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Westlake High School

pg. 25

Volume 45

Issue 2

January 31, 2014 4100 Westbank Drive Austin, Texas 78746

We create an individualized program for each student and are Westlake Chaps’ top choice for:

We create an individualized instructional program for each student and are the Westlake Chaps’ top choice for:  Academic Tutoring  Study Skills Coaching  SAT and ACT preparation  College Admissions




Flip through this issue of The Featherduster and find a photo marked with the Aurasma logo.





Download the Aurasma app to your phone or iPad. Follow The Featherduster account.



Open Aurasma and align the scanner over your chosen photo.


Hold your device in place, turn the volume up and watch the video over the page.







In the Nutcracker Spectacular, junior Ellie Edwards dances to “Pas de Deux.”



Is the price right?

How much has the average senior spent on high school costs?

13 Ready to rumble Freshman Michael Boswell competes against Bowie Dec. 4. Zhouie Martinez

Shelby Westbrook


Wrestlers emerge from the mat victorious in successful season

22 TECnically speaking German exchange student madly skilled at operating light board

28 On her toes Ellie Edwards furthers her dancing career and makes plans to travel

42 Put your records on

Your hella cool guide to purchasing vinyl in Austin

Sophomore Jack Speer explores End of an Ear, one of Austin’s many record stores. Nikki Humble cover art by Justin Dorland

The Featherduster, the newsmagazine of Westlake High School, attempts to inform and entertain in a broad, fair and accurate manner on subjects which concern the readers. The publication also seeks to provide a forum of ideas and opinions between the staff of the newsmagazine, the faculty, the student body and the local community about issues presented. All material produced and published by The Featherduster staff is copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without the writer’s consent or that of the editors. Content decisions rest in the hands of the staff, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier. Opinions expressed in the columns that appear

in The Featherduster do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire staff, the school administration or the adviser. The staff encourages letters to the editor as an avenue for expressing the opinions of the readers. All letters must be signed to be considered for publication. Due to space limitations, not all letters will be published, and the editorial board reserves the right to edit them for purposes of placement. No material will be printed that is libelous, advocates an illegal activity or which the editorial board deems is in poor taste. The restriction includes letters to the staff, advertising and anything else the board feels presents an inappropriate message.

Editors-in-Chief Andy Brown Marco Scarasso Ben Wallace

Brains + Brawn

Asst. Georgina Kuhlmann

Marketing Jacob Prothro Cierra Smith

Peyton Richardson Asst. Colleen Pletcher Emily Martin Asst. Margaret Norman Asst. Kathryn Revelle

Web Team

People + Places

Hannah Turner

Sara Phillips Asst. Elizabeth Emery Asst. Jack Stenglein

Trends + Traditions Caitlyn Kerbow Asst. Madeline Dupre Asst. Michelle Fairorth Asst. Olivia Kight

Rants + Raves Katelyn Connolly Rachel Cooper

Nikki Humble Alexis Huynh ZZ Lundburg

Business Manager Art Editor: Michaela Moss Editor: Ariana Gomez Reyes Alex Charnes

Phographers Editor: Tim Whaling Nick Appling Cade Ritter Shelby Westbrook Lucy Wimmer

Reporters Nelson Aydelotte Drew Brown Martin Celusniak Sophia Ho Cooper Kerbow Sabrina Knap Nikki Lyssy Zhouie Martinez Monica Rao Jack Speer Sage Sutton Sarah Tucker David Tulkoff Jack Wallace Brian Wieckowski Michael Wiggin Micah Williams Ananya Zachariah

Adviser Deanne Brown


B Classified

brains + brawn

Have you ever wanted to spice up your education? NOW you can!

In addition to the core courses and widely known electives at Westlake,

there are numerous niche classes for 2014-15 which target students with specific interests. Some of these are offered only one period per day, such as Disaster Response, American West, Classical Mythology and Literary Magazine.

American West

Another course offered for one period per day is American West, taught by Chuck Nowland. It is an English elective class that requires English I as a prerequisite. Westlake began offering this course in the spring of 1995 when Nowland transferred from Hill Country to Westlake.


brains + brawn

Literary Magazine If you would prefer a class that focuses more on computer design and writing, join Moria Longino’s Literary Magazine class. There is no prerequisite and it is all about being a member of Westlake’s The Final Draft. Students also learn skills such as concept development, design and layout, submission selection and editing, digital photography, desktop publishing, the printing process and get a chance to write. Student may also serve in editorial positions. “[Literary Magazine] is fun and it’s different,” junior Noah Hanna said. “There’s no other class like it. There are only seven kids and you get a lot of freedom.” oss

“I took [American West] by a reccomendation from a friend,” junior Whitt Barksdale said. “Mr. Nowland is a very nice guy and he’s on your level. Everything feels like a group discussion.”

ela M

A group on campus that many don’t know about is the Community Emergency Response Team. To join this team, students join a class called CERT: Disaster Response. In this class, students learn about fire safety, medical triage, disaster psychology, search and rescue, first aid and CPR. “What I like most about the class is that I can learn to be a first responder,” freshman Ben Collie said. “Also, it’s fun learning all the handson training.” This curricular model was adopted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It is available for any students with a passion for saving lives.

“I had just started at Westlake after 10 years at Hill Country Middle School, so I jumped at the opportunity to create a class based on one of my passions in life: the American West and its land, literature, art, history and movies, the classic westerns,” Nowland said. “I submitted a proposal to Mr. [John] Matysek, a previous principal. His committee recommended the course with several others to the school board for approval. The rest is history, as they say.” Throughout the one-semester class, students learn about the American West by concentrating on short stories, essays and other writing assignments, which show students the criteria and aspects of the West. Nowland said he likes the autonomy of teaching his own curriculum to students who share his passions. “One thing I love to do as much as possible, that I can’t do with my other classes, is take field trips to actually experience the life and art of the American West,” Nowland said. “We’ve been to the Southwest Writer’s Collection at Texas State University to view exhibits on writers like Cormac McCarthy and to visit their Lonesome Dove special collection.”

Mythology Students must take two years of a language to graduate, but some Latin students might want to take Classical Mythology as an additional enrichment elective. “This is the first year for Mythology, and it adds some work to my three other classes: Latin III Pre-AP, Latin IV AP and Latin V,” Latin teacher Alan Abbe said. “It is nothing like my other classes. I believe that people take this class because they want to learn about stories behind the names and literary references [taught in Latin.]” “The reason I joined Mythology was [that] I wanted to study the archeology unit,” junior Kyra Abbe said, “The class is a great learning experience and filled with friendly faces, I recommend taking the course.”



There are certain courses that everyone is required to take in order to graduate, but there remain a variety of classes that can pique students’ interests. Next time scheduling comes around, flip through the course book and consider choosing a lesser-known class. You might be pleasantly surprised. ―Cooper Kerbow

Locked down

Security addresses ongoing campus safety concerns Today, information spreads around more rapidly than ever “Students are good at reporting things that look suspicious,” Carter before. With the Internet, television and radio being widely available, it said. “Last year we had a former student enter campus and within is hard not to hear about the latest event. Having an increased awareminutes we found out.” ness allows us to hear about violent crimes much more frequently than Due to the lower rate of criminal activity at Westlake, students have we once did. From the Aurora movie theatre shooting to the Sandy more freedom than other schools. Hook shooting to the Boston Marathon “At some schools students aren’t albombing — it seems that mass homicides lowed outside a classroom without a hall or terrorist attacks have become periodical pass,” Carter said. “During lunch you can’t events. exit the lunch room.” With the knowledge that at any time This year, there are additions to a public area is at risk of being attacked, Westlake’s array of cameras in previous security has become more of a concern to blind spots and outside the Performing schools. In the past decade, there has been Arts Center. This has become increasingly an increased number of security programs important in preventing theft over the past put into place nationwide. While most few years with so many iPads at Westlake. students are aware of security, its purpose There are also two security guards, and two and the actual risk of something happenofficers contracted from the Travis County ing seem more nebulous. Sheriff Department. “I haven’t noticed any violence,” senior “I think that having their presence proElliot Knowles said. vides a sense of security to most students,” According to Gayle Morris, security sophomore Xander Benton said. on campus is different than other places, With many security programs, schools in that it is at risk from internal threats. are statistically some of the safest places. The way that Westlake tries to prevent During the 2008-2009 school year, only 1.1 threats may seem unrelated to security: percent of homicides that occurred to chilby offering counseling and having a zero dren ages 5-18 happened while at school tolerance policy regarding bullying. With (according to Howthese resources available, it helps prevent ever, incidents like last year’s supposed troubled students from harming others or bomb threat caused people to question engaging in illegal activities, stopping the whether security is an overreaction. threat before it ever becomes one. “I was about 90 percent sure that External threats are also accounted for. nothing would happen, but I wasn’t 100 Outside doors remain locked during the percent sure,” Carter said. “I don’t see how Nick Appling school day, forcing traffic to go through a [I] could live with myself if something did Security officer Gale Morris patrols the hallways to keep the school safe. happen.” few monitored entries. Adults who want to enter the school have to check in using a While it may seem too much at times, driver’s license, which will notify security security procedures have a necessary efif the visitor is a registered sex offender so fect. Drills and lockdowns may be tedious, that they are able to prevent dangerous people from entering. Howbut make students aware of the actions they should take in case of an ever, they aren’t completely secure. event. “I think that the students here are good-natured,” assistant princi“I know that drills and lockdowns are annoying, but safety is impal Dianne Carter said. “To be polite they sometimes let people in.” portant,” Carter said. “Personally when I’m conducting [a drill] I feel Locked doors aren’t foolproof, but if someone does get in without responsible for the safety of [all of the] students.” checking in, it doesn’t take long for security to find out. — Martin Celusniak


The true cost of being a Westlake student x 4 = annual x 9 = monthly

appx = approximately

ACADEMIC Tutoring and college prep

9.5% 11.9% 38.1% 40.5%

$0-$50 $50-$100 $100-$200 More than $200 (26.3% did not answer) x 9 x 4

SAT 1 ($50.50) ACT 1 ($50)

$0-50 $50-$100 $100-$300 More than $300 (3.5% did not answer)

$0-$200 $200-$500 More than $500 (43.9% did not answer) x 4*



27.3% 12.5% 9.4% 78.1%



Avg AP exams taken ($89 fee) 9th 0 10th 1 11th 3 12th 4 TOTAL: appx $5,433-$7,493

EXTRACURRICULAR *assuming participated from 9th-12th grade


Participation fee included in final total (Tier 1 $275 x 4*) *assuming participated from 9th-12th grade

TOTAL: appx $400-$1,300


Driver’s ED classes $380 1

16.7% 45.2%


Avg car cost: $21,120 Parking passes

28.9% 26.7%

x 4*


$0-$200 $200-$500 More than $500 (24.6% did not answer) x 4*




College application fees

TOTAL: appx

38.2% 50%

Less than $100 $100$500 More than $500 (40.4% did not answer) x 4*


Average back-to-school 3 shopping nationally (2013) $635 x 4

$0-$25 $25-$50 More than $50 (21.1% did not answer)


$0-$25 $25-$50 More than $50 (42.1% did not answer) x 4*

Average times taken

Less than $100 $100-$500 More than $500 (28.1% did not answer) x 4*



iPad insurance $45-$60 x 4




Participation 23.3% 51.2% fee included in final total (Tier 25.6% $400-$1,300 1 $275 x 4*)

brains + brawn

$150 $75 (Alive at 25 discount) (did not answer) x 2 avg years purchasing

Gas to school

Less than $100 $100-$300 More than $300 (19.3% did not answer) x 9

x4 TOTAL: appx $25,400-$32,600

24.4% 75.6% 4.3% 47.8% 47.8%

Lunch, AP tests, college applications, Homecoming, Prom and parking passes; there are a multitude of things we pay for throughout the years as typical high school students. But just how much does it add up to? We polled around 50 seniors in order to find out the answer to just how much the average Westlake High School student spends annually on typical expenses like academic, athletic, extra/cocurricular, student life and memorabilia costs from the start of freshman year until graduation, and the results just might surprise you. —Cierra Smith

STUDENT LIFE School lunch

Bring own lunch $0-$50 More than $50 (0% did not answer) x 9

Mums and armbands 28.1%



Armband $15 Single $45 48.6% 40% Double $75 Triple $115 (38.6% did not answer) x 2 (avg years bought) 2.8%


Football games paid to attend ($4 each)

18.2% 9.1% 38.2% % 9.1 25.5%

None 1-3 3-5 5-7 More than 7 (3.5% did not answer) x 4

Off-campus lunch $0-$25 $25-$50 More than $50 (5.3% did not answer)



x9 x4

Homecoming Dance

$20 tickets plus extra expenses




Prom (junior year)

$40 tickets plus extra expenses


(clothes, dinner, other activities etc.) 21.9% $0-$50 $50-$100 31.7% $100-$200 More than $300 (28.1% did not answer) x 2 (avg years attending)

(clothes, dinner, other activities etc.) $0-$100 $100-$200 $200-$300 More than $300 (31.6% did not answer)

20.5% 23.1%


Prom (senior year)

17.5% 22.5%

$0-$100 $100-$200 $200-$300 More than $300 (29.8% did not answer)

TOTAL: appx $2,150-$4,250


MEMORABILIA Senior tributes (early price) $Eighth of page $100 Fourth of page $150 Half $225 (64.9% did not answer)

TOTAL: appx $505-$605

15% 55%

Senior portraits/photos




$0-$100 $100-$300 $300-$500 More than $500 (0% did not answer)





Yearbooks (early price) $70 x 4

Compared to local private schools’ tuition total for high school St. Stephen’s Episcopal School appx $99,3202 Regents School of Austin appx $58,420 Sources 1 2 3

TOTAL: appx $35,388-$48,648* WITHOUT CAR: appx $14,268-$27,528

*Using the highest percentage poll answers


Classes continue to integrate iPads into curriculum In 2011, Westlake distributed iPads to upperclassmen and don’t have to guess what they might be interested in. It gives them a lot select sophomores, and in September of 2012, all Westlake students, of independence and creativity on their part.” 8th graders and various elementary school children received iPads Dr. Garza’s students also use their iPads to improve auditory funded by technology bonds. comprehension and pronunciation by listening to Spanish podcasts at The iPad program is supported by the Westlake Initiative for Innonight. vation (WIFI), which the district website describes as “a program that “In certain instances [the iPad] has improved their learning,” Dr. focuses on bringing learning into the hands of students, enabling them Garza said. “By being exposed to what’s going on in the Spanish-speakto guide their own learning through increased access.” ing world right now, they see how they can use it more in the moment. 2013 marked the second year of school-wide iPad The kids can initiate their own learning and it can be use, and some teachers have embraced the technolvery current.” “Teaching depends on ogy with open arms, going almost entirely paperless From foreign languages to math, teachers conthe angle with which you in their classrooms. tinue to discover new ways to use the iPads in their come at a problem when AP World History teacher Jason Jones said he classrooms. you’re explaining it to uploads notes, videos, links, activities, PDF files and “[The iPad] gives us another option for visualizadifferent brains, and [the worksheets to his website and the iTunes U app, tion, enhances the [learning] experience and just iPad] has given us more which his students then download to their iPads, gives us another set of ways to explain things,” math options in the area of enabling them to store everything they need for the teacher Peggy Katterjohn said. “Teaching depends multiple representations class in one place. on the angle with which you come at a problem when of a problem.” “I love the ability to load material to iTunes U,” you’re explaining it to different brains, and [the iPad] Jones said. “It has greatly decreased my time in the has given us more options in the area of multiple —Peggy Katterjohn copy room and the stacks of papers on my desk. I representations of a problem. Every time I find a new prefer to teach with the iPad. It’s a powerful thing for app [that we can use] it confirms, that yes, this is a every student to have access to the Internet during class.” good thing.” Aside from making it easier to obtain materials, the iPads have Some of the most popular aspects of the iPads are their light weight created opportunities for learning as teachers continue to find ways to and small size, which make them easily portable and enable users to use the new tool to supplement and improve upon their old curricustore information that would otherwise be held in several heavy books. lums. Spanish teacher Dr. Gloria Garza, for example, has her students “It’s a virtual textbook without the weight, and I think that’s find articles on Spanish-language news websites, summarize them and fabulous,” Katterjohn said. “If that’s all the iPad does for us in class, present them to the class. hold our big math and science textbooks, I think that it’s worth it right “I used to subscribe to several Spanish newspapers, but now that I there.” have the iPad I don’t have to,” Dr. Garza said. “I would cut [the newsThe portability and vast memory space of the iPads mean that, in papers] up and give each student an article, and tell them to read it and theory, students don’t have to carry multiple bulky books and folders do the activity. But now I don’t have to go through all that trouble; I with them if they want to do some work.

Students estimate how many of their classes use the iPads 3+ days a week

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

brains + brawn

= 1 student

Photo manipulation by Tim Whaling

“You can carry [the iPad] around and you can use it anywhere,” Some students are under the impression that their teachers hate junior Anna Spell said. “Plus, the iPad has everything you need on it.” iPads because they are often being told to put them away. However, Using applications such as eBackpack, DocAS, Pages and iTunes U, the teachers themselves express a different viewpoint. students can download, complete and turn in work without ever once “Used appropriately and on task, not playing games or checking touching a sheet of paper or turning the pages of a book. mail, [the iPad] is a great tool … I don’t mind if they play games, just “The iPad has made it easier to learn, very much so, because I can not during class,” Katterjohn said. “I don’t want to be in the position of keep all of my work in one place,” senior Katya Sheridan said. “And policing them. That’s not what I’m paid for and that’s not what I want since I’m applying to colleges it helps get applications done, talk to to do.” people and send in essays. The iPad just makes everything easier.” Like Katterjohn, Dr. Garza considers the iPad to be a valuable asset Despite the benefits of a more digital curriculum, and she shares the opinion that with great power some teachers still struggle to incorporate the techcomes great responsibility. nology seamlessly into their classrooms, and students “The kids need to be instilled with the idea that “The iPad has made it randomly surveyed report that, on average, only four this is not a toy at the moment in class,” Dr. Garza easier to learn, very much of their classes use the iPads regularly (three or more said. “They can play their video games at home, but so, because I can keep all days a week). According to junior Susannah Crowell, there’s a specific purpose for in-class iPad use.” of my work in one place... the dream of going paperless is still a long way off, After two years of school-wide iPad operation, The iPad just makes everyand her backpack feels as heavy with papers as ever. most teachers and students are still only using a frac“We’re about 30 percent there,” Susannah said. tion of the iPad’s potential, and it remains to be seen thing easier.” The biggest drawback of the iPads in terms of whether or not Westlake will ever abandon paper —Katya Sheridan academics is the multitude of distractions that they entirely. so readily supply, say teachers and students. Video “I believe that we could be using them way more games, websites, movies, email, iMessage and more in class,” sophomore Laura Jessich said. “Teachers can be accessed with a touch of a finger, providing are reluctant to use iPads because kids can so easily countless opportunities to get off task. get off task. I like the way they are incorporated in class.” “The only really negative thing I see about the iPads is that they As with any other device, the iPad’s usefulness depends upon the can be a distraction,” Dr. Garza said. “They can be distracting to the responsibility of its operators. younger kids, mostly Spanish 1, when they should be involved in class “Change is hard, especially as you get older,” Dr. Garza said. “You but they’re playing games or looking at football scores.” have to put aside your initial judgements and take things for a test She said that distraction was less of a problem in the upper levels, drive. Used appropriately, the iPad is a fantastic tool” citing the sheer amount of work as the reason. —Georgina Kuhlmann

Hitting the right A

whistle blows, and the 241 band members run to their positions. When they have gotten into their rows, band director Kerry Taylor tells the students over the loudspeaker about the game that night, how they won’t need to practice too much because he thinks they all know the songs pretty well and how it’s going to be colder at the game in Waco than it is on the field right now. Everyone yells and shrieks in excitement before going to attention and playing. The sound seems warm and inviting, a stark contrast to the freezing cold weather. They play “Land of a Thousand Dances,” followed by three rounds of “YMCA” and finish up with “Hey Baby.” On “Hey Baby,” many students dance and some yell. It’s an odd sight on this dreary morning at 7:30, but nobody’s spirits appear to be dampened by the weather. After “Hey Baby,” practice is over, all of the band members go back inside, chatting and huddling together for warmth. And this was apparently an easy day for the band during marching season. Even though many students outside of band view it as cult-like, band members see themselves as more of a family. They may not be a religion exactly, but band is partially student-led, has created some of its own traditions and is a unit within the school. They spend long hours before and after school together, which gives them ample time to bond. “The average [marching] day starts very early for me, being a drum major, [because I get] here early enough to set up for rehearsal,” said senior Travis Norris, one of the four drum majors. “So I get to the band hall around 6:30 or 6:45, set up whatever is needed on the field [and] go through all the rehearsal. [There’s] lots of repetition on things we need to work on, sometimes individual instruction, sometimes group instruction … and then [I] go to school. On a normal day, I’ll end up spending half an hour after school just hanging out in the band hall. On Tuesdays, we have more rehearsal [after school], and that’s out on the grass field. Everyone kind of dreads them, but they end up being pretty fun.”

During marching season, drum majors direct the band members’ marching, meet weekly with the band directors to discuss the show’s progress and arrive at practice early and stay late to set and clean up. “One of my favorite things about band is the enormous opportunity for student leadership,” said junior Ananya Zachariah, another of the four drum majors. “You get to contribute substantially to the band, and it enables you to grow in character. There are two categories of student leaders in band — officers and instructional leaders. Instructional leaders consist of section leaders and sergeants, whose work lies entirely on the marching field. Drum majors count as both officers and instructional leaders. Drum major is the highest student leadership position in band, and therefore has the highest amount of responsibility. When you watch the marching band perform you probably don’t really notice us because we are the ones conducting. Drum majors have a ton of responsibility and it can be a lot of pressure, but it’s also so much fun.” Even though a day during marching season is strenuous, especially for those higher up on the chain of command, it lasts for only about four months, ending when the football team finishes its season. The schedule for a band student, along with the environment of the band hall, is more relaxed now that concert band season has started and early morning practices are over. “There will still be people who get here ridiculously early to practice or something, but it’s not the full group,” Travis said. “If you walk into the band hall on a marching [season] day, you’ll see nobody there in the morning. If you walk in on a concert [season] day, you’ll see everyone around, chatting and hanging out or doing homework. For rehearsal in the actual classroom during marching band season we stand in a box around the edge of the room, and during concert season we sit in our traditional band arcs.” Filled with early mornings and frequent practices, the life of a band member isn’t easy. However, there must be some reason why so many

“When you’re a freshman it’s really nerve-wracking, because you don’t know what you’re going to go through ... But everyone else has gone through it already so [the culture of band is] supportive.” —freshman Kelsey Richardson


brains + brawn

Ben Wallace and Jack Stenglein


Band members bond through shared marching experiences

people sign up and stick with it for four years. “I like the sense of family it provides,” band president senior Soto Dedes said, “and I like walking in here after school and seeing a bunch of people I know standing around and talking to each other.” However, this friendly feeling of the organization does not extend through all of the band’s activities. Inevitably, some things will frustrate even the most dedicated. “Some people don’t like Tuesday afternoon rehearsals,” Travis said. “Some people don’t like pass-offs. [Those are where] we have to memorize our music and play it for a student leader or a director. People who aren’t very good at memorizing their music are really afraid to do that.” But even if they’re exasperated with band, and sometimes not even friends with one another, the band members still support each other. “Even if there’s someone in band [whom] I dislike, if I hear someone outside of band dissing them, I’ll be like, ‘Hey, back off. You don’t know them,’” Colorguard section leader senior Mia Cavazos said. Because they worked together during the first four months of school, the drum majors bonded into a close-knit group. “I had to work with the other drum majors so closely and for so long, that we all became friends, even though in the beginning I didn’t really know [senior] Lincoln [Valdez], Travis or [senior] Mike [Bartmess],” Ananya said. “We all support each other, are there for each other and developed a really great friendship. I’m so grateful for the experience I had this year. Being a drum major helped me become 1000 times more confident in myself, and I feel like I’ve really changed for the better.” Often times, younger or newer members of an organization are looked down upon, but in band, freshmen are welcomed and aided. “When you’re a freshman it’s really nerve-wracking, because you don’t know what you’re going to go through, how hard it’s going to be and how you’re going to get through your classes,” freshman Kelsey Richardson said. “But everyone else has gone through it already so [the culture of band is] supportive. It sounds pretty cheesy, but everyone [helps] each other along.” With this sense of companionship, as with other types of family dynamics, different traditions have arisen. “Traditions at parties usually include sock wrestling, [which is where two people each wear one sock and try to pull the other person’s sock off,] and at competitions there’s a pep talk that each section does before we go on,” Travis said. “We have a few minutes to talk with our section and get psyched up. It really gets the younger kids excited for what’s about to happen. The week before our main competition we have what’s called Intensity Week. We decorate the band hall; we dress up. It’s our last week of rehearsal; it’s our final push to the end. And that’s actually where our band improves a lot and surpasses other bands, because we have that drive to succeed.” This year, the band placed sixth at the Bands of America Austin Regional competition, received top marks at UIL Regionals, won second place at the Vista Ridge Marching Festival and came out 13th out of 64 bands at the Bands of America Super Regional in San Antonio. The hard work put in to achieve those things, the traditions and the supportive feel of band leads them to be almost a subculture in the school. “The best part of being in band is the sense of community I get from it,” Travis said. “There’s no other organization in the school where there are so many kids all committed to one thing. And that level of commitment usually brings really fun people. Some of my best friends are in band, people I’ve known for years. It’s cool to perform with them, to spend time with them, and to succeed with them. In my experience, band has been a big group of friends who enjoy hanging out and [playing] music.” —Madeline Dupre

Band Instructional Leadership Team Head Director Kerry Taylor

Assistant Directors

John Parsons, Bryn Speer, Peter Zaffos

Head and Assistant Drum Majors

High Woodwinds


Low Woodwinds

High Brass

Flutes Clarinets

Alto Sax Tenor/Bari Sax Bass Clarinet

Trumpets Mellophones

Low Brass

Center Snare

Guard Captain

Trombones Baritones Tubas

Tenors Bass Drums Front Ensemble

Weapons Flags

The hierarchy, explained Sergeants supervise the groups of sections like high woodwinds and low brass, and set the playing and marching standards for each group of sections. In each of these sections, there is a section leader who leads playing and marching sectionals throughout August band camp. Section leaders, sergeants and drum majors also play a major role in June freshman band camp, when incoming band members learn the basics of marching and are welcomed into the band family. There are also elected student officers: the president, vice president, treasurer, rep-at-large, quartermaster, freshman rep, historian, librarian, percussion captain, guard captain and jazz rep. These students make announcements, take attendance, print and distribute music, conduct service projects and organize band parties. —Andy Brown


Pinning down

photos by Shelby Westbrook


Far left photo: Wrestling coach Pat O’Harra shouts words of encouragement to his wrestlers while competing against the Bowie Bulldawgs Dec. 4. Far right photo: Junior Robert Noelke attempts to stand up while wrestling against Bowie High School. Top photo: In a meet in early December, senior Jay Garza performs the craddle while competing against Bowie. Bottom photo: Captain senior Ryan Elswick begins his match. “My hopes are to win District, Regionals, become second four-time state qualifier in school history and hopefully place in state,” Ryan said.

Wrestling team dominates competition, looks to school for continued support The evening sky may be dark outside, and the rest of the students may be warm and cozy at home, but inside the ninth grade cafeteria the lights are on and the scene is hectic. One half of the Westlake wrestling team practices one-on-one scrimmages near the windows of the cafeteria while the other half does push-ups and high jumps, waiting for their turn to challenge their friends and take them to the ground. The practice will continue until 5:45, and for another 15 minutes after that the entire team will pick up the practice mats and collect their gear before going home. This is the daily grind of the wrestling team, one of Westlake’s athletic programs that some might say flies under the radar. As it happens, it is also one of the most successful. “We train to win,” senior captain Robbie Boyd said. “It’s fun to hang out with the guys and win tournaments, but really, we’re here to train as winners. Everything else is just a bonus.” The varsity wrestling team has enjoyed enormous success this year, thus far winning three tournaments. Freshman Jack Skudlarczyk and junior Alex Pankhurst were champions at the 23-team Capital City Classic, where Westlake finished with 164 points, more than 30 points ahead of second place Leander Rouse. At the 16-team Churchill Charger Classic Tournament in San Antonio, Alex and Jack once again won the title of champion, this time sharing it with teammates junior Kevin Zarzana and senior Hunter Roberts. At the especially prestigious 32-team Russ Pederson Invitational Tournament in San Antonio, Jack once again shared the title of champion, this time with juniors Hugo Giordano and Gabe Duran. “It makes practicing a lot easier when you go to tournaments and win the way we do,” senior Drake Boisvert said. “We train to be the best, and it sure seems like it’s working.” The team will have three more tournaments before competing for Region, but at least for the moment, they seem ready to win it. They have done better than any Austin area school in the tournaments they have already attended, and are even challenging a few Houston and Dallas teams for most tournament titles during the year. “We’re good this year,” Gabe said. “We’re training a little harder and working a little better, and we’re gonna be the best. I’d say we’re working harder this year than any year before.” The team had a successful season last year, finishing fourth in Region, but the team members said they believe they can do even better. “We’re looking to be champions in the District this year,” Hugo said. “We are working really well together, better than any other year.

Across all the weight classes, we are all working just as hard as the guy next to us, and that just builds on itself so that everyone is responsible for everyone else maximizing what they get out of practice.” The team hopes that with its obvious success, it may get some of the attention that is due to it from the school. “I’m actually not sure most people here even know how wrestling works, or know the rules and stuff,” Robbie said. “It’d be good to get some support from people when we’re working so hard and doing so well.” The argument that has circled every extracurricular in the school has indeed found the wrestling team: every program that competes should get equal support from the school. It’s hard to ignore that the wrestling team has an especially disproportionate lack of support given their success. “We’re not expecting ‘Wrestling Girls’ or posters, just a little more funding from the school, even a little bit,” Gabe said. “And yeah, it’d be nice to see some familiar faces at the matches.” When asked what things theoretical extra school funding might go toward, seven members of the varsity team being interviewed all immediately (and enthusiastically) replied “Wrestling room!” without a second thought. The team has trained in the ninth grade cafeteria for years now, and because they are such a low priority for the school, other teams that need gym facilities to practice their sport prevent the wrestling team from using the gyms. As they practice during eighth period and after school, wrestling has no choice but the cafeteria. “It gets annoying to deal with completely erasing [the fact that] we were here,” Hugo said. “We roll out the mats, work, and make sure it’s all spotless. It takes some time. If we had a wrestling room or just a place that is made for what we do, that would be awesome.” The wrestlers will wrap up their regular season Jan. 26 at the Delco Center at their District tournament, where they will likely be heavy favorites. They say they believe they have exactly what it takes to send several to Region and beyond. “We’re not a huge team,” Jack said. “We can’t just fall on guys and pin them down. We’re fast, though. And we have to be smart, which so far we have been.” Coach Patrick O’Harra shares the team’s enthusiasm. “They work insanely hard all week,” O’Harra said. “We don’t put them through easy stuff. It’s paying off, though, because winning is a whole lot of fun, and we are doing a lot of winning.” —Brian Wieckowski

Junior Isaac Reichle runs down the court at the varsity basketball game Dec. 3 against San Marcos. The Chaps came out on top with a score of 67-64.

Posting up Alyssa Thomas

Boys basketball team struggles in preseason, starts District play The boys basketball team started District play the same way it started its season — in a hole. A 77-79 loss to Del Valle on Dec. 20 and a 54-65 loss to Lake Travis on New Year’s Eve set the Chaps’ District record at 0-2, and put them at the bottom of the District standings. However, a 72-62 victory over perennial power Anderson Jan. 7 and a 70-57 win over rival Austin High Jan. 10 lifted its record to an even 2-2 in District and 11-13 overall. “[The Austin game] is the game you look forward to playing as a basketball player,” forward senior Patrick Elliot said. “It’s such a big rivalry, and it was huge for us to come out on top.” Westlake started the season 2-7, and for most teams, that would have been a bad sign, a seemingly insurmountable early deficit that would be hard for them to overcome. But for the Chaps basketball team, it was understandable. They’d played some of the hardest teams in the state, and hung tough with all of them, even knocking off then second-ranked Converse Judson. For Coach Tres Ellis, the early-season trials would only make his team better. “The losses were tough to take because our record took a hit,” Ellis said. “But ultimately, the games got us ready for later in the year during District play. We know that nobody in District is going to be better than any team


brains + brawn

we’ve seen. It’ll give us confdence going in to know that we can play with or even beat anybody.” The team started out preseason with a 7867 win over New Braunfels, then dropped a close game to San Antonio Clark before heading to the Houston metroplex to play in the McDonald’s Texas Invitational Tournament. There, the team played some of the best teams from around Texas, including top ranked Desoto, Spring Dekaney, North Crowley, and the aforementioned Judson Rockets. “That’s why we go down to Houston,” Ellis said. “[We want to] play teams like that. We hung close in every one of those games.” The Chaps came out of Houston with a 1-3 record and traveled to the Dallas area to play Duncanville, one of the traditional powers in the DFW area. They played well, but ended up losing by 6. “We led the whole way,” Ellis said. “We just lost it at the very end.” They came back to Austin to close out the remainder of their non-District slate, going 2-3 in their next four games. However, the three losses came by a combined 15 points. “I think losing any game, especially a close one, leaves you with a hunger to improve,” forward senior Dallen Nelson said. “It makes you [less likely] to be beaten again. After a loss, we are sharper in practice and ultimately better in games.”

The team was bolstered by the addition of several football players, including seniors Jordan Severt, Patrick Elliot and Ben Slaughter, who were unable to play at the beginning of the season due to ongoing football conflicts. They added depth and intensity to the team. “Adding those guys lets us go deeper on our bench,” Ellis said. “They bring that football attitude which is eye opening to some of our other players, who see that there’s another level that we can play at.” The Chaps traveled to New Braunfels to play in the River City Classic on the weekend of Dec. 13. Sparked by the new additions to their squad, the team went 3-1, its only loss coming by 2 points to a tough Frenship team. Over winter break, the Chaps hosted their annual tournament, The Westlake Holiday Classic. They finished with a 2-2 record playing on their home court, with wins over A&M Consolidated and St. Stephens, and losses to the Triple A Academy and Harker Heights. Despite the slow start, coaches are confident that the team’s early trials will benefit them going forward. “Our District across the board is really level,” Ellis said. “Anybody can beat anybody on any given night. It’s pretty wide open, but I fully expect, based on what I’ve seen, that we will compete for one of the top spots.” —Jacob Prothro

Surprising the competition Majority sophomore team holds its own throughout first round of District games

photos by Nick Appling and Aurasma by Cooper Kerbow

In the 66-58 win over Austin High Jan. 10, sophomore Carly Turner fights through the Maroons’ defense to score a basket.


Sophomore Brooke Holle shoots a three-pointer against Austin High. “Beating Austin helped to boost our confidence after coming off of a loss from Anderson,” Brooke said.

he girls of the varsity basketball team found themselves in an interesting position this season with eight out of 13 members being sophomores. After a difficult preseason, the girls are moving through District play, including a 66-58 win against rival Austin High Jan. 10 in the first round of play. The team has a current record of 4-2 and an overall record of 12-12. “It’s fun playing with a team with a lot of sophomores because I feel like teams underestimate us and then are surprised by our talent,” post sophomore Emily Thurston said. Throughout pre-season, the girls played physical teams to prepare for District games. The team played in the Colleyville tournament before District season started and came away with one win and two losses. The following tournament at Marble Falls resulted in three wins and one loss. “[The sophomores] really want to learn and really love the game,” post senior Shelby Westbrook said. “They have a lot of heart. I’ve seen night and day improvements. We still have a long way to go, but from where we are now, you wouldn’t even think we are the same team [as before].” Shelby is the only senior on the varsity team, along with four juniors. The starting line-up consists entirely of sophomores. “Most of the time I don’t even realize [that I am the only senior],” Shelby said. “I don’t like acting like I have more power than everyone, because that doesn’t get the team anywhere. On the other hand, I do

At the home game against the Maroons, sophomore Lexi Cunningham passes the ball in to her Varsity teammates.

want to help be a role model as an older and more experienced player.” Throughout the season, there have been both advantages and disadvantages of having such a young team. “As a team we have a lack of experience and not a lot of older leadership,” point guard sophomore Bailey Holle said. “In the next few years I think our team will be really good because we will have really good team chemistry.” Under the leadership of new coach Katie Hensle, the team came away with many victories this season, including a 54-43 win against rival Lake Travis in the first round of District. Hensle has more than a decade of high school coaching experience, having coached at schools such as John Paul II High School in Plano and McKinney High School. Additionally, she was an assistant coach at Texas Tech in 2012. “She has flipped the program around 180 degrees,” Shelby said. “She is more strict and she expects a lot out of us and it is making us much better than we were last year.” Although there have been difficulties, the girls have been able to overcome these obstacles. The sophomores have high hopes for the future of the program. “[This season] has made me mentally tough and I am learning a lot through my experiences on the team,” guard sophomore Brooke Holle said. “ The good thing is, when we are all seniors we will have been playing together for a long time and we will have a great team.” —Margaret Norman

Tricks of the

trade Westlake athletes showcase their talents, experiences as high school players



Sport: Cheerleading Grade: Senior Years on varsity: 2 Height: 5’2’’ Years playing sport: 7 Spirit animal: Wolf Team/individual accomplishments: Second place in Nationals in 2012, National champions 2013 How sport has changed life: “I have grown much stronger as a cheerleader and a person because of Westlake cheer. One of my goals was to win nationals and we did with our red team. Becoming best friends with all of my teammates was the best accomplishment I could have ever made” Favorite thing about sport: “You can always improve. There isn’t a certain skill that is the highest. You can always go beyond and create new skills, it’s never ending. Also, cheerleading creates such strong bonds with teammates. You become a family.” Future plans: “I hope to cheer at a D1 university either at TCU, Texas Tech or Clemson.”

Sport: Lacrosse Grade: Junior Years on varsity: 2 Height: 5’5’’ Position: A-Wing Years playing sport: 5 Spirit animal: Bald eagle Team/individual accomplishments: Team placed fourth last year, freshman year recieved most valuable midfielder award Favorite thing about sport: “The feeling I get when I score a goal or being able to wear Adrenaline socks.” Memorable moments: “I will never forget the time I got my first yellow card. I was shooting and the goalie stepped out towards me and I got called for dangerous follow through.”

Chuck Nowland

CAROLINE FRYE Sport: Golf Grade: Junior Years on varsity: 1 Height: 5’4’’ Years playing sport: 4 Spirit animal: Wolf Team/individual accomplishments: Shot a hole in one over the summer Favorite thing about sport: “I love my teammates and golf teaches you commitment and patience.” Memorable moment when playing sport: “We had a whole day of practice where my practice team and I hit like Happy Gilmore every shot. It was hilarious.” Future Plans: Play for the rest of high school and then as a hobby afterwards


brains + brawn

Tim Whaling

Lucy Wimmer

Tim Whaling

Cade Ritter

ROBERT NOELKE Sport: Wrestling Grade: Junior Years on varsity: 2 Height: 6’1’’ Years playing sport: 5 Spirit animal: Bear Team/individual accomplishments: District champions past two years. “We plan to win the Regional champioship this year.” Favorite thing about sport: “The singlets. But seriously, the team comaraderie is unlike any other.” Memorable moment: “The matches where I was losing and then pinned my opponent in the last few seconds.”

RYAN MCKAY Sport: Basketball Grade: Senior Years on varsity: 2 Height: 6’2’’ Years playing sport: 12 Spirit animal: Michael Jordan Team/individual accomplishments: Beat the number two team in the state this season, undefeated (JV) District champions sophomore year Favorite thing about the sport: Competing Memorable moment when playing sport: “I remember how important it was for our (JV) team to be undefeated, and we really wanted to win. I was so happy that all of our work had finally paid of and we were undefeated district champs.”







people + places

Type 1 diabetics share their stories

hen you’re a kid, your biggest worry should be what you want to play at recess or when your favorite cartoon is going to be on TV. It shouldn’t be worrying about whether your blood sugar is at a constant and normal level at all times or learning how to give yourself shots multiple times a day. Unfortunately, this is the reality of many type 1 diabetics’ childhoods and lives, and a reality that a small group of students at Westlake have to face. Sophomore Zoe Cook was just about to finish fifth grade. She wasn’t feeling like herself — drinking large amounts of water, having to make frequent trips to the bathroom and sleeping excessively. Zoe’s mom is also a type 1 diabetic and noticed that Zoe was having some of the same symptoms she experiences when her blood sugar is high. They went to the hospital on April 14, 2009, and Zoe was officially diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. “I remember when the doctor told me for the first time — I cried,” Zoe said. “Then I realized that, even though it’s kind of a corny thing to say, I had to use it for the best.” Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that uses, stores and processes glucose from foods. It’s an early-onset disease that has no current prevention or cure. Zoe was thrown into a world of constant needles, shots and monitoring. However, she found it simpler to adapt than she originally thought. “It was easier for me since my mom had always taken shots since I was born,” Zoe said. “So I was kind of used to people injecting themselves. It’s a weird thing to say, but it was a norm for me. My mom just helped show me the ropes.”

80 Approximately


From the start, Zoe has always been an advocate for finding a cure. She began working with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to raise money and promote awareness, including organizing her own fundraising walk for JDRF in middle school. “This year I’m focusing my attention on helping build a new center as a part of the Dell Children’s Medical Center for my endocrinologist,” Zoe said. “Diabetes is so rapidly expanding, and they’re definitely in need of a bigger office.” Right now, Zoe has a constant glucose monitor that alerts her parents in the night when her blood sugar levels aren’t normal. She and her family are beginning the two-year process of training one of their dogs to be a diabetic alert dog so that she won’t have to rely on her parents at night. “We’re training her to wake me up in the night if my blood sugar does go high or low,” Zoe said. “It works by scent. Dogs can pick up scents when your blood sugar goes too high or low that humans can’t smell. To train my dog I swab the inside of my mouth when my blood sugar is high or low, and then I freeze the sample and train her to alert to the specific scent sample. It’s pretty cool.” Being diagnosed with a disease like diabetes is life-changing at any age, but even more so if you’re only 6 years old. However, it was a shock for junior Carly Sadowski’s parents more than it was for her. “At the time, I thought it was a temporary thing, so I thought I wouldn’t have to learn about it and that my parents would just deal with it,” Carly said. “Later, I realized that it wouldn’t ever go away. When you’re 6, you can’t grasp the concept of this huge disease, but as I got older, I learned more about it. I actually learned to do my own shots a few months after I was diagnosed.” Since she was diagnosed so young, the lifestyle changes weren’t too big for Carly. “I grew up with it, so I didn’t know anything else,” Carly said. “It definitely made me more responsible, since I have to take care of my own life every day. The biggest thing was just not letting it get to me,

people per day

are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the U.S. courtesy photo


Junior Carly Sadowski (back row, second from the left) stands with friends at a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation walk in Dallas. “I’ve been attending [this walk] for years,” Carly said. “Thousands of people join together to walk in hopes to raise money towards finding a cure.” people + places

because I know a lot of diabetic people that have depression or anxiety because it’s such a huge part of your life. It can get to you sometimes, but you just have to take it as a blessing. It’s a part of me.” Both girls have found that having type 1 diabetes comes with many false impressions about the disease and confusion between the two types of diabetes. “One of the biggest misunderstandings that I find from people is that we can’t eat certain foods,” Zoe said. “A lot of people say we can’t have cake or we can’t have ice cream, we can’t have this or that, but we can — it’s doable. I mean, it’s always best to avoid it because it does make our lives difficult, but we can do it. High sugar foods are an issue because they spike your blood sugar resulting in a quick, major high and then crashing low. It doesn’t stop us from doing things, it just changes the way we do things.” Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, or when the body doesn’t respond to the insulin that is produced. It is found most often in adults, with obesity being the highest risk factor. “People think we can’t have sugar,” Carly said. “They don’t know the difference between type 1 and type 2. People come up to me sometimes and say ‘Oh, you’re diabetic? But that’s for fat people!’ Some people even thought that my insulin pump was a pager.” Although some people may think that controlling type 1 diabetes is very routine and straightforward, Zoe has recognized that more often than not it is on a situation-to-situation basis. Though she can pre-plan and guess how she will be affected based on what she eats, it’s always a variable of how much insulin she has to take or how her body will respond to different things. “It’s almost as if it has a mind of its own and I have to figure out how it works,” Zoe said. “I’ve had type 1 diabetes for four and half years, and I’m still adjusting to the diagnosis. My treatment regimes constantly change. There’s days where you can take twice the insulin you’re supposed to and nothing happens. There’s not a lot you can do when that happens. You can go on a medication that makes you more sensitive, but it’s not a very pleasant medication to be on. I’ve ended up in tears some days where it’s just so frustrating. It’s taught me that you have to do what you can, and if it’s not working, you just have to let it be. That’s been hard for me because I always want to know the answer, but I can’t, and I won’t ever know the answer. Diabetes is different because you’re never going to beat it. It’s for life and there’s no cure. A lot of people think that insulin pumps and shots are cures, but really they’re just lifelines. One of the difficult things is that with a lot of other conditions you’re fighting to beat that condition, but with diabetes you’re trying to get it to not beat you. You’re never going to overcome it. That’s the hardest aspect.” However, there is hope for the future. With type 1 diabetes diagnoses beginning to increase so rapidly, recent research is progressing just as quickly. The cause of the disease has always been unknown, but genetic links have been suspected. New studies are showing that it may be spurred on by a specific virus, and vaccines could be implemented in the near future. “Thinking about the future can be pretty scary, because people with diabetes don’t tend to live as long as healthy people,” Carly said. “When you get older, there can be complications with literally every part of your body, but it’s hopeful that there’s going to be a cure or something to help more in the future. I have already developed some of those complications, like nerve damage, but whatever happens, happens. It can only get better.” Carly and Zoe have realized that despite the hardships caused by the condition, there are important lessons they have learned that they may not have otherwise. “It definitely gives you more of a perspective,” Carly said. “Because I wake up every morning and I stick needles in my arm, it makes the math test I have today not look that bad. It makes things seem less horrible. It gives you the feeling that you can get through anything.” “A lot of people think it’s such a horrible thing to deal with, and it’s not easy,” Zoe said. “It’s very challenging, but you can find the best in every situation. Having it has always helped me eat healthier and be a healthier person, and in a way it’s actually kind of a hidden gift.” —Rachel Cooper

Lucy Wimmer

Sophomore Zoe Cook poses behind her pump, Constant Glucose Meter, water bottle and medical bracelet. “Diabetes is unpredictable, unforgiving and unbeatable,” Zoe said.

Type 1 (Juvenile diabetes): • The pancreas stops producing insulin, and it must be supplemented via shots or insulin pumps. Type 1 strikes most often in children. Causes are unknown but can be linked to genetics or viruses. Type 2 (Adult-onset diabetes): • The pancreas either does not produce enough insulin for the body to function, or the body will ignore and not react to the insulin produced. While genetics can play a role, obesity is the strongest risk factor in this type and affects mainly adults. Know the symptoms: • Extreme thirst • Frequent urination • Drowsiness or lethargy • Increased appetite • Sudden weight loss • Sudden vision changes • Sugar in the urine • Fruity odor on the breath • Heavy or labored breathing • Stupor or unconsciousness Information from

Ham it up

Local restaurant continues to be student favorite

A few minutes away from the campus of Westlake High mented just as we’ve grown, and the necessity for that stuff has grown, School, there is a small restaurant — that sells ham. Westlake students too. The whole feel of the store and the kind of idea and personality fill the compact eating area and chat with each other and the workhas been the same, and it obviously varies with employees as we lose ers that they know so well. This place is Texas Honey Ham Company. some and gain some. I’ve known most of the kids from Honey Ham THHC is an interesting anomaly. One wouldn’t expect a ham place since I was 8.” to be such a popular restaurant as well. But somehow, the tacos and Its popularity has skyrocketed since its opening in 2004. sandwiches are just too good to pass up. Cups full of sweet tea with the “We went from one customer a day to a thousand customers a day,” simple green logo on the side fill Westlake trash cans and matching Siller said. to-go bags litter cars throughout the senior lot. Honey Ham is also connected to Westlake by This kind of dedication to a restaurant is unprecthe staff who are young, friendly and easily relatedented by any love for greasy fried food chains or able. Many of the staff are currently enrolled in the common cafe. Honey Ham is truly a Westlake college and have inevitably friendly relationships tradition. with the students, creating a playful vibe — anoth“We’ve always had a huge high school clientele er reason why students are so drawn to the store. base, but it started out as business people that It’s no surprise high school students often consider were around here,” Honey Ham manager Andrew Honey Ham a job option, if they are hiring. Davis said. “We’ve gotten more business people “We haven’t hired high school students for and just continued to get more from high school the past year and a half, but we used to have high students. In the last couple years, we’ve started school students come in the afternoon and work, getting a lot of people coming over from UT.” mostly as cashiers,” Davis said. “We really kind of Every morning — especially on late start Cade Ritter hire anyone as long as they fit.” days — Westlake students are packed in the store’s THHC continues to be a Westlake custom and Honey Ham’s staple product, the breakfast taco, led it always will be, although Austin may be seeing a dining room and front register area with hungry to local fame. Here, a bacon, egg and cheese taco sits few more stores around town in the next few years. stomachs, longing for the store’s famous breakfast on their characteristic green plastic tray. tacos, brewed-in-store tea and their popular, cold “We’re going to stick with [the Westlake locaspheres from heaven: the ice. tion] for now,” Siller said. “We’re really busy and “Originally the store opened up at 10 a.m. and it’s kind of hard to plan another restaurant when it was open for lunch, but then [the owners] wanted to do breakfast, we can barely keep up with this one. In the future, maybe in a year or and so they decided to do breakfast tacos and rolls and all those kinds two, we’ll start talking about something different.” of things,”  Davis said. “Originally they stopped serving tacos at 11 a.m. — Alexis Huynh and ZZ Lundburg and cut them off, but then the demand was so high in the afternoon, they just decided to do them all day. I guess breakfast tacos are a big Texas thing and we do them right.” Students stop by for lunch and even hang out after school until closing time at 6 p.m. It’s a restaurant by day, and a hang out location by afternoon. “The location is probably a big part [of why students hang out here] and then also the staff,” Davis said. “We have good, fun people. Pretty people, too, if that helps.” The staff is very social and can connect with customers close to their age groups. “I go there every day with my friends to hang out and eat,” junior Olivia Kyle said. “The food is really good — I always get the mac and cheese. [THHC] just gives off a cool vibe and they have awesome staff. I’m friends with all of them.” Rob Siller, one of the owners of THHC has seen the business grow from day one. “The customer service really brings all the people and we have Andrew — everybody loves Andrew,” Siller said. “He’s a super nice guy and good with the people. The customer service just brings them back in — they want to come back and hang out with us.” THHC has been opened for nine and half years now, expanding and adding new gadgets and staff as the business continues to grow. “[The store] has grown a lot,” Davis said. “That’s the big thing — we’ve had to make big changes just to keep up with how much we were growing. We expanded the store and added on the extra dining room Cade Ritter and the front register area. We’ve gotten a lot more technology impleTexas Honey Ham Company manager Andrew Davis greets customers in front of the pick-up register.


People + places

Breaking barriers

Courageous activists fight for gender equality in Israel Women silently cry as they pray. They sway with the emoportant, and remains important to us. In the last five years, really due tions of the words that have been spoken for all of Jewish history in to social networking, we have been able to create a large movement that spot. Notes fill the crevices of the ancient, broken walls. Across of people who care about democracy, women’s rights and freedom of a divider Jewish men sing and dance while holding their Torahs and expression in the public sphere and the empowerment of women in wearing all of the traditional garb that is to be expected of Orthodox the public eye. So many people have joined our groups, people who are Jews. The space that Jews hold so dearly as the most sacred place in Jewish and not Jewish and people from America, Asia, Europe and Isthe world has forced a division between fathers and daughters, brothrael. All over the world people have tuned in via their computers to us.” ers and sisters and, more often than not, friends.    However, Women of the Wall was not always so widely supported.     The Western Wall became the most holy sight in the Jewish world Even Israeli police and Israel’s Supreme Court justices felt the need to due to its historical and religious significance. It is the last remaining step in and keep the Wall divided. wall of the second temple in which every crack is filled with notes and     “Before March 2013 women were not allowed to pray out loud, wear prayers from throughout the ages. In 1967 the wall was divided by gen- Tallit, Tefillin (prayers you wear on arms and head), or have any acder due to a passage in the Torah stating that the voice and presence of cess to a Torah scroll,” Pruce said. “All of this was the interpretation women will not allow for men to focus on prayer.   of [Israel’s] Supreme Court’s decision from 2003. What the Supreme     Israel Defense Force soldiers were posted at the sight and security Court said left a lot to be interpreted. The Supreme Court had difficulty was installed. A barrier was put up between what would become the making a decision because on one hand they said this is public space gender separate sections. Worse still, the women’s side was built in Israel and women should have equal rights. On the other hand the one-third the size of the men’s forcing the women to crowd in silence court also was aware that there was an issue of offending the sensitivdisconnected from their male counterparts. ity of the ultra Orthodox Jews, which are a minority in Israel but a     Senior Vanessa Feldman got the chance to visit the Western Wall on majority at the Wall.” a trip with 70 American teenagers before her junior year. She got to     As global support increased for the Women of the Wall program, experience first-hand the differences between the male and female side women from all over the world came to support the cause. One Women of the wall. of the Wall supporter, Andrea Wise, moved to Israel from America     “If you’re a male you are allowed to permanently and became one of the wear your prayer shawl, and they usuprogram’s most involved supporters. ally wear Kippot and Tefillin which are     “It’s important to me because I think prayers that wrap around their hands, that all types of Jews should be able arms and head,” Vanessa said. “Also, to pray at the Wall,” Wise said. “The you could hear from the men’s side a Wall can’t only be Orthodox friendly. It Bar Mitzvah happening and you could needs to be open to Conservative and kind of see it through the cracks in the Reform Jews as well. I don’t believe barrier, but the women’s side was basithat one way of Judaism is the right cally silent.” way, so it needs to be for everyone.”     It is illegal for women to pray out     Wise is on the front page of Israeli loud on their side. However, Vanand American newspapers frequently essa found a sense of place among the due to her support. She has seen the crowded women’s side of the wall. 25-year-old program change drastically     “It was weird because everyone who and improve. was there were strangers, yet you felt courtesy photo     “I feel that recently a lot of progress this sense of community and connechas been made,” Wise said. “They Seniors Hannah Turner and Vanessa Feldman stand in front of the Western Wall in Israel which tion,” Vanessa said. “It was one of the stopped arresting women for breakthey visited in the summer of 2012. “It was weird because everyone who was there were strangmost incredible feelings. It sounds ing the custom of the place and started ers, yet you felt this sense of community and connection,” Vanessa said. strange because I didn’t know any of to arrest the people who are throwing them.” chairs, throwing bags of poop and blow    Though her experience was memoing whistles to stop the women praying. rable and religiously important, the inequalities struck a chord in Women are now allowed by law to wear tallit and tefillin at the Kotel.” Vanessa’s memories.     Though Israel is 7172 miles away from Austin, the issue is still preva    “It is tradition,” Vanessa said. “It is what has always been happening, lent to many Jewish Westlake students. but I don’t think that is the way it has to keep going. We’re in modern     “Jewish kids in Texas should care because Israel is also their home times now. I don’t think it’s fair that [the men] had a bigger side and and the Wall is the holiest place in the Jewish world — and they have they got to wear their Jewish items. We’re not allowed to do that at all the right to pray there and to feel good there,” Wise said. “Not like it’s on the women’s side. I would have worn my Tallit (a prayer shawl) if not a place for them. They too are part of Am Israel (the global Israeli I could because that has connection to me. I got it when I became Bat community). For every kid in Texas, this is an issue of religious rights, Mitzvah and it’s from Israel, and that would have made it a stronger and religious freedom. It’s one of the bases that America was estabexperience for me. I think it was unfair that I was unable to do that.” lished on that everyone has the right to practice their religion how     Beginning in 1988 the Women of the Wall movement in Jerusalem they should be able to. Israel is a Jewish state, but now it seems that has made impressive strides towards gender equality and breaking the it’s actually an Orthodox Jewish state. And not all Jews are allowed to silence at the Western Wall. practice how they want to in this particular place. But it’s not a private     “Women of the Wall started as a very small group who wanted to synagogue. All Jews should be able to practice there. Jews in Israel pray and were denied their rights,” said Shira Pruce, Women of the are fighting for something that is so important to American values. So Wall Public Relations Director. “Throughout the years we have found I feel that Americans can really relate to what is happening here. We ourselves alone in that we were fighting long court battles and only had should all be treated equally.” 10-15 women praying with us. This is an issue that we knew was im—Hannah Turner


Lighthearted Exchange student electrifies TEC lighting, joins video crew At the Battle of the Bands on Oct. 25, junior Jan Stein controls the lights. Jan came to Westlake to participate in the TEC program.


people + places


ights of every color illuminate the Performing Arts Center as the sound of electric guitars and drums pounds through the air on Dec. 14 at the Nutcracker Spectacular. The audience sits in stunned silence as the lights flash and swirl to the beat of the music. White, blue, pink, green — every second brings a new color flashing across the stage. It’s a brand new light show programmed by German exchange student junior Jan Stein. Life can change in the blink of an eye, or, in Jan’s case, with the click of a mouse. Nine months ago back home in Überlingen, Germany, Jan stumbled across a video of the 2010 Zenith light show on YouTube. Impressed by the quality of the production, he began to investigate how to attend Westlake and become part of the Technical Entertainment Crew. “At first it was a little bit like a joke,” Jan said. “I told my mom, ‘Oh, that would be cool to go there.’ And then it got really serious, because the exchange thing is common in Germany, so I always thought about doing it.” Jan contacted English teacher Allison Scacco, who then contacted TEC director David Poole. “We had never had a foreign exchange student before [in the TEC program],” Poole said. “I had never dealt with the foreign exchange program at all, so we had to learn this process together. [Jan] was saying, ‘What will it take to make this happen?’ I didn’t know. So I started talking to [German teacher Scott] Gardner first, and then I started talking with the counselors. They started giving me information.” Poole told Jan that he would need to come to the United States through an exchange program and live with a host family. Jan went through two programs, Center for Cultural Exchange on the American end and Munich Academic Program on the German end, and arranged to live with the family of freshman Fredericka Paulson, who had previously hosted four other exchange students. However, since his host family was not in town at the time of his arrival, Jan spent his first week in the States living with Poole. Poole introduced Jan not only to his new school and the TEC program, but also to his soon-to-be

Junior Jan Stein’s light show at the Nutcracker Spectacular illuminates the stage.

photos by Cade Ritter

friends. “My wife’s a school teacher too, and we thought, ‘Here’s this guy who’s going to leave his family and all his friends and come all the way over here, so we need to introduce him pretty quickly, not just to Austin, but to students,’” Poole said. “There were actually students from TEC who met him at the airport. We wanted him to feel welcomed right away.” Jan soon grew comfortable with the TEC department and the people in it. “Here the friendship is so great,” Jan said. “Everyone supports me. [My biggest support comes from] David Poole. When I struggled in school, I went to him and he went to the counselor with me. If I have any issues I can talk to him.” Jan has also adjusted to living with a new family. “I’m an only child and don’t have sisters at home, and my host family has a freshman girl and two boys,” Jan said. “I’m sharing a room with the 10-year-old boy. There is always so much life going on. It’s pretty new.” Although students in the TEC department are involved to varying degrees, Poole urged Jan to heavily involve himself in the program. Jan’s primary interest was lighting, but Poole convinced him to join video crew as well. “In the fall we don’t have as many big productions, and I thought that if Jan was going to come over here, he really needed to get immersed in really big projects, and the football video crew is pretty much off the charts,” Poole said. “I mentioned to Jan over the phone that it would be best if [he] got involved in this video project. I think American football was very foreign to him, and also being on a video crew. I know Jan was a little bit reluctant.”

Despite his hesitancy, Jan ultimately enjoyed being part of video crew. Everything he has done in the TEC department has sharpened his skills. Westlake offers him more in this area than he could have found back home. “Basically I get more order and professionalism here,” Jan said. “I learned how to go on new projects and solve them and go with a team and transmit this leadership. At my old school we didn’t have this much leadership.” Jan has demonstrated extreme dedication to the program, spending much of his time outside of school involved in it. It took him more than 20 hours to program the new light show for Nutcracker Spectacular. “Time scheduling [has been challenging],” Jan said. “I have to decide [between spending] time with my host family or time here, and right now my time’s more for school and TEC.” After his experience at Westlake, Jan is considering a career in technical theater. “I am definitely thinking about it, if it’s in Europe or America,” Jan said. “In the end you never know, but the passion is there.” So far, Jan’s year at Westlake has proven to be well worth the trip. Not only has he been exposed to a new and exciting culture, but he has become an invaluable asset to the TEC program. “He came for the lighting and the technology, but at the end of the day, he’s made so many close friends,” Poole said. “He’s made friends that he’ll know for the rest of his life. We never knew what was going to happen here having a foreign exchange student, but it’s been great for the program.” —Sara Phillips

“We had never had a foreign exchange student before [in the TEC program.] I had never dealt with the foreign exchange program at all, so we had to learn this process together.” −TEC director David Poole






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[vur-choo-oh-soh] noun

a person who has special knowledge or skill in their chosen endeavor

icons by Alex Charnes

AHEAD OF THE GAME Digital artist pursues career, produces video game

As she stares at the screen, deep in concentration, she deftly slides her stylus along the drawing tablet sitting on the desk in front of her. On the computer screen, an image of the 360 Bridge over Lake Austin begins to appear and take shape. Recent Westlake graduate Betsy Yang is a digital artist and has been accepted into the exclusive Entertainment Design Program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. Betsy went through a rigorous application process, in which she was required to create a portfolio of unique digital art. “I had to make up my own story, with characters, vehicles and props,” Betsy said. “It had to be at least 20 pages. Unfortunately, I had a mix-up during the process. I called the admissions people, and they gave me the wrong information, so I applied much earlier than I needed to.” Betsy first found out that she was accepted Nov. 26, when the school sent an email congratulating her. The program only accepts 19 students, and it is rare to be admitted straight out of high school. “When I first got the email, I was in math class, so I tried to keep paying attention and not get too excited,” Betsy said. “I had Googled around and found portfolios from a few other people who applied. They were all very good, so I was amazed I got in.” At Art Center, students receive a rigorous education in drawing, rendering, model building and sculpting, as well as


trends + traditions

an introduction to 3D digital tools. While the program is challenging, Betsy can’t wait to begin. “I’m looking forward to working and learning around a professional community of other talented artists — hopefully I’ll learn a lot,” Betsy said. “I’m also excited to be living in California.” Betsy’s interest in art first manifested as a young child, when she started drawing for fun. She later determined that she wanted to do it as a career. Betsy normally does digital art, and uses Adobe Photoshop CS2 to create her work. “I first decided to do digital art because it’s very easy to learn,” Betsy said. “You can do any style you want, like drawing or painting. I like to use PC, but if you’re just drawing then there’s no difference. My biggest inspirations were video games and movies in general like ‘Fallout,’ ‘Bioshock’ and ‘Star Wars.’” Even as a freshman starting Art I, Betsy’s skills were already highly developed, and she has advanced rapidly throughout her years at Westlake. “When I first taught her, I was immediately able to tell that she would excel,” art teacher Roselle Casey said. “She exhibited an inordinate amount of talent. She innately understood good design and color. It has been very exciting to watch her grow as an artist because I could see she would exceed all her expectations.” Along with her artistic success, Betsy is creating her own video game. The game will be available for PC, Mac and Linux users and is planned to have a June

release date. “I really wanted more experience in digital art, but I couldn’t get into any programs without any experience,” Betsy said. “So I decided to make my own experience.” In order to begin creating the game, Betsy needed to find a team of developers and even created her own company, Two Crowns Entertainment. “I first went on the Internet and posted on blogging websites that I was hiring for this project,” Betsy said. “I quickly got a lot of replies, so I started doing Skype interviews. I chose the people who seemed the most competent and could bring the most to the project. After I had the group of people, we sat around for a night and made up names for our company. Two Crowns Entertainment is what we came up with. It thematically matched our game, and the logo looked cool.” As creative director of the project, Betsy is in charge of the execution, tone and visual aspects of the game. The game, called The Diviner, is a text-based choose-your-own adventure game that will be set in a fantasy world and deals with the formation of a post-apocalyptic society. In order to raise money for the creation of the multitude of characters, illustrations and choices in the game, Betsy started a fundraiser on kickstarter. com that has already raised more than $10,000, her original goal. “I never expected to actually get full funding for the project,” Betsy said. “It was really amazing and exciting to see

Top left, top right, middle: Samples of Betsy’s work, found on her website. Scan the QR code below to see more (her website is under the name Tianzi Yang). Bottom: Betsy with her computer in her digital art classroom.

how much interest there was in the game.” Betsy gained business experience through her shop on, a website where people around the world connect to buy and sell unique goods. Betsy’s shop sells clothing items such as skeleton Halloween sweaters. Her mom also has her own fashion business and owns a factory in northern China that makes clothes for both Betsy’s shop and her mom’s business. “My shop has sold about 400 items right now,” Betsy said. “There are only a few items in the shop, and it is incredible how those items could sell so many units. I’ve made a couple thousand from it. It’s taught me a lot about business management, like how to handle money and how to handle working relations with other people.” Betsy graduated early, and has been at Art Center since the beginning of January. “I graduated early so I can enter the industry earlier,” Betsy said. “I guess I’m just very impatient to start working and studying towards professional work, so graduating early was just another step in that.” As she creates her video game and begins classes at Art Center, Betsy has reflected on art and what it means to her. “I like art because it’s so powerful — you can inspire faith, form an entire multibillion dollar industry or teach an abstract concept,” Betsy said. “It’s incredibly cool that some lines on paper can change society that much. I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing art. Even when I’ve retired I still want to draw. Art gives me a challenge and something to focus on.” —Jack Stenglein

Cade Ritter

Light on her feet Dancer participates in elite programs, performs in music video, indie movie

H Junior Ellie Edwards smiles and pirouettes on stage at the Nutcracker Spectacular.


trends + traditions

Zhouie Martinez

Hair pulled into a slicked bun, makeup perfected and the beautiful pink tutu fit to her petite ballerina body, junior Ellie Edward pirouettes center stage as her partner twirls her six times. Little girls i the audience stare in awe as Ellie does an over split grand jete, wantin to be just like the effortless dancer. Ellie began her first dance class six years ago when she was 10 — la by dancing standards. Now, her time is completely devoted to training Last spring, she decided to turn in her Hyline boots and step away fro the Friday night lights to pursue her passion in a different direction. “I love Hyline because it’s so much fun and a great organization,” E lie said. “It’s just all the hours that I put into [Hyline and private danc classes] outside of school while trying to maintain school work was too much. I realized it would be better for me to focus more on [Alisa’ Dance Academy]. Yes, I do miss it. I miss the pep rallies and the footb games, but I know that I made the right choice.” Ellie’s talent has given her opportunities that other dancers only dream of. She danced in Paramore’s “Still Into You” music video. The video now has more than 28 million views on YouTube. “[The music video] was really cool,” she said. “It was a really good experience because it shows all the work that you have to put into it.” She also performed in the Emmy-nominated film, Bernie, starring Jack Black. Ellie, dressed as a band member, danced in a scene with Black as he rehearsed a musical in the community theater. The scene was actually shot in Westlake’s Performing Arts Center. “Being in Bernie was also really awesome,” she said. “I got to talk t Jack Black, get my hair and makeup done, and I just felt like I was rea a part of the movie.” Ellie also dances in the annual Nutcracker play showcased by Alisa Dance Academy with music from the Westlake orchestra. She has danced in the ballet for six years and has been cast as a lead role for fo years. This will be her second year dancing as the Sugar Plum Fairy. “It is so special getting to walk on the stage with a beautiful costum on and to dance like a princess,” she said. “It brings me such joy to pe form in front of all of those people.” All of these performances have not come without sacrifice. Most of Ellie’s free time is consumed by practicing, performing or teaching oth dancers. “I dance four days a week from about 4-9:15 p.m. each night,” she said. “Sometimes on the weekends I have rehearsals for about five hours. On my own time, I practice my solos, have private lessons or

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Left: Balancing in relevé, junior Ellie Edwards performs the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Ellie has danced in the Nutcracker Spectacular for six years, performing a lead part for four. Right: Waiting off stage at a performance, Ellie gets into character and prepares to dance. Ellie began dancing at the age of 10 at Alisa’s Dance Academy.

Tim Whaling

Tim Whaling

teach classes [at Alisa’s]. I teach because I get to be a role model for the little girls and try to portray all the concepts that I never learned because I came into dance late. I never understood all the basics, so I get to try and re-teach these important things to all of my students and inspire them.” Even though Ellie doesn’t have much free time, she still is able to keep up with her academics. “I get out a period early, go home and do as much homework as I can, then go to dance until about 10 p.m.,” she said. “I come home, try to finish homework and get some rest. Sometimes I don’t get it all done, though. When everything gets hectic, I just try to take a deep breath and know that everything’s going to be OK, and if I just keep pushing it’ll all pay off in the end.” Ellie has not only sacrificed time. It is common for ballerinas to have issues with their feet. Their pointe shoes force them to stand on wooden boxes. “My toenails have fallen off before, and I get blisters a lot,” she said. “My feet are pretty messed up, but you have to fight through the pain to become a better dancer.” Ellie gets much more than just exercise out of this art that many young men and women wish to make a career out of. “I dance because it’s my passion, and it’s more than just moving — it’s something for my soul,” she said. “I get to express myself.” Last spring, Ellie was selected to serve as an NRG (pronounced “energy,” a dance convention created by Nick Gonzalez and Rustin Matthew that travels the nation) prodigy. In the tryouts, she had to perform traditional ballet, contemporary, hip hop and jazz. For a full year, she will travel to various states with other dancers including professionals such as Nick Gonzalez and Cat Viger to assist with classes. Like many juniors, Ellie does not know what her plan is after high school, but hopes to continue dance as a career. “I definitely want to pursue dance,” she said. “Right now I just

started looking at colleges. I want to dance for as long as I can until my body gives out, then after that I’d love to come back and own my own studio and teach all the little girls how to dance.” Career options for most dancers usually include dancing on Broadway in New York or in movies and music videos in Los Angeles. “I’ve said [I wanted to dance in] LA all my life, but now I’m starting to think Broadway could actually be a pretty awesome gig, if I could make it out there,” she said. “I’d have to work on my singing, but in that job you receive constant revenue, and you get the opportunity to perform for so many people. In LA, it’s more behind-the-scenes like a music video or a commercial, which is really fun also because that is the type of dancing I like. Either would be awesome.” With all of this experience under her belt, Ellie still gets the butterfly feeling in her stomach before performing. “I get really nervous before performances,” Ellie said. “I get in the zone, and if people try to talk to me, well, it’s rough.” One huge influence in Ellie’s life is Alisa Laraway, owner of Alisa’s Dance Academy. Laraway is very proud of Ellie and excited to see where Ellie’s talent takes her. “Inside the studio, Ellie is a hardworking, extremely dedicated and very driven dancer,” Laraway said. “Outside of the studio, Ellie is very much the same as inside the studio. She applies the same attributes she utilizes in dance to everyday life. Ellie is a good-natured young lady; she is always there for her friends and family. She has a very caring soul. She is an amazing role model for all the young dancers at the studio.” Even with all of her talent and upcoming fame, Ellie keeps her feet on the ground. “I think there’s a way you can be humble and still work really hard,” she said. “I feel like you can always improve. There will always be someone better than you. Even if you are the best one time, doesn’t mean you’re the best every time.” —Zhouie Martinez

“It is so special getting to walk on the stage with a beautiful costume on and to dance like a princess. It brings me such joy to perform in front of all those people.” —junior Ellie Edwards

Good sports Contreras sisters excel in swimming, tennis


On the court and in the pool, the Contreras sisters, junior Fernanda and senior Magdalena have serious game. Both girls started their sports when they were young, back in Mexico. At first, they both dabbled in swimming and tennis, but at ages 9 and 11 their mom told them to choose between the two. “I started playing tennis with my dad when I was four but I started practicing tennis every day when I was nine,” Fernanda said. “[Magdalena] chose swimming, even though everybody thought that she was going to be the tennis player.” In August of 2011, the girls moved to Austin in order for their mom to study at the University of Texas. Fernanda said that it was hard to leave her friends, but that she still looked forward to the experience. “I didn’t want to leave, but I was excited to come,” she said. “I do like it here though. The technology is better. The courts too. Here, if there is one crack in the courts they’re like, ‘Oh my God. We have to redo the whole thing.’ but trends + traditions

[in Mexico] if there’s a huge hole in the courts, they’re like, ‘Eh. They’ll last for 10 more years.’” Fernanda said that her biggest obstacle competing when she first started out was her strong desire to win. “I was really competitive when I was younger,” Fernanda said. “They used to tell me to calm down a little bit.” “When she says ‘really’ she means extreme,” Magdalena said. “I used to cry if I lost a point,” Fernanda said. “When she started, she wasn’t that good so she always lost 0-6, 0-6, so this first time she lost 1-6, 0-6, she was so excited,” Magdalena said. “She came out with this big smile and said ‘I lost 1-6.’” “And then I started winning,” Fernanda said. “And I would start losing to people that I didn’t think I should lose to. I got really upset, and I would have to talk to people to calm down.” That competitive spirit runs in the family. Almost everyone on their dad’s side plays tennis. Their grandfather won

Junior Fernanda Contreras stands alongside her sister, senior Magdalena Contreras. “Having a sister is like having a best friend you can’t get rid of,” Fernanda said. “You know whatever you do, they’ll still be there.”

While Magdalena thrives on the mental clarity of swimming, Fernanda said that she enjoys the strategic aspect of tennis. “My favorite part is just being in the court, and the mental challenge of figuring out what the other person doesn’t like,” Fernanda said. “You have to figure out their weakness and ask yourself, ‘Can I play my strengths against their weakness? How am I going to beat them?’” And their hard work has paid off because both girls have won a variety of awards and competitions including swimmer and tennis player of the year at their old athletics club in Mexico. On top of that, Fernanda got third in regionals her freshman year, made it to semifinals

moment was during an open water 10K. “It was in Cancun in the ocean,” she said. “It was rough that day because there was a lot of bad weather. I was basically swimming alone because I lost the group of people. I finished and was like ‘Oh my God, I’m done’ but when I looked around, there was nothing set up. I thought I lost. It turned out that I got there when the 5K [swimmers] got there. I took a shower and when I came out, they were like ‘Where were you? We didn’t see you at the podium. You got first place by 20 minutes.’ The rest of the group got lost and because I was swimming alone I went straight to the finish line, so I won.” Swimming in open water is less than normal for high school swimmers, but Magdalena said that it has to be one of her favorite parts of her sport. “I love swimming in open water,” she said. “I like it because you have a finish line and you don’t know how far you’ve gone. You just go from buoy to buoy until you’re done. And, when you swim in open water you can see the reefs and fish underneath you, so you’re not focused on one thing. You’re focused on a lot of different things.” After Magdalena finished talking about her 10K, Fernanda added her two cents. “I would just die,” she said. “I would be like, ‘someone get me a rope.’” At least some of the credit for Fernanda and Magdalena’s success goes towards their coaches, both of whom push the girls to their limits. “Every time that I win a tournament when everyone else tells me how well I did, [my coach, Vince Casariego] will say ‘That sucked! You have to work on that backhand!’ or ‘My grandma could beat that serve,’” Fernanda said. “He always brings me down, but it’s because he wants me to aim higher. So every time I feel happy, he brings me back to being more humble.” “They have to be tough for you to push yourself harder,” Magdalena said. “My biggest problem is that I mentally block myself, so [my coach, Mike Laitala] is really supportive of that. He tells me ‘I know that you can do it. You’ve been doing this.’ He really finds the small flaws. Every little detail that he finds is a big change when I fix it.” Both Fernanda and Magdalena don’t want their sports careers to end with high

“I don’t see her as my rival. I want to get to her level. I look up to her, and of course I want to beat her all the time, but it’s different.” —junior Fernanda Contreras last year, has a combined high school record of 75-3 and she is currently ranked number one in the state for under 16 year olds. Magdalena has won bronze in Mexican nationals in a relay and had the state record for the 800 and 1500 yard races back in Mexico. “I won Grandslam [a Texas-wide tournament] this year,” Fernanda said. “It was one of the hardest tournaments I’ve played. I was so happy. It was 10 days of playing tournaments and the day before the finals, my partner and I lost doubles. I was like, ‘Oh my God, if I lose singles, I’m out.’ I was working hard all summer for that tournament, and when I won I couldn’t believe it.” Magdalena’s said that her proudest

photos by Shelby Westbrook

Wimbledon in mixed, and their father won the Davis Cup, the only time that Mexico has ever beaten the U.S. It takes hours of grueling practice for Fernanda and Magdalena to reach the level that they have. They both practice six days a week for a total of 24 hours, which leaves Magdalena with semi-permanent goggle marks. “We [start out] with an hour of dryland,” Magdalena said. “So running and pull ups, weights and all that fun stuff. Then we swim for two and a half hours. We’ll have a warmup, then a main set, then a warm down. And some days I have doubles. Like this morning, I had practice at 5 and then I go back to practice from 4 to 7:30.” Fernanda’s tennis practices are just as taxing. “We get there and we warm up,” Fernanda said. “I usually play with [junior] Charles Tan to warm up. Then they do a lot of feeding [when we’re tossed the ball to just practice our strokes]. Then at the end of the day we always have an hour of fitness. That’s the worst. [My private coach] will also have me read things for homework like ‘The Way of the Peaceful Warrior.’” It can be difficult to balance schoolwork and a social life with the hours of practice towards their sports, and both girls admit that they’ve had their doubts before on whether or not they made the right choice to be so focused on their sports. “It’s hard because we leave our house at 8 in the morning and we don’t get back until 8:30 or 9 at night,” Magdalena said. “So we’re away all day and don’t get home until really late. Then there’s homework. Sometimes I think ‘Why am I doing this?’, but then it pays off and I’m OK with it.” Fernanda shares the same sentiment. “Sometimes when I have a bad day or when I lose, I’ll think about how I could be watching a movie or studying instead of being [here],” Fernanda said. “But then I’m like, ‘no, I like it too much.’ I can’t stop. It’s hard, but it’s addicting.” Both Fernanda and Magdalena said that even through all of the challenges that go along with being competitive athletes, they love it and wouldn’t give it up for anything. “Swimming is basically my safe place,” Magdalena said. “I can figure out all of my problems and I have a clear mind. I can get rid of all of my stress and just concentrate.”


continued from page 31 school. Fernanda said that she plans on continuing with tennis throughout college and wants to teach her kids to play as well. Magdalena is aiming even higher. “I want to go to the Olympics,” she said. “I just try to push myself a little harder every day. I’m tired, and I’m not really making the intervals, but I’m going to keep pushing and moving myself forward.” Of course, injuries are a big part of sports. Magdalena said that she has gotten hurt a multitude of times, but Fernanda almost never gets injured. In fact the only injury she has received is a twisted knee that still requires an MRI. “I’m clumsy, so I’m always hurt,” Magdalena said. “It’s like a family joke every time I fall. It’s like ‘Oh, that’s something that Magda would do.’ Doing weights, I pinched my cyatic nerve. It was really bad and I had to go to physical therapy. [While] flip turning, I missed the wall and hit my ankle. When I was swimming in open water, somebody punched me in the goggles and broke them. Then, doing box jumps, I fell and the wall went straight into my shin and right to my bone. I had to get stitches. It’s just funny how somebody that should get hurt all the time doesn’t, and I always get hurt by really little things.” For the most part, the girls say that there is not much sibling rivalry or competition between them, but there is the occasional debate on whose sport is better. Both girls admit that if they played the same sport, the atmosphere would be much tenser. “I don’t see her as my rival,” Fernanda said. “I want to get to her level. I look up to her, and of course I want to beat her all the time, but it’s different. I would love if she played tennis because we could play doubles together but then I would have to play singles against her too.” Of course, all siblings fight a little and the Contreras sisters are no exception “She drives now,” Fernanda said. “but when she didn’t, we would race to the car to say, ‘shotgun’. She would always take it from me anyway until I got bigger.” “At one point I was really jealous of her,” Magdalena said. “Thinking ‘Why is she doing so well and I’m not.’ I was stuck in one place and would think ‘how is she doing that?’. Then I just stopped focusing on her and started having fun with what I do, and I started to do better.” With the amount of time spent perfecting their own sports, there is not much time left to watch each other compete. “I think the last time I saw her swim was back in Mexico,” Fernanda said. “It’s hard here, though, because she’ll always have [competitions] when I have school or tennis.” “It’s hard, but we try to go and see each other,” Magdalena said. “We’ll critique each other.” “I’ll always tell her she’s slow,” Fernanda said. “and she’ll say ‘I won’ and I’ll say, ‘I know, but still.’” —Peyton Richardson


trends + traditions

1. Working on her forehand, junior Fernanda Contreras practices at the Westlake tennis courts in late December. 2. Senior Magdalena Contreras practices the breaststroke at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.



The piano man

Musician earns No. 1 spot at TMEA All-State Jazz audition

photo manipulation by Cade Ritter


Music — a universal phenomenon that impacts human existence, no matter where in the world you go. For most of us, music serves the simple function of entertainment; however, for senior Joey Listrom, music has become much more than that. It has become a way of life and a passion that he has felt for as long as he can remember. “I first started playing when I was 5 years old,” Joey said. “My dad would be on the piano, and I would go up and try to find what he was playing. My dad is a classically trained pianist, and he sang opera professionally. And so when he and my mom saw that, they started me with lessons.” Being part of a musical family proved to be the catalyst in Joey’s career and inspired his enthusiasm for the instrument. “We have a Young Chang Baby Grand, and it’s the grand piano that my parents first got me and all of my brothers in 1988,” Joey said. “My oldest brother plays guitar, another brother plays metal drums, I play piano and then the other brother just doesn’t play an instrument. But my parents started us all with this piano and it’s sort of just been in our family.” As he got older, piano became an integral part of Joey’s life, and he began playing in bands outside of school, escalating his exposure to the music he was pursuing. “The bands I’ve been in came about through jazz band at school,” Joey said. “It’s really just being around friends who also play music. I’d say I’ve probably been in about 10 different musical groups. Things just kind of happen when everyone’s musical tastes line up.” As well as allowing him to meet other aspiring artists, being a part of the school program has opened up doors to state competitions, allowing Joey to play piano at an even higher level. In November, he won the Texas Music Educators Association All-State Jazz audition on piano, earning him one of two positions in the All-State Jazz Ensembles. Around 40 pianists were selected from more than 100 others to even compete for these two spots. However, Joey proved himself to be the greatest pianist there, earning the number one place. “So far the only competitions that I’ve done are the TMEA competitions,” Joey said. “I got third place sophomore year, second place junior year and then this year I finally became number one.” This competition has proved to be a highly important accolade in what Joey hopes will be a long musical journey.

trends + traditions

“My parents are absolutely supportive of me pursuing music in college and as a career,” Joey said. “So that’s what I’m going to school for. As of now, the top three schools that I’ve applied to are the University of Miami, University of Southern California and Juilliard.” However this dream doesn’t come without the work, and Joey practices daily to maintain his abilities and attain his goals. “Practice is kind of hard with the balancing between it and schoolwork,” Joey said. “But I try to get in at least an hour and a half to two hours each day.” In addition to playing piano and occasionally the keytar — a piano keyboard held like a guitar — Joey has also tackled another aspect of music, often composing his own pieces. “I write pretty much for any genre,” Joey said. “I sometimes write lyrics with my music; it just depends on what genre I’m writing for. I mostly like composing for movie soundtracks, and that’s probably what I’ll be going to school for. Inspiration, for me, can really come from anything. Every new thing is just in the moment, and so when those moments happen, I just have to stay focused on that and see what comes of it.” Beyond the playing and the composing, Joey also devotes time to simply listening to music and has developed his own favorite bands and musicians that have influenced his style. “I listen to all kinds of stuff,” Joey said. “I’m a big fan of classic hip-hop, but I also listen to plenty of jazz. My favorite groups are probably A Tribe Called Quest, Digital Underground, Average White Band and Parliament-Funkadelic.” Throughout this whole process, the Westlake band and orchestra departments have played very influential roles, shaping Joey into the musician he has become. “Being in orchestra and jazz band has definitely helped to turn over stones that I otherwise would’ve passed over musically,” Joey said. “It’s opened up new worlds and paths that are now possible to me.” Piano has been a constant in Joey’s life, and he plans on continuing this trend as he goes forward, as it plays such a vital role in his identity. “Most of the time, unless I really have to focus on learning a new piece or not messing up, my mind is just blank,” Joey said. “I know this is corny, but I guess when life gets hard, piano’s always just been sort of a stable outlet I can turn to.” —Monica Rao

Patent pending Three sophomore robotics students design innovative remote, await official approval

Your story isnt going to touch the purple line over “The ‘11-’12 season was the first time I did FTC, and we built here. [the NXT brick] so we wouldn’t have to carry a PC around,” Rothfus said. “We used it a little bit during [this year’s season]. Rule

For the past few months, someting has been brewing on the bottom floor of the Ninth Grade Center. Among Westlake students lies an elite team of sophomore First Tech Challenge robotics students working meticulously to innovate the technology And after that I said, ‘let’s do it for real.’” used in preparation of sport robotics. A trio comprised of Akshay The team is optimistic about future prospects of the ChapR Prakash, Rachel Gardner and Ben Gorr — with the help of their and expects to sell more as publicity increases, estimating longmentor Eric Rothfus — have been logging hours after school term sales to be capable of reaching a substantial portion of every Tuesday and Thursday to manage the production and America’s FTC teams. distribution of a unique product, as well as filing for its patent. “There are 2,763 [FTC] teams in the USA, so we could potenThe attainment of their mental exertion: a Bluetooth-equipped tially sell 2,763,” Akshay said. remote designed to replace the laptop in the chain of control for “I don’t know. I think you should double that because everyFTC robots. This would one’s going to want at Aurasma by Cooper Kerbow least two,” Ben added. effectively eliminate both the inconvenient The team’s next heft and short battery project will be a hub life of a laptop, thus version of the ChapR making practice more designed to be used efficient and easier to by multiple people at perform. once in a competition This helpful setting, as opposed to device is called the being used strictly for ChapR, which stands the normal practice for “Chap Robotpurposes of which the ics” and/or “Chap current ChapR operRemote.” Some of the ates in. ChapR’s key features “In our competiare a 9v lithium battions there’s sometery, a pocket-sized thing called the field profile, and an autocontrol system and matic power-down that’s what coordifeature to conserve nates [the synchrobattery. The team nized stopping and photo by Nick Appling might also add that it starting of robots],” Sophomores Akshay Prakash, Rachael Gardner and Ben Gore show off their Bluetooth -equipped remote. is “hopelessly smooth.” Rachel said. “Now it’s “This is actually a run by Wi-Fi, and joke among us,” Akshay said. “On our first set of business cards we’ve had a lot of problems with that, with connections, lag and there was a little bubble that quoted us as ‘hopelessly smooth,’ stuff like that. We want to implement something using BlueEver since then, the saying has just sort of stuck with the team.” tooth.” “It’s almost like this innate property that somehow propels The remote is available for $100 at base price and $115 with people’s money to us and a ChapR into their hands,” Ben said. an included programmer. Seventy-five percent of each purchase “It’s smoother than a hot knife through butter.” goes to the Westlake & Eanes Science and Technology AssociaSince March 2013, the team has gained an undoubtedly tion, and 25 percent funds a free ChapR to be administered to a beneficial experience in the production of the ChapR, learning “team in need.” As such, the ChapR team is intent upon giving elements of designing, selling, manufacturing, prototyping, marback to the community, rather than making a profit. keting and even customer support. “We decided to ship out charity ChapRs to teams in need “We’ve learned every aspect of designing a product. Since because we think that it is a great device that everyone should be there’s only three of us — which has actually been great — we’ve able to have access to, not just those who have money,” Akshay been able to do a little bit of everything,” Rachael said. said. “The robotics community has already given us so much. We The idea for the ChapR stemmed from a Lego NXT prototype just want to reciprocate what’s already given to us.” made by Rothfus which has since evolved, and is now in its third —Jack Speer generation.

Signing up

Student creates educational app for American Sign Language


Presented with a challenge by the sign language teacher, senior Mike Bartmess went above and beyond with the app he created for ASL. “I had done Objective C iPad programming in computer science,” Mike said. “Our sign language teacher was currently looking for an application to help us with fingerspelling and there weren’t a lot of good options out there. Either they were not what she wanted, they didn’t have the features that we needed or they were too childish and aimed for a much lower age level.” The ASL teacher Barbara Vinson was in need of an app because the iPads replaced the school’s laptop carts. These laptops had an application called ASL Pro which Vinson had used to help students fingerspell. “Before we had iPads, we only had the old laptops that we would roll in and use,” Vinson said. “We would use ASL Pro [at the beginning of every class day]. It had finger-spelling and a dictionary on it as well. Then we got the iPads; I was one of the teachers who participated in the Westlake Initiative for Innovation (WIFI) pilot program. Mike Bartmess was in my clas,s and I said, ‘Ugh, these iPads don’t have Flash so you can’t use ASL Pro fingerspelling.’ Towards the end of Mike’s sophomore year he said, ‘Mrs. Vinson you’ve been complaining, do you want me to make an app for you?’ I said, ‘Let’s do it.’” Mike’s app is now a daily addition to the beginning of each class. Students are able to use it to help their finger spelling and see what they need to work on. “[The app] absolutely has helped finger spelling in the class,” Vinson said. “The iPad and the finger spelling app are great — they have definitely helped a lot.” Programming an app isn’t an easy task. Mike undertook the project in the middle of trends + traditions

his sophomore year and finished during his junior year. He plans to release more updates. “The actual writing of the code took a year and a half, but I worked on it mostly part-time due to schoolwork and extracurricular activities,” Mike said. There were many steps and complications along the way in the app-building process, because finger spelling requires a sign for every letter and a corresponding image of the hand sign to go with it. Each of those requires a specific programming function and proper execution to get it to work. “I think the hardest part [of the process] was getting the words in a random order and splitting the words apart letter by letter,” Mike said. “Then I had to convert those letters [to the appropriate pictures of the hand signs].” The app features hand signs that correspond to each letter, with adjustable speeds, allowing you to define and sign along with the images. Even after the finished product was released, the sign language department and students continue to experiment with the app, trying to find bugs and give Mike helpful tips for improvement. “One bug in particular that was noticed was the speed of the signed letters being slow, especially when the app is first loading, which is the fix in the current update coming out,” Mike said. “[Since the first update] I have added a way to track how many times you replay it to get a word right. I made the top speed [of the hand signs] faster, and, in addition I added the ability to set a maximum word length.” At first Mike had a issue with whose hands they should use, but senior Maddie Bitting volunteered for the job and Vinson also gave a helpful suggestion of using the class’s blue cabinet as a green screen.

“Maddie volunteered for her hands to be used because she had just got her French nails done,” Vinson said. “That blue cabinet in our classroom acts like a green screen or a blue screen; it’s the same thing. Maddie put her hands up [in front of the cabinet] and clearly did the abc’s, and he took a snapshot with his iPad, and that’s how it all began.” Maddie and Vinson both said that ASL is a convenient and useful tool that took the place of ASL Pro. Maddie said she was happy to help Mike with the app. “I thought it was really cool that they used my hands for the app — I thought I could be famous one day,” Maddie said. “The app is a really great addition to the ASL class, although I didn’t get to use it, since I am not in ASL anymore. I think it will really help students learn to finger spell.” Along with the difficulties of coding the app itself, Mike was confronted with another challenge of getting Apple to approve the app to be put on the App Store. “The biggest issue with Apple approving

the app is your graphical interface must be effectively flawless, so your colors have to match — it has to look aesthetically pleasing,” Mike said. “I actually had one of my friends [senior] Akash Thaker help me with the graphics.” Even though Mike was at first turned down by Apple, he eventually succeeded in getting the app onto the App Store. Although the process was long, the end result impressed students and teachers alike. “The four people here from Australia about two weeks ago came, along with the lady from Apple here in Austin,” Vinson said. “They were curious about how we used our iPads, so Lisa Johnson brought them in [the ASL room], and they wanted to see the app. I told them the app was created by Mike Bartmess and that he’s a senior. They were very impressed, and the lady from Apple was even impressed that Westlake could have someone that could do that.” Mike learned how to program through the

“It’s kind of like a puzzle — you have to start with nothing but an idea, and you have to figure out which components work together.”

—senior Mike Bartmess

computer science class at Westlake. The ASL finger spelling app was Mike’s first large-scale programming project, but it certainly will not be his last. “I’m thinking about making an app for our robotics team,” Mike said. “It will be able to help us scout other teams and help us with the scoring. It will all depend on the challenge at hand. [Programming the app] is the next thing I’m looking forward to.” This is Mike’s fourth year of taking the computer science class at Westlake and he’s planning to continue learning how to program and work with technology. “It’s kind of like a puzzle — you start with nothing but an idea and you have to figure out which components work together,” Mike said. “You must figure out the best way to take this concept and turn it into a detailed list of instructions that a computer can understand.” Mike said that his love for programming began even before he had come to Westlake. As soon as he saw the class was offered at Westlake, he signed up for it. “I’ve always wanted to go into computer science or electrical engineering since I was young,” Mike said. “As soon as I saw the class as a course option back in eighth grade, I jumped for it. “Overall programming the app was really fun, and it was a learning process the entire way through,” Mike said. “I was happy to make [the app] for Mrs. Vinson, and take on the challenge of programming it.” —David Tulkoff

Senior Mike Bartmess shows off the app he created that helps ASL students practice finger spelling.

Tim Whaling


photo manipulation and Aurasma by Tim Whaling


Bowler Will Austin practices his throw after school at Westgate Lanes.

Bowler lives life in the fast lane For many people, bowling a strike is rare. A novice bowler is likely to send the ball into the gutter. Bowling is labeled by many as a leisure activity, and its competitive side is sometimes overlooked. When junior Will Austin goes to the alley, he isn’t just there to pass the time. He is practicing or competing. Since the age of 8, Will has been focused on the sport. He began at a birthday party eight years ago. He set a goal: to get that perfect score. “Many people consider bowling an easy sport,” Will said.  “They think you simply throw the ball down the lane and let it do all the magic and hopefully you get a strike. [Bowling is a] mental sweatshop. This aspect of the game has to be one of my favorites.” Will has strong opinions regarding the accuracy of Wii bowling. “Funny you asked,” he said. “This is actually the most asked question of me when I mention that I bowl. That being said, please exclude me from any Wii tournaments — I will get dead last. Wii bowling is nothing like real bowling at all. In fact, I’ve never bowled above a 100 on the Wii. That’s how unrealistic it is . . . or maybe I’m just bad? Wii bowling does not calculate in the factors such as ball core shape, ball weight, weather, etc. In fact, all you have to do is fling the ball down the lane and you’ll get a strike. It is near impossible to throw a hook on the Wii — it’ll just dance right into the gutter.” The overall science and knowledge of bowling is unknown to many. There are so many factors to consider to get a strike, such as lane conditions, the type of ball used, hand position, even oil patterns. A key aspect of bowling is being able to “read the pattern” and how the ball reacts on that specific pattern.   “There are a multitude of oil patterns which vary in how the oil is laid down.” Will said. “Every tournament has a different oil pattern to play on.”  

trends + traditions

Will is an expert spare shooter. Two throws are allowed in bowling and spares are made when only a partial number of pins are knocked over on the first throw and you knock the remainder on the second throw. “Practice is key,” he said. “Spare-shooting is what makes or breaks your game in bowling and during practice I focus on shooting the hardest spares because it really pays off in the long run.” Will practices three days week plus league play on Saturday mornings.  He belongs to an All-Star travel team and competes in various local and state tournaments, including the Texas State Championship, Austin City Tournament and the Wes Mallot’s Tournament. Top finishers are awarded scholarship money. “I am highly interested in Purdue University because it offers a great pre-medical program along with, of course, an excellent mens bowling team,” Will said. Will said that by the end of senior year he will be at a collegiate level bowling skill, and with a clean 250 bowling average, and a personal best of 298 (300 is a perfect score), he seems to be well on his way to achieving his goal. Along with practice, Will spends time bowling with his family. “One of the funniest things about my family is when we go to the bowling alley for fun,” he said. “We all bowl on one lane while I bowl a second series of games on the lane next to it at the same time. We play quite differently than most families would. Considering I bowl competitively, they add up their two best scores out of the three of them (Dad, mom, brother) and hope to beat my score.” As of right now, Will only plans to bowl in a collegiate environment, and said he most likely will not attempt to go pro.   “I will definitely continue on bowling for the rest of my life,” he said. “That’s for sure.”   —Micah Williams

Senior finds voice with Vine videos

Six seconds of fame

Senior Cathlyn Jones smiles for the camera in preparation for a Vine. Zhouie Martinez

As I sat down for a conversation with Vinelebrity, Vine star and Internet sensation senior Cathlyn Jones, we both just started laughing. “This must be a joke, right?” Cathlyn said of our formal meeting. Because when Cathlyn first discovered Vine by making videos of us two goofing off belting, “Big Girl, You are Beautiful,” nobody suspected this kind of audience. Cathlyn had no followers, no friends on Vine, no likes — but what she did have was a sensational sense of humor, wide range of character voices and capacity for creativity that has resulted in instant fame. From animating her cats alone in her room, to her “outfit of the day” videos featuring Crocs and camo pants, her humor is eloquently displayed, clean, marketable and incredibly hilarious. “I absolutely did not see it taking off like this,” Cathlyn said. “When I first had Vine we were all doing karaoke and I was making these ridiculous videos and nobody knew what I was doing. I was just like ‘oh it’s just this cool video app.’” The application, which allows users to post six-second clips filmed in intervals from a smartphone, has proved to be Cathlyn’s avenue to success. The videos of her and her sisters using unique voices and making faces spread rapidly throughout the online world, gaining enough “likes” to put her on the popular page. Once the videos hit the popular page, her following increased drastically. Just months into making videos, people around the area started approaching her in public. “I realized that my Vines were getting really big when I went to Hill Country and kids were coming up to me,” Cathlyn said. “I was just kind of dumbfounded because the whole thing to me is super silly. It’s just me goofing off online.” Whether the video features her English bulldog, Bogart, or her sisters dancing around to “In the Jungle,” it gains anywhere from 1,500-6,000 likes per post. “The ideas for the videos just come into

my head,” Cathlyn said. “My head is just very weird.” While many of her Vines were thought through and planned beforehand, her personal favorites are impromptu ones. “Probably my favorite is the one where my mom throws a sweet potato at my face because it was so candid,” Cathlyn said. With enough followers to fill up two Dallas Cowboy Stadiums, encounters with strangers are inevitable, often becoming overwhelming. “I was coming back from a Taylor Swift concert with my friends and I got a notification on my Vine from a follower,” Cathlyn said. “He had posted a video of me in my car driving back from Dallas because he recognized it from the cheerleading decal on the back of my mom’s car.” Cathlyn’s immediate success on Vine is apparent to anyone who clicks on her bio. Comments from fans not only appear on her videos, but swarm her inboxes on Twitter, Facebook and email. However, continuing to make her humor accessible to her community and the people she sees every day is not an easy decision. “When people started following — especially people I don’t know and am not comfortable around — I contemplated deleting it. I was just like ‘oh my gosh, this is so weird; they’re gonna think I’m so goofy and different and manly because I have such a deep voice,’” Cathlyn said. “But I just got over it and was like, ‘you know what, those who mind don’t matter.’” The decision to continue making videos has resulted in opportunities. Her videos have been noticed by companies looking for advertising. On a trip to New York this fall, she visited with several firms and had the chance to meet comedian and Vine star, Jerome Jarre. “I’ve been approached by a bunch of people in advertising and PR, and they said to keep on continuing to make my own brand and get my own name out there,” Cathlyn said. This new discovery of her own poten-

tial in the media world has redirected her collegiate plans and future. Cathlyn will attend Baylor next fall and plans to major in Film and Digital Media. This would take her various directions where her creative skill of marketing toward a specific group of followers is highly beneficial. “If Vine ever declines in popularity, my biggest dream is to be on SNL or go into voice animation and be the voice behind a cartoon,” Cathlyn said. “Just anything that I can be goofy and be myself in.” Her status as a Vine personality has resulted in a population of children looking up to her. Cathlyn has embraced the opportunity to serve as a role model to the many young girls who religiously watch her videos by keeping them PG. “I have a lot of elementary and middle school kids and then a lot of parents who like to watch my Vines because of their kids,” Cathlyn said. “Because I have so many people watching my every move, I definitely have to watch what I post and my actions outside of Vine.” Cathlyn’s confidence is seen through her videos and inspires her followers and classmates alike. “Her Vines display her personality perfectly,” senior Lee Ashlee Fletcher said. “She is not afraid to be herself and it’s so cool how contagious her self confidence is. I love how she’s the same Cathlyn in Vines and in person.” Not only is her influence on the community substantial, but this window of opportunity has allowed room for self-growth as she puts her videos out for the world to see. With so many eyes observing her, she has found that the feedback from her fans is invaluable. “It’s definitely been a good thing for me because I’m so comfortable in my own skin,” Cathlyn said. “I’ve gotten messages from followers saying ‘Cathlyn you’ve changed my life. You’ve helped me accept who I am and embrace it and show it off,’ and that’s been a really cool part.” ­—Elizabeth Emery

Through training, junior pursues career in aviation

Taking flight


It’s a cold night at the airport, with rain gently falling on the metal-roofed hangar. In the distance, the muted roar of a 737 jet engine and the crisp hum of a propeller cut through the humid air. Floating along is the smell of jet fuel, and in front of me is a brand new multimillion dollar jet. There is nowhere in the world I’d rather be. Since I was a toddler I’ve had this unexplainable love of airplanes. My dad and I would drive out to Pearson airport in Toronto to park under the approach end of the runway and, with the convertible roof down, watch the planes land. My childhood was full of airplanes — airplane models, airplane cartoons (namely Jay Jay the Jet Plane) and any other kind of aviation you can think of. I was surrounded by it. On my sixth birthday, I had my first opportunity to take control of a plane. My dad bought a “discovery flight” where I was able to co-pilot a Cessna 172 and explore the basics of flying. Once I tasted flight, I knew that it was all I ever wanted to do. The process of actually becoming a pilot began my sophomore year. I took an online course that detailed everything from maneuvering speeds to airworthiness documents. Meanwhile, I flew each and every weekend. During each lesson I departed Austin Bergstrom with my instructor Michael Ways, and headed out to Lockhart or Taylor to practice landing patterns. To perfect a pattern, you’re required to keep the airplane within strict speeds and altitudes — 70 knots (kts) on downwind, 65 kts on base and on final approach, you line up for landing. Maintaining these guidetrends + traditions

lines requires minuscule movements of the flight controls — the yoke, rudder and throttle. Adverse wind makes maintaining those speeds far more difficult. After mastering the pattern and other flight maneuvers after 26 hours of training, I was ready to fly solo. The tires chirped after a perfect landing at Giddings airport. It was March 25, my 16th birthday. “I think you’re ready” chimed Michael. “Taxi to the side of the runway and let me out.” This is it, my first solo. After dropping Michael by the side of the runway, I taxi to the end and prepare for my very first takeoff on my own. I firewall the throttle and the engine roars to life, the airspeed hits 60 kts and I pull the controls toward me to lift off. I capture best climb speed of 78 kts and soar up into the calm, evening sky. As I turn downwind parallel to the runway, I make my radio call to let other pilots in the area know my intentions. “Skyhawk 123 victor kilo solo, left downwind 35.” The word solo has a nice ring, I think to myself. I continue my pattern for about five minutes and line back up for the runway. With no wind, the plane goes exactly where I tell it to, making speed and glide control easy. I pin the speed at 60 kts all the way down to the numbers and begin my flare to soften the landing. I hear a soft chirp, and then one more from the wheels gently kissing the pavement, and I know that my first solo has been a wild success. As I pick Michael up from the side of the runway and blast off into the sunset one more time, I feel entirely at peace because I know without a doubt, the sky is my home. —Tim Whaling

Tim’s pro tips on planes

1 2 3 4 photos and Aurasma by Tim Whaling

“Push the throttle forward and the engine roars to life as it reaches full power. As the aircraft accelerates, the airspeed will increase until it indicates 76 knots, flying speed. Pull back hard on the controls and the airplane will leap into the air to climb skyward.”

“Climbing at a high rate also has its consequences. As the angle of the wings increases (called the ‘Angle of Attack’) the air stops flowing over the wing smoothly. As you push the angle of attack further, the air no longer flows over the wing. When this happens, the wing ceases to create lift and the airplane stalls. To recover, push the nose down and add full power to gain airspeed and create lift.” “Cruising between downtown Austin and Lake Travis takes just five minutes at nearly 170 mph. Incredibly, in level cruise flight, the Columbia (pictured) gets almost 15 miles to the gallon. That might not sound great, but while doing 15 mpg, it achieves a speed close to 200 mph. At that speed, you can arrive in Corpus Christi in just an hour.”

“Sightseeing over Lake Travis, you’ll follow the numerous inlets and rivers that have almost dried up. As you maneuver above the lake, you can make a game of spotting the numerous boat launches that have been beached along the diminutive Pedernales River.”

rants + raves



211 W. North Loop, (512) 538-0174

Breakaway Records is a record shop that exemplifies vinyl purism. You won’t find any CDs here, but you certainly will dig up a few treasures. Breakaway has all the vintage classic rock, soul, funk, jazz and blues LPs you could reasonably ask for, as well as a few essential recent pressings. Alas, their hip-hop collection is alarmingly sparse, and the indie rock offerings are limited to an exclusive crop of impressive bands. However, if you’ve acquired a voracious appetite for singles, this place has you covered, with two expansive shelves packed to the brim with affordably priced 45s. Treat yourself to the stylings of Dave Brubeck or Aerosmith, and make your musically cynical father proud.



Situated next to Blue Velvet Vintage and and EPOCH Coffee, Breakaway feels very Brooklyn. Thankfully, the service isn’t snobby. The employees are quietly friendly and helpful, and early on a Saturday afternoon, even had their kids running around the shop. The store is one open square room with widely spaced aisles. It isn’t huge, but it holds a lot, with records packed away in cabinets under the shelves.




When Austin record stores become the subject of discussion, Waterloo Records is likely the first and only place that comes to mind. While Waterloo does have a vast selection, it is not the only record store within Austin city limits — not by a long shot. We’ve compiled a brief list of alternative record stores in Austin that we find suitable for consumption and possibly subsequent favoritism. —Katelyn Connolly and Jack Speer

The soundtrack to the 1986 film Tough Guys was languishing in the “FREE!” box near the entrance. We left it for another lucky soul, so if you’ve got a hankering to hear some Kenny Rogers and Janet Jackson, go check out Breakaway.

r tie

n y i l v f r e o h n T


rants + raves

photos by Nikki Humble

Sophomore Jack Speer browses the stacks at End of an Ear, searching for new muiscal discoveries.

Trailer Space has an expansive discount bin, a tattered classic rock shelf, and a few miscellaneous CDs. Not that you’d go here to buy CDs. It also has Ohio-based garage-pop band Guided by Voices’ rare first EP, but don’t buy it. We’ve called dibs.

2209 S. First Street, (512) 462-6008



Despite being somewhat out of the way, a trip to Trailer Space is worth it. Situated next door to East Side Pies, which serves some of the best New York-style pizza to be found in Austin, the door to the record shop is left open for people — including the employees — to meander in and out. The low-key griminess of the tiny store and the beauty of pizza-by-the-slice served through a window make for a seriously chill afternoon.


As you walk into Trailer Space, you will likely make a few observations: it has arcade games, VHS tapes, old furniture, a Nintendo Wii, an abnormally prominent ambience of hominess and shelf upon shelf of punk records. Walking around, you can pick up subversive zines, cheap used CDs and flyers for the shows that are hosted on the tiny stage in the corner. Trailer Space doesn’t pretend to be a sanitized sanctuary in which polished, hi-fi, inoffensive recordings may be kept, but if it were, it would quickly lose its appeal. You’ll walk away with dirt caked under your fingernails and the stench of tobacco lingering in your nose, but you’ll walk away happy.


1401-A Rosewood Avenue, (512) 524-1445

End of an Ear End of an Ear is the kind of record store you can get lost in for hours every time you enter. Despite its relatively smaller size, it has basically every genre you can imagine, including divisions of world music and ‘80s goth-pop. The employees are especially helpful and always willing to give suggestions or just chat for a while about ‘70s German experimental music. This store has one of the biggest vinyl collections in Austin as well as plenty of used CDs stuffed haphazardly into plastic baskets. End of an Ear even houses a whole wall of VHS tapes. This place is perfect. Seriously, go there — now!


Trailer Space

If you want the options of a huge record shop like Waterloo’s but prefer a more unique environment, End of an Ear is perfect for you. Located on South First Street, in an eclectic and colorful neighborhood full of taco stands and thrift stores, it is easy to drive by the unassuming entrance. Once inside, a true treasure trove of tunes is unearthed. End of an Ear is a bit cramped and can get crowded, but you really can feel the love of music enveloping you.


The exterior of End of an Ear on South First Street radiates typical Austin cool.

Lady Gaga and Tyler, The Creator can be found right next to Faust and literally every Flaming Lips recording ever made. Not to mention the admirable Al Green collection. That’s diversity.

Nature: a review

he truth is, after having lived on this planet for 16 years now, I’m not going to claim that I have everything figured out, but I do have a few things to say about nature. If you are deeply religious, I sincerely hope this does not offend you. Let’s begin with a positive. I will say this, nature has spectacular graphics. Take a look outside. Have you seen the trees? Look specifically at their branches. The 3-D rendering and lack of apparent pixelation is really remarkable. You won’t see that in the background of any Forza game. Another great example of nature’s infallible knack for intricacy: matter. Everything’s made of atoms and stuff, yo. That’s crazy. Imagine being made of millions of tiny Legos, except you can’t see these Legos with the naked eye, and it’s not just you, everything else is also made of Legos. And these metaphorical Legos are atoms. Did you know that Legos are made of atoms as well? Or are they subatomic particles? I’m confusing myself. But nature is not without limitations. For example, you know those trees I mentioned earlier? Well they provide oxygen, an essential component for a minor hobby some may call “breathing.” As it so happens, we do not have enough space for trees, and thusly we must adapt. Otherwise, where would we place our shopping malls and gas stations? Sometimes, regarding priorities, our best interest is commercialism rather than a function as negligible as breathing. On that note, there is another compromise between man and nature brought to light in recent years that we should concern ourselves with, “an inconvenient truth,” if you will. Carbon emissions from our cars and cattle are depleting the ozone layer and causing Earth to be more vulnerable to the sun’s rays. Now, many would argue that the post-industrial society we live in has inflicted this upon itself. However, I’d like to point to one overlooked factor: nature is just unequipped to handle beings as advanced as those of our species. The characteristic nature of nature itself in this era is that it is fragile. It’s time to face the facts: nature’s not as resilient as we’d like it to be, and if this planet we were bestowed some 200,000 years ago can’t accommodate us, then we’ll likely be moving to Europa — a moon of Jupiter speculated to sustain life — in the not too distant future. —Jack Speer


rants + raves

Michaela Moss

Sardonic student takes aim at the ‘great outdoors’

Don’t be Senior reflects on her middle school obsession with self-image, maintaining hair


It’s safe to say that middle school was a rough time for pretty much did, considering everything was the end of the world in everyone. If you’re a freshman straight off the halls of Hill Country middle school.) However, I wasn’t fast enough, because I exposed my or West Ridge thinking — “This is so wrong, middle school was my precious straight hair to the downpour just long enough for it to get prime” — you’re wrong. Just give it a year or two, and you’ll be cringing completely drenched. at every picture or old social media post from that magical time. No. One of the worst things about middle school is the perceived expec“Dad!” I shouted through the rain. “I can’t go to school today!” tation of conformity. Everyone tries to do the same thing with his or “Get in the car,” he said, unfazed by the clear distress radiating her appearance because that’s the “cool” thing. Peer pressure is a milfrom my soaking wet body. lion times more prevalent than it is in high school, because everyone is When I got to school, my hair had already started to dry into its so desperate to fit in. true kinky embodiment. The frizz grew and grew. As I walked through My middle school experience was no exception. Countless nights the doorway, I knew everyone was going to stare in awe at my changed were spent trying to tame the frizzy mess that is my hair, because in appearance. I kept thinking of ways I could get out of school. Pretend my day, straight hair and I was sick and go to bangs brought you one the nurse? Pull the step closer to the inner fire alarm perhaps? circle. Maybe I could stage a For those of you who crime scene outside the are unfamiliar with it, front of the school and my mane of hair is no everyone would have to easy feat to harness. My evacuate. curls that seem to go on All I really wanted to for miles have a mind of do was crawl in a corner their own. Trying to put a and cry. brush through it is close As the school day to impossible, and even progressed, not a single when I can manage that, person mentioned my I end up looking like a hair. My best friend said less magical version of something about it being Hermione Granger. pretty, but other than Every night of my that, not a word was sixth and seventh grade uttered concerning my years, I would shower, appearance. blow dry my hair until it How was this poswas a huge poofy ball of sible? Did no one notice Seniors Olivia Kight and G.R. Chiappe dance at a b’nai mitzvah in 7th grade circa 2009. “I blow dried and then straightened my frizz on my head and then that my hair changed hair that night for about two hours,” Olivia said. slave for a solid two hours from its typical smooth with a flat iron to make and silky demeanor into courtesy photo an Oprah Winfrey afro? it as straight as possible. This routine would start around 8 p.m., and I would end up getting to I almost felt offended. Hello? Why does no one pay attention to my bed around midnight. A 13-year-old girl spending four hours on her appearance? hair on a nightly basis simply to impress her peers? That’s just sad. Here’s the thing, ladies and gentlemen — no one cares. No one I dreaded anyone seeing my natural hair. The hidden curliness cares whether your hair is curly or straight. No one cares if your shorts under all of the heat damage and hair product was my little secret. I are from 2008 or 2013. No one will notice if you forgot to wear eyeliner thought that if anyone knew my true hair style, I would be completely today, or if you have a zit on your forehead. shunned from the elite inner circle that my middle school self so Humans are programmed to think they’re the center of the unilonged to join. verse. It’s the evolutionary instinct of looking out for oneself. If your One particularly rainy day in April, I slept in a little too late. I friends are judging you for not doing your hair every day or not having rushed through putting on my clothes and make-up and shoved a name-brand shoes, are they really worth spending countless amounts breakfast bar down my throat. of time trying to impress? Over my time in middle school and beyond, “Bye, Mom!” I shouted as I stepped out the door, right into the I’ve learned to embrace my frizzy hair. Instead of worrying about little pouring rain. things, like whether your jeans fit perfectly or if your shoes are straight Oh no. off of Pinterest, try focusing on having fun and making real friends that My hair. will (brace yourself) like you for who you are. I sprinted to my dad’s car like my life depended on it (which it —Olivia Kight


Food for thought

{ staff editorial }

Chap Court cafeteria should offer broader range of meal choices


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It is time we were honest with ourselves — the Ninth Grade Center cafeteria has drastically better food than the Chap Court. It isn’t even close. The NGC has a smorgasbord of different options, from mac-and-cheese to ravioli, from sweet and sour chicken to massive burritos the size of a small child. Meanwhile, every single day, just across the school, the Chap Court has pizza. Sure, there are a few other options, like the wonderful, twice-weekly Chick-fil-A sandwiches, but day in and day out, the main course is pizza. Some resolute upperclassmen make the trek down to the NGC to eat, but most sophomores, juniors and seniors that don’t bring their lunch end up scavenging together a “nutritiously-balanced meal” from baked potatoes and Rice Krispie Treats. Aside from a decent but hidden salad bar and one measly basket of a few bruised apples and oranges, there isn’t much in terms of fruits and vegetables. Unless you count the tomato sauce on pizza as a vegetable serving, which you absolutely should not. If you’re vegetarian, vegan, lactose intolerant or gluten intolerant, your options start getting pretty thin. That being said, the NGC isn’t really fighting fair. It has dedicated ovens and cooking appliances, where all of the food for both cafeterias is cooked. The food for the Chap Court is then ferried up to the main campus and dropped off into heaters that keep the rations warm until fourth and fifth periods. The lines themselves are reason enough for most students to avoid the Chap Court. Due to some gruesome design flaws that resulted in the Chap Court being less of a cafeteria line and more of a few cafeteria alcoves, students are forced to wait in packs, yearning for their chance to shovel whatever scraps remain onto their trays. What’s happening, Westlake? How is the Chap Court not better? We live in Austin. We’ve been spoiled by countless amazing restaurants in close proximity and organic, healthy food that is actually good. The success of the new “healthy vending machines” show a pattern. Students are looking for a little variety, and they aren’t as opposed to eating something healthy as you would think. We know cafeteria food is never going to be fantastic. After all, just two years ago, we had the infamous re-pizza scandal which has since been resolved. We’re not asking for a lot. But the Chap Court is levels below the NGC cafeteria and it’s not a hard problem to fix. Maybe we should bring in some local food trucks to provide some healthier options, or maybe we should let juniors start going out to lunch with seniors to stop the lines from extending on forever. Regardless, next time some money comes up to get another Jumbotron or iPad 3s, maybe we should just invest in a couple of ovens for the Chap Court. Art by Ariana Gomez Reyes

WE’VE GOT Divergent is full of despicable lies, danger and slightly forbidden love. In this futuristic world, author Veronica Roth portrays a society in which the government is always watching and controlling citizens. The book starts on the day protagonist Beatrice Prior has to make the most important decision of her life. In her world, all people take a test on their 16th birthday. The test simulates various scenarios and judges the reaction of the test taker in order to help them choose which of five paths they will take in life: Dauntless, Abnegation, Erudite, Candor or Amity. The complexity of the characters allows for the reader to make his own decisions about Beatrice (Tris, as she is later named) and the supporting individuals. Through how characters react to being different or seeing differences in other people, the book shows that “different” is widely accepted as a bad thing, but that it shouldn’t be. Divergent is a fascinating story and reminds the reader that you can’t put a human being into a box and tell them who they are going to be. —Sage Sutton

IF YOU LIKE The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare


rants + raves

“Pepper is the surprised inmate of a mental institution in Queens, New York. In the darkness of his room, on the first night, a terrifying creature with the body of an old man and the head of a bison nearly kills him before being hustled away by the hospital staff.” If that back cover description doesn’t intrigue you, I don’t know what will. A murderous old man with a bison head? What’s not to love? Bizarre and terrifying, The Devil in Silver masterfully intertwines staunch horror with modern-day criticism of the flaws in our mental institutions. Not only is it a nail-biter of a book, it truly is a portal into today’s psych wards and the cruel treatment of the mentally impaired. Never ceasing to lure you in, The Devil in Silver deserves a spot on your horror shelf, whether you are a veteran thrill-seeker or a horror noob. Just don’t show the cover to your mom. Moms don’t like bloody bison heads. —Jack Wallace

IF YOU LIKE Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

This critically acclaimed novel by Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Edith Wharton chronicles the lives of Nick Lansing and Susy Branch after they make a shrewd deal to marry and spend a year mooching off of their affluent friends. Their bargain is that if either of them meets someone who could advance them socially, they will dissolve the marriage. However, neither of them expects their relationship to change them so drastically that they begin to crave a life outside of the petty, superficial universe of the outrageously wealthy. Neither of them expects to fall in love. The ending is entirely predictable, but the journey makes it sweet. Wharton uses Nick and Susy as a lens through which she describes the ostentation of the filthy rich. Her philosophical view on society is truly enlightening. When it comes down to it, this romance/social commentary really isn’t about Nick and Susy sponging off their acquaintances. It’s about a couple who begin to understand the meaning of true love. —Ananya Zachariah

IF YOU LIKE The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

IT COVERED To properly assess the popularity of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a collection of short stories featuring detective Sherlock Holmes and cohort Dr. Watson in 19th century Britain, one must simply observe the extraordinary components that constitute such an enduring franchise. The memorable depictions of the classic metropolis of London definitely hook the reader. The voice of Dr. Watson certainly provides a stately interpretation of the peculiar cases given to him and his accomplice. Then there are the cases themselves, each offering a variety of mysteries for the greatest fictional crime detective in history — Sherlock Holmes. Any observer could clearly deduce that the series’ longevity is due to the protagonist’s cold arrogance, paired with his undying curiosity and remarkable intelligence, along with just a sprinkle of late 19th century mannerisms. All this creates a remarkably entertaining book that leaves any contemporary fan of Sherlock Holmes simply amiss for not reading the original classic. —Michael Wiggin

IF YOU LIKE The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie

To call Let’s Pretend This Never Happened “funny” is to do the book a disservice. It’s a bouncy ride in an old Jeep with no seat belts on a dirt road. It’s every dream you’ve ever had that you woke up from thinking, “Well that was odd.” From taxidermic misadventures to arguments over whether Jesus was a zombie, acclaimed blogger and journalist Jenny Lawson’s bestselling account of her preposterous life will never cease to surprise and delight you. Witty, raw, honest and touching in unexpected ways, Lawson’s book is more than just comedic. Her frank speech and ability to look back upon her struggles with humor offer a refreshing perspective — one of honesty, laughter and acceptance of ourselves and our world. In her words, “pretending to be normal is draining and requires amazing amounts of energy and Xanax.” —Georgina Kuhlmann

IF YOU LIKE Bossypants by Tina Fey, Seriously ... I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

Khaled Hosseini, best-selling author of internationally recognized books The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has brought forth another piece of literary art. Released on May 21, 2013, And the Mountains Echoed is one of the most heartwrenching yet beautiful stories of this century. Hosseini tells the tragic story of how one man’s decision can shape the lives of people all over the world. The story starts in a small village in the early 1900s Afghanistan with Abdullah and Pari, two devoted siblings who are tragically separated. Hosseini takes the reader all over the world with his vivid and beautiful imagery so that the reader can almost see the majestic mountains of Afghanistan and the serene waves of the Aegean Sea in Greece. Although the numerous storylines can sometimes be hard to follow, the more the reader gets into the book, the more clear the story becomes. The book provides relatable characters, tear-jerking moments and beautiful imagery that make it an absolute page-turner, and overall, a must-read. —Sarah Tucker

IF YOU LIKE Inferno by Dan Brown, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Just dance As Corbin Bleu so eloquently aspect that worried me — it was the vocalized in High School Musical 2, dancing. How could I be expected I don’t dance. And yes, I’ve been to to shake my hips and not make a my fair share of Bar Mitzvah parfool of myself? And then there was ties. Somehow I never saw the value the nagging fear about my hands in gyrating in front of strobe lights — where are they supposed to go? until I was drenched in sweat with These questions lingered in my all of my prepubescent friends from head throughout the school day the Jewish Community Center, leading up to my 6 p.m. class, and while a comically peppy amateur before I knew it I was pulling up to DJ screamed into a mic, “Alright the studio, almost shaking in anticiguys, let’s get out here and make pation of getting them answered. some noise!” I spent most of my When I reached the front desk, time at those parties loading up I was informed that the 6 p.m. on nasty kosher mini sliders and class was specifically a Zumba tonpretending I was part of the adult ing class, which meant that light crowd, watching my peers excitedly weights would be used and that stumble through the Cupid Shuffle the focus of the class would be less on the rented dance floor from about dance and more about trimafar. If someone asked me to join ming down. This came as somewhat in, I was always “recovering from of a relief, although I wanted to be an ankle sure I was sprain” or “The true enjoyment of Zumba, getting the “feeling full Zumba or any form of dance I’m sure, experience, kind of queasy.” not copping But in is found in letting it all go and out by doing reality, feeling your movements rather a variation. I was a “I know than thinking about them.” timid it’s different, child there’s —senior Andy Brown but hiding still dancbehind ing involved, a barely-adolescent exterior of right?” I asked the woman at the confidence, quivering in fear at the front desk. She laughed hysterically. thought of what on Earth I would I got the sense I was one of the few do with my hands if I started dancteenage male customers she’d ever ing. I felt like I’d look like one of dealt with at this studio. those tubelike people who blow “Oh yes, there’s still plenty of around outside of car dealerships; dancing. You’ll get your fair share,” flimsy, extremely uncoordinated she said. I nodded, accepting my and totally at the mercy of my awkfate. When the clock inside the wardly lanky body. exercise room read “6:00,” I walked Although those fears never truly slowly in to meet what I was sure subsided, the opportunities I had to would be my embarrassing doom. dance anywhere did. I was at peace My instructor introduced herself until the staff of The Featherduster as Fanny and told all of us to pick realized that it hadn’t sent me up a pair of two to three pound off on any trying-something-new weights from the corner next to the adventures in quite a while. So it CD player where she was setting up was with great trepidation that I the soundtrack for the class. As my signed myself up for a Zumba class classmates and I meandered over at Corazon Latino Dance Studio in to the weights, I sized up my fellow South Austin, which was ranked dancers. I don’t know why this the number one Zumba program in shocked me, but I was by far the town by Yelp. Only the best, right? youngest in the room. Most of them The first step was knowing what were women in their 40s and 50s I’d just bought with my $8 ticket who, by the looks of it, had chosen to hell: Zumba is a dance/fitness this class specifically to tone up. program that merges Latin AmeriThere was one other older guy in can dance moves and basic cardio the room, but I’d just watched him exercises. But it wasn’t the fitness stagger out of the 5 p.m. regular


rants + raves

Novice cuts loose at Zumba

Zumba class, so I wasn’t sure how long he’d last. My worries were somewhat pacified because I knew I wouldn’t be the absolute worst, but then I realized that we were going to be working out in front of a huge mirror. Before I could position myself behind somebody and get out of the proverbial limelight, Fanny stepped up on a small stage at the front and greeted us all, “Buenos tardes! Who’s ready to burn 3,000 calories in an hour?” “We are,” the women around me said, with as much enthusiasm as that of inmates whose life sentences have just been reduced to 84 years. That threw me off a bit. From what I’d heard, Zumba was supposed to be an exercise party, not an hour-long rite of passage to getting in shape. But before I had time to ponder what I was supposed to be experiencing, Fanny pressed play and immediately started our warm-up by Samba dancing without weights in front of the mirror. The moves seemed simple enough, but I had a great deal of difficulty getting mine completely in sync with Fanny. I was always a half second behind her, which made dancing to the beat of an odd mix of a mariachi band and dubstep nearly impossible. Even on the rare occasion that I did get my moves down in time, they were odd looking and my hips couldn’t quite lock into Fanny’s “hips can’t lie” demonstra-

tions. My dancing was a collection of stumbling awkwardness, and my hands flopped around like drowning ducklings. I was embarrassed by my own reflection, and I’m sure if it could think, it would’ve been embarrassed to be mirroring me. I shuddered as we started sliding across the room and thrusting our arms violently. This was no different than those Bar Mitzvahs. I was simply not meant to dance. After a 12-minute warm-up, we picked up our weights. Although my hands were finally occupied, the dance moves became more aerobicsbased. It wasn’t a matter of moving like everybody else anymore, it was a matter of keeping up. The weights began to feel heavier and my arms lagged farther and farther behind Fanny’s pace. And thanks to my positioning in front of the mirror, everybody in the room had a front row seat to my futility. But then I looked in the mirror at all my classmates. Fanny was kicking well above her waist now, and shimmying back and forth in constant fluid motion. Many of the women (the other guy predictably didn’t make it to the five-minute mark) that surrounded me were having difficulty just getting their feet off of the ground. When Fanny shook her hips, the women swayed slowly back and forth, a few grimacing in pain. Naturally, there were a few younger women who looked like they could probably be teaching the class, but I was nowhere near the bottom of the dancing talent totem pole. The thought crossed my mind that my approximate level of Zumba proficiency was probably what the older women were aiming for. So I kicked it into a higher gear, unsure whether I had praised or insulted myself. I started anticipating Fanny’s moves, engaging my hips and focusing on making every move as clean and smooth as possible. It made the exercises harder, but I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I felt myself allowing blaring electronic salsa songs that I normally wouldn’t have subjected myself to for more than a handful of seconds to control my inner rhythm. I was getting exhausted, but it felt soothing. I was no longer embarrassed about where my hands were going, or that my slight duck feet prevented me from looking normal when I bent my knees. The weights were still difficult to sling around, but they were only minor distractions from what I was completely immersed in. It was just me, the mirror and the music. I was so caught up in the whirl-

wind of thrusting, twisting and jumping that I neglected to look at the clock. The music got softer and we began to make deliberate, slow stretching moves. I assumed this was the cool down period right before the end. I took a moment to come down from my Zumba cloud and examine myself in the mirror as we stretched. I’d wiped my face a few times throughout the hour, but I was totally unaware of how drenched in sweat I truly was. The time finally came for the class to end, and Fanny thanked us and congratulated us for making it through the hour. Then she approached me and told me I had done really well for my first time. I assumed all of the women were regulars — I couldn’t think of how else she would have known it was my first time based on my proficiency. Then I remembered my initial struggles, although they seemed like the distant past. I thanked her and went on my way, the pain in my thighs increasing with every step I took. Was I sore the next day? You bet I was. But it was a fulfilling soreness. I’d faced my fears of looking ridiculous by doing exactly that, and I’d loved it. Following the pattern of a problem that has plagued me my whole life, I’d thought too much — would my hands feel normal, would I embarrass myself, would I be able to keep up, would I regret doing it; all of these worries were unnecessary. The true enjoyment of Zumba, or any form of dance I’m sure, is found in letting it all go and feeling your movements rather than thinking about them. That’s what kept me behind the beat at the start of the class. Once I succumbed to the rhythm Fanny was trying to instill in us all, everything felt natural, even though I’m sure it didn’t look that way. Zumba taught me that sometimes it’s OK to be mediocre, just as long as you’re having fun. The world may not be a completely judgment-free zone, but by staying more focused on enjoying yourself than on what everybody else is thinking of you, things you never saw yourself doing out of fear of humiliation can become worthwhile. Sometimes it’s alright to look like you’re a hip surgery patient trying to pull off Shakira’s moves. It’s alright to put that greasy mini slider back into the steaming silver container and jump around on the dance floor like the preteen you are. It’s alright to say, “You know what, Corbin? You may not dance, but I do.” —Andy Brown

Want to try Zumba? Check out these businesses

• Austin Zumba ($10)

• Corazon Latino Dance Studio ($8)

• FuzeMove Fitness ($6)

• Soul 2 Sole Dance Academy ($8)

• The YMCA ($5)

• The Pink Mat ($5)

photos by Tim Whaling


A common application


College applicant spins existential yarn, prays admissions directors savor it Essay prompt: “Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”

The cool, zephyr-like gale blew gently on my face. I watched as seemingly all I had ever known smoldered slowly to the ground. It was like all my memories were wafting up to the atmosphere in the form of fuming smoke. A single tear formed and swam down my face as I watched my father take a blowtorch to my favorite chair — my grandad's ol’ recliner. It was a heavy-hearted day in my house when we found out that a wasp colony had made a home inside the back of that old, ratty sack of leather. My parents decided it wasn't worth keeping around, so my dad took it out in the driveway and burned it at the stake, if you will. I was 7 when the old man gave it to me. He was on his deathbed, fragile, decrepit, dilapidated, decaying, rotting and deteriorating. He said to me, croaking in his final breaths, "Andrew, I want you to have the reclining chair I put out on the curb, and when you sit on it, I want you to feel like I'm sitting there with you, telling you what a great leader you are destined to become. Timshel." I didn't know it at the time, but that conversation with my dying grandfather would change my life forever. I remind him about it every year at Thanksgiving and we share a hearty laugh. As I made my way through school, I always found myself retreating to the constant comfort of that chair for the stability that was so often lacking in my life. Middle school track was a grind, and I often lay awake at night, unsure of what lay ahead for me. I was the weakest link in my 4x400 team, and I constantly had nightmares about the possibility of dropping the baton, or running in the outside lane, even after both of those things had happened numerous times. But who could blame me for making those mistakes? I'd just come back from a torn ACL I sustained while playing football on a skateboard, and running was my true passion. The coaches just couldn't see past the numbers on their stopwatches. Whenever I found myself waking up at midnight in a lukewarm sweat, I would go sit in that chair and all of my athletic shortcomings would fade away, like translucent doves flying off in a pitch black sky over a rocky ocean. I was sitting in that chair when I decided to give back and go on a mission trip the summer before freshman year to Southampton, New York, a community tarnished by crime and a vast homeless population. I went with the intention of helping the underprivileged, but after four weeks in that concrete jungle with those incredible, courageous children, I was touched. They had truly helped me find myself, ironic as that might be. As I sat on the plane headed home, watching the

Ariana Gomez Reyes

Hamptons disappear behind the curvature of the earth, I wept — not because I missed the kids, but because I missed the amount of good I'd done for the human race that I had to leave behind. But when I got home, my chair was waiting for me as if I'd never left. Sitting in the chair, I could still hear my grandfather's promise that I would become a great leader, his final blessing. So as I struggled, yet excelled through high school, I decided to step up and become a leader not only within the walls of my school, but also within the confines of my community. That's why I ran for the vice-librarian position of the Nickelback Tribute Band Appreciation Club, a position I have held since the onset of sophomore year. It was a difficult election, and I lost a couple friends in the campaign process, but once I had won and was standing up there in front of everybody who respected me and had given me the opportunity, I knew I belonged. And to think, I never would've even considered running for office without my grandad's guidance. So as I watched my father sadistically burn that chair, my rock, to the ground, I wept some more. Big, blue tears. But, in the end, I knew I still had my 5 on the Computer Science 1 AP and a berth in the top 10 percent to fall back on. Even though I can't sit back and relax on top of those numbers, I couldn't be more proud of myself for overcoming so much adversity to reach my senior year unscathed. (Or so I think, HAHAHA). I looked up at the stars and drowned out my father's maniacal cackling. I saw my grandad in the form of a constellation, and he winked and smiled at me. And in that moment I just knew, chair or no chair, that everything was going to be OK from then on. —Andy Brown

{ fiction }

Everybody wants to be a cat

Humans reveal secret lives of their purr-fect companions Favorite reality TV star?



We watch a lot of the Kardashians together. If I had to guess, his favorite is probably Khloé. Partially because she’s the bigger one.

Favorite human food?

He loves ice cream more than life. Vanilla. He’s so vanilla.

Hours spent sleeping per day?

I see him awake with full alertness for about three hours, in limbo about five. The rest is sleeping.

What is your cat passionate about?

He is very passionate about being majestic, just as a whole, in his life.

If your cat was a Westlake teacher, who would he be? Mr. McDonald. I think it’s the fluffy beard.

photos by Tim Whaling

Favorite reality TV star?


Kim Kardashian because he likes her life choices.

Birthday ritual?

Bathing in milk and eating catnip, to experience the better parts of life.

If your cat was a dog, would she be Lassie, Scooby or Snoop Dogg? Snoop Dogg.

Favorite beauty product?

Hair gel, to look slick. Even though he already does.

Favorite romantic film?

Pretty in Pink. Even the manliest of cats has a sensitive side.

Favorite ride at Disney World?




Splash Mountain. It’s the thrill of “will I get wet?” because Tishla (a.k.a. Tits) is a cat and cats aren’t supposed to get wet.

Birthday ritual?

We don’t know her birthday but every once in a while we get her a cake, go to the museum and discuss impressionism.

Compare your cat’s meow to the voice of a famous singer. Oh my God, Duffy! Celine Dion actually. Celine Dion.

What is your cat passionate about?

Tits really enjoys the philosophy of Plato. She likes to consider herself a mystic.

If your cat was a dog, would she be Lassie, Scooby or Snoop Dogg? None of the above. She’s Scrappy Doo.

Favorite human food?





M&M’s. She knocks them to the floor for my dogs. She wants them dead.

Favorite ride at Disney World? The Hall of Presidents.

Hours spent sleeping per day?

Three hours — she’s very adventurous.

Compare your cat’s meow to the voice of a famous singer. Fiona Apple — it sounds like hazelnut coffee.

If your cat was a Westlake teacher, who would she be? Dawn Delgado.


rants + raves

­—Katelyn Connolly


Forget choirs of children. Forget professional church groups and gospel singers. Forget the classic crooning of Karen Carpenter and Elvis Presley. There’s nothing quite like having your ears bombarded with cheery, sappy Christmas tunes courtesy of the king of modern vanilla jazz: Michael Bublé. Remember back in the day when the most popular version of “White Christmas” was Bing Crosby’s original? Well, those were sad, sorry times. This latter-day Sinatra has taken over more than just the holiday iTunes chart — did anyone happen to see him handing out free pieces of soft-rock wisdom on the last cycle of The X Factor? That’s right, his influence extends as far as a six-minute guest appearance on the third-highest-ranked mom TV show of the winter. There might be an artist out there somewhere who can make us feel the gurgling, burbling, bubbling joy in our hearts and stomachs that our Canadian prince Bublé manages to inspire. We just haven’t met him yet.


***ATTENTION: YOU WILL DIE IF YOU STOP READING THIS SO FOR THE LOVE OF GOD KEEP READING*** There once was a girl named Susie. Susie was your average, happy girl. She loved playing with her friends and her lovely dog, Sparky. But Susie’s house was built upon an ancient Indian burial ground, thus causing a bunch of spooky stuff to happen. Her dolls became possessed by her spooky ancestors and killed her. Brutally. Suuuuuper spooky. Her body was never found, as it was carefully hidden in her pink dollhouse. Now she hides in closets waiting to murder non-believers of her story. Like yoooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu! But you can save yourself if you send this letter to 378.2 people. If you send half of the amount then Susie will show up in your closet. If you don’t send any, Susie will violate your personal space. o_0 You have one minute.


Public display of affection? More like please don’t act ... gross. Walking through the hallways, far too many kids hang onto each other like leeches and swap spit as if they’ll never see each other again. This is school. We don’t care if your significant other is the apple of your eye, the pea to your pod or the peanut butter to your jelly. There’s a time and place for everything. Passing periods are not the time and school hallways are definitely not the place. We’ve never heard anybody say “Ooh, did you see those two making out in the Commons? That was so awesome!” We promise that no matter how hard the wait must be for you, the last bell of the day will always ring, dismissing everybody from class and allowing you access to the man/woman of your dreams without the restraints of somewhat important things like, oh, we don’t know, social conventions and common decency. (However, this is not an invitation to take your intimacy talents to the parking lot.) So please, for the greater good, wait until after 4:05 to express your insatiable lust towards your better half.


ela Mo ss





An exhilarating journey over that beautiful yellow mound is exactly what you need as you creep through crowded parking lots. The ride over the bump starts off smoothly, as the front wheels begin to roll over. But no need to worry, you’re just getting started. Your heart starts beating fast in anticipation of what is to come. The wheels now rest on the top of the speed bump, and the fun is about to begin. Your car races down the treacherous speed bump. Screams of joy erupt from those lucky back-seat riders as their heads jam into the roof of the car. Seat belts lock to prevent the passengers from flying through the air. What fun. And the best part is, once your front wheels have safely crossed this much awaited bump, your back wheels get a turn to face the adventure. What more could one possibly want in life other than the opportunity to ride this widely known coaster every time they enter a parking lot?

Volume 45 - Issue 2  
Volume 45 - Issue 2