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ESTOQUE Monta Vista High School

Issue VII

Volume XLII

elestoque.org

April 9, 2012

HUES OF HERITAGE It runs in the family Opening the doors to family-owned businesses NEWS Page 7

A priceless prom

The Princess project offers free dresses to underprivileged girls A&E Page 19

Medal in mind

Sophomore Carly Reid looks to Canadian Olympic Trials SPORTS Page 35

At the meeting point of past and present cultures, here are the shades that make us who we are

Special Report Page 24


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Sexual discourse

A potential class works the different parts of the brain

Students and teachers evaluate the effectiveness of Biology 9’s Sex Education

What’s in store

Family businesses share what it’s like to survive the economy

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Kony conflict

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A crucial discussion

How our emotions can drag us onto the bandwagon

Why parent communication is important to complete sex education

Creative license

17

Bhangra team explains their change in style for the year

Priceless princesses

New project offers prom dresses to those who can’t afford it

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Possible art and literature class offers the right structure for students

Bhangra revolution

Muslim in America

Sharing students’ firsts — from their first cars to their first all-nighters

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Freshman Anwar Ali-Ahmad and his parents discuss their Islamic background

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Our ‘firsts’

SPORTS

A&E

OPINION

4

Combining art and literature

SPECIAL

ESTOQUE

NEWS

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An interracial upbringing How interracial parents affect a childhood

An artist’s conflict Aspring art students struggle with concerns for their future

35

Olympic hopeful

Sophomore Carly Reid brings her talent and passion for swimming to Canadian Olympic trials

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Making a splash Boys and girls swim teams experience changes under coach Don Vierra

Intramural finale Championship of Intramurals: “The Miley Lovers” vs. “Abusement Park”

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EL ESTOQUE


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ESTOQUE

21840 McClellan Road Cupertino, CA 95014 mv.el.estoque@gmail.com 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 Editors: 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 Community Editor: Emily Vu Staff Writers: Rachel Beyda, Carissa Chan, Simran Devidasani, Amrutha Dorai, Kevin Guo, Gisella Joma, Megan Jones, Danielle Kay, Soumya Kurnool, Howard Lee, Forest Liao, Margaret Lin, Angela Liu, Jacob Lui, Alexandria Poh, Morahd Shawki Adviser: Michelle Balmeo, Jay Shelton Credits Some images in this publication were taken from the stock photography website sxc.hu. 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.

MARCH 12, 2012

WHY JOURNALISM O

nce a month for the past three years, I El Estoque push the limits as it went glossy. have shown up to school sporting a burnt And now, three years later, I look around and orange shirt. It gets me stares and insults. watch my fellow students continue to raise the But I’m going to miss it. standards every day. And as we recruit new members and select new I listen to conversations that I don’t seem to editors, as I remind myself this is my last issue as hear anywhere else — spontaneous discussions Editor-in-Chief, my last about student fears and letter from the editor, drug abuse and physical as all the memories with discipline. Those long my burnt orange shirt conversations are then rush into my mind, it transformed into the Karishma feels strange. designed pages and It feels strange to written words you read. think about the feeling Those conversations we had when teacher possibly lead to your own and coach Ron Freeman LETTER FROM THE EDITOR conversations. passed away and we And I would like to didn’t know what to think that every once write, the urgency to get something posted about in a while, your conversations stimulated some the nearby Cupertino quarry shooter, the difficulty sort of change and that the work we create on the of writing about a substitute teacher who charged A111 Macs has served some external purpose. If it students for editing papers, the panic when our doesn’t instigate change though, perhaps it spread the pages still weren’t done at 9 p.m. on a Friday late information you need. night, the excitement in everyone’s eyes when we And if not that, I am certain that we at least served just came up with an awesome graphic design, a purpose within A111’s walls. As we worked to the times we discussed controversial topics in our serve you, we ultimately guaranteed service to each open space. other. Those controversial conversations became the Now I ask myself: “How can I tangibly describe avenues in which we trained each other. In which we this organization to you?” inspired each other. But it’s simple. This organization is about And that, for us and for our readers, was the pushing the limits. greatest service we could hope to offer. I have seen El Estoque push the limits as it ventured online. I have seen El Estoque push the limits as it became a news magazine. I have seen k.mehrotra@elestoque.org

MEHROTRA

Correction: On page 22, the oil on the Maru Ichi’s bowl of ramen is burnt garlic.

3


NEWS

T

he human brain is an intricate machine. A three-pound, hundred billion-celled machine divided into two halves: left and right. The left brain is for logic, memorization and numbers; the right brain for creativity, intuition and empathy. According to English teacher Mikki McMillion and Art teacher Brian Chow, MVHS students often find themselves at only one end of the left-right spectrum. “Both of us have been at [this school] for a long time ... and both of us have ... noticed that students struggle with creative, innovative, outside-of-the-box thinking,” McMillion said. “We ask you guys to do something creative, and you guys kind of just freak out — ‘What do I do? What’s the answer? Just tell me what the answer is.’” Both McMillion and Chow were stricken by the MVHS education system’s lack of creativity and innovation after reading Daniel Pink’s bestselling book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-brainers Will Rule the Future, which stresses the importance of integrating the two in education. The MVHS system, McMillion feels, emphasizes memorization and regurgitation over creativity. Recognizing these flaws led Chow and her to an idea: the creation of a crossover course between World Literature and Art 2 that would push students to use both sides of their brains. Unlike the two other interdisciplinary classes, World Studies and American Studies, World Literature and Art 2 will remain, on paper, separate: tightly interconnected curricula, but two different teachers and two different classrooms, because Chow does not have art materials available for all sixty students in one classroom. The distance between McMillion’s and Chow’s rooms hinders Chow from being able to transport his materials back and forth as well. The World Literature class, according to Chow and McMillion, will still read novels and short stories and write essays; the Art 2 class will still create art. The course will count both as literature and fine art credit on a student’s transcript. The only difference, according to the teachers, will be the overlap in the area of study between both classes. While Chow and McMillion plan to organize the 4

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LEFT BRAIN by Amrutha Dorai and Yaamini Venkataraman

English and Art teachers Mikki McMillion and Brian Chow model with their World Literature and Art 2 classes to push coursework by concept — poetry, short The units will focus on both how stories or design — rather than chronology, literature and art are meaningfully created. Chow is reluctant to create a set curriculum One such unit they are considering is a design because of the cap he believes it places on unit, in which the students would focus on the students’ creativity. product design in both art and literature. “Of course, Students would we’re going to try redesigning “[It’s about] allowing the two have guidelines a product in Art subjects to enhance each other and timeframes. 2, while learning But the curriculum about the and make each other meaningful, itself is going written process expressive, creative.” to be more of a associated living, breathing with product English teacher Mikki McMillion, document,” Chow development in said. “It’s not going to be like, ‘Okay, here’s World Literature. a book. Let’s make a new title cover for Both McMillion and Chow like the idea it.’ That’s … not meaningful. What I’m of lecturing together. McMillion proposes a interested in doing is creating projects future system in which there would be one that will actually drive to the core of the large classroom with a removable barrier, purpose of the reading, and how that might which would enable them to combine and be personal to each student.” separate the classes as they see fit. EL ESTOQUE


art 2/lit // sex education // family businesses

RIGHT BRAIN

ABSTRACT

THE DOTS

ART CREATIVITY are in the process of creating an interdisciplinary class left and right brain learning Although unfamiliar with the course’s of art are trying to convey a message to you structure, freshman Monique Hung still — you just have to look closely.” signed up. Like Chow and McMillion, Hung Similarly, freshman Lindsay Teng believes that the combination of art and recognizes the connection between art and literature is natural, and she hopes that literature, and hopes to see that connection taking the class ex p l o r e d will boost her t h r o u g h COURSE BREAKDOWN interest in both of different types these subjects. of projects in “Literature is both classes. Merges disciplines of Art 2 an art of words, “I would and World Literature and you get to expect for Will be taught by art teacher really express literature [to yourself. If you talk] about Brian Chow and English look closely at the style and teacher Mikki McMillion literature it has the imagery, Two courses, two UC credits, a very deep and [take] that one curriculum meaning,” Hung imagery and said. “The same with art, because you also [put] it in art,” Teng said. get to express yourself through different This crossover is what Chow and techniques. In art, sometimes certain types McMillion hope to achieve with their course. APRIL 9, 2012

Their ultimate aim is to not only make the learning experience more enjoyable for the students, but also to shape them to become the type of thinkers who can integrate their left and right brains — the logical and creative sides. “[It’s about] allowing the two subjects to enhance each other and make each other meaningful, expressive, creative,” McMillion said. “What does it say about the world? What can we extract from that on our own? “It’s more than just creativity. It’s about thinking independently and thinking originally.” This independence and originality of thought, according to A Whole New Mind, is a key skill to possess in today’s world — the increased complexity of the world needs to be taken into account when making decisions. As a result, author Pink argues, interdisciplinary learning must be integrated into education. It has already been adopted by Waldorf schools, such as those in Los Altos and San Francisco, and college degrees, such as bioethics, similarly combine two seemingly unrelated subjects. Closer to home, Chow points out the MVHS Robotics Team as a club that allows concepts learned in math and science classes to be applied in real-life scenarios. “[Robotics involves] actually thinking across different disciplines. It’s already happening, it’s just happening after school,” Chow said. “And if someone got smart enough to put it into the state curriculum, it’ll probably start to happen more. Or if a school of our caliber starts to do it, people will start to notice.” While the “Art-Lit” crossover class has not been widely publicized, interested students in McMillion and Chow’s current classes have signed up. Depending on the success of this course, the program could possibly expand to include different levels of art and literature classes. McMillion is also talking to science department chair Kavita Gupta about possibly combining freshman Literature/Writing with Biology. “We’re kind of pioneers in this field,” McMillion said. “Let’s just start here, and...” “... And we’ll see where it takes us,” Chow finished. a.dorai@elestoque.org | y.venkataraman@elestoque.org 5


NEWS

art 2/lit // sex education // family businesses

Sexual Discourse

Sex education unit sparks conversation about sexuality; however, students question the unit’s effectiveness by Karen Feng and Soumya Kurnool

emphasizes sexual safety and encourages to be valuable in learning about sex without the awkward feeling associated with such communication about relationships. hen freshmen sign up for their Assistant principal Brad Metheany agrees conversations with her parents. mandatory biology class, many with Lerner on the importance of sex education But some upperclassmen, like senior Ian of them don’t think that the and gathering information so that students will Hurtado, believe that most learning about sex worksheets and lectures will affect them more be able to make educated decisions later in occurs outside the classroom. than a semester or two down the line. “All the important stuff — what you like, high school, college, and life. But for many of those same students, the “When it’s all said and done, when the how you like it, how you go about getting it, topic of one week of the freshmen biology decision is made, no one is going to be there that’s something you have to learn on your curriculum may shape the choices they make but that person: you need to educate them,” own,” Hurtado said. “You can’t teach it.” and the relationships they develop for the rest Metheany said. “But the teaching going on is Middle College senior Krista Trieu is an of their lives. Just two years later, during junior so example of Hurtado’s wonderful year, 45.5 percent of high schoolers in the and so diverse ideal for learning outside “All the important stuff — what you the the classroom, US have sexual intercourse for the first time, and so according to the National Center for Health cont emp or a r y like, how you like it, how you go taking her sex education Statistics, Fertility, Family Planning and and so highabout getting it, that’s something into her own hands. She Reproductive Health of U.S. Women’s 2002 level was able to learn more that you have to learn on your own. You about contraceptives National Survey of Family Growth, Vital and every student Health Statistics. can’t teach it.” and health from her in the state doctor and the De Anza of California senior Ian Hurtado Above and beyond Health Center than she should take [sex California public middle and high schools education].” did in the sex education unit at school. are both required to each teach one unit of “I think they should emphasize the fact that Yet Lerner acknowledges the flaws that HIV/AIDS prevention. While comprehensive come with such a short unit — the inadequate kids need to go out and learn for themselves sex education — which covers abstinence, coverage of sexual violence and lesbian, gay, what [contraception] is,” Trieu said. “They STDs, contraceptives and abortion — is bisexual and transgender relationships and the need to emphasize discovering your body by optional, 96 percent of schools provide it possibility that the message may be forgotten yourself.” anyway, according to Phyllida Burlingame several years down the road. Consulting’s 2003 survey. The MVHS “One could argue that [most] ninth graders Nurturing a safer atmosphere curriculum, a collaboration between Biology … are not really facing [sexual] situations yet,” Lerner accepts that classroom learning 9 teachers, covers more than just the required Lerner said. “But that’s okay. I’d rather catch often misses the social dimension of the topics. Biology teacher Lora Lerner’s them before they need it. You don’t really want relationships students have at school. six-day unit, for example, also to wait until they’re juniors and seniors and “[Sex education is] a cultural thing; it’s an attitude thing,” Lerner said. “I can tell you maybe it’s too late.” all this stuff, but ultimately it’s the culture in Source: 2002 the campus towards bullying people for their Filling in the gaps federal survey Underclassmen sometimes find that sexuality or abusive relationships and not as analyzed by the University of their lack of personal experience talking about that. There’s only so much that Washington leaves gaps in their knowledge can happen in a classroom to help that.” She hopes that the class will inspire regarding their sexuality. By taking sex education, high schoolers Sophomore Jimin Park, for conversation to help build an accepting reduce their chances of becoming example, learned everything she atmosphere and ensure sexual safety and knew about sex through her freshman acceptance at MVHS. pregnant or impregnanting anyone by “What I hope is that, by presenting [the biology class. “I wouldn’t know what a condom is unit], that you guys are talking to each other,” without [sex education],” Park said. “My Lerner said. “And building an atmosphere family is very against talking about sex where people say ‘Hey, that’s not okay for ... The only sex education I get [at home] is people to be treated that way. That’s not okay … ’All men are wolves and you should not for me to be treated that way. I’m going to speak up. I’m going to get help.’ That’s really approach men.’” Because of the comparatively incomplete the culture we want to build.” nature of conversations about sexuality at Karen Feng | El Estoque Photo Illustration her home, Park found the sex education unit k.feng@elestoque.org | s.kurnool@elestoque.org

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EL ESTOQUE


NEWS

What’s in store? A look at our local family-run businesses and what it takes to keep them ‘open’ story and photos by Kevin Tsukii with additional reporting by Yaamini Venkataraman

a.agrawal@elestoque.org s.yang@elestoque.org 4

EL ESTOQUE


NEWS

COMMUNITY HUB Zad Grocery & Halal Meats co-manager and class of 2009 alumnus Hashim Mahmoud helps customer Amine Sahraoui purchase an international calling card. The Mahmoud family opened the store four years ago on March 30.

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e arrived 10 minutes before the market opened and stood outside, peering through the glass windows into darkness. At 9 a.m. sharp, class of 2009 alumnus Hashim Mahmoud showed up in a gold sedan and opened up shop. Five days out of the week, Mahmoud sits behind the same cash register that his mother sat behind, and the same one that his father sat behind and the same one that his younger brother will sit behind. Mahmoud began the morning ritual; he moved the herbs from the fridge next to the pyramids of fruits and rearranged the produce in the back, uncovered the meat that was sitting in a low glass window refrigerator, like the ones that they serve ice-cream out of. We wandered through the aisles taking pictures of boxes of Ahmed jelly, turkish delights and Maggi sauce — each item sits on a shelf labeled by short, curlicue handwriting. Mahmoud started unwrapping fresh bread now; he said he could talk to us now. He told us that his father Kamal Mahmoud had started the business because so many of his co-workers at Intel were losing their jobs. The bread smelt nice. On March 30, Zad Grocery & Halal Meats celebrated its four-year anniversary; a day that punctuated the start of the recession and four years of ups and downs, four years of slow growth, four years of waiting to break even. “It’s been improving, but I think because our customers are still jobless it’s slow,” Hashim said. “But if you look at my dad at Intel, his work is doing better, his company is hiring. So I see [economic improvement] overall in the US but just not at this level.” From his perspective, things have gotten better, but not for low8

income individuals who comprise a large part of Zad’s customer base. Hashim and his family care about their customers; they know them by name and by their quirks. “This is the way it was a long time ago in this country. If you go to Safeway, you don’t know the cashier’s names, but we know each other here,” Hashim said. “You wouldn’t really understand unless you worked here.” We asked him to explain. “It’s kind of funny sometimes; there’s one really old lady who comes here and gives me a headache all the time ... It’s like a grandmother-grandson relationship.” For Hashim, preserving Zad as a community-based store comes at the cost of the time he could be spending with family, specifically his younger brother, senior Khalid Mahmoud, and the time that could otherwise be invested towards his classes at San Jose State University and ultimate goal of becoming an engineer. “I think that’s the biggest problem with this store: we work full-time but we only put in 50 percent of our effort into the store and the other 50 into school,” Hashim said. “When you go to a store and you see a cashier you don’t really realize that this cashier is, yes, a cashier, but they also have their own family life and personal life.” Though Hashim speaks to the toll that a family business takes on family, he also cherishes the hours that he was able to spend with his mother before she died in 2011. He told us that she would work the cashier while he re-stocked items in the aisles and they would tell jokes to each other in Dutch and laugh. Hashim paused. “Just working beside her … spending time with her, we take it for granted sometimes,” Hashim said. He still thinks about her when he sees the notes that she left behind the cashier — or when he is in an aisle and glances at the labels that are still there in her curlicue handwriting. EL ESTOQUE


art 2/lit // sex education // family businesses Thai Delight It is rare to meet the Mahamongkols in one place at one time. Any given weekday afternoon, Cindy is at home sleeping, getting ready for her night job; Paul is taking orders; and junior Sean — Paul and Cindy’s youngest son — is at home studying. Except this afternoon. It’s a Monday afternoon — and Monday afternoon is the one afternoon out of the week that the family has set aside to go shopping or dine out. A wooden sculpture of a young Thai lady greeted me when I opened the door. Sean spotted me first and told the server, who seemed confused, that I was not here for an early dinner (like the elderly couple which sat off to the side). The family joined me at a table opposite the couple and Sean pulled up a heavy wooden chair; before he sat I could see the intricate trees carved into the chair’s back. Each chair was different and and our conversation that night was soundtracked by light and airy jazz music. With her parents’ recipes, Cindy opened Thai Delight in 2001. She says she has never seen as much business as she did on Thai Delight’s opening day. They had family members eating without being seated and had to turn away customers. It’s been 11 years since, and Sean cannot remember what it was like before his family opened the restaurant. Growing up in Thai Delight, Sean said that the number of customers each hour varies just as much as the distribution of customers throughout the week. There is one thing they are certain of though, something that sits about half mile down Homestead Road. “Because Apple [Inc.] is still okay ... we’re okay,” Cindy said. While companies across the nation downsized on all levels during the recession, Apple Inc. grew — a lot. According The New York Times, Apple Inc.’s stock on Jan. 5, 2009 closed at $90.58. On the five year stock chart, the line skyrockets up to $596.05 for March 19, 2012. “On the weekdays there are a lot of Apple employees because we are very close [geographically],” Paul said. Despite Apple Inc.’s business during the recession, the family noticed that business on what used to be their busiest days — Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day — slowed down. In retrospect, Paul remembers a period of time during the recession when business seemed slow; Cindy attributes the restaurant’s survival to not only employed customers who can afford to eat out, but also the effort that Paul puts into the business as a manager, server and occasional kitchen-hand. “Right now the food cost is up. Everything is up: the price of eggs, the meat, everything,” Cindy said, explaining the importance of reducing cost through eliminating middlemen food suppliers. Recently, the Mahamongkols’ rent on the restaurant’s lot went up 50 percent according to Paul, and the changes that the construction of Apple Inc.’s new campus may bring about has made the family uncertain about the coming year. “We just hope we can survive,” Cindy said. The family’s collective effort to keep the restaurant afloat is, in a way, a doubleedged sword, Sean explains. “I do feel that maybe it does take away a bit of our time but we have a common goal that unites us as a family ... but it also makes us drift apart a bit because we all have different schedules,” Sean said. Cindy makes it clear that her secondary graveyard shift job and Paul’s efforts are for her three sons. She says it’s why she keeps the restaurant open; her proudest moment will most likely be the day when her eldest son, class of 2008 alumnus Brian, graduates from UC San Diego. “I even tell [Sean],” Cindy said. “If you want me to work 24 hours, and you’ll get better than I did, I’ll do it.” k.tsukii@elestoque.org APRIL 9, 2012

TOP A figurine at the entrance of Thai Delight greets customers as they enter the restaurant. MIDDLE From left to right, Paul, Cindy and Sean Mahamongkol stand in the kitchen of Thai Delight, which was founded by Cindy in 2001 using authentic recipes. BOTTOM A seafood curry dish sits in Thai Delight’s kitchen, waiting to be garnished. Sean often helps out in the kitchen, putting together dishes like these.

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PHOTO GALLERY

To read about a family-run 7-11 and to see more photos and a map of all the businesses visit elestoque.org. 9


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

a look into the

INVISIBLE

WHY WE SHOULD HAVE CAUTION FOR ALL CAUSES. TAKE KONY 2012.

by Jacob Lui

O

n the evening of March 6, students followed Invisible leaders of Invisible Children, including Jason Russell, I was personally Children’s Kony 2012 movement via social networks, prepared to bring the cause to MVHS and find some method to fundraise with every click of the mouse. Facebook, Tumblr and and campaign for the children being abducted from their homes, even Twitter accounts were plastered with paragraphs, though the organization’s information lacked clarity. But for all the ones caught in the bandwagon, there are those riding images, videos or links of the movement — a national the other direction. Believe or not, opposing organizations do exist. cause to disband and destroy Joseph Kony, an internationally wanted The aptly-named Visible Children or anti-Kony 2012 Ugandan video man, for his acts of atrocities against women, children and civilians. Emotions seem to dictate our every decision. People regularly evaluate blogger Rosebell Kagumire are just a couple examples of people in the movies, music, documentaries or speeches based on how well it evokes world who have a different outlook on the goal of Kony 2012. Visible tears or laughter. And in this age of overwhelming advertisements, it is Children is an online group that emphasizes the actual implementation embarrassing that the American public, especially teenagers, can be so of donated funds to organization. According to TIME Magazine, Kagumire believes easily aroused over simple words and pictures. that that Invisible Children is taking the dwindling With the advent of Kony 2012, it is inarguable that group of LRA and making them appear more ominous the cause is righteous. Who would question the fight than they are. She also argues that the moral cause of to liberate children soldiers from the oppression of the the group has inflated the issue to portray Americans Lord’s Resistance Army? as the classic saviors of third world countrymen. One Examining the nuances of We all should. controversial current events group, called the African Youth Initiative Network, Now, that isn’t to say that we should not wish for based as a grassroots organization in Uganda, contains the freedom of children soldiers all across Africa. In lists of testimonies by LRA survivors who disapprove of Kony 2012’s fact, this seems to be a part of the problem: that if one person were to question the cause for a second, they would be deemed immoral and message, condemning the marketing strategy of publicizing Joseph racist. But there is no reason to approve of students who support a cause Kony in such a commercialized manner. Facts shouldn’t only be read or heard; they should always be checked, so unquestionably, especially one that they had learned about online in especially when they are attached to pictures and music clearly aimed a matter of minutes. It’s what we haven’t seen yet that we should be wary of. Instead at our emotions. A pretty promotional video with crisp pictures and of jumping on the bandwagon of the seemingly commendable cause dazzling effects or a moving speech by a determined speaker shouldn’t of Kony 2012, teenagers should be more willing to doubt propaganda be believed straight away — everything thrown at us through the media before they throw their full weight behind any issue. How credible is should be taken with a grain of salt. We must always find the other side. the group and the information behind Kony 2012? Which sides of the All around us, information can be misleading or straight out lies, and story are they leaving out? What do the donations fund? Are facts being charities are no exception to the power behind the manipulation of our emotions. exaggerated, overlooked or sensationalized?

DEVILS ADVOCATE

And it’s tricky. After watching the 27-minute video made by the

j.lui@elestoque.org

Big C Harvey via Flickr | Creative Commons by Angela Liu and Jacob Lui | El Estoque Photo Illustration

APRIL 9, 2012

11


OPINION

SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX

VIRGIN TERRITORY You see it. You hear it. But why don’t you talk about it?

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here’s no running away from the truth: sex is everywhere. No matter how hard parents may try to avoid it, it is and will always be embedded into our lives. Not only is the presence of sex growing it’s a growing problem for teenagers exposed to this presence. If proper education can prevent the repercussions of irresponsible sex, it should become an actively pursued topic at home. Due to the social taboos present in most Asian-American families, which represents a majority of MVHS’ demographic, discussion of the matter at home is virtually nonexistent. Consequently, a significant chunk of a complete sex education is missing. In a recent online survey conducted among 380 MVHS students, 67 percent of students do not actively discuss sex at home with

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their parents. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to change that — it’s simply the cultural norm in many families. The repercussions of irresponsible sex will lead to unwanted ramifications, and if proper education can prevent teenage pregnancy, it should become an actively pursued topic at home. Society trumpets sex in television and advertisements like a megaphone gone haywire, the topic literally disappears at home into an eerie silence — so eerie, that it can disillusion teenagers who are trying to figure out the unknown on their own. The halfknowledge that comes from glorification of sex in the media is more dangerous than having no knowledge at all. Without proper communication with parents or responsible adults, teens can be left in a state of uncertainty. As the annual sexual education unit draws near, there is a chance to repair the flaw. The Biology 9 Human Growth and Development unit does an exceptional job to fill in that missing space and bridge that gap in communication by encouraging students to actively talk

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

SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX Angela Liu | El Estoque Illustration

human sexuality with their parents. trying to figure it out yourself is most certainly another, but the MVHS teaches what the California Education Code Section most important link is parent-child communication. Students are 51931(d) would consider a comprehensive better off breaching the barrier and initiating sexual health curriculum, which in effect creates the conversation with their parents first to a learning environment that encompasses all complete that missing aspect in a complete sides of the debate: safe sex and abstinence. As sexual education. There’s so much one can do to educate a result, students will be exposed to the most effectively without becoming culturally complete perspective to a topic that many will feel uncomfortable about. It considers all the imposing, and one can only hope that students social backgrounds students hail from — some will become more vocal about sex at home for come from families who openly accept sex’s the greater good, just as the school’s curriculum is designed to leave judgement between role in everyday life, others from households OPINION OF THE EL ESTOQUE that strictly never speak of it at all. abstinence and sex up to the student. EDITORIAL BOARD So please, exercise protection by breaking Simply put, the school’s duty to the student is to decode the unknown, as their homes become the silence. more silent in a society of continually loosening sexual norms. Learning about sex directly from the book is one thing, and

STAFF

EDITORIAL

APRIL 9, 2012

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OPINION

Learning the meaning of YOLO by Margaret Lin

Instead of debating whether you should cross the street, just do it. You only live once, right? Kevin Tsukii and Margaret Lin | El Estoque Photo Illustration

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xactly 26 days ago, at around 2 p.m., I was about to get run over. I was in New York for a journalism conference and I was trying to get there in time while avoiding the oncoming traffic with the savviness of a true New Yorker (not). Suddenly, one of my friends intelligently decided to sprint across the street just as the light was about to turn Margaret red, forcing my other friends and I to catch up, valiantly trying not to get run over by the oncoming cars about to whiz across the street. As we sprinted across the street, I yelled out the only safe “curse” word to comfort myself that I

LIN

the

could think of at the spur of the moment. “Yolo...YOLO YOLO YOLO...AHH!” My friends thought I was hilarious. Personally, I was just glad that we had gotten across the street alive. For those who are still hopelessly clueless about what’s going on, yolo stands for “you only live once” and was coined last year by rapper Drake in his song, “The Motto.” “Yolo” is now commonly used in daily conversation as either encouragement to do something outside of your comfort zone, conquering your fears, or simply as a lame excuse after you do something stupid. For example in my case, I used it to encourage myself to do something outside of my comfort zone, since I’m not the type of person who likes to run across streets when there are cars about to run me over. Prior to leaving to New York, I despised the phrase “yolo.” I saw it as a stupid excuse

to do dumb things, like drinking or watching “The Bachelor” marathons. But after the trip, I started seeing the power of yolo everywhere. Stay up until 5 a.m. #yolo Attempt to befriend a turtle. #yolo Waste an opportunity to inspire your audience and tackle real life issues in your column #yolo Now I finally realize that yolo gives me the permission to do stupid things and feel one hundred percent completely unashamed about them. It has given me an excuse to be stupid, live stupidly, and even exhale and inhale stupidity — and that’s smart since thinking less means living more. From now on, I’ve resolved to live my life with no regrets, no worries, and no shame. After all, you only live once.

BOTTOM LINE

m.lin@elestoque.org

Diversity Day tries to display an ethnic mix that isn’t there by Smitha Gundavajhala

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or one day each year, everyone pretends that MVHS is diverse. They give up this idea the following week. MVHS is not diverse. Perhaps we are according to traditional definitions of diversity, which really only examines the percentage of the campus that isn’t white. We need to adapt our definitions. If we look at diversity for what it really is — a fairly even mix of numerous ethnicities —

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MVHS fails the test. According to the MVHS website, the school is 75% Asians, 21% White, and 4% other. With so little variation, maybe we should stop calling it “Diversity Day”. Many of the things that MVHS prides itself on — primarily its scores — are attributed to the dominance of certain groups on campus. Perhaps a more apt name would be “Culture Day”, where we celebrate MVHS culture — especially its lack of significant diversity in

race, and subsequently, in test scores. We can follow this by choosing performers for their own talent, rather than trying to reflect a mix of ethnicities. This Diversity Day, we must focus not on the numbers, but the diversity that each person brings to MVHS. Because that diversity will be much easier to find than diversity of any other kind. s.gundavajhala@elestoque.org EL ESTOQUE


on

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

Art Lit: an enlightening course Danger lies in students taking advantage of potentially easier combined class by Danielle Kay

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e students like our study guides. Our answer keys. Our formulas. We love knowing that we’re right and that nobody can dispute our intelligence. But when it comes to occasions where the answer is not just yes, no, or x equals some y, it throws most of us off. Teachers are aware of this phenomenon. A crossover class between Art 2 and World Literature class designed for the sophomore curriculum has been proposed for the 20122013 class year to combat it. The literature class is generally the same as the regular sophomore class, but the art class revolves around projects that coincide with the reading the class is doing. Say, for example, that the literature class reads The Invisible Man; the art class would engage in a self-portrait project. The purpose of the class is to encourage the left-brained majority of MVHS students to think more creatively, while developing students’ ability to draw connections between what they’re studying and the type of independent thinking associated with art. Making Art 1 a prerequisite for this class effectively eliminates the potential problem of students considering the class a “joke.” The art portion of the class allows for students to use the art skills they have developed in freshmen year to further their creative thinking abilities. Rather than worrying about their juvenile art skills, students can focus on creating projects that reflect their understanding of the Literature class’s work. On the other hand, the course may run into the problem of a lack of interest, because only

the students that want to pursue art further are allowed to take the class. The incentive for students to take the class to get art credit for graduation and UC eligibility is not there. The class should be given a preliminary year as it has been planned so far, and after a year, the future interest and student experience should be evaluated to determine whether the class should still have the Art 1 prerequisite. The art portion of the class is in a tight spot because having clear and formulated means of grading every project will encourage students to fall back into their left-brain comfort zone. Furthermore, having a clear grading sheet for every project limits student creativity rather than reaping it. On the other hand, giving every student an A will unfortunately result in some students taking advantage of said system. A good solution would be that only the literature portion of the class be graded, while the art class be graded purely on participation rather than artistic ability or what the teacher considers to be quality work. Students that demonstrate effort in class should be given an A, and should be appreciated for any impressive creativity through means that are not grade related. Hopefully, this class will help encourage students to think outside the box and relinquish their dependence on formulas and lessen the obsession for following directions purely for the sake of the grade.

d.kay@elestoque.org

Angela Liu | El Estoque Photo Illustration

No college aid for students who exceed federal and state income ceilings by Laura Yang

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ederal and state college financial aid programs like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and Cal Grant have long been hailed as the savior of many students who cannot otherwise afford to attend college. MVHS counselors encourage all collegebound seniors to apply for these financial aid programs, but the reality is that many MVHS students do not qualify for government aid. While it is still a smart move to apply in case

APRIL 9, 2012

of sudden financial hardship, the gesture is more a safety measure than any viable college payment plan. The California Student Aid Commission has determined the 2012-2013 Cal grant ceiling for a family of four to be $80,100 for tuition awards and $42,100 for tuition with living allowances. Cupertino, according to CNNMoney, has a median household income of $142,490. While $142,490 far exceeds the state aid ceiling, it is

by no means immune to the burden of college tuition, especially when adjusted for property value and the cost of living in Silicon Valley. It is unfortunate that government aid overlooks the middle class, who will have to look elsewhere to finance higher education. Cal Grants may be considered the savior of the financially burdened, but the middle class are exactly that — stuck in the middle. l.yang@elestoque.org 15


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Changing steps

A&E

Bhangra experiences a year of changes in style and competition

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he moment the music starts for the Bhangra team during the Diversity Assembly on April 6 will bring a year of change to a peak. It starts with the music: this year, Bhangra has moved from customary R&B music and rap beats to the traditional musical style from Punjab, the province in India where Bhangra was born. “We had a small portion [in the routine] that was more Americanized and modernized,” said firstyear Bhangra member Kyle Gheewala. “And we took that out so we have a whole traditional part now. But we have to balance out the traditional and modern stuff so that the crowd is still into it.” The decision regarding the new focus in Bhangra’s choreography was based partially on their performance from the competition they had in Fresno last July. Though the team is well-known throughout the Bay Area and performs at private as well as public events, they placed 7th out of the eight teams present in the competition. “Since our audience is high school students, we tried to keep it modern,” said co-captain Durva Vaidya. “But when we went to the competition they were looking for traditional and authentic, [and] we

APRIL 9, 2012

didn’t cater to those kinds of audiences.” Bhangra itself is an art of the farmers, and the original dance was accompanied only by a drum and a live singer. Because the team plans to place in the top two if they compete this year, they have changed their routine accordingly. In addition, stunting mishaps, like the fall of a dancer in a coordinated spin during the Diversity Week performance two years ago, has spurred Bhangra to change their performance schedule. Usually the team’s first performance of the year is the one during Diversity week; however, the team has already started performing this year from as early as January, when they performed at Irvington High School for Dil Se on Jan. 7. Co-captain senior Vinit Parikh recalls how each subsequent year on Bhangra has made the team improve in huge jumps. He has pushed the team to perform earlier this year in an effort to enhance that improvement before their performance in front of their peers on Diversity Day. The team hopes their additional changes to more traditional choreography and costumes will help bring out the authenticity and add to the performance. “We want to come out and be almost perfect,” said Parikh. “No mistakes.” a.wang@elestoque.org

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PROMISE For girls who can’t afford buying prom dresses, the Princess Project offers them a chance

by Christophe Haubursin and Gisella Joma photos by Christophe Haubursin

It’s pouring in San Francisco the morning of March 24, but outside the Princess Project’s 10th anniversary event, a line of anxious faces is already waiting. Every 20 minutes, groups of two dozen girls file into the makeshift store, speeding through a survey and a quick introductory speech from volunteer staff members before setting out to shop from rows of dresses and prom night accessories. For those that come here as prom season kicks off, the best part comes at the checkout counter: the entire outfit is free of charge. “For them, it’s more than a dress that they’re getting, it’s self-confidence,” Board of Directors Site Liason Candice Harney said. “Prom is like a rite of passage in high school, but it’s expensive. If you can take away one cost, that means a lot.” Donations were open until February, but the majority of the dresses come from corporations like ModCloth, who donate in hundreds. It’s been four years since former Dean of Students Denae Nurnberg first brought the Princess Project to MVHS, but Assistant Principal Secretary Deb Mandac currently runs the program on campus. Today, with fidgeting toes and soft voices, with the occasional request for a bit more help, they wait. And when they leave, it’s not just the dress that they carry proud. It’s the smile.

PRINCESS POWER The Princess Project is a way for girls who have insuffiecint funds to be able to recieve a prom dress of their choice but without a cost. There are several locations of this store, but the one featured is located in San Francisco. c.haubursin@elestoque.org | g.joma@elestoque.org APRIL 9, 2012

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT Soumya

KURNOOL

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hen the idea of a four day field trip to New York City was posed to me, I had my qualms. Should I seize the day or just stay home? I opted for a day out. Too much time in Times Square New York proved to be my biggest nightmare, but nothing was worse than Times Square. It’s a blaring, smoky, smelly place — and I would not care to revisit it. Fifty-nine MVHS students were let loose. All but one ran around, peeping their heads in stores, chomping on overpriced food, and snapping pictures with their fancy Nikon D90s. The 59th simply followed. Wondering why so much electricity was being wasted. Wondering why people took pictures to

Angela Liu| El Estoque Photo Illustration

preserve the moment, but never lived it. Wondering what Times Square looked like before any Anglo-Saxon immigrant imposed their idea of a utopia on the poor virgin soil. Quite frankly, the only enjoyable part of that evening in Times Square were the seven minutes I spent on a humongous Ferris wheel in a gargantuan Toys“R”Us. Sitting in a Little People toy car, I tried to understand why I was not able to derive happiness from NYC. Then it hit me. I was an idealistic country bumpkin in the mother of chaotic cities. My dear friend, David Beckham Sitting on the flight back home, I thought of David Beckham, my famous stony-faced muscular friend who stretched out his

the B word. I hate that word. Blog. All I can think of when I hear it is some selfrighteous, arrogant know-it-all trying to tell the world that he’s right and they’re wrong. So, essentially, me. Good fit right? Whenever I see a classmate’s Tumblr, I see a stream of unfunny reblogs and weirdly personal entries that range from uncomfortable to really, really uncomfortable. There was the occasional cybercomedy gem like Kim Jong-Il Looking at Things or Gifolas Cage — but the more I read, the less faith I had in my generation and its new ego-lined avenue of communication. After looking over some of my friends’ blogs however, I realized it was possible to keep one without sounding like a total tool. Their entries weren’t gut-wrenching to read and were generally of high quality. I had been

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wanting an environment to write freely and actually have some semblance of an audience, so it seemed natural to start one. And thus, “Trust Me I’m a Doctor” was born. That was November. Since then, updates have come regularly, shaping the blog into a sort of extension of this column — only less focused, and a bit more swear-ier. As for whether or not I sound like tool, that’s for the reader to decide. But for me, it’s been a really positive experience. And after this time, I also understand why so many people get so personal online. When you can’t physically see your audience, inhibitions are left at the door, letting you truly speak your mind. While it may not make the best reading, it must do wonders for your mental health. I know I’ve certainly vented my frustration with certain societal injustices and

impressive ¾ naked body in a 20 story tall advertisement in front of my hotel. Girls swooned over the advertisement, while guys sniggered, saving the memory with a click and a flash. I, however, always held my hand up to cover his 21st-century loincloth. We have a love-hate relationship, Beckham and I. I despise all the indecency his image represents, but at the same time I appreciate him for at least wearing his briefs. For New York, it’s the same. For all the pain the city caused to this idealist, I am ever so glad that New York kept its briefs on. If it didn’t, then this columnist would be traumatized. And mugged, too. s.kurnool@elestoque.org

Morahd

SHAWKI whatnot, letting me retain what little sanity I have left. I think. I hope. In either case, Tumblr and other such blog platforms provide two invaluable services: catharsis and pure entertainment. There are still realms of the Internet I dare not enter, like Twitter — nobody deserves one of those, except maybe the president, and even his account sucks — and 4chan — I have been to 4chan a few times, and I still have flashbacks and night terrors. For every redeeming aspect of the internet I discover, there are thirty shock videos and gossip websites to crush any suspicion I have that man is inherently good. m.shawki@elestoque.org EL ESTOQUE


s l s e s e s c ons n i r P

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Pooja

RAVIKIRAN

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isney princess movies are not just for girls in tutus who watch the movies and wonder when their own Prince Charming will come; they also can teach us the most invaluable life lessons. If you scoff and think, “they’re just princesses, how much can I learn from them?” just continue reading. Disney’s first princess, Snow White, remains relevant in our lives after several movie and TV reincarnations. After I first saw the original movie when I was eight, I tried singing just like her. However no furry friends came to my help. As I remember how Snow received help from her seven dwarves, I recall how much people can benefit from the generosity of strangers. Now, in high school, it is quite rare that we need the help of strangers, or have situations in which we are able to provide help either. I remember many a time when I used to have the Mulan song “I’ll make a man out of you” play while studying for finals. Now that I think about it, I guess that is what Mulan was

all about: motivating herself to do the impossible. As a woman strong enough to take her father’s spot and join the army, she is obviously out of her comfort zone, but she sets her mind to do what she think is right, like any Disney heroine. If I am in an uncomfortable situation, I think back to Mulan and how she didn’t give up and instead stayed strong. Look at what she accomplished, anyone could do the same. Last but not least, the girl who’s nothing like the rest of us. Beauty and the Beast is a movie where “don’t judge a book by its cover” goes a long way. Belle sees Beast for who he is, not the monster that everyone sane sees him as. I mean, if I were locked up in a house

Angela Liu| El Estoque Photo Illustration

with a man who looked like a monster, I’d do everything in my power to get the heck out of there. But no. Not Belle. In truth, she sees the best in everyone, and teaches us not judge by appearances. p.ravikiran@elestoque.org

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

MULTIMEDIA To learn more about first experiences, visit elestoque.org.

myFIRSTS

We’ve all had our firsts, but for ROP teacher Dale Barcellos, senior Varun Jain and junior Aditi Gupta, their firsts were truly one of a kind. From car crashes, to martial arts, to milk trucks, the MVHS teacher and students share some of their first experiences.

Story and photos by Rachel Beyda and Emily Vu

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teacher Dale

Barcellos

Teacher Dale Barcellos may currently teach ROP classes, but at age 17, his first job was driving a milk truck from Morgan Hill to Hollister and back. His job included stocking retail outlets with milk, egg nog and butter, as well as making sure that the oldest products were in the front of the displays so that they would not spoil before they were purchased. The last stop on his route was an A&W restaurant, where Barcellos would then convieniently work at following his day job delivering milk. One day, he was running late on his route and was consequently late to his job at the restaurant. Unfortunately, Barcellos’ employers were not sympathetic to his tardiness. “I got fired from both of my first jobs on the same day,” Barcellos said.

APRIL 9, 2012

CAR senior Varun

Jain

Wash it. Wax it. Polish it. It’s part of his weekly routine, but it hasn’t always been this way — his first car was different. Senior Varun Jain received a Mercedes ML320 from his dad as his first car, which he initially found worms in. But a friendly race with a friend soon turned into a risky crash, resulting in two totalled cars and a cracked wall in his house. Luckily, no one was injured. Even though the household placed a large boulder in that spot to prevent any further accidents, Jain doesn’t want to be reminded. “I was destroyed for a while,” Jain said. “I never wanted to drive again, but there’s never a way to move on if I just stop driving.” Since the accident, Jain claims he takes much more care of his new Infiniti G37 because he would never want to hurt it.

junior Aditi

all-

Gupta

NIGHTER Unlike many students, junior Aditi Gupta’s first all-nighter was not spent studying for a test or going to a party. Instead, she followed the tradition of her mixed training studio, Ernie Reyes Martial Arts Studio, and stayed up with her teammates the night that they received their black belts. They played games and talked through the night. “After six months of intense training, [my teammates and I] finally got a chance to bond and relax,” Gupta said. According to Gupta, the tradition of staying up an entire night was a powerful experience that allowed her to get to know the people who had shared a common goal and worked beside her for so long. r.beyda@elestoque.org | e.vu@elestoque.org

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SPECIAL

THE

BORN IDENTITY

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f you looked at MVHS from space, you would see a myriad of colors. We are composed of dozens of ethnicities from all over the world. Some have lived here for several generations; some moved here only days ago. Whether you fall within one of those groups, or somewhere in between, chances are you have a culture tied to your ethnicity that is far removed from America. This month’s Special Report will be documenting the cultural waters that students, parents and teachers navigate and explore as they attempt to bridge the gap between their roots and their current location. Many times this can result in a marriage of cultures, but just as often a dissonance, or even a clash, can occur. As you read these stories of different people displaced from their ethnic roots, you may encounter aspects of different cultures that you have not noticed before. Or, who knows, maybe you have walked down that path before. Maybe you are still walking it.

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PRACTICING ISLAM From agnostic to strongly religious, the Ali-Ahmads represent varying perspectives on Islam.

Kevin Tsukii | El Estoque

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This American life

An Islamic family on faith, discrimination and choices in America, post-9/11 by Sara Yang

e was in preschool at the time and his family was living in Westborough, Mass. He was too young to understand what was happening that day. All the students at his school, a private Islamic school, were sent home. Freshman Anwar Ali-Ahmad simply felt confused. His mother Colleen Ali-Ahmad was teaching her second class of the day at the same school when she got a knock on the door. School administration pulled her out of class and informed her that a plane had hit the World Trade Center’s North Tower in New York City, but advised against sharing the news with her fifth grade students. But soon there was another knock on the door. The second plane had hit, and it was time to send all students home. By the time Anwar’s father, Wissam Ali-Ahmad, had gotten off the subway en route to his workplace in Boston, news of the 9/11 terrorist attacks had already spread. The streets were empty. It reminded him APRIL 9, 2012

of his hometown in Lebanon, rife with conflict from the civil war — something he thought he had left when he immigrated to the United States in 1993. “Islamophobia” Following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Colleen picked up her second son, Ahmad Ali-Ahmad, from daycare. The staff had never treated her differently before. On that day, they did. She and her three-year-old son went straight home. In the days after the attacks, the family did not go out much. When they went to the mall, Collen recounts that other parents would pull their children away to avoid close contact. Both Colleen and Wissam wondered how they would be perceived from there on out. In Wissam’s opinion, 9/11 marked the onset of “Islamophobia” through the country. “After [Sept.] 11, I had to defend my religion, I had to explain it more … I had to go back to myself and think about what the core essence of 25


SPECIAL REPORT PLACE OF WORSHIP Anwar and his family come to pray at the Muslim Community Association mosque in Santa Clara along with hundreds of other practicers of Islam.

Christophe Haubursin | El Estoque

Islam is,” Wissam said. “It was challenging … to be Muslim and be at [Sept.] 11.” At the time, Colleen wore a hijab, a traditional headscarf worn by Muslim women, making her perhaps the most visible target of discrimination. Her son had blonde hair and blue eyes at that age, and according to Wissam, he bore little indication of his Islamic identity. In the years that followed, she faced comments like, “Go back to your country!” and once, while driving on the freeway in New York, was threatened by a passing driver with a gun. Wissam suggested that she remove her hijab during the tense times post-9/11, but Colleen did not. “I felt like, my faith is important to me, I’m not going to change. I still kept my hijab on all those years,” Colleen said. “As someone who

was visibly Muslim, I represented Islam … If I responded to someone negatively or yelled at them or did something, I was speaking for my entire faith.” Facing discrimination Though Colleen, of Irish and Russian heritage, was raised a Russian Orthodox Christian, she converted to Islam in 1992. Raised in a homogenous white Christian community, an environment unfriendly to change, she remembers that her neighbors once chased off the African American family that had just moved in. Most families had lived in the area for generations, and since her parents were the first ones to put down roots, her family was considered unusual. For a while, they were


treated as outsiders. “They were ‘Communists,’ ‘pinkos,’ you know, it was that time when the Russians were the evil ones, and they really had to struggle,” Colleen said. “You’re shaped by all your experiences, but also by your family’s experiences. Now I think it’s more acceptable if you retain your culture, retain your language, more than it was back then … We were not allowed to speak Russian because they didn’t want people judging. We had to be American.” Moving to Boston for college provided her first taste of diversity and Islam. She wore her hijab for 16 years as a constant reminder of her faith, only removing it during a tough divorce in 2009 — when she felt that keeping it on would only push her permanently away from Islam. Today, she feels that her connection to the religion is as strong as ever. Yet when she mentioned to her three children — Anwar, Ahmad and her daughter Iyah — that she might wear the hijab again, they spoke against it. “I think [the kids] like now being seen as a normal American family,” Colleen said. “We still practice our faith, we still celebrate the holidays and go to prayer and things like that but ... I think it is easier on them.” Anwar currently identifies as agnostic. He participates much less in prayer and Islamic holidays than when he was younger. He says his gravitation towards logic and science has contributed to his slight dissent from aspects of the religion. At the same time, he feels that society harbors hatred and prejudice toward the religion. “When there’s so much discrimination going around about Islam … it sort of feels like it invades who I am, like what [I] am defined by. It feels more uncomfortable than ashamed,” Anwar said. “I would just define myself as a guy … who just happens to be Muslim, or at least in a Muslim family.”

When Wissam moved to Boston as a graduate student at MIT, religion provided a sense of identity. Yet in the years since then, he also grew frustrated with the way people MUSLIMS IN AMERICA categorized him through religion. “People don’t distinguish … For more profiles on culture and religion. Like I would say, ‘Oh Muslim students, visit elestoque.org. yeah, I am Muslim. But you know, I come from Lebanon, we’re very open. We don’t require women not to drive cars, that’s Saudi Arabia. That’s different,’” Wissam said. “And it’s frustrating, people view all the Arab world as one thing.” This I believe Anwar’s parents still practice Islam, but they accept his stance on religion. According to Wissam, they are now more lenient with their children’s religious perspectives. “[Anwar is] at a stage where he doesn’t want to be identified as one thing, he wants to leave his options open,” Wissam said. “He’s entitled to his opinion and it’s great that he’s opening up. And even myself when I was growing up, I would question things and I would go and seek [answers].” Colleen, who has been religious since childhood and has found sincere fulfillment through her conversion to Islam, and hopes that her children somewhat retain their faith as well. “Everyone has to go through their own life choices, right?” Colleen said. “It’s absolutely normal and it’s part of the growth and I mean, I’ll still love him. Whatever he chooses, he’s my son and I support him.” s.yang@elestoque.org


SPECIAL REPORT

Adapting to America The journey to becoming an Asian-American leads to relinquishment by Daniel Tan

I

t’s been a year since she moved from China to America, but freshman Banny Wong doesn’t observe American holidays unless she is with friends. She converses with waiters at restaurants, uncharacteristically talkative with strangers compared to the Chinese people she knew in her home country. She sees value in buying clothes just because they look good, as opposed to her parents, who sometimes do not even buy replacement shoes or clothing when they are worn out. Wong is not entirely Chinese, nor is she entirely American. Rather, she is a mixture of both. She’s Chinese-American. Staying close to the roots It has been a year since junior Stephanie Wu moved to America, and she is loving the freedom that comes with being a part of the American culture. Unlike in her native Taiwan, American parents let their children do what they want, and Wu has taken advantage of that — since the beginning of the school year, Wu has joined an art club and formed her own band with a group of friends. She also enjoys what she considers as the American value of freedom of thought. In Taiwan, Wu used to memorize all of the content in her classes, even if she did not understand it. Now, it’s different.

Do you identify more with your ethnic heritage or American culture?

66%

American culture

34%

ethnic heritage

Do you find it difficult to maintain your cultural heritage in America?

71% said yes

29% said no

Do you believe it is important to carry your cultural heritage with you in the future?

85% said yes

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15% said no

“For solving some problem or some argument I think deep[ly], but before [in China] I just [said], ‘I don’t know,’” Wu said. Although Wu sometimes returns to her Taiwanese style of thinking, she harbors no doubts on her newly-acquired value of expressing her thoughts freely. Wong, however, is conflicted: she doesn’t know whether or not being as open as Americans is a good thing. “[Other students] just hug you and even kiss you and they say, ‘Oh, you are so smart’ and ‘You are so great,’” she said. “In China, we do not like to [say that].” She recalls a conversation with an Filipino-American girl she was staying with when she first moved to America. “I talk about sex with [her],” she said. “But I thought ‘Are you a good girl?’ because she talks open[ly] about sex.” A little uncomfortable with what she sees as the American willingness to talk about subjects that many Chinese would avoid, that openness is also a reason why Wong wants to be more American. “It’s because [an] American has very free mind and you can say anything you want,” she said. Though Wong enjoys and embraces some American values, she identifies more with her non-American roots. She especially wants to maintain her knowledge and passion for the Chinese language. While reading Chinese poems, she is able to find deeper meanings in them, something that non-native Chinese speakers may not be able to uncover. “When I was talking with [an American-born Chinese friend], she is very good at Chinese, but she cannot understand the poem, the Chinese language — I mean the real Chinese language, not just for the talking,” Wong said. She also wants to continue to work as hard as she was when she was a Chinese student. She cannot understand why some of her classmates don’t work as hard as she does. “[The] last time we [had] a very big project, [the] American people just [thought], ‘I spend an hour a day and then I do something else,’” Wong said. Wong instead does not procrastinate and finishes her projects as soon as possible, improving them in her spare time. Wu, though more accepting of American values, feels the same way about being more Taiwanese than American. She believes that it may be her lack of cultural reference. “Sometimes other American students will always talk about, “Did you watch some show last night? Or what movie’s good, but I always not interested in that topic,” Wu said. She wishes to keep virtues she believes are native to her country, such as patience — more specifically, waiting for others to finish talking and not interjecting, something she sees American students doing more often. EL ESTOQUE


And there is one American characteristic Wu doesn’t want to develop: their loudness.

CHEESY Had junior Qingxian Liu stayed close to her Chinese roots after moving to America, she never would have enjoyed eating American foods such as salad and cheese. Today, she enjoys eating those foods, even though her mother does not.

Embracing the American identity Loud is what junior Mike Liu, a bilingual tutor for the English Language Development program, might have become. Now three years into his life in America, he remembers one time when he was visiting his home country of Taiwan and perhaps spoke a little too loudly to a friend. “Everyone stared at me and looked me like I was a weirdo,” he said. Liu has completely embraced American culture. During his first year in America, Liu believed that he should keep as many Taiwanese traditions as possible. But he does not think that anymore. “We need to change, to do the same thing as American people, so we basically need to change everything we have,” Liu said. Junior Qingxian Liu, another bilingual tutor who also moved to the United States three years ago, feels more American than Chinese now. One thing she has embraced is the American value of enjoying life and having fun. She sees American holidays as an example of that fun. “In China, people don’t celebrate Christmas, Halloween, but I do that in here, and I really enjoy it,” she said. The fun she has celebrating holidays is an example of Mike’s reason why people decide to emphasize one culture over another. “It’s how much you enjoy this social group and how much you enjoy the United States,” he said. “You feel like you’re a part of the United States and you will like to change it.” Another quirky reason Qingxian believes she is now more American than Chinese is her love of American food. “I eat salad and cheese, and in China they do not have cheese,” she said “[At first] I was like, ‘Ew, what’s that?’ It was weird.” Even though both Mike and Qingxian want to become more American, they believe that it is easy for others to continue following their native cultures if they choose to. They also agree that they should keep the most important Chinese customs, such as celebrating Chinese New Year and other traditions with history behind them. But the rest? “The others, we totally just wipe it out,” Mike said. But it’s not as easy as that. Not as easy as Wu and her family deciding to become Christians and join a church a year ago. Not as easy as Wong being able to watch anti-Chinese government videos on YouTube, which have changed her views regarding her home country. Not as easy as Mike dressing as American as possible. Not as easy as Qingxian’s mother simply telling her, “You’re American now, you’re not Chinese anymore.” d.tan@elestoque.org

APRIL 9, 2012

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SPECIAL REPORT

Two paths, one destination Parents of different ethnicity, and how their children must balance the two

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by Simran Devidasani and Cynthia Mao

unior Douglas Sefton takes after his father in terms of height. “My dad’s 6-foot-3 and mom’s 5-foot-2. He’s a big fat white guy and she’s a small Chinese girl.” Sefton’s parents also have dissimilar personalities. Sefton’s father is more jocular, lenient and messy; his mother is stricter and keeps things neat and tidy. She places emphasis on schoolwork, while he values hobbies like playing guitar and working on cars. Adopted from Korea when she was barely a toddler, English teacher Mikki McMillion had a similar experience of clashing cultures as she grew up in Guam and Germany — two places where access to Korean culture was limited. Her adoptive parents, both white, bought her Korean books. However, McMillion was raised in a predominantly American environment with American values. “I really grew up thinking I was white,” she said. Dealing with acceptance McMillion was raised in places lacking easy access to her Korean heritage. Her childhood, subsequently, was fairly devoid of Korean culture, except for a few books and clothes. McMillion says that while she

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possess “white” mannerisms and speaks English, her Asian appearance prevents any true welcome into either ethnic group. “You throw me into a group of Koreans, and even though I look it, I don’t fit in,” she said. “You throw me in a group of Caucasians, and even though I speak the language [and] know the culture, I don’t fit in there either. I’m not really fully accepted on [either] side.” Now that she lives and works in Cupertino, McMillion is exposed to what she calls a “mixed atmosphere,” in which both American and Asian traditions are prevalent. In the end, physical similarity is an important factor in determining integration of cultures. “I don’t think [my kids] know it,” McMillion said, “but physically, they fit in and are not outcasted because we live in an Asian-dominated community.” The junction Ultimately, Sefton values assimilation over preservation of cultural roots. This is partly because people at his age do not especially value heritage and homelands. But the main reason why Sefton downplays his Chinese heritage is because he lives in America. While his family celebrates Chinese New Year and his mother tries to get him to speak

EL ESTOQUE


“Students bring me [Korean] food and books ... it’s really cute.” McMillion’s husband, who was raised in Santa Cruz, was not accustomed to different cultures. But after raising two half-American, halfKorean sons, they adopted Lauren, a six-month-old baby girl from Korea, in December 2004. McMillion’s sons, ages 14 and 11, view Lauren without any regard to her race. The boys themselves don’t even seem to notice that they are half-Asian, according to McMillion. “Sean was perplexed when someone in his class asked him whether he spoke Chinese,” McMillion said. “[He and his brother] didn’t even realize they were half-Asian for a long time.” Elvin Wong | El Estoque In her teenage years, McMillion struggled to ETHNIC LABEL Because English teacher Nikki McMillion grew up in Guam and Germany find some semblance of cultural identity. She felt despite her Korean heritage, she grew up feeling out of place among each ethnic group. she needed to attach herself to a race, but neither Half-Caucasian, half-Asian junior Douglas Sefton is forced to merge his parents’ cultures. seemed to fit. “You do grow up worrying about having some label or name,” McMillion said. the language, Sefton feels strong connections to his American heritage. Now, as an adult, she’s content spanning two ethnicities. She fully Although he says he has acquired his mother’s predilection for neatness, supports Lauren’s desire to hold onto her Korean heritage. “If [Lauren] Sefton considers himself more like his father and more American. It is the opposite for McMillon, who believes that living in this area wants to get into Korean dance ... I’ll take her and we can both go learn.” has reintroduced her to Korean culture. “We have so much access to Asian and Korean culture,” she said. s.devidasani@elestoque.org | c.mao@elestoque.org

s.devidasani@elestoque.org | c.mao@elestoque.org

APRIL 9, 2012

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EL ESTOQUE


The road not taken

Seniors Julie Qi, Julia Wang must choose whether to pursue art in college

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story and photos by Rachel Lu

incent van Gogh, the Dutch post-Impressionist painter, is famous for pieces like “Cypresses” and “The Starry Night.” Though he is worldrenowned today, van Gogh was virtually unknown during his lifetime, and thus even he struggled to make a living as an artist. Seniors Julie Qi and Julia Wang have heard about the risks about pursuing art. Now they face the dilemma of deciding between an art major or something else. Both have been accepted into Rhode Island School of Design, which was ranked as the number one Fine Arts program by U.S. News and World Report. Qi has set her mind on two majors that fall on opposite spectrums: art and biology. Wang faces the same issue but has not decided on what she would like to pursue besides art. Qi has been drawing ever since she could pick up a pencil, taking her first art class when she was five. Art is a mode of self expression as she finds it very introspective for her. She told her parents about her desire to pursue art as a career for the first time in eighth grade, which ended in a fight. “They literally would not let me draw. Every time they saw me drawing they would get really mad.” Qi said. During the summer in eighth grade, Qi recalls spending hours every day just drawing. She would wake up and draw without taking any breaks, not even to eat, until past midnight. She did this for about a month. Wang shares similar reservations although she has never had any conflicts with her parents about the subject. Like Qi, she has been doodling for as long as she can remember. After years of drawing Sailor Moon characters, her parents finally took her to an art class in fifth grade. Since then, she has found her love for oil painting. “My dad really wanted to be a boat designer, so he knows what it’s like to want to do something out of the ordinary,” Wang said.

Still, she indicates that there is an emphasis others,” Zhou said. “It is too early to make a commitment to become a fine art artist.” placed on finding a stable job. Qi and Wang recognize that growing up “I think that because they are immigrants, it’s harder for them to let me do [art] because in America has offered them many more if they didn’t have a job, they‘d have to go opportunities than their parents. Thus they are back,” Wang said. “They always told me that not so much concerned with finding financial [a] career is the most important thing ever; you security after their parents have established it. They are able to freely explore art without have to think really hard about it.” For Qi’s parents, they opened up more to worrying about creating a better future, but her having art as a hobby after realizing that now, as they graduate, their future becomes it could be used as a supplement for college their concern. “For the longest time I was sure I wanted to applications. They were also a little more open to it as a career, but not by much. Qi notes go to art school but now that I’m at the point where I have to make that decision that her parents came of either an art school or a normal from much harsher Now that I’m at the university, I’m kind of like,‘Oh circumstances and point where I have to well that’s a big risk,’” Wang said. worked their way make that decision of For Qi, she would not mind to America, so she understands their either an art school or choosing biology, even if it means reservations. Qi’s a normal university, I’m giving up art, because she feels it is important to look at the options mother Kelly Zhou kind of like, ‘Oh well she has now. She does not want came to Pennsylvania that’s a big risk’ to throw away the opportunity to 18 years ago to earn senior Julia Wang study biology just because she has her PhD in Biology and a passion for art. Qi and Wang see the risks now works in the pharmaceutical field. “My parents were brought up in practical in art, and both take their parents‘ advice terms just because [of] the environment they seriously. They acknowledge that although were in,” Qi said. “My father was literally being able to pursue one’s passion has its from the countryside. He literally came from benefits, the reality is that the benefits of a nothing to America. The reason why they’re stable career are much easier to attain. “My recommendation to those kids is to so practical is that they are afraid. They don’t explore more opportunities, apply the fine want me to live like they did.” According to Zhou, art teacher Brian Chow art talent into applicable field, learn more in has explained to many parents the guidelines college ... then make a selection according to an art career in that the student must find to the passion, the job opportunity, and the a way to apply their talent into an applicable reality,” Zhou said. “When you have spare field. For this reason, she encourages her time, spare money, then enjoy!” By this time, all colleges have released daughter to explore other careers because of the limited job opportunities in art, or at least their admission decisions. Qi and Wang join a career that would allow Qi to apply art to the hundreds of other seniors who now must commit to one school. As of now, both are another field. “Art is important in many aspects of one’s undecided, and they have until May 1 to make whole life, but as high school students, they their decision. also need to learn new knowledge, establish r.lu@elestoque.org a solid foundation, especially math, physics, chemistry, biology, literature, history and

THE PORTFOLIO Clockwise from bottom left: Senior Julia Wang; Senior Julie Qi; “Fine Dining” by Julia Wang, inspired by Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game”; ”Can You See?” by Julie Qi embodies an introspective perception of the world; “City Beneath the Desert” by Qi illustrates a sepulchral city with levels of seperation APRIL 9, 2012

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IN THE TIME THEIT WEIGHT TAKES AN AVERAGE READER TO FINISH THIS SENTENCE, SOPHOMORE CARLY REID CAN SWIM His journey brings senior Nathan Schadle to a crossroads: the Olympics, or a regular college by Gisella Joma, Megan Jones and Rachel Lu Photography by Kevin Tsukii

APRIL 9, 2012

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SPORTS

Take nine strokes and kick 36 times total. Sweep past 3.37 standard-sized school buses in preparation for the final five meters of her race. Hit the wall with as much speed as possible, holding her breath so she’ll finish faster.

BOTTOM LINE, SHE’S FAST. by Yaamini Venkataraman

When Reid joined the swimming and diving team last year, she was quick to make her mark. Her times for the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle were among the top 100 in the nation, earning her multiple awards. “Carly swam for us last year as a freshman, where she earned All-American Honors in the freestyle and was a finalist at CCS,” swimming and diving head coach Don Vierra said. “For a freshman, this is amazing.” Last July, her times at Junior Nationals — including 26.6 seconds for 50-meter freestyle and 58.3 seconds for 100-meter freestyle — allowed her to compete in the Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials in Montreal from March 27 to April 1. She initially planned on trying for the U.S. team, but since she didn’t make the cuts and was a Canadian citizen, Reid decided to follow a path her father had started before her. “My dad was actually on the Canadian [swim] team, so I’m kind of in his footsteps,” Reid said. “He went to trials and Nationals and Worlds, but not the Olympics.” At first glance, Reid’s most noticeable feature is her physique. She’s tall and lean — built for freestyle. “She has huge spider hands, and she’s got a good feel for the water,” Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics co-founder instructor Scott Shea, 36

who has been coaching Reid for two years, said. “Good hands can let a swimmer anchor in the water better. She’s about 5’9” and while she could even grow more, that’s a pretty good height for a swimmer.” But natural talent alone hasn’t carried Reid this far. She practices six days a week, Monday through Saturday at PASA, including morning practices on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Aside from swimming, dry-land training ranges from the traditional crossfit and weights to yoga and dance. Due to her busy training schedule, she doesn’t practice at MVHS, but she swims during meets, which usually occur on the weekends. In the water, Reid focuses on her reaction time, especially when it comes to her dives and turns. According to Reid, she trains to shave seconds all-around so she can be more competitive during the trials. “When you get to that level of competition, it’s all about the little things,” Vierra said. “It’s all about the technique of your start, your turns. Pretty much everyone is in the same type of condition — it’s just a matter of doing everything right.” In order to make the Canadian Olympic team, Reid must swim faster than 28.6 seconds to make it to the finals for the 50-meter freestyle, what she considers to be her best event. Although she is fast, each swimmer is

Kevin Tsukii | El Estoque

of the same calibre as she is, and each race becomes more competitive, making it much harder to qualify for the team. “I’m top 20 so it’s going to be hard,” Reid said. “I’m going to try to make finals, but that’s going to be hard. There’s two heats of finals and if you make top two, then you’re on EL ESTOQUE


making of a matador // basketball // wrestling // soccer // feature // sports flash

the team. But I don’t think I’m going top two.” On March 24, Reid and Shea left for the Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials. Although her goal was to make top two, for her, the results don’t matter that much. Regardless, she will train — either for London 2012 or Rio de Janeiro 2016. The second her plane lands in APRIL 9, 2012

California, it’s back to training. Back to crossfit and pilates. Back to morning practices four days a week and evening practices for five days. Back to the pool, where she feels at home.

y.venkataraman@elestoque.org

DIVING IN Sophomore Carly Reid has been training for the past two years for the 2012 Olympic Trials. Her freshman year, her times in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle placed her among the top 100 times in the nation, earning her All-American Honors, something swim coach Don Vierra considers, “amazing.” 37


United we swim. Now introducing the combined aquatics program. by Margaret Lin and Alexandria Poh

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s MVHS swimmers sprinted their way to the opposing pool deck, they approached a growing group of cheering teammates, yelling loudly enough for competitors in every lane to hear their contagious enthusiasm. The entire group radiated so much energy, it seemed like they had always been together. But swimming coach Don Vierra made changes to the swimming program only this season, transforming it into something different. “After Ron [Freeman] left our program there was a big hole to fill,” varsity swimmer senior Clement Chiu said. “Coach Vierra felt that it would be better to bring the whole program together just to make sure that our sense of unity and our sense of team would still be intact after our great leader left.” In previous years, there were separate coaches for the boys and girls swimming teams. This year, due to the melding of the 38

teams, collaboration among the two coaches and four captains — two for junior varsity and two for varsity — is far more frequent in order to serve the needs of the 84 swimmers. According to JV captain sophomore Rahul Madanahali, since the teams have merged together, they have discovered a newfound unity that provides a competitive advantage over rival schools. “It really looks good when you see a team get together all at the same time, especially [when we] warm up together, swimming all the same sets, all at the same time,” Madanahali said. “To a level, it can be a little intimidating for other teams as well, [so] being a joint team this year factors into our performance as well.” Oh captain, my captain In addition to the combining of the teams, two underclassmen will share the captaincy with two upperclassmen. In previous years,

the positions were traditionally held by upperclassmen only. Last year, Vierra and cocoach Jessica Suess addressed the team and asked those who were interested in captainship to personally speak to the coaches about it. “There were only four people who came and stepped up to the challenge,” Suess said. “So those four people who wanted the job got it.” The captains this year are juniors Evan Li and Kevin Su, as well as sophomores Madanahali and Jackie Do. According to Do, the change in usual captains has been a positive one for the team. “It’s different in the sense that you’re given a different perspective,” Do said. “There’s a lot more representation this year and now people are a lot more open.” The captains on the swim team are in charge of organizing fundraisers, ordering team apparel and leading cheers during meets. They also serve as the team’s general representatives and leaders. According to varsity swimmer junior Elizabeth Zhang, there was some initial opposition towards the new underclassmen captains, since having underclassmen as captains is a concept almost unheard of for most sports teams. “Some people disagree with [the new captains] because a lot of people [believe that] if we could vote on the captains, the captains would be different,” Zhang said. “For other EL ESTOQUE


GOING SWIMMINGLY Junior Elizabeth Lee and sophomore Donovan Phua work to hold a sign underwater, which shows swimmers the number of laps they have swum. This year marks the first time boys and girls will be competing on the same team.

Margaret Lin | El Estoque

swim teams they get to vote on their captains, but on this team the coaches pick the captain. You don’t get a say in who’s leading your practices and it’s unfair to the people who could qualify better.” Nevertheless, the swim team adjusted over time. Zhang understood that the coaches would always have the right to choose who would be captain, and that this year would be no different. In addition to the recent changes, she has noticed that the overall team bond is stronger and she is happy about the new system as a whole. “[The new changes] mainly just give you more of a MVHS swim team [feeling] versus the [separate] girls team and the boys team,

so we’re more as a whole. It’s definitely more crowded in the lanes during practice because it’s boys and girls together, but people are glad because [this year], there’s people cheering for them during their race,” Zhang said. “It feels nice to know that there’s people watching you.” Additional alterations In order to meld the aquatics program, Vierra and Suess decided to implement some rules that were previously exercised in the girls swimming team alone. With these rules came a clearer attendance policy, limiting a swimmer to only five unexcused and five excused absences before being dropped from

The Numbers 18 girls

*

Freshmen: 4 Sophomores: 6 Juniors: 3 Seniors: 5 APRIL 9, 2012

13 boys Freshmen: 2 Sophomores: 2 Juniors: 8 Seniors: 5

the team. “There was just a select few [swimmers] that had to get their priorities straight so they didn’t do swim team this year. It’s kind of hard to do swim team with a coach that demands so much commitment to the team because no other team has morning practices twice a week,” Madanahali said. “But it’s positive, because it’s kind of like a test to see if you’re really dedicated to the team. If you do it in the beginning then you just stick to it until the end.” The second major change was that there are now cuts on the boys team, whereas before these cuts were exclusively on the girls team. Before this year, anyone who tried out for the boys swim team and was diligent about attending practices was allowed on the swim team, but were not necessarily allowed to compete in all the meets. “This year, because of the cuts, if you’re on the team then you’re in the races,” Zhang said. “Last year, you only saw people at practices and not at meets, so it wasn’t very team-like. But this year, we practice together and race together.” Although only a few weeks into the season, according to Vierra, the results of these changes are very apparent. “Coach Suess and I have 100 percent support [for the new changes]. The team has really bought into [the adjustments] and they’re really feeding off of it. It brings me chills when I think about our practices and how we come together as a team, and the boys and girls cheer for each other and support each other,” Vierra said. Madanahali, in particular, is looking forward to a strong season. “It’s not just about coming to practice; you have to be there mentally, physically, and be supportive for the team,” Madanahali said. “As girls and boys collaborate better, cheer for each other ... that’s what different, and what I like better.” m.lin@elestoque.org | a.poh@elestoque.org

*only applies to varsity

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Yaamini Venkataraman and Elvin Wong I El Estoque Photo Illustration

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EL ESTOQUE


making of a matador //swimming //baseball //feature feature // sports flash

COACH B. El Estoque sits down with Nick Bonacorsi to discuss his future plans for the baseball team

as told to Emma Courtright

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n his five seasons with MVHS baseball, Nick Bonacorsi has been the head coach of the junior varsity team and the assistant coach of the varsity team. But when P.E. teacher Brian Sullivan stepped down, Bonacorsi decided it was time to apply to be the head coach of varsity baseball. Now working with social science teacher and assistant coach Robbie Hoffman, Bonacorsi envisions the team placing first in the El Camino League, and hopes to make it all the way to CCS. El Estoque: Was there a deciding moment where you said to yourself, “This is what I want; I want to coach varsity baseball?” Bonacorsi: I knew I wanted to coach baseball [ever] since I stopped playing baseball. I played for half a year in college before I got hurt, and then I knew eventually I’d come back to it. I’ve always wanted to coach. EE: What has coaching taught you so far? B: Coaching is definitely much different than playing. My first couple years coaching were a big learning curve, being on the other side of the game and setting the line ups, and trying to figure out what strategies are going to be best

APRIL 9, 2012

for you in that specific game. When you play you just play, and you don’t really think about any of the strategy that goes into it, or at least you don’t think about it a lot. So that’s one of the biggest things I’ve been working on — the behind the scenes stuff like scouting the teams we’re going to play, knowing the pitching staff on the other team, knowing tendencies of other pitchers — the stuff that will give us any advantage we can. EE: Since becoming the head coach, have you grown in any way? B: Well, I think my personality dictates the way I coach. I’m not really a screamer, like some coaches, and I try not to coach that way because it makes it more of a stressful environment. EE: How do you compare yourself with the coach you had in high school? B: I’m nowhere near him. I went to Bellarmine High School, and he still holds the record for most wins of any coach ever to coach at Bellarmine, he’s being inducted into their hall of fame next month actually, and so he was really a lifetime coach. At least at this point now I’d be super happy if in twenty year I’m

still coaching somewhere, still having fun because I just love this sport. EE: What do you think playing sports does for individual players? B: I was a really competitive kid growing up, and still am, and I still get really upset when we lose, or if we don’t play the way I think we should play. So I think that’s something that is good for all kids growing up, is getting that outlet for stress and getting to compete in different ways outside of school. Especially with this school because it is so academically based that any of the sports the kids are playing are really helpful to them I think. It’s about getting a different taste of what high school is like: being competitive, getting to have fun, competing against different schools, competing against your friends, and challenging yourself. EE: Lastly, where do you see the current varsity baseball team going? B: We make goals at the start of the year, and we have two very clear goals. The first goal was for us to win our league, and our second goal was to make CCS. e.courtright@elestoque.org 41 41


SPORTSFLASH Christophe Haubursin | El Estoque

Kevin Tsukii | El Estoque

1 2 3 4

Kevin Tsukii | El Estoque

Dickson Tsai | El Estoque

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EL ESTOQUE


1 BADMINTON

2 BOYS VOLLEYBALL

3 GIRLS SOFTBALL

4 INTRAMURAL

Junior Ryan Ke follows through on his smash while freshman Justin Ma stands ready to continue the rally in their doubles match versus Gunn High School on March 29. Overall, MVHS defeated Gunn 22-8. According to head coach Charley Situ, while their singles players were about evenly matched, MVHS doubles “dominated”. As of March 30, the varsity badminton team had only been defeated in one match against Milpitas High School. MVHS will visit Cupertino High School on April 3 before facing Milpitas again on April 5.

Senior Avery Hua tips the ball over the net as two Mountain View High School middle blockers jump up to defend. MVHS lost to Mountain View 1-3 (2325, 26-24, 25-23, 25-23) on March 28. The team regrouped during their match against Harker the following day, winning in three sets and making their league record 4-2. MVHS took away a victory at the Watsonville Tournament on March 31, winning in the final match over Westmont High School 2-0 (25-15. 25-21). The tea, will face Los Gatos High School after Homestead High School.

Junior Kylie Page looks at a high pitch during the match against Wilcox High School, which they lost 2-3 on March 23. The Lady Matadors (9-7, 1-1) lost their following non-league game versus Mountain View High School 4-5 on March 26, but they shut out Fremont High School 8-0 on March 29 for their first league win. Senior Julia Peters leads the team with a .565 batting average and 17 RBI, while freshman Noa Yakir has hit .458 with three home runs. Softball plays against Santa Clara High School on April 4 and a twogame series versus Los Gatos High School on April 10-11.

This year’s annual intramural basketball tournament featured 156 people on 27 teams. On March 30 at lunch, Miley Lovers and The Abusement Park faced off in the gym during the intramural basketball finals. Miley Lovers consisted of seniors Miles Quan, Brandon Tiongson, Aravind Sridhar, David Ching and juniors Rohit Bhatt and David Lai. The Abusement Park had seniors Kevin Chang, Jason Huang, Jordan Sheade, Thomas Jennings, Adhi Watave and junior Cory Low. Miley Lovers won with a final score of 30-28.

APRIL 9, 2012

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ON FIRE Junior David Lai (left) dribbles in to score his first two points early in the second half of the final intramural basketball game on March 30. The MIley Lovers won the game 30-28, the first time in three years.

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Kevin Tsukii | El Estoque

EL ESTOQUE


making of a matador// swimming // baseball // feature // sports flash

Final second comeback

Junior David Lai scores in the last seconds to win intramural basketball by Patrick Xie

F

or the past two years, the Miley Lovers just sprinted and jumped up.” Senior Brandon Tiongson knocked the have made it to the final round of the intramural basketball tournament, but ball away from Jennings, leaving it loose at always fell short. This year, with a clutch steal midcourt. Tiongson dived onto the floor to and a go-ahead lay-up in the final seconds, grab the loose ball and flipped it up to Lai for a lay-up down the right lane to beat the buzzer. they won 30-28 against Abusement Park. “It was intimidating,” “I feel great cause we’ve Tiongson said. “They were all been talking on our Facebook We’ve been talking varsity players, and we only chat for our team,” junior David about this [win] for had two varsity players on our Lai said. “We’ve been talking two years. team. But we’ve been playing about this for two years.” against each other for fun for With 10 seconds remaining, junior David Lai a while now like just random the score was tied 28-28 after pickup games.” Miley Lovers went on a 9-2 The first half was a battle between Jennings run in the final three minutes of the game. Abusement Park’s senior Thomas Jennings had and junior Rohit Bhatt. Jennings sank two the ball in his hands ready to add to his team- important threes and would go on to score two high 18 points. The Miley Lovers, however, more in the second half. Bhatt carried his team in the first half, scoring six points to keep them had different plans. “We picked up defensively,” Lai said. “We in the game. Abusement Park dominated the beginning were really active. We didn’t give up, even though there was only five seconds left, so I of the second half by building their lead to

seven. Jennings continued to be spot-on with his three pointers with four in the game. With five minutes remaining, the Miley Lovers went on a 6-0 run, capped by senior Aravind Sridhar’s shot to cut their deficit to 25-26. The Miley Lovers’ defense settled, allowing only two points in the last five minutes of the game. Lai, who was held to two points the whole game, scored a pivotal three-pointer with 1:20 left to tie the game 28-28. Neither team could find the net in the next minute, but after two turnovers in the final minute of the game, Abusment Park had the ball. With ten seconds left, Jennings was attempting to get in position for the final shot, but Tsionga was able to get a timely steal for the assist to Lai for the win. After three years, the Miley Lovers finally broke their finals curse. And now, they are finally champions. p.xie@elestoque.org

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MARCH 12, 2012

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The

QUIRKS

of MVHS

Sara Yang| El Estoque

KODAK MOMENTS M

ath teacher Joe Kim only briefly stepped out of the classroom, some six or seven years ago. A few minutes later, the handful of walletsized school dance pictures, previously stored in his desk drawer, had made its way onto the wall behind his desk. Kim joined staff in 2003, and the photos trickled in; but the number in his collection — which includes photos from dances, football and Boy Scouts, and senior portraits — began to grow exponentially, as he puts it, just this year. “There’s a sense of anonymity because there’s so many [pictures], right? So people feel comfortable putting it up there,” Kim said. “Like, ‘Hey, it’s okay I put it up … no one even notices it because there’s so many pictures up there!’” The assortment of photos — which now numbers over 200 — was recently reorganized into neat columns and rows. “If I ever come and visit him I can go, ‘Oh, that’s me up there,’” junior Jonathan Tsao, one of the students who reorganized the photos, said. “It’s just a nice feeling to be part of his tradition.” s.yang@elestoque.org


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Volume 42, Issue 7, April 9, 2012