandoned movie-going, eats at home to cut costs and has considered finding a new home.

Lack of income has also changed employment perspectives. Reineri has thought about getting more training to open up more job opportunities, but has found that he cannot afford to waste time training without pay. “I’m kind of running out of money,” Reineri said. “I don’t know how I could get new training.” Despite his technical background, difficulty finding work has forced him to settle for job opportunities far below his level of expertise. Reineri has considered working at warehouses and has even applied for a job at Safeway. “Right now I’m not in any school, but I am training with some professionals in the voiceover area,” Barr said. Barr had wanted to do voice-overs, especially for animations, for several decades. Yet unemployment has not opened up a blank slate for these job seekers. For many,

Elvin Wong | El Estoque

networking, finding job opportunities and taking courses are time-consuming activities. “It sounds strange, but not being employed is really a job,” Reineri said. Barr, Jackson and Reineri are only a few members of the Silicon Valley area’s hidden, financially troubled community. Weekly, dozens of job seekers with similar stories meet on our school’s own campus. They search, work and struggle behind the scenes, a world away from our perceptions.


Vague ideas by Amelia Yang

In a community where students are pressured to be academically focused, not many students have conversations with their parents about finances


here is a fine line between smart spending and too much spending. And long Visa bills lead to inevitable conversations with angry parents. While teens often find themselves rolling their eyes as their parents lecture them, only 52 percent talk to their parents about finance. The Vongs

Senior Carmella Vong is one of the 48 percent who do not have those conversations with their parents about finances. While she and her parents discuss how to spend and save money well, they generally do not talk about her parents’ annual income or household bills. “We raised [our kids] so they have a sense of what things cost, but we don’t talk about how much we earn,“ Carmella Vong’s mother Grace Vong said. “I guess they can see how we spend and how we save, or how we use our

money. [That’s] more of what we were hoping they would pick up on.” Rather than explicitly discussing their financial situation with their children, the Vongs hope that they will be able to observe spending habits and implement them in daily life. They do not tell their children exactly how much they earn. “I think [I] just kind of know,” Carmella Vong said. “I don’t feel like I have to ever bring it up with them.” Part of the reason why the Vongs do not discuss finance as a family is because of the division of roles for each family member. “I just stay out of that because I’m pretty busy with my own things,” Carmella Vong said. “Carmella‘s father takes care of the finances, so we don’t talk about that too much. But they’re aware it’s happening,” Grace Vong said

The Heringers

However, some parents choose to disclose their financial situations to their children. Denise Heringer is a single mother and discusses household finances with her daughter when she feels it is necessary. When the hours at her supplemental job were reduced, she sat down with her daughter to discuss how they would adjust to the reduction in income. “We ended up taking the premium cable channels off of our cable menu,” Denise Heringer said. While she does not allow her daughter to do the actual decision-making, Heringer keeps her daughter informed about their current situation. “I don’t want her to be worried about anything,” Heringer said, “I just want her to be aware of things.”

How much are you wearing?


$0 - $20

$20 - $40

$40 - $60


$60 - $80

$80 - $100




In one of the most affluent cities in the nation, nearly everyone seems financially well-off, but that may not always be the case. Oftentimes, an indicator of financial stability is willingness to spend on items other than necessities. We spoke to MVHS students to find out the cost of their outfits.

Necklace: $265 Coat: $120 Dress: $20 Leggings: $10 Boots: $120 Bag: $220



On average, how much do you spend per shopping trip?*


Allyson Gottlieb Senior

Daniel Fu


percent of students do not discuss their family’s financial situations with their parents*

Hat: $15 Shirt: $20 Jacket: $40 Jeans: $60 Shoes: $60



Scarf: $5 Shirt: $3 Cardigan: $15 Jeans: $30 Boots: $60


$113 Sophomore

Michelle Lew Junior

Pavan Sondhi

Shirt: $20 Jeans: $40 Shoes: $50



Cynthia Mao | El Estoque Photo Illustration

*589 students responded to this online survey


Yesterday’s pain, tomorrow’s potential Financial problems prevent senior Israel Young from a common goal: college


by Jacob Lui

he UCs, Stanford, and Columbia are all common topics of conversation in the chaos of college applications for seniors, but one seldom hears the words “Air Force” in discussions about future plans for MVHS seniors. With the looming question of the next step for his future, senior Israel Young admits that he does not fit into the typical image of a Matador — students who are, for the most part, secure in their goals of college. “I’m not annoyed, but I can’t really get into conversations because they’re all about college [applications] and how they’re applying to all these private colleges [and] how things are going great for them,” Young said. With ten other siblings, Young lives with a family of thirteen – a family that, according to Young, is not easy to provide for. His dad, Dr. Gabriel Young, works as both a pastor and a family physician at a local clinic along with Young’s mother, Pey-Chen Young, a nurse. Though both employed, the parents are finding it challenging to meet all the financial needs of the family. Additionally, the poor economy has impacted Young’s family. His mother had originally bought more expensive Chinese food for dinners since her busy work schedule prevented her from cooking frequently for the family. But with the critical drop in the economy, fast food more commonly finds its way to the Young family’s dinner table. Grocery lists have become shorter and shopping has become less of a necessity for all the children as the family has learned to spend less frivolously. “The very small things are helping out,” Young said. Even trivial things that are often overlooked, such as assuring that the faucet or the lights in a room have been turned off, have contributed to the savings. Being the second youngest child in the family, Young comes face to face with the huge problem of financial provision for higher education as his senior year progresses. With four older siblings in college and two sisters in medical school, Young’s mother approached him in the second semester of his junior year. “[She] told me about how she was struggling to pay for all the college tuition,” Young said. “My mom was actually pushing me to go to the Air Force to save money.” Young understood his mother’s reasoning but found it daunting to join the Air Force, so he explored more down the path of community college. His brother and 2011 MVHS alumnus Samuel Young went through a similar situation earlier this year and actually passed the Air Force test but declined the offer near the end. Their mother introduced the idea of joining the Air Force as an alternate option but ultimately left


the final decision to them. “My thoughts were like this,” Pey-Chen Young said in Chinese which was later translated. “First, serving the government would be great. Second, the Air Force could teach my children how to be independent and how to help others. And lastly, it would have greatly lightened our financial burdens.” But Israel Young’s talk with his mother changed his work ethic for the remainder of his junior year. Knowing that the grades required to get into a community college were not nearly as competitive, Young felt that the imposed settlement for a lesser college, in a way, opted him out of the obligation of schoolwork. As a result, Young admitted that he began decreasing the level of effort in high school. His work ethic became consumed by negativity. “If I’m not going to get into a nice college, then why try?” Israel Young said. Israel Young recalled a time late in junior year when he was taking a test in math teacher John Conlin’s class. He was already struggling in the subject, and with the ominous thought of his current financial situation and college prospects, decided that it would not hurt him to simply stop taking the test. “I put my head down in the middle of the test and fell asleep,” Young said. After the test, Conlin talked to Young and told him something he had never expected. “He told me, ‘You can do it, keep on going,’” Young said. “It’s those people that stepped into my life that kept me going.” Family, friends, and others like Conlin all served as anchors for Young to stay grounded in his life at school, which taught him how much words can help. But in all his struggles, faith and religion remain as the most crucial staples in Israel Young’s life. Both of his parents have taught the family to be hopeful, dependent, and faithful to God. “When we married,” Pey-Chen Young said, “I had no money. My husband had no money. But we married in faith. From the rough start of my first marriage, my life grew more and more fortunate when I drew closer to God.” Israel Young recalls multiple times when a coincidental paycheck came just before the family’s bills were due — something he credits to


HIDDEN IN NUMBERS A portrait of senior Israel Young’s family (in story). As the second youngest child, Young contemplates his choices for education after high school in light of his family’s financial situation, especially with six siblings in college. Young occassionally helps out at his parent’s family clinic (right).

Kevin Tsukii| El Estoque Photo Illustration

God. In one case, Israel Young’s father’s friend even decided to pay for all of one of his sister’s college tuition. “I honestly don’t know how we’ve made it this far,” Israel Young said. “It’s really a miracle. [God] always provides.” Now as a senior, even in light of his financial situation, Young still identifies himself with the MVHS mentality through his drive and ambition. Through his battle with academics due to his financial problems, Israel Young has learned that one 5 15% thing maintains its utmost importance 27% 4 during hardships: 3 26% passion. “We grow 16% 2 up to satisfy. We 17% 1 seek approval from our parents, from our teachers, and acceptance from our friends,” Israel Young said. “It’s an ongoing process of trying to meet standards. In the end, you end up hopeless and worn out.“ Israel Young believes that if one finds his or her passion, financial security will not be far away. Ambition to do what one loves to do, despite past failures and predicaments, is what has brought Israel Young

DECEMBER 7, 2011

to his mindset today. Now with a much more positive outlook, he is grasping the future and moving ahead with hope at his side. “Yesterday’s pain doesn’t determine tomorrow’s potential,” Isarel Young said. “Even if you mess up your grades it’s still possible to achieve and be successful.” Now as he plunges forward through his senior year with friends who are looking towards far away colleges, Israel Young knows that appreciating everything in his life gears his mind away from negativity and into optimism. His words to our community of SENIORS ONLY: many affluent and financially On a scale from 1 secure students: to 5, how much of “Always appreciate how much a concern is money opportunity we have.” in your college Overaching appreciation, application process? something that Israel Young shares with his siblings, brings happiness to their mother. “A lot parents here work so hard, but none of their children appreciate it,” Pey-Chen Young said. “Even though I don’t give my children a lot, they really appreciate it. They love each other so much, and that’s what I’m thankful for.”




The great divide

The girls basketball and volleyball teams are unclassified, drifting between two leagues by Dickson Tsai

Christophe Haubursin | El Estoque Photo Illustration

DECEMBER 7, 2011



In between the


Christophe Haubursin, Gisella Joma, Kevin Tsukii, Angela Wang, Ashley Wu | El Estoque Photo Illustration

ast year, varsity girls basketball entered winter break riding high with a 6-4 record. Then, the entire season took a turn: the team took loss after loss, going 1-11 in their league games. The team redeemed itself by qualifying for the Central Coast Section playoffs and advancing with a 51-43 win over Leland High School.

“I always call us the ‘Tweener’ team,” varsity girls basketball head coach Sara Borelli said. “We could play some teams in the A league but we were almost always dominant [versus] the teams in the B league.” This is the central conflict facing the varsity girls basketball team and girls volleyball teams, as they have trouble finding competitive balance between the upper De Anza League (classified as an “A” league) and the lower El Camino Athletic League (classified as “B”). After two unsuccessful seasons in the DAL, girls basketball have been relegated to the ECAL this season.




The two teams struggled during the regular league season but agreed that the high-level competition ultimately improved their performance in the postseason. “We’re going to be tough, we’re going to learn to be motivated,” varsity girls volleyball head coach Colin Anderson said. “We’re lucky to compete at this high level against such quality competition.” Leagues apart Palo Alto High School, the volleyball Division I state champions last year, and Los Gatos High School were just two of the powerhouses within the DAL. Both squads recognized their distinct size disadvantage against the other DAL schools. “[The difference] is really high. You have people like [PAHS] who go to NorCal and win the whole thing,” varsity girls volleyball defensive specialist junior Allison Yu said. “We’re not tall enough to compare sometimes, but it’s okay, it’s still fun.” The trends of the basketball and volleyball teams highlight the difference between the two leagues. For the 2007 and 2008 seasons, girls basketball achieved an 8-4 and 11-1 ECAL record respectively, but dropped to 5-7 and 1-11 in their next two seasons in the DAL. Volleyball had an 11-1 ECAL record in 2009, but 4-8 in 2010 after being promoted to the DAL. “The discrepancy between the two leagues is so frustrating,” Borelli said. “It’s not balanced at all.” However, the league classification becomes important in determining playoff qualification, as participation in a higher league is a practical guarantee for a playoff spot. According to the CCS Girls Volleyball Bylaws, non-automatic qualifiers get a five point bonus just for competing in an “A” ranked league with one bonus point for each match versus an “A” league opponent. Meanwhile, CCS granted varsity girls basketball automatic qualification last year from its participation in the DAL. Despite undergoing difficult seasons, both teams would be able to compete in the postseason. “Every team [in the DAL] made the playoffs; every team made it at least past the second round of playoffs,” Anderson said. “You’re asking for some good, quality competition [in the DAL].” Rallying against the opponents “It’s tough. It’s challenging. It gets frustrating to lose,” Anderson said. DECEMBER 7, 2011

While the losses increased, the teams learned to adjust against their larger opponents instead of giving up outright. “Our hitters always went up against taller players. Always,” Anderson said. “They learned not to be discouraged but how to work through that, how to hit the ball round rather than pound it through, and they got so much better for that.” Even within the blowout games, both teams showed flashes of its maximum potential. Volleyball took a set 30-28 against LGHS, while basketball won 7166 on the road against Mountain View High School. It was these moments that would bring the teams closer together and inspire them to continue pushing forward. “It was a time where we had to prove ourselves and try harder,” varsity girls basketball center Nassim Moallem said. “Sure we didn’t win very many, but at the same time we were able to improve a lot because of it.” Ultimately, the challenging schedule provided a learning experience that the lower ECAL could not by presenting the teams with an even higher standard for which to aim. However, each loss still tested the strength of team morale to the limit, resulting in the fundamental conflict for participating in the “A”-level DAL. “It’s a Catch-22 because I think what the losses did for us … it just helped us get better as a team,” Borelli said. “I know that my team never quit, they never gave up. We looked at every situation as a growing experience, and I think that was the most important thing for us as a team.” Playoffs: Reclaiming the season Through playoff qualification by virtue of the difficult DAL schedule, the two teams had one final opportunity to validate their ability — to show that they had, in fact, grown from their DAL experience. This experienced showed when girls basketball defeated Leland High School and girls volleyball outlasted San Benito High School in the first round. “We even played better in CCS probably because of the fact that we were facing such hard teams,” Moallem said. “It gave us the chance to show that we did improve, [that] we were a good team regardless of how difficult our actual season was.” Both teams would end up losing their second-round match-ups, but their progress in the playoffs gave them a true measure of their standing within the entire CCS. The playoffs were an assurance that

De Anza League

6 wins

18 losses

El Camino League

21 wins

5 losses

De Anza League

6 wins

18 losses

El Camino League

21 wins

3 losses 37


Kevin Tsukii | El Estoque

TEAM HUDDLE The varsity girls volleyball team comes together just before the Oct. 30 game versus Palo Alto High School, which MVHS lost 0-3. The team struggled throughout the season in the De Anza League this year. they were still very capable teams. “The playoffs give you an idea of where you could be, where you’re losing all the games in the A league but you still do very well in the playoffs,” Borelli said. “Going into the second round was big for us.”

Separate paths Girls volleyball and girls basketball knew that an easy schedule with the ECAL would produce meaningless wins, and so they accepted the double-edged sword of a tougher DAL schedule.

“I’m so happy for my players that they can have a good season, that they could lose 17 matches and still think this is a successful season,” Anderson said. “That’s a lot of maturity on their part and realizing how strong they are and how strong their opposition [is].” Varsity volleyball remains confident that they belong in the DAL because of their success in playoffs and tournament wins. In fact, they won a key five-set game against Homestead High School to finish ahead of Gunn High School in league. “I like De Anza still because losing is bad, but if we still work hard and all the teammates support each other then it does’t really matter so much,” Yu said. However, girls basketball will have to look forward to playing in the ECAL this year after being demoted. The team believes that moving down this season, with the opportunity for more wins, would rebuild team morale. “I think its better to be in a lower league now because now we really have a chance to prove our worth,” Moallem said. “Everyone’s strengths are so different from last year, and we are really optimistic this year compared to last year.”




FLASH by Rachel Lu and Dickson Tsai

Elvin Wong | El Estoque

Their first league match will be against Wilcox High School on Dec. 15. They expect a winning record this year with new coach Kevin Klemm.

Sophomore Faris Karaborni attempts to take down his opponent.

basketball // wrestling // soccer // feature // sports flash

Rachel Lu| El Estoque

Yaamini Venkataraman | El Estoque

Rachel Lu| El Estoque

Senior Jordan Sheade prepares to shoot in an afternoon practice.

Junior Malvika Mecker runs after the ball on the soccer field.

Senior Steffanie Sum takes her shot during a practice in the gym.




They held a 4-8 league record and 8-16 overall. Nine seniors now lead the team with new coach and counselor Clay Stiver. Highly anticipated games against rival Lynbrook High School on Jan. 6 and 27 will make this a season to look forward to.

Last year’s team finished the season with a 5-4-3 league record and were 8-8-5 overall, but suffered a disappointing defeat in the CCS quarterfinals. This year seniors Claire Nastari and Gabby Ley will be among the top players to watch for.

After a tough season in the De Anza League with a 1-11 record last season, the team moved down to the El Camino League. Featuring a smaller lineup, the team is led by returning seniors Steffanie Sum and Hitomi Sugimoto. |


Junior Katie Byrne leaves a childhood dream behind for a new passion by Rachel Beyda and Megan Jones

Elvin Wong | El Estoque Photo Illustration

42 42



unior Katie Byrne was a soccer with the rest of her field hockey teamates at field hockey coach Bonnie Belshe said. maniac. She started at the the end of practice, because she was already It soon became evident that Katie Byrne age of five, when she joined off to her next one. Even after she put all this was going to have to choose one sport over the the American Youth Soccer dedication to get to soccer practice in a timely other. For her, playing two sports in one season Organization, helping her develop manner, she never got the appreciation she was both physically and mentally demanding. fundamental skills that would deserved. “Not just as a coach, but really also as eventually propel her throughout The strict policies implemented by her a teacher at Monta Vista, it’s really hard to her whole soccer career. With club coach were difficult for Katie Byrne, both [play two sports] because of the physical time talent and skill, seven-year- physically and emotionally. Not only was she commitments,” Belshe said. “There are really old Katie Byrne switched to a pushing herself through four hours of practice only so many hours in a day.” more competitive league, the California Youth twice a week — so hard, in fact, that she However, although this was a major decision Soccer Association, a feat that was uncommon suffered joint pain from over exercising similar in Katie Byrne’s life, it was an easy transition. for most girls her age. She dedicated countless muscles for extensive amounts of time — but According to Belshe, the footwork and many hours to her the atmosphere of the positions of soccer are very similar to CYSA team, at soccer played those of field hockey. As a result, Katie Byrne with practice a vital role in her immediately became an instinctual leader on six hours ultimate decision to the field. Playing soccer I didn’t really get a week, leave. motivation, it’s just... all the negative games on the “She was being True dedication comments just built up. That’s what we ekend s harassed a little bit Although Katie Byrne stopped playing club basically made me quit. a n d by her club coach soccer her freshman year, she still decided tournaments for soccer because to play school soccer as a sophomore for as far away [the coach] felt recreation. This year, however, Katie Byrne junior Katie Byrne as Florida. that [Katie] should has decided to fully committed her time to Her soccer commit completely field hockey. After finishing the school season c a r e e r to soccer, not just in November, she will continue to play during c o n t i nu e d partially,” Katie’s the off-season with her club team, San Jose Fly. throughout middle school and high school, mother, Terri Byrne said. “Her coach wasn’t This will help further develop and strengthen where she played for the MVHS junior varsity treating her very [nicely] about having another her skills. She will also participate in a soccer team her freshman and sophomore sport that semi-conflicted with year. With a mind set for soccer, she was on soccer.” track for playing in college. Though Katie Byrne And then she quit. continued trying to balance the two sports, by the end of freshman year it became Battles of freshman year The summer before her freshman year, too much to handle. The time Katie Byrne’s senior friends, class of 2010 commitment was overbearing alumni Suzanne Stern and Crissy Stuart, urged and the atmosphere at soccer her to try field hockey. Although unconvinced no longer held the same joy at first, she ultimately decided to try out for the it did for five-year-old Katie Byrne. And so, she decided school team. “I hated [field hockey] at first,” Katie Byrne to end her club soccer career after nearly a decade of heavy said. “But then I loved it.” However, Katie Byrne’s club soccer coach involvement. “Playing soccer, I didn’t was not thrilled with her taking on another really get motivation … all the sport commitment. With field hockey five days a week and club soccer twice a week, the two negative comments just built schedules inevitably overlapped. Throughout up. That’s what basically made her freshman fall season, Katie Byrne had me quit,” Katie Byrne said. to leave field hockey practice early to attend “Field hockey is just different [from soccer] ... It’s like we are soccer practice, displeasing both her coaches. “Freshman year, doing soccer and field more of a family.” hockey was miserable,” Katie Byrne said. “I went to field hockey practice for two and a The transition half hours. I would have to leave field hockey Although Katie Byrne did practice 15 minutes early, which would make not start playing field hockey my coach really angry at me. I would have to until her freshman year, she run to soccer practice for another two hours. was a natural from the start. Elvin Wong | El Estoque Photo Illustration If I was a minute late to practice, I would get “Her skill level starting as benched for the whole next game. That kind a freshman was so impressive, of screwed me over a lot of times because the and I think she just wanted to CHANGING IT UP After leaving behind nearly decade of traffic lights were, of course, red.” continue with that momentum. soccer experience, junior Katie Byrne chose to pursue field The constant switching between both I imagine she just wanted to hockey instead. In addition to playing on the varsity field practices made it hard on Katie Byrne, as well change and field hockey kind of hockey team, Byrne practices with San Jose Fly, a club team, to as her teamates. She was never there to gather did that for her,” junior varsity further develop and strengthen her skills. DECEMBER 7, 2011


SPORTS program called Futures, a organization designed for field hockey Olympic development training. Although Katie Byrne has been playing field hockey for three years now, she is still relatively new to the sport. Even though she is not at the level she was initially at with soccer, she doesn’t regret her decision to leave to


Used with permission of Katie Byrne


Used with permission of Katie Byrne

pursue something she truly loved. “Sometimes I miss [soccer] when I watch it,” Katie Byrne said. “But other than that, it’s not anything like ‘Oh my god, I miss it so much.’ Because if I did miss it that much, I would have gone back to playing soccer.”

2011 |


Used with permission of Katie Byrne


Used with permission of Katie Byrne

Jacob Lui | El Estoque

THROUGH THE YEARS All throughout childhood, soccer has been the number one hobby of junior Katie Byrne’s life. However, with the struggles of juggling two high commitment sports, Byrne ultimately chose to pursue her true passion: field hockey.

basketball // wrestling // soccer // feature // sports flash


COACH KLEMM New wrestling coach Kevin Klemm uses experience from past to push team forward into winter season

by Howard Lee and Amrutha Dorai with additional reporting by Gisella Joma


restling has long been stereotyped as a brutal sport. In the minds of many, it is reserved for those of great macho and belligerence. After all, the whole point is to pin the other guy down. The irony, therefore, is that new wrestling coach Kevin Klemm’s true passion for coaching comes from an almost saint-like source: his desire to help others succeed. After a distinguished coaching career, including four years as Stanford University’s assistant wrestling coach and time as the head coach of East Kansas Wresting Club, Klemm comes to MVHS as the varsity head coach. “I didn’t notice it at first, but I was always coaching my teammates and people [who were around],” Klemm said. “I knew about the moves and had good coaching as a kid, so that helped me.” Being involved in helping others improve their skills since college, Klemm’s coaching career began when a friend’s dad opened a wrestling club. It was only after college, however, that he began coaching full-time. Now, despite working as a real-estate agent, Klemm still finds time to coach. “In my twenty-five years of coaching,” said Klemm, “I’ve been able to help thousands of kids achieve their goal, whether that be getting in shape, becoming self-reliant athletes, getting to state champ[ionships], to becoming Olympic alternates.”

“Wrestling is a metaphor for life.” wrestling coach Kevin Klemm

Howard Lee | El Estoque

FACE TO FACE At the Newark Rotary Ironman tournament on Dec. 2, new coach Kevin Klemm speaks with player senior Michael Whittaker. Klemm brings with him a background rich with experience, including a position at Stanford University. During the tournament, he provided encouragement through pep talks and advice, before and after each individual set.

During games, Klemm watches with hawk-like intensity, occasionally shouting tactical suggestions. But it is not anger that leads him to this — it is belief in his players. “[One of my goals] is to put these guys on the launching pad towards greater success. We got a couple guys, six to ten, that could qualify for state [championships] this year. They don’t know it yet, but they are starting to realize [that they could make it],” said Klemm. “We [also] want to increase enthusiasm for wrestling at MVHS.” Despite a short history together, Klemm’s enthusiam has already fired up his players. “It’s just been a really good experience working with him,” sophomore Tijani Karaborni said. “He knows what works during a wrestling match, and makes sure that we know what we really need to know.” To Klemm, his passion for wrestling lies in the way he views the sport. His enthusiasm for coaching remains strong, even after twenty-five years. “From the time I started coaching, I learned that I love helping people accomplish their goals. I’m good at teaching wrestling,” said Klemm. “To me, wrestling is a metaphor for life.” | |

DECEMBER 7, 2011





Kevin Tsukii | El Estoque


Wall graffiti chronicles past life of gym lobby electrical room


n inconspicuous door in the gym lobby leads into the electrical room — one of many, only opened occasionally by custodians. But its colorful past is written on the walls. When the school first opened in 1969, the closet functioned as a hub of student activity, housing tempura paint for rally posters and the sound system for school activities. ASB officers, drama department technicians, spirit girls and football players passed through the doorway in the midst of their projects — often leaving their mark upon departure. According to attendance technician and class of 1999 alumnus Calvin Wong, the electrical room was very student-accessible back in his day. DECEMBER 7, 2011

Though it was often left open for student use, only back as the class of 1974, and maybe even 1972, a select few knew of its existence. But those who scrawled by students participating in the tradition. did enter the secluded space often added “It’s just that excitement that you’re SCAN IT doing their painted name and class year to the something that you probably growing collection of graffiti on the walls. shouldn’t be doing, but so many people “I definitely went in there many times to have done it before you,” Wong said. “You use that sound system, and when I was a wanted to leave your little mark, where senior I decided to leave my name on, I think, if anybody opened up that closet door the right wall. But … my name was probably they’d go, ‘Oh, who are these people covered about two, three years after I that left their names and the year?’” graduated,” Wong said. “Every now and PHOTO GALLERY The closet no longer serves as For photos and then I have to go in there — [you] always take storage space for the stereos or paints; stories behind the a peek to see if your name’s still on there.” instead, it houses equipment like circuit signatures, visit Campus supervisor Ruben Delgado breakers and mops. But sometimes has been working at this school since custodians unlock the closet, the 1997 and is now one of the longest-standing door swings open — and students standing by staff members on campus. Even he does not may get a glimpse of the graffiti from the past. know the precise origins of these closet cave paintings. But he has seen signatures from as far 47








Volume 42, Issue 4, December 7 2011  

El Estoque News Magazine

Volume 42, Issue 4, December 7 2011  

El Estoque News Magazine