Page 1



Monta Vista High School

Issue III

Volume XLII

November 9, 2011




In a world of old places and new faces, they remain: The stories and lives of a generation past Special Report Page 24



21 6





American Literature students fight for the Honors class title




A look into the supply of school resources available and tentative new plans for construction

8 2

Bridging the gap The Connections program allows ELD students, parents and adminisrators to communication


Remembering our heroes Staff editorial: The community should join together to honors its veterans

City Council


Students should not be expected to care about local government


Work in progress Shortcomings in Study Buddies keep it from living its full potential


Three paths, one goal Three students explore alternatives to the typical college interview

Dancing king

21 30

Freshman Akshay Savale pursues his dream of a career of dancing and acting



Color Guard spins onward Field construction does not stop Color Guard from marching forward



OPINION Honors petition






In his dreams How a comic book influenced veteran Stan Ferris

A war story of friendship Veteran Viola Feyling makes a lifelong friend in the midst of a war

An army holiday


Veteran Wally Johnson remembers the Thanksgiving feast he never had

Rhythm of rowing


Senior Nicole Berge makes sure that all rowers in her boat are in sync


On guard

Freshman Michelle Danese discusses her journey to national fencing success


The rink of success

Senior David Olsson discovered his passion for ice hockey nine years ago




21840 McClellan Road Cupertino, CA 95014 Editor-in-Chief: Karishma Mehrotra Managing Editors: Christophe Haubursin, Yaamini Venkataraman, Ashley Wu, Sara Yang Copy Editors: Karen Feng, Nona Penner, Lisa Zhang Webmaster: Akshay Agrawal Photo Editor: Kevin Tsukii, Elvin Wong News Editors: Akshay Agrawal, Aafreen Mahmood, Anushka Patil Sports Editors: Dickson Tsai, Patrick Xie Entertainment Editors: Yimeng Han, Danielle Kay, Pooja Ravikiran Opinion Editors: Smitha Gundavajhala, Kiranmayi Methuku, Laura Yang Special Report Editors: Cynthia Mao, Daniel Tan, Amelia Yang Business Editors: Rachel Lu, Albert Qiu Public Relations Editor: Emma Courtright, Angela Wang Staff Writers: Rachel Beyda, Nellie Brosnan, Carissa Chan, Stephanie Chang, Simran Devidasani, Amrutha Dorai, Kevin Guo, Gisella Joma, Megan Jones, Soumya Kurnool, Howard Lee, Forest Liao, Margaret Lin, Angela Liu, Jacob Lui, Alexandria Poh, Morahd Shawki, Emily Vu Adviser: Michelle Balmeo Credits Some images in this publication were taken from the stock photography website Mission Statement El Estoque is an open forum created for and by students of Monta Vista High School. Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the journalism staff and not of Monta Vista High School or the Fremont Union High School District. The staff seeks to recognize individuals, events, and ideas and bring news to the MVHS community in a manner that is professional, unbiased, and thorough in order to effectively serve our readers. We strive to report accurately, and we will correct any significant error. If you believe such an error has been made, please contact us. Letters of any length should be submitted via email or mail. They may be edited for length or accuracy. Letters cannot be returned and will be published at El Estoque’s discretion. We also reserve the right to reject advertising due to space limitations or decision of the Editorial Board that content of the advertisement conflicts with the mission of the publication.

NOVEMBER 9, 2011

Did you know

that white people live in Cupertino?

Letter from the editor


n the court my house is located in, seven out of ten households are homes to Caucasian families. In my classes, I am surprised when there are more than three Caucasian students surrounding me. According to real estate research site CLRsearch, in 2010, 50.39 percent of Cupertino citizens were any form of Asian while the MVHS school profile on Schoolloop reports that 75 percent of current MVHS students are Asian. 43.33 percent of Cupertino citizens were Caucasian in 2010 while 21 percent of MVHS students are Caucasian. This is what I think leads to an unnoticed disconnect between the white and very much elderly population of Cupertino (whose children have moved away) and the newer immigrant population (whose children are the sources of the large Asian percentages we see in our school environment). The disparity between percentages is




underplayed and under-acknowledged in our community. But I believe it leads to something pretty significant that is lost from our communal lives. There seems to be this hidden gem tucked in the insides of Cupertino: one that will probably disappear in the coming generation; one that students fail to notice on our isolated campus environment; one that is embedded in the roots of Cupertino at the doorsteps of the houses on the other side of the court. Sometimes, I see hints of this gem from those teachers (especially substitutes) who make brief references to the Cupertino “back in the day.” As a Cupertino citizen and a MVHS student, I can honestly say that I do not know enough about this city’s past. Other cities across America seem to thrive on their history; what was this place like 20, 30, 40 years ago? What has changed? Who lived here? Where are they? A part of this gem, this history, and the answer to these questions must be buried in this subculture of elderly Cupertino citizens, undiscovered by the transitioning population. As a staff, we decided to explore this with our decision to focus on community veteran life as our Special Report topic. This introduction and assimilation of two polarizing populations of this city links to our coverage of the community around us, which is not something our staff should be hesitant about, but instead something to embrace — we don’t want to lose that gem of the mosaic area around us.


75 %

Asian | Screenshot

A COMMUNAL DISCONNECT A breakdown of Cupertino and MVHS demographics show a disconnect within our community between the large white population of Cupertino and the large Asian population of our school. Correction: Page 38 of Oct. 12 issue the following photo credit was covered David Shankbone | Creative Commons by-nd-sa James Franco; Kirk W via Flickr | Creative Commons by-nd-sa Marcia Cross




ave you ever heard of any Honors course at [MVHS] where people say, ‘Oh, that’s so much easier than the non-honors?’” English teacher Mikki McMillion answers her own question — she hasn’t. This year, however, her fifth period American Literature class is fighting to prove that they are working just as hard as students in American Literature Honors classes, if not harder. The 29 juniors have been engaged in dispute with administration for nearly five weeks trying to prove that their course merits an honors level title due to its rigor in comparison with that of Honors. After hearing from friends in American Literature Honors that the course was turning out to be far easier than expected, students of McMillion’s fifth period began to compare the work done in both classes through word of mouth. Junior Rohan Yelsangikar eventually wrote a petition titled “Notification of Disparity” to submit to administration. While the class discussed their frustrations with McMillion, both she and her students say she listened but was not in any way involved with the students’ actions. The petition argued that at that point, American Literature Honors had submitted a single essay outline, had only read “The Crucible”, and had completed “a few discussions” — a phrase the petiton quoted from an unnamed American Literature Honors student. On the other hand, McMillion’s fifth period American Literature class says in the petition that they had completed two full essays, read four short stories, and were “well into” “The Crucible” as well. Administration responds The petition was signed by every student in McMillion’s fifth period American Literature class and submitted to administration in early October. “The fifth period American Literature class, all, during course selection, signed up for American Literature, and they are currently in American Literature, and their teacher has stated that she is teaching American Literature,” Clausnitzer said. He said that he had “good conversations” with American Literature and American Literature Honors teachers, but declined to discuss the details. English Department Chair David Clarke said he was also consulted. “I have confidence that [the teachers] know the difference between [American Literature and American Literature Honors] and they know what they’re doing in those classes,” Clausnitzer said. He and Principal April Scott talked to McMillion’s fifth period class on Oct. 21. “Now we’re talking two grading periods into the semester, so the class is remaining an American Literature class,” Clausnitzer said. In response, the students drew up a second petition, “A Protest Against Administrative Proceedings,” rebutting many points brought up in that 10 minute conversation. For many students, the decision to take American Literature instead of its Honors counterpart was based on the workload of American Literature Honors classes in past years. For others, the decision was made to avoid taking the infamous AP U.S. History and American Literature Honors combination, which during course selection, is generally warned against by teachers, counselors and administration alike. “If I had known [American Literature Honors] was going to be like this 4

I don’t think it’s something [the petitioning students are] making up just for fun. They’re very serious about it; they are very highly motivated. English teacher Mikki McMilion

I don’t buy that every single student [is on board with the petition] ... you absolutely cannot ... just say to [students who may not want to be in an Honors class], ‘Okay, you are going to have to lump it because these kids are demanding a higher level class.’ English Department Chair David Clarke

If I had known [American Literature Honors] was going to be like this [during course selection], I would have been like, ‘Great, I’ll take it.’ How were we supposed to know this would happen?” junior American Literature student Omer Yousef

I have confidence that [the teachers] know the difference between [American Literature and American Literature Honors] and they know what they’re doing in those classes. Assistant Principal Ben Clausnitzer Elvin Wong| El Estoque


literature honors petition // school workspaces // connections // letter to the editor

DOING THE by Anushka Patil

American Literature class petitions for the same course title as its Honors counterpart due to perceived discrepancy in workload [during course selection], I would have been like, ‘Great, I’ll take it.’ How were we supposed to know this would happen?” Yousef said. He believes the American Literature Honors classes are different this year because of “new teachers and a completely different way of teaching,” referring to the fact that both American Literature Honors teachers, Chelsa Anderson and Terri Anderson have not previously taught American Literature Honors at MVHS. Both teachers declined to comment. But Clarke finds nothing wrong with the new approach to American Literature Honors classes this year. He believes that students have come to expect Honors and AP classes to be “a trainwreck” in the first few weeks before grades start to improve. “I don’t think it’s been a trainwreck in American Literature Honors [this year] and that doesn’t mean it’s not a demanding, academically accelerated course — it just means [the teachers] have chosen a different way to deliver their students into the material,” Clarke said. “[But] I think that’s where students are coming from — ‘if the American Literature Honors students aren’t freaking out, there must be something wrong.’”

For students, the only concrete way to define the difference between American Literature and American Literature Honors is to judge workload and assignments. “Sure, essays are not what make a class harder or easier but [American Literature as a whole] you can’t change up the books we read, so [determining rigor] comes down to the assignments we do. American Literature is tougher than we expected, but we can deal with it. We’re just saying, ‘Look, we’re studying at an equal level [with American Literature Honors students] here so make the title the same,’” Yousef said. While Yousef and other students say that the entire class is behind the petitions, Clarke does not buy it, saying that in a regular level American Literature class, there certainly will be students who cannot handle or explicitly chose not to have to handle an Honors level class. “You absolutely cannot ... just say to [students who may not want to be in an Honors class], ‘Okay, you are going to have to lump it because these kids are demanding a higher level class,’” Clarke said.

Future steps for teachers and students According to McMillion and American Literature teacher Lynn Rose, Undefined differences between regular and Honors classes The petition also stated that Clausnitzer had told the class American teachers of American Literature Honors and American Literature have Literature Honors had written four essays, and cited a survey created not met to discuss their courses. In past years, they say, American by junior Mihir Patil to attempt to refute that point. The survey asked Literature, American Literature Honors and American Studies teachers American Literature Honors students how many essays (defined as met to discuss curriculum, binders and lesson plans, but they have not four to five paragraphs with a thesis that was submitted for grading) met this year. “[Those meetings] would be helpful in clarifying they had written. It was publicized on School Loop and the distinction between the courses,” Rose said. Facebook, among other social networking sites. In total, According to Clarke, the teachers have met to 32 students responded and responses varied greatly discuss the use of “The Adventures of Huckleberry from zero to six, but none of the responses said four. Finn” in general American Literature curriculum, After Clausnitzer spoke to the class and asked and meetings like those, which discuss specifics students with further questions to make an appointment in context of a course’s curriculum, are useful. He to see him, Patil and Yelsangikar were the only two believes, however, that additional conversations students who asked to do so. about curriculum will be necessary in the future. But Clausnitzer doesn’t believe that essays alone can The second petition was submitted on Oct. 25. define the rigor of a class, and he reiterated that teachers According to Patil, they haven’t yet received an are professionals who he trusts know the differences Visit to official response from administration. between the two classes. The next step for the American Literature The difference between the two classes, he says, read the full text of includes “a teacher’s thumbprint and personality ... both student petitions. students, who say they do not plan on giving up, is rallying parental support and arranging a meeting depth of analysis and other activities.” According to him, with Scott in the near future. administration does not and should not have guidelines for the difference between the two classes. NOVEMBER 9, 2011



MVHS’s large student body faces limited resources Full-time librarians

California standards


Student body:


210 2519



1 1 per 785 2519 students students per



Maximum capacity:

[[ [[ Seating

12 8

tables chairs each

California standards

per student


per student







[[ 31[[

Rachel Beyda and Christophe Haubursin | El Estoque Photo Illustraiton

by Rachel Beyda and Alexandria Poh


very chair at every table is filled. A long line forms for seats at a computer. Whether they are frantically cramming for an AP Biology quiz or trying to make some time for pleasure reading, many students are spending their free time in the school library. Meanwhile the librarians are trying to make sure the library doesn’t exceed its maximum capacity of 210 people, which represents about eight percent of the student body. 6

Although librarian Susan Marks has only been the librarian since the beginning of the academic year, she is always surprised at how busy the library is during its recently extended hours. But contrary to popular belief, she feels that it is not that the school has too little resources, rather, it is what MVHS has too many of — students — that is causing the issue of a lack of workspace. “They have amazing resources. I came from

a school that struggled ... but in general this school is very well equipped, staffed, etc.,” Marks said. “But MVHS is the biggest [school] in the district, definitely, and I believe I’ve heard that it’s the smallest area-wise.” Not only is the physical space small compared to the student body — so is the librarian to student ratio. The state passed California Model School Library Standards in September 2010, which call for one full-time EL ESTOQUE


construction // literature honors petition // school workspaces // connections // letter to the editor credentialed teacher librarian per every 785 students. As of now, the only person to fit such criteria is Marks herself. But according to Marks, as the state is not currently supplying enough money for schools, California schools refer to the standards as recommendations as opposed to mandatory measures. After all, their expectations for 28 books per student— 72,800 books in total — are hardly realistic for 17,775 books that the library has now. Junior Kevin Lim, who tutors math after school, feels that the lack of books — textbooks, in particular — is the prime handicap of the library. “I think the library itself is fine as it is. The new hours are great, but I just wish they had more copies of textbooks there,” Lim said. “I kind of feel that it’s uncomfortable if I have to ask others for their book, and if they’re not done, I have to scavenge for books when this day and age of budget cuts.” there’s one right there that I just can’t use.” Lynbrook High School recently Though the library is often full, students also added new labs to its campus as well, have the option of using the Career Center as including a Flex Lab where teachers a work space. Students generally start coming can hold their classes. Meant to be to the Career Center more often after the start as flexible and suited for interactive of their junior year for college representative learning as possible, the Flex Lab has visits and application workshops. According movable furniture, two interactive to Career Center liaison Miriam Taba, students whiteboards called Smartboards, come primarily to use the computers and three projectors, retractable cords printer when the library is full or closed. This on the ceiling, laptops and a sound results in various system. resources unique to “The oldthe Career Center — school way SAT books, college of teaching [The new building will catalogs, books to is basically bring] wonderful resources consult on future jobs teacherfor both classrooms and — being overlooked. centered,” “You can lead a LHS librarian students, especially in this horse to water, but K i m m i e day and age of budget cuts. you can’t make it Marks said. drink,” Taba said. “This room MVHS librarian Susan Marks “We have stuff allows a available but we’re student to be not going to drag you a teacher.” here to use it.” LHS administrators are planning on building a Global Learning Lab in The big picture the future, which will be an extended According to Assistant Principal Brad version of the Flex Lab. The Flex Lab Metheany, the FUHSD Board of Trustees has is being used to test what works and approved the tearing down of the cafeteria what does not. building in order to build a new one with a “You people are going to be bigger kitchen to accommodate the large leaders of the free world in the student body. Classrooms will also be built: future,” Marks said, “and we’re just two physics labs, a programming lab, and trying to push the envelope on what a research lab., which will create additional we can do with education to prepare workspaces for students. The construction is you with those 21st century skills.” tentatively planned to occur in January 2013. “It sounds great,” Marks said. “[The new building will bring] wonderful resources for | both classrooms and students, especially in NOVEMBER 9, 2011

Images used with permission of Brad Metheany

MAKING WAY FOR THE NEW Plans for the new cafeteria building and classrooms, which are to begin construction in January 2013. The estimated duration of construction is a year and a half.



literature honors petition // school workspaces


the language gap

construction // connections // letter to the editor

ELD students, parents, administrators network through Connections program 7.3%



strongly disagree

24.4% disagree

43.9% agree

29.3% strongly agree

ELD parent response to: “I would like more information about the U.S. school system.”

92.7% agree

(Above) ELD parent response to: “I know how to communicate with my student’s teachers.”

by Aafreen Mahmood


n average Connections meeting does not consist of average conversations. After Assistant Prinicpal Ben Clausnitzer speaks to parents, translators reiterate his words in three other languages across the library. According to former Assistant Principal Trudy Gross, Connections, a program established to involve parents of English Language Development students in the MVHS community, has existed for over four years. Meetings are held throughout the year for administrators and students to provide parents of ELD students with information about school resources and general advice. “There are lots of things about navigating through high school that are sometimes not quite intuitive,” Gross said. “We make sure that [ELD families get] the same information that other parents would get.” Since many parents of ELD students are immigrants from China, Japan or Korea, Connections helps introduce them to the American educational system. For many immigrant parents, the concept of communicating directly with school administrators and teachers for information on their students’ performance, colleges or courses is foreign. “To be frank, sometimes they feel intimidated to just e-mail teachers,” Ju said. “They don’t feel comfortable talking to teachers and expressing their concern because that’s not part of their culture.” Every year, about ten to 15 parents participate in the program, six of whom must participate in the English Learner Advisory Committee, FUHSD’s “master plan” to gain feedback from parents. The ELAC meetings provide the State Board of Education with 8

information and advice from English Language educators and professionals who recognize the needs of English learners. Data released by the California Department of Education in Title 3 of the Specialized Programs section outlines schools’ English language learners’ performance on the STAR and CAHSEE tests. Though MVHS has been meeting the standards, FUHSD overall has not met the state ELD performance target. Schools that have not met the target for two successive years are required to actively help the ELD students with standardized testing. MVHS, however, uses Connections to maintain consistent communication: the majority of the first meetings focus on informing parents about ELD course levels and standards, guidance resources, and clubs and sports that are available. “Things like clubs and sports and Homecoming ... a lot of that is very American. We want them to have a feel for that, and know how they can encourage their students,” Gross said. “As parents come to our meetings, I have seen them become more comfortable in the school environment.” Throughout the meeting, speakers would periodically pause so that previous ELD students would translate for parents whose first languages are not English. According to Ju, the student translators, having already been through the ELD program, serve an even greater role than the administrators in integrating their parents into the American education system. Junior Risoko Tanida, an ELD student for three years, is currently a Japanese translator

for the parents. As part of ELD program, Tanida found having a translator helpful and wanted to return the favor. “Sometimes I’m worried because I’m not sure if I’m saying [it] right,” Tanida said. “But I thought it was a good opportunity and it’s helpful for parents.” Gross recalls that as parents communicate more with the translators, they built more trust in them. The students use their perspectives to guide parents towards making the best decisions for their children. “[During meetings] I gave some information and then stopped and let the translators talk,” Gross said. “[The translator] might actually translate what I said for two or three minutes and then the rest of the time [parents] would sit there and ask her questions after questions. And I would say, ‘Okay we need to go on with the meeting!’” Parents often of surveyed ELD expressed concern parents said over the college a p p l i c a t i o n their children c o m p l e x i t y , like MVHS. g r a d u a t i o n requirements, or whether taking Sheltered courses would put the ELD students at a disadvantage in regards to college admissions. “There’s that worry of progressing fast enough. Often [parents] would ask us if we could give [their students] more to read and more to write,” Gross said. “[The translators] helped them relax a little bit, and [told them that] more doesn’t always mean better.”


literature honors petition // school workspaces

Home field


construction // connections // letter to the editor


ith the tearing down of the football bleachers complete, MVHS has much to expect in the coming months as construction of the athletic fields goes into full swing. The 40-year-old athletics complex is undergoing a complete modernization project, funded by bond money from Measure B, which was passed in June 2008. Robert A. Bothman Construction is in charge of the project, working with schematics by Elvin Wong by Verde Design. Demolition of the existing athletic Synthetic rubber track structures began on Oct. 13 and is scheduled for completion in December. Herbicide was 100% artificial turf sprayed across the grass to commence the clearing of the fields, and construction of the new fields is to begin in February 2012. Due to MVHS’s smallest square footage compared to other FUHSD schools, space for different sports fields has become of a concern to the administration and the contractor. According to the construction plans, a new concrete retaining wall will run across the New Home Bleacher Capacity Concrete retaining current slope that separates the two fields, 1,849 seats wall to replace maximizing the amount of space allocated for existing slope both fields. “We just don’t have that flexibility [of New stadium facilities space],” Principal April Scott said. “Things 1. Grand entrance Ba 2. Concessions are going to appear that they are in the same se 3. Ticket booths location, but we have been able to be more ba 4. Restrooms ll strategic in how that land is used [with the new designs].” 1. Demolition Robert A. Bothman Construction will be laying Complete - Dec. 14, 2011 208,000 square feet of artificial turf over both fields, 2. Football Stadium which drain quicker than grass and will be usable immediately Complete - Aug. 24, 2012 after or during light rain, according to FUHSD associate superintendent 3. Landscaping and Glenn Evans. Irrigation - Sep. 17, 2012 “A lot of the work will be underground, because nothing has been done 4. Final Completion - Jan. 7, 2013 for 40 years. There will be all-new drainage systems, all new utilities, and both the upper and lower fields will be artificial turf,” Evans said. Among other features, there will be a new entrance to the new football stadium, complete with an ADA-compliant gateway, ticket counters, and concessions stands. The areas around the fields will also have new “wayfinding” signage, which will direct people to different parts of the complex, according to Scott. “It’s going to look like a finished product. There will be a grand entrance to the football field [...] where people show up and it’s like ‘Oh, I know where I’m going’,” Scott said. Soccer Field According to project manager Scott Reeder, Robert A. Bothman Construction is pushing to have the football stadium completed before June 2011 in time for graduation. The administration Elvin Wong | El Estoque Illustration was not aware of this initially, and it only stated that if it were to happen, it will adjust graduation plans accordingly. For more information IN NUMBERS The football stadium is scheduled to be done in on campus-wide QUICK TAKES THE PRICE TAG construction, visit Aug. 2012, and the estimated date of completion Total Cost - $13 million Concrete - 1,629 cubic yards of the complex is early Jan. 2013. Students can Irrigation - 3,400 ft. of drainage pipes Man-Hours - 24,000 access the construction plans in the conference Turf - 208,000 square ft. room in the Main Office.


The road to a new athletic complex begins

Football Stadium



78,000 sq. feet

Lower Field Turf Area

130,000 sq. feet


300 new trees to line the perimeter



The Field

NOVEMBER 9, 2011

literature honors petition // school workspaces


connections // letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor Letters of any length should emailed to, mailed, or dropped off in Room A111. They become the sole property of El Estoque and can be edited for length, clarity and factual accuracy. Letters cannot be returned and will be published at El Estoque’s discretion.

Rethinking class competition Over the past few years, my feelings about Homecoming Week have become more and more mixed. On the one hand, I love all the energy, the activities, the decorations. On the other hand, my enjoyment is increasingly tempered by the discomfort of having to observe the mixed feelings with which the four classes regard each other, and, even worse, the actively bad feelings — anger, despair, resentment — that the emphasis on class competition seems to engender in many students. If one of the goals of Homecoming Week in general, and of the various class competitions in particular, is to draw the students together in school spirit, then I can’t help but question the “success” of the week when many students leave a rally or various lunchtime activities frustrated and disappointed with their classmates in other grades, with the judges of the various competitions, with the very experience of Homecoming itself. Yes, certainly, people ought to lighten up, but how can we expect this when the week — and the entire idea of class competition -— seems constructed to exacerbate tensions and bad feeling between the different grades? I believe that class competition often operates as a self-perpetuating form of hazing, in which students in the lower grades are conditioned to resent the “rigged” competitions and the fact that they “never” win, and are then “promised” the experience as seniors of transferring that stored resentment to the


grades beneath them by beating up on underclassmen and women in any class competition. In fact, it feels as though the more involved the student, the less the experience is about school spirit and the more about class spirit. Unfortunately, this is the kind of “spirit” which breeds anger and resentment in losers, and often arrogance in winners, and which inevitably leaves some seniors literally in tears whenever they manage to lose a class competition. There are aspects of Homecoming Week that seem to bring out the best in MVHS students and staff, and I don’t wish to discount all the hard work and good feelings that the week produces. It seems to me more of a question of how to retain the positives without relying on a system that regularly also produces — in fact, reinforces and perpetuates from year to year — some seriously negative consequences. Unless we are willing to face the fact that portions of Homecoming Week can become a nerve-wracking, frustrating, and ultimately traumatic experience for our most involved and spirted students — and thus for some members of the staff as well — we’re going to be ignoring some very serious and compelling questions concerning what we actually want out of Homecoming Week. — English teacher David Clarke


staff editorial // devil’s advocate // bottom line


comic belief // commentary // letter to the editor


Remembering our heroes

The time has come for the community to recognize and honor its veterans


ith the onset of Veterans Day on Nov. 11, we may briefly reflect upon the sacrifices and legacies of those who fought to keep Cupertino safe. But beyond that, sadly, we only have a hazy picture of what they truly mean to Cupertino. We do not learn about them in textbooks, nor are their stories touted as legend. But they are part of a past that is uniquely ours. Yet this past is largely ignored by newer residents. Most see Cupertino for its future rather than accepting it with its traditions. We can only fix this by educating ourselves about our past. The race to forget In recent years, there has been an increasing divide between those that remember the past and those that look to the future. The future seems to characterize Cupertino, along with the rest of the Silicon Valley. Especially with Apple nearby, it is difficult to pause and reflect without being swept away in the race of modernization. In this frenzy, we are leaving something valuable behind: our history. It is a shame that we are ignoring Cupertino’s history when there is so much to learn from it. In contrast, today’s competition, along with economic troubles and other woes, has fostered disconnect between citizens. What veterans mean to us For all our communicative tools, we don’t stop to talk to our neighbors anymore. Though we are more connected than ever, we are detached from our immediate surroundings. We do not use these tools to educate ourselves on our immediate surroundings. In fact, many of us are are oblivious to the presence of the very people that fought to protect us: our veterans. We are taught about the sacrifices of our veterans. The word “veterans,” however,

Smitha Gundavajhala | El Estoque

DOING JUSTICE: On Veterans Day, we will have a ceremony in which the Vietnam Wall will be brought to this monument at Memorial Park. That will be our chance to recognize and give tribute to heroes of past wars. means little to us beyond heroic images of men and women in uniform. That is no reason for us to forget them. Beyond the occasional ceremony, we rarely see our veterans for who they are: heroes. We hardly even know their names. Coming together Veterans Day is a day to think about the veterans of Cupertino and what they have done to keep this community safe. This Friday, a piece of the Vietnam Wall is being brought to our own monument at Memorial Park. Join the others in celebrating those who dedicated their lives to

THE RACE TO FORGET The problem: We are too consumed by our lives to reflect on our past. EL ESTOQUE

The consequence: We have failed to give proper dues to our veterans.

America. Make the effort to go to Memorial Park’s ceremony and support the veterans that we have not previously recognized. Hopefully, we can begin to connect to each other. The arrival of the wall will bring a chance for us to shed our ignorance and become a community respectful of its veterans. Let us bring back the unity that held us together during our hardships, from the panic of Sept. 11 to the dangerous gunman loose in Cupertino. That bond that we shared Check on elestoque. should be part of our daily lives. As org on Nov. 11 for long as we remember the sacrifices coverage of the our veterans made for us, that goal is memorial ceremony. not beyond our reach.

The solution: Attend the memorial at Memorial Park on Friday and be educated about these heroes’ sacrifices. 11


Local government:


Gilbert Wong, Marty Miller, Homer Tong: What do all these names have in common? These are all people who high school students do not need to care about. Oh, and they also ran for public office in Cupertino. by Kevin Guo Photo Illustration by Ashley Wu, Megan Jones and Christophe Haubursin



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


of students did not know who the mayor of Cupertino was


of students did not know who the candidates in this November’s election were 631 students responded to this survey.


upertino elections were held recently, and for a few days, voting adults rushed to participate in local democracy. Passionate voters wrote letters in support of candidates. On election day, adults from all over the Santa Clara Valley voted for city council representatives and deliberated over a single legislative measure. But what about the children? Politicians, teachers and parents are always encouraging high school students to get involved in local government. However, because of lack of power, both of students’ votes and of local legislation, there is really no need for them to care. The next time an adult asks you to show a little concern for local issues, you can tell them that you would, but that it is up to politicians to make local government relevant and provide outlets for student opinions. Students have no voice Students who do attempt to educate themselves about the issues of local government can at the very most be silent spectators in the political arena. Since students do not have the right to vote until age 18, there is no reason for politicians to address or even consider the issues that children are most concerned about. While student opinions are partially reflected in their parents’ votes, students cannot truly control parents’ votes. Separated by a generation-wide culture gap, student opinions do not always match up with those of their parents. Ultimately, parents will get the final say in how their votes are cast. Perhaps many students instinctively realize this: 75 percent of students have never tried to influence their parents’ voting decisions on a local issue. Legislation is slow to respond Even the students who can vote do not need to care because they will not be able to feel the lasting effects of their votes. Measures and bills take time to pass, and according to the school’s own website, approximately 97 percent of MVHS students attend college of some sort, many of which will be outside the limits and boundries of the Santa Clara County. Even those who do not attend college may simply move out of the city: 81 percent of MVHS students plan to move away after they graduate. By the time measures that voting-eligible students care about take effect, they will have moved away to different cities with different issues and concerns. Even issues which students feel strongly about may end up being entirely irrelevant to student life because of the time element. Take candidates’ positions on the pollution caused by the Lehigh Hanson Cement Plant, one of the most controversial of this November’s election: while environmental conditions and business relations in Cupertino are

NOVEMBER 9, 2011

certainly worth thinking about, the issue could take years to resolve, by which time any concerned students would have graduated. Local government is irrelevant But doesn’t knowing about local issues at least increase students’ social awareness? Sadly, no. The power of local government in a city of Cupertino’s size is too small to touch the lives of students. For example, the only measure in this November’s election was Measure C, which would increase the city-collected tax on hotel residents from $10 to $12. Students, who are unlikely to ever spend a night in a Cupertino hotel, cannot even begin to feel the effects of such small-scale government. Because of its lack of influence, city council has a hard time making itself relevant in student lives. Only 44 percent of students polled were able to correctly identify a candidate running for city council in this November’s election, and only 32 percent of students were able to identify the standing mayor. In fact, city council is even unable to get eligible adults to vote: in the past two years of elections in the Santa Clara County, there has never been more than a 50 percent voter turnout. With even eligible voters ignoring local issues, why should students care? How can this change? Nobody denies that government beyond the local level is worth learning about. These benefits do not apply to local government simply because the power of the current local government in Cupertino gives students no reason to be anything but indifferent. However, this can certainly change. What can the city council do to encourage students to give local government a second thought? One way is to give students a voice. While national law prohibits students from voting, nothing prevents city council from holding open-forum discussions, which could allow students to express their opinions. Currently, the city council works in relative seclusion; however, greater publicity about city council’s role in the community will encourage students to care. This could be achieved by paying more attention to educational reform. People care when they are directly affected by the issues, and as evidenced by massive student interest in 2010’s education parcel tax measures G and B, students are perfectly capable of being involved if issues are relevant enough. But until then, worrying about local issues is a chore that students don’t need on their plates. Hotel taxes and zoning ordinances? That’s what parents are for.



Uggly talk (and plastic Crocs, too) It’s a tough call. They’re both so freaking ugly. But ultimately, Uggs are uglier soles and the peekaboo holes that show off the dry, cracked skin of your feet, and you’ve essentially got a pair of Crocs. Although I don’t personally own a pair of Crocs anymore, I do remember that they were great for lazy Sundays. However, you might want to skip out on going to the mall on lazy Sundays. Crocs have been banned at some malls and public places because of the fact that they are dangerous to wear on escalators. On top of this, Payless ShoeSource’s Croc dupes, or in other words, rip-offs, for children were recalled in 2007 due to the potential choking hazard caused by the removable rivet between the shoe and strap. Lovely, isn’t it? But that’s nothing compared to Uggs. They’re the super-popular chunky boots lined on the inside with sheepskin. Apparently the hatred of Uggs started off not because of potential animal cruelty issues (more on that later), but because of the lofty price. People who had Uggs were seen as having more money or class, and of course people were Christophe Haubursin | El Estoque Photo Illustration jealous. The hatred of Uggs hey’re unflattering and they’re can be compared to chunky, but oh, so comfy. the feeling of driving Crocs versus Uggs: this issue has your mother’s Sienna been hotly debated since the beginning of minivan to school civilized history. And now once and for all, and seeing someone this debate will be solved. Right here, right driving a Rolls Royce. now. Except that in this case, they’re jealous of you, Spoiler alert: Uggs are uglier. since the minivan is the height of fashion. Crocs, for those unfamiliar, are Pretty messed up. essentially rubber shoes with a strap in But once there were dupes everywhere, the back, and they’re even uglier than the everyone inevitably started to hate them because animals (crocodiles, that is) themselves. now it was just overkill to see everyone wearing Combine a duck’s shape, squeaky rubber them. People are honestly just never happy.

I proudly own a dupe of the ever-popular uggs; I fondly call them my ‘fuggs’ — short for fake Uggs. From my own personal highly scientifically calculated observations, they make my jeans awkwardly scrunch down into the boots, making me look shorter. Also, I just learned recently that sheep were harmed in the making of these ‘fuggs’. I am disgusted that the sheep’s lives were wasted on this Uggly abomination. In my humble opinion, that’s what makes ‘fuggs’/Uggs worse than Crocs. I still can’t get over the fact that I have essentially killed a sheep for the sake of my own comfort and laziness. On top of that, they killed a sheep for my ‘fuggs’ and the only thing the shoes really do is make me look shorter. Crocs may be more visually scarring than a pair of Uggs but nothing can make up for the fact that animals are dying for the sake of Uggs. But no matter what, I still love my ‘fuggs‘ and I don’t really hate Crocs (that much). Even if it shows how society has taken comfort and even immorality over style. Even if it shows how lazy everyone has become. Even if it shows how easily brainwashed we have become. So screw it. The shoes are too freaking comfortable to pass up anyways.

What’s the point anyway?


The Bottom Line

Program helps make connections within community by Simran Devidasani


aking connections by breaking the language barrier is essential. MVHS’s Connections is a program created for parents of bilingual students who are not necessarily in the ELD program. According to Assistant Prinicipal Ben Clausnitzer, the purpose of this program is to educate parents who are not familiar with the “American education system” by


encouraging parent communication with staff members. This program helps eliminate parents’ fears — such as the fear of simply emailing a teacher with their concerns — and informs them about what they can and cannot do. With this said, this program is long overdue. Without it, these parents might not use the education system offered to its full potential.

According to, a website run by child-study experts, parent involvement in a student’s academic life reduces bad behavior and absences, which allows the child to better succeed. This program provides an insight for parents and puts things into context, making connections, literally. EL ESTOQUE

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

Kevin Guo| El Estoque Illustration

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT Study Buddies classrooms rarely draw in more than a few students. With an inconvenient commitment policy and a lack of publicity, Study Buddies is not as effective as it could be.

Study Buddies: Work in progress A few shortcomings keep Study Buddies from living up to its full potential by Kiranmayi Methuku


tudy Buddies is not a perfect system. For those unfamiliar with the program, Study Buddies is a peer tutoring service offered to D and F students held weekly after school. Students are required to commit to a semester at minimum and tutors are assigned to one or two tutees. Unfortunately, this free tutoring service suffers from a severe lack of presence among students. The solution is fairly simple. SBS can offer up walk-in tutoring services for a couple of hours every day. This setup is particularly helpful at MVHS — students here feel ashamed to admit that they need academic help in a crowd of their ridiculously intelligent and hardworking peers. But the walk-in setup lets students get help without anyone having to know. At first, there probably will not be many students coming in for help. However, once students start realizing how well they can really do in

are a few simple ways to address this issue. their classes with a little help, they will feel Many teachers offer students motivated and confident in their abilities. opportunities to retake quizzes and tests A lack of commitment among tutees is not and are often frustrated when students take the only issue with SBS. SBS also suffers from a serious lack of publicity. This inadequate advantage of retakes without any serious additional preparation. To avoid publicity is actually not necessary for SBS’ current Students here feel this, teachers can require that setup — to enroll in the ashamed to admit that students attend SBS tutoring program, a D or F student they need academic for some minimum time in must be recommended by order to be eligible for a retake. a teacher or a guidance help in a crowd of their Students then will be able to counselor. So there is ridiculously intelligent walkin at any time to fulfill this no need to advertise and hardworking peers. requirement. Teachers can ensure to students with better that students will learn the grades. However, SBS should consider material and take the retakes more seriously. changing this requirement since many students These major weaknesses are holding SBS with slightly better grades are also in dire back. Any further lack of action will result need of tutoring. If such a change were to in a great loss to many struggling students. be implemented, many students would be clueless to the services offered by SBS. There

Seniors inconvenienced by construction renovations throughout the year by Laura Yang


onstruction has taken over our roofs, our fields, our bathrooms, and our stairs. Inconveniences and detours are the order of the day. But, contrary to popular belief, this is not necessarily a bad thing — unless you are a senior. The tiles from the roofs have long been rain-damaged, the girls locker room stairs were hazardous, and the B-building bathrooms were missing NOVEMBER 9, 2011

everything from functional sinks to stall locks. While the benefits are long-lasting and the inconveniences short-termed, for current seniors, all these long-awaited changes may be a bitter pill to swallow. They have waited three and a half years for better bathrooms and new fields, but now they get all of the inconveniences and little of the benefits. The sound of drills will accompany the students

throughout their senior year as the last of construction is not scheduled to finish until October of 2012. By then, it may be difficult to remember what the fields and buildings of their four years looked like. And when they return to visit next year, this school will be a different place with a different landscape. 15

staff editorial // devil’s advocate // bottom line


comic belief // commentary // letter to the editor


teenage jobs

Devil’s Advocate looks at the popular opinion on current events and examines its nuances. It offers a brief glimpse of the other side, of the unconsidered viewpoint.

Kids with frivolous jobs: Time to make way for people who really need them

by Stephanie Chang


etting a job is like a rite of passage for teenagers. Like a sweet sixteen or going steady with your significant other, working a starting job for $8.50 an hour is almost expected once someone reaches his or her teenage years. It is a poke in our parents’ protective bubble, and the first step to being fully independent. Contrary to popular belief, however, not all teenagers should get a job. From the November El Estoque survey, many respondents said that the reason why they have their job is for the “extra money” and the “pocket change to buy the things [they] want.” However, if you are the people spending your extra hundred dollars on a frilled skirt from Forever 21 and not on college books, you are wasting your time and hurting others. Those who really need the 16

bucks for school and family expenses lose out on the opportunities that those who spend frivolously gain. According to the Employment Policies Institute, the percentage of teenages that are unemployed — meaning “teenagers who are actively seeking a job but can’t get one” — is three times the national unemployment percentage. Of course, it is a well known fact that the economy is terrible. That means there are more students who actually need the money for more important reasons, but less opportunities for them to earn it. Some people argue that the reason behind applying for a job should not matter — those who are chosen for a job deserve their position, and those who do not get chosen were simply not competent enough. However, employers should, indeed, take reason into account. Need should always be more important than those with superfluous reasons. Furthermore, to prevent those who do not need jobs taking away from those who do, regulations on resumes and applications should be reinforced and made stricter. Students should cite their reasons for applying to their job and their family’s annual income. Those who do not fit the required criteria — people who cannot afford the entirety of their college tuition and most likely need to take student loans — should not be allowed to get a job, or be placed on a ‘waiting list’. Employers should consider both the waiting list and those with need, but those with need should always be given priority. The teenage unemployment rate is increasing, not just year by year, but month by month — the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that “unemployment among youth increased by 745,000 between April and July, more than last year’s increase of 571,000.” Not everyone can afford a fancy new red car for their sixteenth birthday. Many are already struggling with trying to pay for college or their family expenses — issues that many

don’t have to worry about. Students who do have the fiscal flexibility and are more than well-off should not apply for jobs that they do not need. If one already has the money, why take away a job that is most likely be a precious opportunity to others, but is probably just a hobby for you? If you have money, back off. Do not apply, do not get a job. This rite of passage can wait until you enter the workforce, or in several years, for your children.


Margaret Lin | El Estoque Illustration



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Elvin Wong and Kevin Tsukii| El Estoque Photo Illustration

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Three paths, one goal Students explore, experience alternatives to typical college interviews


by Gisella Joma and Nellie Brosnan

he traditional college interview is an interviewee and an admissions council. The attire for the typical interview consists of slacks, a button-up shirt and tie for boys, and skirts or dresses for girls. Questions from the admissions council range from, “Tell me about yourself,” to, “What would I find in your refrigerator right now?” NOVEMBER 9, 2011

However, for a portfolio-based interview, the requirements are talent, personality and everything you can think to put on the table. Students come armed with a portfolio of their unique accomplishments. As college application deadlines near, three seniors prepare by steering away from typical college interviews. 17



or senior Danielle Chandler, fashion has always been a significant part of her life. Both of her grandmothers knew how to sew; everything they wore was hand-made. The skills they taught her, from threading a needle to weaving intricate patterns, inspired her to create her own clothing. Since sophomore year, Chandler knew she wanted to pursue career in fashion. She spent her summer applying to fashion schools, including FIDM, for Fashion in Technology (FIT), Pratt Institute and Ryder’s. In September, the FIDM administration contacted Chandler through email and requested that she visit the school to talk about her future. She brought ten of her favorite pieces of art, from fashion sketches to a jersey she designed for a cyclist. The administrator gave her an essay prompt and once Chandler had completed it, he gave her feedback for edits. After a few corrections from the administrator, Chandler arranged an official interview with the admissions counsel. “Your portfolio is the basis of the interview,” Chandler said. “You put in any artistic thing that shows your skill and talent as well as who you are.” After the admissions counsel went through her portfolio and paperwork, they notified her that she had been accepted to FIDM. “It was such a relief,” Chandler said. “After so much back and forth, it was like, ‘Finally! Now I know!‘” According to the admissions counsel, she had three options: commit to FIDM, wait until spring to decide, or attend another place entirely. Chandler has not made her choice yet. FIDM, according to Chandler, is very centered around fashion and art. Ideally, she would like to attend FIT in New York, a school that would give her the opportunity to take a more diverse range of classes or minor in one of her other interests, such as French or writing. “I want to have to whole university experience,” Chandler said. “If I went to FIDM, I think it would feel like I was attending summer classes all year round instead of actually going to school there.” As far as the interview process went, Chandler preferred the portfolio-based over the traditional ones. “I didn’t only have to talk about myself,” she said. “I had to show who I am in a way that essays and transcripts couldn’t.”

Passion fashion

S Drawing daydreams 18

ince the fifth grade, senior Kelly Nakamura has wanted to go into the field of art — more specifically, illustration or animation. But since most colleges do not offer both programs, she is faced with choosing between her two passions. Art teacher Brian Chow believes that a student should get more out off the process than of the final product when completing their portfolio. “I think portfolios are a great service to young people,” Chow said. “They show a student’s

humanity and skill sets and their To-Do List: Portfolio Interview intelligence outside DRESS: CASUAL of tests and GPAs.” Na ka mur a * BOYS: Absolutely no ties started applying to Solid bottoms * GIRLS: and colorful top art schools, but the one she is seriously INTERVIEW QUESTIONS considering is * “Do you have a mentor?” Rhode Island School do you think of art * ‘What of Design. There, and fashion?” she wants to get into the illustration program. She is still INTERVIEW PROCESS interview with waiting to hear back * Group applicants admissions counsel from RISD. * Parent must be present “I’m interested * Admissions counsel to see what other reviews portfolio artists from the East Coast have to offer, but it’s kind of scary too,” Nakamura said. For her portfolio to RISD, Nakamura had to complete 16-20 pieces, two of which were specific to the school. Illustration requirements are very strict and specific and range from what type of pencil to use to the size of the fold when submitting the drawings, but RISD encourages applicants to consider their drawing submissions as exercises in experimental thinking and to value the process more than product. For her interview, Nakamura was joined by several other interviewees who sat in the back while she talked with with the admissions counsel. “I prefer solo interviews because public ones are just really intimidating,” Nakamura said. “When you start the [interview], you just have to focus out the people and its [just] between you and the admissions person.”


ince first grade, senior Theresa Wong has been playing outfield in the sport that she loves: softball. Freshman year, Wong switched to a more competitive team called Strike Zone 18 Gold, which was more focused towards college recruitment than her previous one. “I always knew I wanted to play softball in college ,” Wong said. “I would go to camps at different schools and I would see girls on the team and how much fun they were but having. It made me want to do the same thing.” At the beginning of her application process in the summer, Wong was considering colleges in the East Coast, such as Wellesley, Bowdoin and Amherst. However, once she discovered Pomona College in Claremont, she changed her mind completely. “One school I was initially looking at was Claremont McKenna College, but across the street was Pomona and I definitely liked it a lot better,” Wong said. “It [had] such a pretty campus [and] everyone there was so friendly, they would go out of their way to say hi to you.” At the end of August, Wong left the Pomona softball coach, JoAnne Ferguson, a voice message saying that she was interested in playing on

Nothing game


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WOMEN OF THE FUTURE Seniors Danielle Chandler, Theresa Wong and Kelly Nakamura display their passions. These three mainstream students come together to achieve a common goal. Elvin Wong | El Estoque Photo Illustration

her team. A few weeks later, Ferguson returned her call, telling Wong that she would like her to be part of Pomona’s next softball team. On Oct. 14, Wong spent the night at Pomona shadowing a student. As Wong put it, she was in love. Wong submitted a supplement to her application, including videos of her in action and information on her background with softball, to Ferguson for an early read and will hear back on Dec. 15. According to her, a student athlete can give their application to their coach for an early read. Now, Wong prepares for her interview on Nov. 14. Chow compares athletes to artists in the way that their performance

NOVEMBER 9, 2011

is not seen through grades and transcripts. According to him, there is so much more outside that bubble of school and practice that doesn’t translate directly to your GPA. “Practice and conditioning are both important aspects, but there is also teamwork and perseverance,” Chow said. “The achievement of being an athlete takes a lot of work, dedication and a different kind of intelligence.” |


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The Devil wears Abercrombie

A popular clothing store is a classless store filled with obscenity, depravity


hen I was a sixth grader, I firmly believed — as I still do — that Abercrombie represented the evil of the world. It was the devil, and I sought with Puritan determination to keep its sinful claws off of me and my friends. I failed miserably.

Angela Liu | El Estoque Photo Illustration

As I stared up at the Abercrombie kids store sign above my head at the Valley Fair Shopping Mall, I was convinced the problem was them — not me. I stepped into a room with a larger than life-sized framed picture of a guy wearing a jacket (but no shirt) smothering the wall, lit up with black lamps like a shrine to a god. And this is a kids store? With Taylor Swift mumbling “Last Christmas” in the background and salespeople dressed in holiday watermelon plaid, Abercrombie kids didn’t seem so bad. The only thing that stank (literally) about the store was the cologne that my dad sprayed on me. The dank smell not only made me queasy but also made me feel as stinky as a hobo as I went to Abercrombie & Fitch. With the shutters in the windows down, it really looked like the store was closed. As I am not in the least an expert on what is à la mode, I happened to take each stylistic detail of the

No country for old women store as an insult to pragmatism. Take the choice of pictures on the wall, for one. Do I really need to see a half naked man pulling a half naked woman’s pants off right in front of the cash register? How do half-naked people promote a clothing brand, anyway? But what’s even more sinister is the behavior Abercrombie is promoting — one day, I swear the world will become a nudist colony. Can we not defend a shred of our dignity?

A whole lot of popular nothing Pop music lyrics are the same airy stories again and again

These darn kids


ow many times can you listen to the same love song over and over again? It seems as though every modern love song is derived from a mathematical formula that determines where to insert the “you don’t understand me” line or the “I’m over you” line and so on. But it’s not just the romantic ones. How many times can you listen to some arrogant rich guy or girl talk about how confident and sexy they are or how expensive their champagne is? Apparently a lot — according to the iTunes top ten, which consists of the likes of LMFAO, Kelly Clarkson, Rihanna, Coldplay and Adele. I had this terrible realization recently, when a friend of mine commented on how nobody 20

cares about lyrics anymore. They just exist to move the song along, he told me. Nobody cares if they have any meaning. After I was done weeping, I took the time to reflect on some recent hits, and found that it really has become horribly dehumanized. As per usual, every voice and melody sounds the same to me. This was nothing new, but something different struck me this time around. Almost every one of these top ten songs are about nothing. Seriously. Nothing at all. Take Kelly Clarkson’s “Mr. Know it All” for example, in which Ms. Clarkson declares that some former love interest of hers thinks he is all-knowing about her feelings. She then takes the time to say he doesn’t and that she is leaving him. The End. Ms. Clarkson takes a total of three minutes and fifty-two seconds, to express one sentiment. Sure it may not take the crown of meaninglessness from the esteemed Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling,” but it’s still pretty impressive.

Is it so pretentious or snobby of me to expect something more from a song that is supposedly so emotional? It’s not like I expect it from an LMFAO song, but that’s just dance music, it doesn’t exactly have to be poetic. It doesn’t even have to be an emotional song, just give me something to sink my teeth into. What does it even mean to have “Moves Like Jagger?” I bet that half the audience of Maroon 5 has never listened to a Rolling Stones song. Popular music wasn’t always like this. Remember “Feel Good Inc.” by the Gorillaz back in 2004? It’s a great song and it’s got the lyrical content to back it up. A lot of people don’t know it, but that song is part of an overarcing storyline about someone who’s trapped in a town so obsessed with feeling good, that they have completely numbed themselves to any other emotions. It’s a satisfying song in every aspect: lyrics, music, catchiness, etc., and it has sold millions of copies. It wasn’t very long ago that popular songs still managed to be stimulating past just the music. They didn’t sound like they came out of a computer, they sounded human. EL ESTOQUE

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culture // technology // gaming // fashion // books SAVALE SHOWS OFF HIS MOVES Dancing since six, Savale demonstrates a pike. Pikes, similar to freezes, require intense upperbody strength.


Star like a

Freshman Akshay Savale, with the support of his parents, pursues his dream of dancing and acting by Rachel Lu


ance competitions have taken over television ever since So You Think You Can Dance started in 2005. Celebrities joined in with Dancing with the Stars when it began in 2005. Three years later, the Jabbawockeez became a household name after winning the first season of America’s Best Dance Crew. MVHS also has its share of talent — freshman Akshay Savale, a self-taught dancer placing second in the 2009 National Bollywood Dance Competition in Chicago. Inspired first by his mother, also a dancer, Swati Savale started dancing when he was six years old. After a few lessons from his mother, NOVEMBER 9, 2011

and a few formal classes, Savale is now a selftaught dancer. Performing arts overall has interested Savale as he spends time in acting projects, too. Even though he no longer takes lessons from his mother, she still provides his most valuable support and encouragement for both acting and dancing. “I feel very happy and proud about it. I’m really blessed that my son also shares the same passion as me,” Swati said. Like her son, she started dancing at a young age. After moving to the US, she opened her own studio Starrz Dance where Akshay

Christophe Haubursin | El Estoque

teaches hip-hop. Choreographing and teaching dance together has made their relationship something more than just mother and son. They both exchange dance lessons, he teaches hip-hop to her and she teaches Bollywoodstyle dance to him. They plan their activities together, whether it’s his dance competition, or her dance lesson. The acting came a little later, starting in middle school where he performed in several plays. His more interesting works were the commercials and photo shoots he had done. “I was just interested in [acting] since I was small. I used to imitate my classmates all the time,” Savale said. And then there are the fashion shows that he has been featured in too, which include Iscahh Uzzah-Black Tie Affair, JC Penney, and Indian Theme Fashion show. “[Savale] is very good at acting and I would definitely support him if he chooses it as his career,” said Swati. MVHS first got a glimpse at his talent after his performance in the freshman Powderpuff routine where he and two other boys danced with skill, rather than the typical coordinated stunts and cheer moves. He returned to the spotlight after a week in the freshman talent show where he experienced a wardrobe malfunction. Instead of pulling off one shirt to reveal the freshman shirts underneath, Savale pulled off both. But even that did not stop him from pulling off an impressive showcase of his true dancing ability, and maybe some of his acting too. 21

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Color Guard still spins onward

Construction on the field cannot stop Color Guard from marching forward by Amrutha Dorai


during this season, but also during the last three years when the field

he traffic cones were taking a beating. Standing in a stoic line on the edges of the student parking lot, they could not catch a break — a Honda, an SUV, and a beatup old BMW all trundled by, ignoring the brave little orange pyramids completely. “Hey, watch out!” a shout echoed. “There are kids here!” It was 7 p.m. on a Tuesday night, and Color Guard had invaded the student parking lot. construction The team stood in two w a s WAVIN’ FLAG: Spinning parallel lines, purple flags scheduled her flag through the air, hanging loosely from their hands to happen. junior Vanessa Huang fineas they waited for the marching T h e y tunes her twirling skills. band to start playing. have relocated In previous years, Color their practices Guard would split their practices for parades to the school between the football field and parking lot. Color Guard the student parking lot. However, captain senior Caitlyn Sullivan the threat of field construction feels that the lack of a field has has left Color Guard — as well actually helped them improve their as marching band — stranded game by allowing them to focus in the parking lot. This has Kevin Tsukii and Nona Penner | more on parade routines and fine-tune prevented the team from El Estoque Photo Illustration their musicality. practicing and performing field shows not only All of a sudden, a drum started to beat. The

girls straightened their backs and held their flags more firmly in their hands. A moment passed, then flashes of purple filled the air. Color Guard’s relocation to the parking lot does appear to be benefiting the team, as they recently placed first at the Oct. 22 Color Guard tournament at Foothill High School. And at the end of November, they are planning to attend the Color Guard tournament in Arcadia in southern California, marking the team’s first foray into distant competitions. This requires a great deal of teamwork. “I think we’re pretty close,” Akshintala said. “If I have any problems, I can go and talk to anyone there about it.” And there have been problems for Color Guard, such as the lack of a functional field. “But it’s okay,” said Color Guard coach Daniella Johnston. “We do look forward to having a field competition again, but right now we’re doing what we can with what we have.” Routine finished, Color Guard huddled together in the dull glow of the streetlights. When the drum’s final few beats died out, their giggles were the only sound left hanging in the air. Off in a corner, the traffic cones still stood, beat up but defiant.

Childhood, remembered, not done Bubbles, ice skates prove to be a high schoolers’ wistful wishes


aths. Gum. Soap. Wrap. Thing they have in common: bubbles. Bubbles, I have noticed, have always been associated with childhood, whether it be blowing bubbles with your chewing gum or taking a bubble bath. The simple act of blowing bubbles, made of soap and water, is enough for one to revisit their childhood. I guess it was the pure enjoyment of popping the fluorescent glow they gave off that got me addicted. Just last week I remember trying to teach Soumya to blow a bubble with gum. I guess it caused me to reminisce about bubbles in general. And bubble wrap, well that needs no explanation. It just makes you happy! Bubbles. Bubbles. Bubbles. Where would childhood be without you? But what about bubbles now? Is there that same enjoyment we once had as children? Or do we merely avoid them until they pop? 22

Would we even care if they were not in our lives anymore? I’m sure it’s been a while since you last took a bubble bath or spent the afternoon blowing bubbles in the park. I would notice. Try not to fall I recall having an extreme “want-to-goice-skating” feeling a couple years ago for a friend’s birthday. I ended up falling and cutting my ankle with the blade, thus creating a scar. I had imagined that it would have gone differently. I imagined that I would immediately start skating and gliding all around the icy floor. Then again, the last time I had gone ice-skating was when I was in third or fourth grade, around elementary

school time. When I went then I don’t remember falling or holding on to the side-rails the entire time I was at the rink, and I mean the entire time. Why was it so easy back then? I’m jealous of my mini-me. It probably was that I was not afraid of falling. Something I think I learned about iceskating is the more you think about not-falling, the more you fall. If you’re going to take the risks, make sure you put your whole heart in it, or else you’re going to fall. Children don’t think, they do.



1951-1953 Page 29

Wally Johnson

1942-1945 Page 27

Richard Kuhlman

1944 Page 27

Li-Tze Wang

1944-1946 Page 26

Mort Schorr



VOICES In honor of Veterans Day, El Estoque features eight locals who served in the military



NOV. 12 - PUBLIC VISITATIONS OPEN The Vietnam Traveling Tribute Wall, which will be escorted by motorcade to Memorial Park today, will be open for public visitation on Nov. 12 at the Veterans Memorial in Cupertino. The Wall is the largest replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 80 percent the size of the original wall in Washington, D.C. It is 380 feet long and contains all 58,253 of the names engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

NOVEMBER 9, 2011

1944-1945 See El Estoque Online

Hugh Jacobs

1946-1949 See El Estoque Online

Glen Dugan

1955-1958 See El Estoque Online

John Buenz

1943-1946 Page 32

Stan Ferriss

Viola Feyling

1942-1945 Page 30

NOV. 11 - VETERANS DAY Want to attend Veterans Day festivities? Take a trip to Memorial Park’s Veterans Memorial, which will host MVHS’s Variations, military speakers and the Air Force Band at the 11 a.m. Annual Veterans Day Ceremony. Variations will perform “The Star Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful,” “Pacem” and “Alleluia.” Finally, the Vietnam Memorial Boulders will be unveiled in recognition of Vietnam War veterans.



CHASE As told to Cynthia Mao and Angela Wang

One night, we had a longdistance flight to drop some paratroopers, and [when] we came back, some German 107s started chasing us. We were flying DC3s, which don’t tend to have any armament … All we did was haul personnel … and this [German] guy came down at us, dove and shot and missed on one side of the plane. He missed, made a loop turn and was behind us again. Then this time, he shot and he was too far [to the left] … I couldn’t do much more, so we dove down. We dove down to as low as we could get … we just stayed down there, [but] he couldn’t pull up in time, and he crashed … [He] came down, and … was trying to pull up, but went right into the ground. He had it coming. |

Angela Wang | El Estoque

Richard Kuhlman was a lead navigating pilot in the Air Force for three and a half years during WWII. In that time, he flew 56 missions when others went home after 50. He flew planes that hauled personnel, dropped paratroopers and pulled gliders behind enemy lines. 26

To learn about the wedding photo behind Kuhlman, visit EL ESTOQUE


Francis Morteimer Schorr was only 18 when he was drafted for the U.S. Army in 1944. He enlisted in WWII for three years and trained for the infantry. Now living at the Sunny View Senior Center in Cupertino, Schorr laments the need for war and the impact it had on soldiers and countries.

[The thing] that to this day shakes me up [is that] I could kill a person.

They gave me a gun and told me to kill. I’m 18 years old, what do I know about killing? We wanted to get even. Someday we’ll find out why it started but … it’s a terrible feeling and when you sit down and think about it, the lives [we] have lost, the dropping of a bomb that could blow up a whole country ... We didn’t realize what we had let loose. The atomic bomb — it was too much. I have no way of explaining myself. We didn’t know what happened with the atomic bomb but we found out when the war ended. What have we gained? We lost plenty. And no one has ever explained anything to me. It makes no sense why the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor ... I don’t think you can ever get over a shock like that.



Used with permission of Rachel Chiou

Senior Rachel Chiou’s grandfather, Li-Tze Wang, currently resides in Taiwan. He was 15 years old when he passed the test that allowed him to join the Japanese army. This interview was conducted in Chinese and translated into English.

[The Japanese] were always propagandizing, “For honor, for honor!” I was in eighth grade, and everyone

was saying, “Love your country, and gain honor for your country,” so we all took the test [for the army]. It took about three days: The first two days were a test of your health and physical strength, and if you weren’t healthy or if you were too weak, they wouldn’t want you—they said they couldn’t have clumsy airplane fighters in the sky. Then they tested your intelligence ... and only the smartest were chosen. Your parents also had to agree for you to take these tests, but it wasn’t until after I finished the test that I told my grandfather. He was so mad, but he couldn’t actually do anything at that point because I was already accepted. But you know, we had to take a boat to the training grounds, and the American Navy had the blockade so close to us, so [the army] kept pushing off the date for our training for over half a year, [and shortly after that, the Japanese surrendered] so I never actually got to go into the war. About 60 to 70 of us signed up, and at the end only one was accepted into the navy and two into the army. I got into the army’s air force. At the time, I was really happy and proud — I was just a kid. I got to fly an airplane, which everyone thought was really cool, but it wasn’t until many years later that I realized what flying a plane for the Japanese fleet might have meant — flying that plane toward American boats and then diving right into them. Now that I’ve grown up and looked back, it’s actually kind of scary.

Angela Wang | El Estoque

As told to Cynthia Mao and Angela Wang NOVEMBER 9, 2011

As told to Lisa Zhang 27

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28NOVEMBER 9, 2011


club day sales // transfer students




Emma Courtright | El Estoque

Wally Johnson (above) is a veteran of the Korean War. He served for two years and achieved the rank of sergeant as part of the intelligence force for the Army. At his home in Saratoga, the American flag constantly hangs in his front yard to honor the nation he served from 1951 to 1953. Here, he remembers a Thanksgiving spent serving in Korea.

My older sister used to send me a lot of goodies when [I] was in Korea — cookies that were

all crumbled by the time I got them. I remember one time she sent me a ham — a little canned ham. There [were] eight of us to a tent, and we said, ‘Let’s save that for Thanksgiving so we’ll have a special Thanksgiving.’ We scrounged some food from the chow line. It was As told to Emma Courtright and Amelia Yang

NOVEMBER 9, 2011

way before Thanksgiving so we buried it outside our camp so nobody else could find it. And then when we went to dig it up it was gone. It was one of our biggest disappointments. We lost our ham for Thanksgiving dinner. I don’t think an animal took it, there [weren’t] any animals alive. If there [were any animals], the Koreans ate ‘em up, ‘cause there wasn’t much food [around] you know. |

To hear more of Wally Johnson’s stories visit 29


FRIENDSHIP Vi Feyling makes a lifelong friend in the midst of WWII

Cynthia Mao | El Estoque

To learn more about Vi Feyling, check out elestoque. org.

by Cynthia Mao and Angela Wang


n the door of WWII veteran Vi (short for Viola) Feyling’s home is a wreath with an American flag. Inside her home are two scrapbooks full of memorabilia from the war and a pile of black-and-white photographs that have yellowed. There is even a second American flag that stands next to a framed photograph of Feyling, her sisters and 30

her mother. Feyling, now 91, lives in a senior center in Cupertino. When she was only 21, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. One year later in 1942, she enlisted in the United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve as a recruiter. Feyling left for boot camp in New York from San Francisco in 1942. On the train to

New York, Feyling met another member of the Women’s Reserve. Her name was Elfrieda Spree, although Feyling and their friends later called her “Spree” because she “wasn’t an ‘Elfrieda.’” The two played cards all the way across the country. Feyling and Spree parted ways when Feyling was sent to Mississippi. As Feyling traveled EL ESTOQUE

in the American South, from Mississippi to Alabama and then to Texas, she worked with other SPARS — which stands for Semper Paratus Always Ready, the Women’s Reserve of the Coast Guard. They gave speeches at rotary club meetings and even high schools to recruit women. Two years later, Feyling and Spree met once again in New Orleans. They shared an apartment with two other women, Martha Lee and Natalie Jones, but it was really Feyling and Spree’s friendship that grew. During the final year in New Orleans, Spree became Feyling’s closest friend in the Coast Guard. After the war was over, Spree moved to San Francisco, Feyling’s hometown. The time they spent together post-war cultivated their friendship even more. Spree was one of the SPARS Feyling kept in contact with until her final days. “I introduced her to her husband and we went skiing together,” Feyling said. “We became very, very close, but she’s gone [now] ... I’m outliving a few people.” Meeting new people was one of the things Feyling remembered most about her years in the Coast Guard. The specific format of the Coast Guard helped her form closer relationships with those she worked with. “One of the things we liked about the Coast Guard was that it was a small group, a small unit, so we could be more family like than so very official,” Feyling said. “The officers were not way up here [while] we were down here. We were all just a big family.” |

Cynthia Mao | El Estoque

CLOSE-KNIT (Clockwise from above) The SPARS often used newspaper articles to spread awareness about the Coast Guard. Below the newspaper clipping is one of the snapshots in Feyling’s scrapbooks. It shows Feyling (center left) and her close friend Elfrieda Spree (center) with other members of the Women’s Reserve. HIGH RANK Feyling shows a copy of a newspaper clipping that publicized her achieving the rank of first female chief yeoman. FAMILY PORTRAIT Before leaving for boot camp in New York in 1942, Feyling (center) poses with her mother (center left) and sisters. NOVEMBER 9, 2011





Veteran Stan Ferriss always wanted to be a WWII SPD Navy dive bomber Yaamini Ventakataran | El Estoque


After reading a Pulp magazine issue about werewolves in fighter planes, a young Stan Ferriss dreamed of flying an airplane. At age 18, he enlisted in the Navy after graduating from the City College of San Francisco, even after the vice principal had spent hours trying to convince him not to. He served during World War II as an SPD Navy dive bomber, and was honorably discharged in Feb. 1946. He now is part of the American Legion Post 642 in Cupertino.

“ To hear more of Stan Ferriss’ stories, visit

Being in the Navy was not dangerous — until you some odd people. We were very close [to the accident] had people making mistakes. We’re getting up early — so close that our mess hall was behind us and going in the morning and the planes are turning over, so their to breakfast the next morning, there was the breach of a propellers are going. You’re walking, and as you were 5-inch gun laying by the mess hall. There were also dead bodies floating in the waters around them long enough — — I didn’t actually go too long maybe — you lost look, but I just kind of saw that cautiousness and all of a them. One of my nephews sudden, you hear this ‘swish recently found out that it swish swish,’ and you turn was the largest loss for the around. You’re too close to a Coast Guard during the propeller. That really made me war. Things like that leave get more alert. You’re playing an impression. with dangerous things. “[One time] we took off “When we were on shore Yaamini Ventakataraman | El Estoque from the airstrip — we take [of the Pacific islands], there off two planes at a time, were usually nine to ten men to a quanza hut. One night, MEMENTO Veteran Stan Ferriss lays out his aviation log one a little behind another a loud explosion woke me and a training team photograph taken during the war. His — and [we circled] until up. I could see through the “Bible” aviation log recorded all of his flights from training the other planes got off. I usually rode backwards end of the hut that the sky to his later deployment to the Pacific Islands. because the gunner faced was lighting up. In fact, I thought it was the end of the world. We ran out. There was the back. I’m looking back and there’s this formation smoke everywhere [and] there were sirens going off. What of planes that I’m a part of, and overhead is our fighter happened is a Coast Guard ship that transported fuel and protection. I was impressed. [It] all [went] back to my ammunition and other supplies blew up — killed 200 and [dream] that I would be flying someday. As told to Yaamini Ventakataran and Lisa Zhang |

Congratulations ! The Gateway To Success

Oct. 2011 Achievers Diane K. From 2230 to 2360 (3 months) Jennifer P. Reading from 710 to 780 (3 months) Chris K. Writing from 650 to 780 (1 1/2 months) Jin C. Reading from 620 to 790 (3 months)

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January Test Preparation Session 1 of 2 (Session 2 starts Jan.6, 2012) Comprehensive analysis of 8 actual tests. Dec. 19, 20, 22, 23, 26, 27, 29, 30 Test: 8:45 -­ 12:45 Lecture: 13:30 -­ 16:00 Tuition: $980 Tests: Full Test (including math)

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RHYTHM With the rhythm of rowing, senior Nicole Berge has to run a tight ship

by Yaamini Venkataraman Photos by Kevin Tsukii and Christophe Haubursin OCTOBER 12, 2011




Rhythm is key in this sport.

he mist is just rolling over Lexington Reservoir as they first slide their boats into the water under the silence of a cold morning. It’s just past 8:30, and today, they are the only ones out here. It’s a scene led by sets of eight rowers, each facing backward, trying to reach their destination first. But then there’s that ninth person facing the other way. For two hours, she’s hugging her knees. And she’s yelling.


Every Sunday at 8:30 a.m., the novice girls of the Los Gatos Rowing Club begin taking the fragile fiberglass boats out of the boathouse. Directing the girls as they lift the delicate vessels is senior Nicole Berge, one of the coxswains for LGRC. Some argue that the coxswain is the most important person in the crew, even though she never rows. Instead, she coaches the crew during the race, responsible primarily for maintaining the rhythm. After all, rhythm is key. Starting off Nicole started rowing this past summer

when she attended a Stanford rowing camp with her brother Christian Berge, then another camp hosted by Los Gatos High School. Nicole had never heard of the sport before, mainly because it is more feasible to have a rowing program at a private school. Some schools, like LGHS, have their own boathouses with ergs or Concept 2 machines — rowing simulators — to help their athletes. At the Stanford and Los Gatos rowing camps, Nicole spent only a brief time coxing, and focused more on the rowing technique. But it was her dad who pushed her to become a coxswain. “According to him, I’m too short to be EL ESTOQUE

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a rower because the longer your legs, the farther you can push and go with your oar,” Nicole said. “My dad thought I [could] be a coxswain [because] they are [usually] someone who is really lightweight.” Essentially a coach on board, her primary duty is to ensure that all of the girls stay in sync with one another. “They have to be really loud and obnoxious,” Nicole said. “The boats are really narrow, so if you’re off-time, you feel the boat go side to side, and you can flip over.” Out on the water “You guys have to start off stronger. You fell into your momentum and you kept going and you obviously powered through — you finished about bow to stern — but you need to get more water on the freshman eight. And the way you’re gonna get that is if you’re stronger in the first two minutes.” Racing strategy from the coach at practice. During the fall, races are long distance, usually 5,000 meters. Every 1,000 meter piece counts, and Nicole’s crew is not pushing off strong to start. “Step it up ladies. Can I get my starboard to crank it more?” According to coach Katherine Cobarrubia, a former coxswain for the UC Davis rowing team, the job of coxswain takes someone who can “split their brain” in several pieces. Not only does a coxswain have to be motivational, but they have to monitor technical details such as handle heights, steering and stroke rates. “Alright ladies, another 1,000 meter piece. Three to build, 28. Oakland and Marin are one boat length ahead of you. Catch them in the first minute. Ready, row!”

And they’re off. Nicole steers her crew straight toward the dam side of Lexington Reservoir. As they push forward, their oar tips make near-identical puddles on the surface of the still water. Thirty seconds later, and the puddles form a distinct pattern, slowly rippling out and disrupting the criss-cross texture of the lake. Cobarrubia is not impressed. “Some of you girls are fine actors. You’re grimacing, thinking, ‘Coach can’t tell if I’m not working hard!’, but the size of your puddles tells me everything. Really dig into the water and make sure you’re following through with the stroke,” Cobarrubia says. Going with the rhythm “[Coxing] takes somebody who’s really good at multitasking, who’s really competitive, wants to win and can push their crews to win,” Cobarrubia said. “Nicole has a good balance of being very calm and collected and knowing when to push the girls.” Before the next stretch of rowing, Nicole adjusts the settings on the cox box, a device that keeps time and tells her the crew’s stroke rate. This next stretch is 2,000 meters long, and lasts a total of four minutes. It’s the last piece for today. Once she gives the signal, her crew starts, looking straight ahead at her. They reach the other side first, two boat lengths ahead of the other freshman eight crew. “It’s definitely a rush. The wind’s blowing and you’re getting splashed by the people in front of you — it’s really nice,” Nicole said. “You can space out and just go with the rhythm.”

ROW YOUR BOAT The Los Gatos rowing club practices Sundays at the Lexington Reservoir. As a team coxswain, pace is crucial to senior Nicole Berge’s job.

NOVEMBER 9, 2011


behind the mask A look at the new face of fencing

By Emily Vu and Kevin Tsukii Photos by Kevin Tsukii

SPORTS lood dripped down onto the mats of the California Fencing Academy from coach Daniel Tibbetts’ leg. It wasn’t from the blade of one of his fencing students though — it was from playing with his dog. According to Tibbetts, fencing is, despite common perception, one of the safest sports out there, second only to badminton. The sport hasn’t aligned with its original, almost ancient, form and purpose — duels that often ended in death — for a century or so. But even the more modern view of fencing, as represented in the movie “Parent Trap,” is dated. The sport is no longer just a “quirky sport,” Coach Tibbets says. Wires drape from “strip” sensors in the ceiling, plugging into the suits of athletes, and from the suits into the bell guards of the swords. Contact between a blade and a suit completes electric currents and the sensors that hang above buzz at each contact of the blade and suit. It’s clear that fencing has come a long way, from blades dipped in black ink to arenas that look like mini electric-car charging stations. Coach Tibbetts’ student, freshman Michelle Danese, is the archetypal modern fencer. Danese represents the change that has happened in modern fencing. She joined

because she didn’t feel comfortable in a pool, nor on a field, but rather in a suit, with a sword in hand. She’s small, but in a sport in which agility and fast thinking overcome brute strength and body type, it doesn’t matter. Skilled with the Sabre Danese’s passion for fencing began when she participated in the California Fencing Academy camp the summer before her seventh grade. She fell in love with the sound of metal clashing on metal, the occasional shriek of joy. It was one of those weeks that changed the course of her life. In just two and a half years, Danese has become a nationally ranked fencer, one that travels to coliseums around the nation to hear the clashing of bell guards and the screaming of fans. Reenacting her favorite match from a competition in Texas, Danese jabs her sword straight into the air. She sets up the scene: the score was tied 14-14 and there was one last bout left. “In my last touch, I point-thrusted the girl and my blade snapped,” Danese said; point-thrusting is when the blade attacks the opponent’s body head-on. “It was like ending with an explosion.” Out of the three types of swords, Foil, Épée, and Sabre, each of which has different weapons and tactics; fencers choose one that aligns with their character. Due to her smaller target area, and because sabre awards a point

for a hit on any part of the body, Danese focuses on this type of fencing. “My favorite thing to do is fence above my age category … some of the girls are gigantic,” Danese said. “It’s funny when they lose — they think ‘What just happened?’” From competitions in Arizona, Georgia and Oregon to the Junior Olympics in Texas, Danese has travelled the nation competing in different tournaments. An emerging national fencer, she has already placed fifth in the top eight in the country at her National competition along with countless trophies and medals which fill her room. However, because she has competitions once or twice a month nationally, she struggles to balance her school work with teaching fencing classes as well as practicing in private and team lessons five days out of the week. Her weekly schedule consists of a twohour practice on Monday, a private lesson on Tuesday, a class she teaches for an hour and a half followed by an hour private lesson, then a two hour team practice on Wednesday, a two hour practice on Friday and a two hour class, followed by a private lesson on Saturday. “If I could make just one of those kids as passionate for fencing like I am, then it’s all worth it for me,” Danese said. “I’m actually happy because fencing is growing. It has become an Olympic sport now, so a lot of people notice it.”

kii Kevin Tsu ue Photo

| El Estoq Illustration

GEARING UP Freshman Michelle Danese prepares to fence by first putting on a plastron and breeches, then adding a chest protector and jacket. Finally, she wears a lame, which conducts electricity and is worn over her jacket, a metal mesh mask, and her weapon that is attached to a body cord on her lame.



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Kevin Tsukii | El Estoque

PERSPECTIVE The view of freshman Michelle Danese from the eyes of her opponent during a match on Oct. 21 at the California Fencing Academy. Danese travels around the nation competing in tournaments, hoping to fence at the World Cup and the Olympics in her near future.

NOVEMBER 9, 2011

En garde. Prêt. Allez! Coach Tibbetts describes Danese as the perfect student. According to him, she writes down every fault and every action after lessons and before lessons studies them; none of his other students do that. With her diligence and motivation, along with guidance from Tibbetts, Danese is eyeing the World Cup and the Olympics. Tibbets says she has what it takes. “Ninety percent of the girls will have some kind of excuse or something to blame it on. [Danese] will throw up in the bathroom, not tell you and keep trying to fence,” Tibbets said. “She makes no excuses. I’ve never, ever heard one from her. That says a lot about her character, big time.” It’s not only immense passion that drives Danese but also her friends at the California Fencing Academy, who she calls her family. Yes, “the family,” consisting of her coach, assistant coach, peers and younger students, do spend countless weekday afternoons together, and they do have inside jokes — but they also shove swords in each others’ faces. It seems like they all have a second personality. But for Tibbets, there’s another explanation. “They put on the mask,” Tibbets said, “and now, it is a fight.” |



Unstoppable by Patrick Xie and Dickson Tsai

SERVICE ACE Freshman Aiswarya Sankar (right) tosses the ball as she starts her serve.

Girls tennis’ journey to an undefeated season


wo years in a row, Saratoga had given the varsity girls tennis team their only losses. Two years in a row, SHS took the CCS and the NorCal championships, leaving the Matadors in second. This year, it was the Matadors’ turn. Twenty-one wins, no losses. So far, the Matadors had already beaten SHS twice. As each game went by, that dream of winning CCS came even closer. The team After disappointing losses to SHS all throughout last year, this was the year for the


team to rebuild. The top two singles players of the team, Class of 2011 alumnae Sylvia Li and Vynnie Kong, graduated, leaving juniors Wendi Kong and Jody Law to step up in their place. Meanwhile, five new freshmen joined the varsity team as well. “At the beginning of the season we were actually really worried,” co-captain junior Ruri Kobayakawa said. “[The team] surprised us because the level of our entire team was actually quite constant versus other teams.” The freshmen at number 3 and 4 singles made the difference against the stronger teams when the top players were over-matched.

“Even though they’re freshmen, they’ve played in a lot of USTA tournaments, so they’re used to playing under pressure,” head coach Gene Fortino said. The doubles also underwent a major change. Bruce Becker, the varsity boys tennis coach, helped solidify the doubles teams by calling in practices. Kobayakawa and sophomore Kelsey Chong, already with postseason experience from last year, led the team in number one doubles consistently throughout the season. “It’s pretty nice to know as a singles player if our doubles are pretty much going to sweep,” Law said. “It puts much less pressure on singles


football // volleyball // field hockey // water polo // golf // cross country // feature // sports flash players because out of all four of our singles, only one of us has to win.”


winning every game so far. The Matadors fell to a quick 3-0 deficit against SHS after Kong and Law had trouble keeping up with the powerful top two of SHS. Although it seemed bad for the Matadors, the rest of the games were in good condition, all leading in their respective matches. The next four games were all MVHS. Again it was the doubles and the number 3 and 4 singles that

6 Juniors

3 Sophomores Players

3 Seniors

4 Freshman

Matches won 4-3 25 0

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gave the team the necessary wins to clinch the Mitty, Menlo, and SHS — the Matadors biggest game. rivals all within one week of each other. The “What I noticed is that after you finish your Matadors would also have to play Menlo High match, if it’s a really tight match, you have to School and SHS back-to-back. put aside your wins or your losses and just go Menlo and Mitty were both tough matches and cheer for your teammates,” sophomore for the Matadors, but the team was able to Shwetha Bharadwaj said. come out victorious 6-1, 4-3 respectively. Both teams were also out of league, so the Final stretch importance of the match was The Matadors made quick work of not as big as the SHS match. Visit for Mountain View, their last opponent, MVHS and SHS had their an in-depth and with that they had an undefeated first match of the season recap of season. on Sept. 29. This was a key the second “It was good to end on a positive game just as the Matadors match vs. note,” Fortino said. “After a big momentum kept them Saratoga match like Saratoga, you always have

NOVEMBER 9, 2011

a tendency for that big letdown, and the girls really really played well, and now we’re getting ready for CCS. We’ll see but it’s going to be a real challenge.” A team that lost a lot of its star talent last year was able to show everyone that they were still a dominating force. Law, Kobayakawa, and Kong — the captains — all stepped up to rally the inexperienced but talented young team to

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Wins Losses

Season Record

SEASON CELEBRATION After the Oct. 27 senior game against Mountain View, the varsity girls tennis team gathers for a group picture. The team had an undefeated season, going 21-0.


Big match-ups Then came one of the toughest parts of the season during the last weeks of September —

Photo used with permission of Ray Chong


Early success The season began with a bang, winning their first game with a 5-2 win over Burlingame and then a 6-1 win right after that. This was the perfect start to a season of many successes. The California High School Tennis Classic in Fresno marked their first big challenge of the season, drawing the top teams in the state. The team going there was not only different, but their whole mindset was completely different from previous years. “Last year, we didn’t have much of a team,” Kobayakawa said. “We weren’t very bonded and this was especially seen when we went to Fresno. This year we all went to someone’s room, we all hung out, we talked, we listened to music. Last year everyone went to their rooms and did homework. This year we had a rule: they were not allowed to do homework.” Win after win followed the tournament and the team started to look like nothing could bring them down. The team was entering a rhythm that was hard for any of their opponents to break. “We first did not expect [to go undefeated],” Kobayakawa said. “After we went to Fresno for the California Classic, being able to win that, we started getting more confident.”

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Patrick Xie | El Estoque

an undefeated season. Kobayakawa however claims that the reason they did so well was not cause of them, but the players themselves. “I just have to say ‘I am glad to be captain of such a spirited team, who tries so hard and tries at their fullest capability just to win,’” Kobayakawa said. And with that spirit and hard work, the only thing the team did was win. 21-0. No other team can say they hold that record other than them. “Anything can happen,” Fortino said. “Even though we’re undefeated right now, playoffs are going to be awfully close — any given day.” |



A love for the sport challenges senior David Olsson to drive forward by Carissa Chan with additional reporting by Jacob Lui 44

Kevin Tsukii and Ashley Wu | El Estoque Photo Illustration


football // volleyball // field hockey // water polo // golf // cross country // feature // sports flash t 2:30 p.m. every day, 39 varsity football players head out to practice together, 22 members of the baseball team tote their gear to the field and twenty soccer players start warming up. But at 9 p.m. three to four times per week, senior David Olsson gets into his car alone and takes a halfhour drive — 45 minutes if it is rush hour — to either San Jose or Fremont. And there, he pulls on his sweat-lined helmet and skates out onto the rink for another session of ice hockey. And even though it’s played on 32 degree ice, hockey is the sport that sets his heart on fire. As a kid, David tried his hand at several sports, including soccer and baseball. Though the young David enjoyed both, he longed for something with more intensity — something that would set him apart from others. According to his father, Christian, David loved having excitement in his life and often resorted to somewhat dangerous activities to fulfill this need for adventure. “David and his older brother, on roller blades, would go down the hill on Bubb Road at high speeds towards his grandparents’ house,” Christian said. “They would give me heart attacks.” At his father’s insistence, David gave up the practice of careening down slopes and redirected his attention to street hockey on roller blades instead. Christian noticed that David handled the sport well, so when a family friend suggested that Olsson try ice hockey, Christian agreed that it seemed like something David would excel in. And the moment he stepped onto the ice, blades on, stick in hand, nine-yearold David knew he had found his passion. “I loved the speed of the sport, and the intensity,” David said. “I find it interesting. It’s so different from other sports.” He caught on right away as he practiced at the ice rink in Cupertino Square, quickly mastering the basics of ice hockey. Encouraged by his father and the rest of his family, David landed a roster spot on his first club hockey team, the San Jose Junior Sharks, at the age of 10. From then on, he could never get enough of the sport. “Once hockey began, all other sports stopped,” Christian said. “Hockey became his life.”

a higher level — when he first joined the Blackhawks, they allowed him to compete in the 18-year-old age group even though he was only 16. David put in long hours of practice, determined to be a standout player, and his new team rewarded him with something that hundreds of youth ice hockey teams fought for. “We won [the California Amateur Hockey Association] States [championship] last year,” David said. “It was the best moment ever.” And everything that happens on “Once hockey began, all the ice — from other sports stopped. sudden death wins Hockey became [David’s] and missed goals life.” to the brawls and Christian Olsson, father of the adrenaline that senior David Olsson courses through his veins as he plays — fuels his unbrekable devotion for the game he has so quickly fallen in love with. But despite his love for the sport, David admits that hockey often takes its toll on him and his family. Fees for club teams average several thousand dollars per season, not to mention the constant travel and equipment expenses. “In Sweden, Canada and Russia, where ice hockey is popular, renting a full-sized sheet of ice costs about $50 per hour,” Christian said. “But in America, it’s $350 an hour.” Christian also explained that because hockey is not very widely played in the Bay Area, David must commute regularly to Fremont and San Jose to play on full-sized ice rinks. The large amount of time that David spends training is also time taken away from other things, namely schoolwork. But amidst the grueling workouts and frustrating games, he is not alone. David says that his parents regularly attend his games, never question his commitment and are determined to help in any way they can. “As a parent, the number one priority is school,” Christian said. “But in a team sport, you sign up to attend. You can do well in school and be a team member [at the same time].”

The dedication begins After several seasons with the Junior Sharks, David earned a position as left wing on the Santa Clara Blackhawks, a prestigious team that travels extensively around Calif. For the next few years, he went back and forth between the Junior Sharks and the Blackhawks. He finally decided on the Blackhawks, the team he has been a part of for three years, because they gave him the opportunity to play at

An athletic future David, who only knows two other students on campus who ever played competitive ice hockey — senior James Kang, who no longer plays, and junior Mark McDowell, who recently transferred to a Florida college preparatory academy to pursue his ice hockey career — understands that hockey is not the most prominent high school sport. But studies show that ice hockey is the second-fastest growing

BREAKING THE ICE Senior David Olsson (right) demonstrates basic ice hockey techniques, the slapshot (left) and puck protection (middle). After nine years of experience, Olsson considers the ice rink his second home. Kevin Tsukii | El Estoque

NOVEMBER 9, 2011


football // volleyball // field hockey // water polo


golf // cross country // feature // sports flash

sport in the nation. To David, that is both a discipline, teamwork, dedication, and what it blessing and a curse. Increasing popularity takes to reach a goal.” pushes college scouts to seek exceptional Those who know him would agree — many players more actively and offer more of David’s friends and family have noticed a scholarships, but it also means tougher transformation since David has started hockey. competition as more and more people become “He’s built up strength and self-confidence,” involved in ice hockey. Christian added. “Also, he’s learned a lot According to the National Collegiate Athletic about time management. Obviously, he’s still a Association, 10.8 percent teenager, but he does very of male high school well.” hockey players currently Senior Joey Shepard, Visit continue the sport in who has been friends with for more photos college. Given his success David for seven years, featuring senior with the Blackhawks, also noted that David’s David Olsson David cannot bear to passion for hockey makes part with what may very an appearance in everyday well define him, so he activities because David expects to play hockey in college, mostly likely has simply spent so many hours on the ice, not with a school’s NCAA program but rather playing the sport. on a club team — something he believes will “I believe hockey has sort of affected enhance his studies and keep his college life the way he walks,” Shepard said, trying to well-balanced in general. suppress a laugh. “We sometimes joke around “[Hockey] is a big de-stresser,” David [about] how it looks like he’s ice skating when said. “The speed, the quick decisions, and he’s walking.” especially the contact just takes your mind off And though eight years of hockey everything.” experience is a lot to reflect on, David manages to sum it up in nine short words. A life shaped by the ice “I love hockey,” he said. “It’s a big part of “[Hockey has] taught me a lot of valuable me.” lessons,” David said. “I apply [it] to school … | and anything else I partake in like work ethic,


Kevin Tsukii | El Estoque

LIFE ON THE RINK For senior David Olsson, dedication is the feeling of late-night practices and sore muscles after hours on ice.





Christophe Haubursin | El Estoque

DEVELOPING PHOTOS Students work in the dark room in F102 on Oct. 25, using the enlarger to produce a viable print and developing photos in the chemical baths. The room, which is consistently steeped in red light, has occupied a corner of F102 since Photo teacher Brian Chow arrived on campus.

Stepping through the ‘magic time portal’: Hidden stories of the dark room by Yaamini Venkataraman


hen the cats go away, the mice come out to play, the old saying goes. And when it comes to the photo dark room, the saying holds true. The dark room was not always located inside a hidden nook of F102. When the school first opened in 1969, the original dark room was situated in A103 and was only one-eighth of its current size. In the late 70s and early 80s, Photo was no longer offered as a part of the school curriculum. The old photo room was then turned into a copy center. It was not until Photo teacher Brian Chow came to MVHS during the 2003-2004 school year that the current dark room was created. NOVEMBER 9, 2011

“When I came, I knew that Photo would be a popular course among students,” Chow said. “We got PTSA donations and other donations from visual arts and performing arts grants to make it happen.” To enter the dark room, you push through a tubelike revolving door, similar to one that you would find in the lair of a superhero. Some students like to trick their friends into thinking it is a “magic time portal” but for all practical purposes, it really is a portal. Once you step off on the other side, the entire room is bathed in a red light. In class, students use enlargers and chemical baths to turn their negatives into larger prints. With several students walking around from station to station, in and out of the dark room, it is easy to lose track of things.

“People bump into each other all of the time,” Chow said. “They bump into the stools, the garbage cans. Everything.” But what is there to do when you are waiting for your photo to develop? “Students try to hide under the enlargers and scare each other,” Chow said. “But I honestly don’t want to know what goes on in the dark room when I’m not around.” “If we tell you, it won’t be that bad,” senior Anna Shabrova said. “No, I don’t want to know,” Chow said. If you want to know what the mice do, you will have to find out for yourself. 47













Volume 42, Issue 3, November 9 2011  

El Estoque News Magazine

Volume 42, Issue 3, November 9 2011  

El Estoque News Magazine