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Fe a t h e rd u s te r the

Westlake High School

Volume 41

Issue 3

March 4, 2010

4100 Westbank Drive Austin, Texas 78746



brains + brawn


Be our guest Choir and TEC perform three full-house shows of Beauty and the Beast

trends + traditions


Animal farm English teacher Kitty Mellenbruch makes ranching a family endeavor

people + places


Flashback Amateur runner becomes enigmatic Westlake personality

rants + raves


Hetty Borinstein

Helen Anderson Leah Whitlock

Art Director

Content Editor

Photo Editors

Holly Heinrich

Copy Editors

Michelle Ling

Barrett Wilson Katherine Finn

Anisha Ganguly Danielle Brown

Ad Manager

Brains + Brawn


Alex Bishop Sofie Seiden Asst. Jamie Mathis Katy Roden Asst. Cody Crutchfield Asst. Hillary Hurst

People + Places Katie Sorenson Asst. Hannah Kunz Asst. Caroline Hunt

Trends + Trads

Mary-Margaret Parrish Lauren Nelson Asst. Lizzie Friedman

Rants + Raves Jamie Lee Zach Wasfi Asst. Matt Frank Asst. Jake Bitting

Web Masters Matthew Chang

Adrienne Cooksley Mekala Keshu

Photographers Allie Carlisle Austin Hix Emily Cohen Indigo Colton Keren Rempe Laura Aldridge Nathan Kallison


Abby Bost Abby Mosing Anna Macdonald Annie Valliant Alex Gieb Austin Fink Becca Burt Blake MacKie Brett Mele Chandler McCollough Christina Shin Connor White

Daisy Burgess Delaney Williams Elizabeth Petersen Emily Huang Emily Mitchell Eric Robinson Erin Armstrong Hailey Cunningham Hirrah Barlas Jennifer Woo Jenny Messer Jessee Haney Jessica Stenglein Jimmy Coleman Jono Krawczyk Josh Willis Julie Dorland Kaitlin Wood Laura Doolittle Laura Hatcher Luci Ortiz Madison Scott Mariah Stevens-Ross Monica Tan Natalia Renna Ryan Stankard Selah Maya Zighelboim Shreya Banerjee Sofia Mitre Taylor Kidd Zach Suarez Zelda Mayer


Deanne Brown


Weathering the storm Rain or shine, one senior retains her obsession

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 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.

cover photo by Barrett Wilson cover photo manipulation by Barrett Wilson and Nathan Kallison photo by Emily Cohen

Fe a t h e rd u s te r

This is the way we see it.


Westlake High School

Volume 41

Issue 3

March 4, 2010

4100 Westbank Drive Austin, Texas 78746

Left: Lead singer of Yayo, Yayo Sanchez plays guitar while performing Jan. 9. Middle left: Senior Eric Peana “wigs out” with John Hancock and the Foothunters. Below: “We did a lot of things on stage that we never rehearsed before or even talked about,” senior Bob Price of John Hancock and the Foothunters said.

Hannah Kunz

Emily Cohen

Awesome Friends Galaxy Hannah Kunz

Aftermath Loose Wheels

Austin Hix

Junior Jenny Wolfe hits the stage with her band, Awesome Friends Galaxy, winning first place at the Battle of the Bands. The first place prize was donated recording time by Tequila Mockingbird.

Best keyboardist Steven Campbell (John Hancock and the Foothunters) Best female vocalist Jenny Wolfe (Awesome Friends Galaxy)

Barrett Wilson

The youngest performer at Battle of the Bands, West Ridge sixth grader Pierce Waldrop, plays the drums for Loose Wheels. His band placed third in the competition.

Barrett Wilson

Dragonmaster of the LARPing club, senior Vince Costa takes the stage. “The audience was definitely thinking how uncool Battle of the Bands was compared to our freaking awesome LARPing battle,” Vince said.

Best bassist Livvy Bennett (Aftermath) Best rhythm guitarist Matt Molter (John Hancock and the Foothunters)

Freshman Livvy Bennett plays the bass for Aftermath, the overall second place winners. Livvy was awarded best bassist.

Below: Junior Tim Barnes of Electric Society takes the stage for the 15th annual Battle of the Bands, sponsored by The Featherduster and TEC. “It was a lot of fun being the most out-of-sight band there,” junior Marshall Lowry said. Marshall plays the tenor saxophone for John Hancock and the Foothunters. “It was a lot of fun bringing nu jazz and funk influences to people who were only hearing rock music.” Hannah Kunz

High on Hotdogs lead singer and guitarist freshman Dalton Jackson from Westwood High School competes in Battle of the Bands for the second year in a row. Round Rock High School sophomore Justin Beamon from Aftermath rocks hard on the drums, winning himself the best drummer award.

Indigo Colton

Barrett Wilson Barrett Wilson Barrett Wilson

Hannah Kunz

A member of High on Hotdogs, sophomore Drake McGarrah plays the guitar.

Barrett Wilson

Working her hardest to win the dance battle, senior Julia Judge lets loose on stage.

Best drummer Justin Beamon (Aftermath) Best male vocalist Colin Vanderberg (Electric Society)

Barrett Wilson

Co-emcees senior Katherine Finn and sophomore Keren Rempe entertain the crowd as bands prepare to hit the stage.

Hannah Kunz

2008 Westlake graduate Aaron Altounian from Yayo plays his guitar.

Coolest mic stand Yayo Sanchez (Yayo) Best lead guitarist Dustin Belanger (Aftermath) { }

brains + brawn


A tale as

“Beef ragout, cheese soufflé, pie and pudding en flambé!” The lyrics of “Be Our Guest” echo off the walls of the auditorium. A line of sophomore girls stands on stage with their eyes fixated on the choreographer as they memorize the tiniest details of their dance. “Five, six, seven, eight, left foot! Right hand! Now do that again.” Each girl has a firm grasp on a large, wooden eating utensil painted gold. It is a two-hour-long rehearsal of dancing, singing and memorizing lines. Welcome to a typical musical rehearsal. For this year’s musical, the choir department performed the classic Disney tale Beauty and the Beast. Preparation for a show like this was a daunting task. Hours upon hours of rehearsals as well as set building were just some of the elements that added up to create a show that went beyond the average high school production. “Every day there were usually choreography and music rehearsals going on in addition to blocking,” assistant choir

director Jenn Goodner said. “We spent about eight weeks working on the musical. It was pretty intense.” For many musical numbers in Beauty and the Beast, such as “Be Our Guest,” choreography played a prominent role. The students had the opportunity to work with Robin Lewis, a professional choreographer who was the dance captain for the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast. He has incorporated much of the choreography from the Broadway production into the school musical. “His experience with the show is so completely ingrained in his head,” Goodner said. “He knows it backwards and forwards. We were pretty lucky in that respect.” The students enjoyed working with Lewis, even though he pushed them hard in rehearsals. “The rehearsals were kind of intense, but everyone in the cast was really on top of what they needed to do which made the whole process a lot easier and more entertaining,” senior Mary Morris said. “Plus, [Goodner] was with us all the time and she’s an amazing director. She tells you what you need to know to improve your character without being mean or condescending. Also, Robin was absolutely amazing to work with. You can tell he really cares about what he’s doing because he demanded a lot out of us, but he was still extremely patient and accommodat-

Seniors Matt Brailas and Devon Chandler portray Maurice and Belle in the musical. “I’ve gotten really close with all the lead [actors],” Devon said. “We’re literally like a family now. “

Senior Joshua Beltran plays the Beast in Beauty and the Beast. “For the ‘magic’ to work, I have to stay totally still during the transformation [back into a human],” Josh said. “It’s pretty painful.”

Seniors Priscilla Leake and Mary Morris play Gaston’s admirers. The girls, along with the rest of the choir department, orchestra and TEC, rehearsed after school for up to 7 hours daily in the weeks leading up to the musical.

Emily Cohen

Hirrah Barlas

Hirrah Barlas

old as time ing when we weren’t picking up choreography all too quickly. Select students played the roles of the most beloved characters in the story including Belle, the Beast, Lumiere, Cogsworth, Chip, Gaston, Mrs. Potts and many more. “It was hard work, but so much fun to play Belle in the musical,” senior Devon Chandler said. “People go to watch athletes at their games and Hyline in Zenith. This was my chance to show the school what I’m about.” There were many enchanted objects, townspeople and of course, Gaston’s fan club. “I was a silly girl along with Meredith Furst and Priscilla Leake, which means we followed around Gaston all the time and were his obsessed little fan girls,” Mary said. “Literally a quarter of our lines were the three of us crying because Gaston was getting married.” In the weeks leading up the musical, there were several parent volunteers working to create and take care of the intricately detailed costumes, sell tickets which led to the show selling out, provide meals at the six-hour rehearsals and attend to students back stage. “The many committees include parents working with costumes, props, ticket sales, providing meals for the kids, merchandise, flower sales, publicity and much more,” choir director Ed Snouffer said. “When you have a

“It’s cramped in the little box,” senior Celeste Ligon, who played Chip, said of her intricate and confining costume. “I’m sitting with my head forward, but I can get out of it in between scenes if someone helps me.”

Hirrah Barlas

Choir, orchestra, TEC dazzle audiences with performances of Disney’s famous love story

cast of 200 and having to outfit all of those kids, you are talking about a pretty big challenge. It is the great volunteers that made it happen.” As for the expenses of the production, the choir directors estimated the cost to be around $30,000, however many of the ticket sales as well as people who under-wrote some of the more expensive costumes and scenes helped to meet the budget. The choir department has always made sure to stay within budget for their musicals and is thankful for parents who helped assure that this would happen. Along with choir, the TEC department was busy at work preparing for the musical and building the set from scratch. Certain effects such as lighting, smoke, streamers and pyrotechnics took hours of preparation to execute properly and safely. “The stage setup is usually not too difficult,” TEC junior Callie Wendlandt said. “The construction of the base structure is always the hardest. When building, there are many strange angles that must be correct or certain pieces will not line up properly. Also, the set was just so large that its size was an obstacle in itself. One last hurdle is that we built the castle in several pieces, with many different experience levels working on each piece.

“Since the musical is our largest PAC show set-wise, the designing for Beauty and the Beast began last semester and early this semester. To create such a large production, preparation on the set was started more than six weeks before opening night. The week before the first show we had seven-hour rehearsals every night until show time.” Special effects played a large role during the transformation of the Beast. In order to create a realistic and safe experience, the production hired an illusionist to assist in the transformation. “The hardest part about levitating is that it is a giant work-out because you have to keep your body straight while in the air,” senior Joshua Beltran said. There is a lot more to Beauty and the Beast than what met the audience’s eyes. “I feel deeply honored to be a part of the choir department, and when I took the role of the Beast, I knew that it would be a great challenge mostly because I am a new student,” Joshua said. “I told myself that I would remain humble throughout the entire production and give more recognition to the rest of the cast because they are what also make the production. It is not one person, it’s the whole cast that brings any show to life.” —Caroline Hunt

“I’m not entirely sure why I was cast as an evil, creepy, almost skeletal asylum owner,” senior Jeff Brimberry said. “I don’t know what that says about my personality, but I love the role and I took it to the fullest.” Jeff plays an asylum owner, Monsieur D’Arque.

Hirrah Barlas

Hirrah Barlas

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Wearing a beautiful golden gown, senior Devon Chandler, as Belle, dines in the Beast’s castle. “I’m really grateful for all of the work everyone has put in to the show,” Devon said.

Hirrah Barlas

brains + brawn


Senior James Howe, ignoring Murphy’s warnings concerning the cleanliness of the water, inspects a river rock in the Colorado River.

Walking along the one of Hornsby Bend’s lake pathways, junior John Douthit and seniors Chris Watkins, Carly Berryhill and Megan Peerman enjoy the sights despite the freezing weather.

Catching sight of an interesting water fowl, seniors Andrew Gray, Carly Berryhill and junior John Douthit watch the bird as it flies over the bird observatory lakes.

photos by Katy Roden

Seniors Chris Watkins, Mary-Margaret Parrish, Sarah Newman and junior Hannah Hood listen intently as teacher Bob Murphy explains the water creatures that create their homes on river rocks.

Into the wild

Science classes experience nature studies, industrial business hands-on The sun was not shining like Bob Murphy’s AP Environmental Science students hoped it would be on their adventure out to Hornsby Bend Bird Observatory and Waste Water Treatment Plant. But Dec. 9 and 10, a group of about 45 kids in various classes split the days as two separate groups, braving the cold and rainy weather for an all-day environmental excursion. The Hornsby Bend field trip was the trip of the year for the AP Environmental Science classes. Hornsby Bend is well known for housing many different types of water fowl, such as the rare Pacific Loon. It is also known for manufacturing the famous Dillo Dirt, which helped fertilize the Zilker Park fields before the Austin City Limits music festival in October wreaked havoc on the new grass. However, Hornsby Bend is not the final field trip that Murphy has planned. “We plan on taking a trip to an aquatic area of study, like a river, a power plant and possibly a cemetery,” Murphy said. “The field trips are chosen according to curriculum. I wanted to take these trips so that students can see and apply what they are learning from the textbooks.” In previous years, the Environmental Science classes have taken outings to various locales, such as a river float on the Colorado River where the students sampled water and enjoyed recreational kayaking, a visit to the Texas State Fish Hatcheries (which is an important proponent to the management of fish populations), a tour of the City of Bastrop Waste Water Utility, which ensures the safety of water, and an outing to the Sim Gideon Power Plant that helped provide for the growing electricity need back in the 1950s. “These field trips affected my students because they gave some memorable moments,” Murphy said. “For some, it was a real eyeopener for observing nature and industrial processes.” art by Michelle Ling

Alongside observing and learning, students had the opportunity to see many careers in action. Multiple job courses are present in the locations that the science classes visit, such as engineering, aquatic biology and geology. For some, the AP Environmental Science field trips may possibly feed knowledge into their future career choices as well as into their curiosity towards the outdoors. “I think I might want to be an environmental scientist after I graduate from college,” senior James Howe said. “That’s why I originally joined the class, but now because of Mr. Murphy’s unique and entertaining way of teaching and because he is a good friend of mine, I want to absorb all the knowledge I can.” However, not all of the field trips are based solely on academic curriculum. Many, such as the river float, are designed to show students the fun of outdoor recreation. “Through these field trips I hope for my students to learn to appreciate the importance of outdoor recreation,” Murphy said. “Learning about what the environment can do for us is important, but understanding the importance of suitable recreational activities is not only important, but can also be good for us.” With the last half of the year quickly coming to an end, the environmental science classes have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming months. Potential field trips include a visit to an organic farm, SeaWorld and a fishing tour. “I chose Environmental Science because I have always been interested in nature,” senior MC Romano said. “It turns out the class is the cat’s pajamas. The field trips are always a good time.” —Jamie Mathis

Menacing weapons are clasped tightly in members is to do “good deeds” to increase their their hands. Many have fallen. Above one, an enstatus. emy prepares to strike. Wielding a weapon high “If someone does a good deed, we give them above his head, he attacks with force and pura little mark and a patch,” Matt said. “Whoever pose, landing it straight into the ground beside achieves Dragonmaster status as a junior, sophothe injured. Surveying the carnage, a malicious more or freshman gets to run the club the next laugh escapes his lips — he knows he has won. year.” Seconds later, the men on the floor leap up Ways to improve status vary from showing and high fives and laughs are shared all around. courage and valor in a battle to performing acts The Live Action Role Playing club, founded of common good for the club, such as bringing this fall, has been remarkably successful. A club battle armor or a video to watch. Currently, the that began as a joke now has approximately 45 highest ranked member behind the Dragonmasregular attendees. Originally the brainchild of ters is senior Roger Sayre, who is a level four senior Matt Ballou in his freshman year, the idea Barbarian. His most memorable feat, striking was soon forgotten. However, in his senior year, Dragonmaster Vince in the face, was considered the thought of the club again took hold and he a courageous deed. was unable to shake it off. Pairing up with senior As for actual battles, there are multiple ways Vince Costa, he worked to make the club official. the two sides like to play. One includes duels “Vince took it to the next level,” Matt said. where two people battle in the middle whilst “He really did a lot to make it happen.” everyone around them chants and bangs their Soon they had two more people to help with weapons on the floor. Another battle scene inthe process. Seniors Kurt Schellvolves the sides lining hase and James Howe dedicated up Lord of the Rings themselves to the creation of the style and simply charggroup. When the group was first ing at one another. I think about a week trying to make an official seat, However, the undisafter Rawlings gave which involved writing a list of puted favorite game is the acceptance signarules, Kurt delved deep into charProtect the Princess. ture, she regretted it. acter and wrote each rule in Old “We have two English. The group became a club girls who show up —senior Matt Ballou in October, but it was made clear regularly, so we have that it would not be linked to the three guys protecting Westlake name in any way. them on each side of “I believe it’s because our club the field,” Vince said. is in all ways rebellious,” Matt said. “It’s benefi“And then it’s basically like capture the flag. You cial for the school to have this club, but I think literally have to pick them up and bring them to about a week after Rawlings gave the acceptance your side and when you fall, you have to get the signature, she regretted it.” kiss of life.” With this in mind, the boys began careful Recently though, the club has endured harsh preparations to get the club’s name out. criticism about the way it is run. “Our first announcement proved to be a great “When Matt first started talking about a success,” Matt said. “We entered the lower level LARPing club, he just thought it would be fun,” of the Commons donning our battle robes, aka Kurt said. “The bad thing was that all of the Snuggies. Our jesters, [seniors] Robert Andon hardcore LARPers got mad because we didn’t and Brian Taylor, played their trumpets before follow some unwritten chivalry code they were we announced the date of our first club meeting.” following. Like, we would just go out and beat Soon the school was well aware of the new each other up and they were like, ‘Oh, you need club and the day of the meeting soon arrived. the one-two jab and only then can you have a “There was a surprising number of people death strike.’” there; everybody seemed to be pretty into it,” With the controversy the club has been facing, Kurt said. “We sorted a bunch of people on the the leaders have decided to keep the club in the first day and watched a clip of Lord of the Rings dark for a short period. Still, continued support to get everybody pumped up and then we ended from most of its members and its sponsor has the meeting with our signature chant: ‘l-a-r-p l-a- kept it alive. r-p larp larp larp.’” “[Farhie] is really into it,” Vince said. “He Technical education teacher David Farhie, the finds videos and music that we can play at the club’s sponsor, does the sorting. meetings,” Vince said. “He makes posters for the “We put a jester hat on each newcomer and group and is always reminding us to continue to the Almighty Farhie decides whether you’re in have meetings.” Elderon or Lor,” Vince said. The LARPing club, planning to restart this Each house contains a Dragonmaster, a month, meets in room 327 in the mornings, and Scribe and members of varying levels. for now there is only one rule. For the house of Lor, Matt is the Dragonmas“The only rule of the LARPing club is that ter and Kurt is the Scribe. In Elderon, Vince is you cannot play World of Warcraft,” Matt said, the Dragonmaster and James fulfils the role of “because WoW takes too much of your time and Scribe. The Dragonmaster is the tenth and highwe need your full dedication.” est attainable level, and the goal of rest of the —Jamie Lee

Rigor, Relevance, Roleplay

“ ”

LARPing club battles the norm

photo by Barrett Wilson

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brains + brawn


C H E M C L U B 1








The group of Bridge Point Elementary School students nervously filed into Music Room A, not knowing what to expect from the presentation called “Kablam! Signs of a Chemical Reaction.” They watched intently as the group of juniors and seniors went through multiple experiments which produced fire and color-changing flames. The kids made sure to ask thought-provoking questions and even outsmarted the high school students with several of their answers. On Jan. 29, 32 students from the Westlake Chemistry Club presented at Bridge Point’s annual Science Day. There were three 40-minute presentations each consisting of 10 experiments: the Flame Test, Thermite Balls, Elephant Toothpaste, ROYGBIV, Energetic Light, Touch Pads, Whoosh Bottle, Dry Ice Color Show, UV bracelets and the Hydrogen Balloon, all of which awed the students. The elementary school students enjoyed the experience of Science Day and everything they learned from the presentations. “The color changing fire (Flame Test) was my favorite,” fifth grader Katharine Finnerty said. “I liked all the changes and flames.” Another crowd favorite was the Hydrogen Balloon, where a hydrogen-filled balloon was popped using fire. “[My favorite was] definitely the Hindenburg,” fourth grader Mason Jester said. “I like fire.” The Bridge Point students’ enthusiasm and knowledge impressed the Chemistry Club members. “I thought it was fascinating because all the kids were pretty cool and they were actually interested in what we were saying,” junior Roopali Sharma said. “It made me feel proud because they were smarter than I expected them to be.” The Chemistry Club began five years ago when AP Chemistry teacher Denise DeMartino received an invitation from an area middle school to do science demonstrations. What started as a handful of students wanting to participate in this presentation eventually turned into a full-fledged club. “We started out with 15 students and now we’re close to 60,” DeMartino said. “Due to [the] size, word gets around and then we have to cut down on who can present.” The Chemistry Club has had its share of hilarious incidents. Three years ago at Bridge Point Science Day, the club accidently set off the fire alarm in a music room and the entire school had to evacuate. “We’d done dress rehearsal the night before to make sure the pyrotechnic presentation didn’t set the alarm off,” DeMartino said. “However, the alarm ended up going off. Needless to say, I was embarrassed. The co-presenter next door said, ‘Whose genius idea was that?’” Bad luck has plagued the Bridge Point presentations. In addition



Chemistry II, Organic Chemistry students have a blast at Bridge Point Science Day

to setting off the alarm, another year the Chemistry Club stained the carpet in the room they were presenting in. Then came this year’s incident. During the rehearsal before the first presentation, senior Kurt Schellhase was practicing for the Thermite Balls presentation, where sparks of fire result from rubbing two balls, one made up of iron oxide and a similar one wrapped in aluminum foil, together. The lights were turned off for the presentation and, as a result, Kurt accidently smashed his Emily Cohen pinky between the two balls, breaking Juniors April Yu and Mark Stone perform an experiment at Bridge the bone. The tense Point Elementary Science Day. In their experiment, they applied heat to a paper containing a special solvent, which caused the paper shock in the room was palpable when to change colors. “I really enjoy Chem Club,” April said. “We get to teach reactions to the elementary school kids and play with fire and the lights were chemicals (not the household kind) at the same time. What could turned on and be better?” blood was splattered everywhere. “It was kind of surreal, to say the least,” Kurt said. “It was like a horror movie. I didn’t understand what happened until we went to the emergency room. Later it felt kind of stupid, but I was relieved I wasn’t hurt more.” Despite these unfortunate occurrences, events like Science Day definitely have a long-lasting impact on the club members. “They got the gist of the reactions even though we didn’t go in depth,” junior Blair Flint said. “It was really funny because we underestimated their intelligence.” The parents of the elementary school students agree that the impact on their children is enormous. “It’s a good thing to teach them about science, especially at this level and age,” elementary parent Diane Salem said. The Chemistry Club will have another presentation March 12 at Valley View Elementary School. “I think Science Day is wonderful,” fifth grade math and science teacher Shanna Pace said. “It makes science come alive and makes [the students] engaged and want to learn more.” —Shreya Banerjee

art by Michelle Ling

Just another number Administrators, parents, students support decision to abolish current ranking system Class rank. It’s a term associated with stress, lack of sleep and a sense of competition beginning in sophomore year. But what if the supplemental pressure and anxiety linked with that word were to disappear? What if you weren’t attached to a number? What if rank ceased to exist for 90 percent of your class? In order for the school board to fully analyze a concern and come to a conclusion, it must first receive a recommendation regarding the matter. A committee comprised of three subcommittees researched the complex system and issue of class rank and chose to make this recommendation. From there, the board voted unanomously to end the ranking system outside of the top 10 percent on Feb. 24. “The school board runs the show around here,” college and career counselor Jeff Pilchiek said. “We make recommendations, but they decide.” Organization and efficiency were the two key factors in making certain that the recommendation included the most researched and positive information. “The first committee was headed by John Dzienkowski, and focused on Highland Park High School [in Dallas] and the general study of class rank,” principal Linda Rawlings said. “We are not interested in copying Highland Park. We are just using them as a spring. Mr. Pilchiek was in charge of the group that researched the direct impact on Westlake students, and I headed the committee of student, parent and staff input.” This idea first came about as a combination of observations. Rawlings had previously discussed this issue in a consortium of seven schools from across the country and noticed that only the two Texas schools ranked their students. In addition, college acceptances began revealing some negative data. “Vanderbilt used to accept 20 to 30 students from Westlake,” Pilchiek said. “They became forced to look at the rank we sent and therefore the acceptance rate from Westlake has gone down. If you supply rank, they can then make a measure against students. Outside of Texas, the colleges don’t care about it. Rank is not a comparable factor in most colleges.” According to state law, high schools are required to rank the top 10 percent of students individually. This law holds great significance for students, as many see a big difference between a student who is number nine and a student who is ranked number 50. “We’ve heard from colleges, and rank is a disadvantage,” Rawlings said. “The stress from class rank alone is doing a disservice.” By amending the system of class rank, committee chairs and members hope to reverse this damage. “I think this change could help many bright students outside the top 10 percent get into this country’s elite colleges,” Dzienkowski said. A change to this system produces the inquiry of course selection. A number of students choose the courses appropriate for attaining the best rank possible. The Pre-AP and AP multipliers are strong incentives for taking those challenging courses and many stray far from regular electives that can bring their rank severely down. Some wonder


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if course selection by students will be altered for the worse. However, most feel that abolishing class rank will not modify Michelle Ling course selection whatsoever. “I don’t think the absence of class rank would influence my course selection,” sophomore Gouthum Chiluvuri said. “By taking AP courses, it would still increase your GPA. It’s for your own benefit. Just because there isn’t rank doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.” Some think students might either take the classes they’d always wanted to or even get involved in other activities. “I think we would get a lot more people in the regular extracurricular classes,” senior Michelle Suh said. “Because extracurriculars are not weighted towards GPA, the academically competitive students are hurt by every regular class they take. If class rank is no longer computed, there’s less emphasis on taking AP classes instead of extracurricular classes to try to boost your rank.” Even with this modification, GPA will remain as important as ever on college applications. “Colleges want to see that you have challenged yourself, therefore your transcript still needs to be sound,” Rawlings said. The majority of people who have heard the final decision seem to be eager and excited for the adjustment, but nothing can be overlooked. “The devil is in the details,” Rawlings said. Rawlings has made announcements to the student body in order to assure their understanding and keep them updated. The changed system will be quite simple. Students in the top 10 percent will receive additional certificates to send out to the colleges that look at rank. In order to motivate others, the cut-off GPA will be published for those who desire to continue to aim for the top 10 percent. “We need to do what makes our high school look best and gets our students into college,” Pilchiek said. The committee advocated to the school board that the new system begin with the class of 2011, and that is exactly what they plan for. When it comes to class rank it is either a help or hurt situation. Some students see eradicating the arrangement as the only solution. “All that class rank does is make it harder to get into the places we want to go,” junior Tom Fisher said. This change will affect every student in some way or another, but ultimately, there is one goal. “We are always trying to find ways to make the students look good,” Rawlings said. —Lizzie Friedman


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brains + brawn


Excellence Takes A Community. It takes a group of people who believe in the idea that excellence is important, and achievable. You are part of a community that plays a vital role in maintaining and enhancing the quality of academic opportunities for all students in our district. We hope to count your family among the many whose deep interest and generous support of the Eanes Education Foundation help all of our teachers and students achieve excellence.

Senior Jeffrey Huber, freshman Sam Copa and other Chaps for Christ members help serve breakfast to homeless people from 5 to 7 a.m. Feb. 9 at the First United Methodist Church. The students volunteer every Tuesday.







Nathan Kallison

Club moves past stereotype, serves others in free time


hey stand on the sidewalk, cold cutting through their jackets, raindrops dampening their clothes. They stand, 30 at the very least, in a line wrapping around the block, waiting. It is 4:30 a.m., still dark, but when they reach the end of the line they will step into a warm church and sit down to breakfast — fresh eggs, sausage, homemade biscuits, hot coffee. Feeding the homeless people of Austin is just one of the ways Chaps for Christ helps serve the people and the community. “At Westlake, you hear about all these different groups getting together, like St. John Neumann, Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church and Austin Stone,” junior Gabi Jackson said. “It just seems that they are all segregated, and [senior] Hudson Hoyle had the idea of bringing everyone together and just being a unit of Christ. That’s where we got Ephesians 3:16 as our club verse, which talks about unity and not being separated or divided by what you call yourself as a Christian.” The attendees of the group vary by week, but a steady flow of juniors and seniors attend. “Everyone is welcome, whether you consider yourself a Christian or not,” Hudson said. During the meetings, students open in prayer and share their faith, whether they’re struggling or in high spirits. Students usually meet in Mr. Lasseter’s room every other Monday. “We eat food, pray, and every week a different student will give a testimony or talk about their faith,” Hudson said. “The focus of the club is to unite people as believers in Christ and just try and live our lives as God intended.” There has been trouble recruiting underclassmen, though. “We need help representing the freshman and sophomore class to help the club live on when we [the upperclassmen] leave,” Gabi said. Although Westlake provides other faith-based groups, “it is hard to act the same at school as you do at church and this club provides a common ground around the two,” Hudson said. Christian denominations have inevitably become intertwined with each other in this group, and the outcome has been magnificent.

“It’s great having other denominations come together,” Hudson said. “I’ve learned of a lot about people I didn’t even know believed in Jesus. We just try not to focus on the fact that we are of different denominations.” Another barrier trying to be broken is the stereotype of being a secluded Christian group. They are also trying to break through the barrier of being seen as a Christian-only club. “We encourage everyone, whether you’re curious about God, if you’re Jewish, Muslim or atheist. We want anyone there, not for debate but for them to hear what motivates us daily to fight for Jesus and to ask questions,” Gabi said. Chaps for Christ has also been involved in a program called Feed My People, which feeds breakfast to homeless men, women, and children every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30-7 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church on 12th and Lavaca, downtown. “The men and women we feed have just as much of an impact on us as we do on them,” Hudson said. “There are a Chaps for Christ member junior small but thriving number of people that Luci Ortiz hands out Valentine’s go: [junior] Luci Ortiz, [sophomore] Alex Day cards to homeless people Woodby, [senior] Jeffrey Huber, Hudson Feb. 9. “They really appreciate Hoyle and me,” Gabi said. all of our efforts,” Luci said. They hope more people will join their Nathan Kallison weekly trips, but for now they are just happy to be serving the community and making friends along the way. “This one guy named Christopher knows every book in the bible and one day [he] got a call from the Lord to be homeless and he sold all of his things and has been living on the streets ever since,” Gabi said. For participants, the human connections are the most powerful part of the experience and have strengthened their commitment to serving others. “Most of the people I meet have really inspirational advice for me,” Luci said. “This one man asked me to pray with him and it literally brought him to tears. I love forming new relationships with the people we serve; they have such a beautiful outlook on life and are so grateful to us.” —Chandler McCollough and Abby Bost

Ways to get involved with Chaps for Christ Go to a meeting Held every other Monday in Mr. Lasseter’s room (9.200)

Contact Hudson Hoyle or Gabi Jackson Via Facebook or school e-mail

Join the Facebook group Post any questions you may have on the wall

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brains + brawn


Seniors (from left) Courtney Duever, Mary-Margaret Parrish and Sara Shaw model in the 2009 fashion show at Austin Country Club. The speaker last year was Robin Givens, an actress and author who was abused by her husband, Mike Tyson.

Fashion GETMAD and GENTS to put on fashion show, raise money, fights abuse awareness for teen dating abuse

courtesy photo

In any high school relationship, the potential for violence exists. Even within the Westlake bubble, relationships aren’t always perfect. reports that “one in five teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner.” The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, a branch of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, exists to help put an end to teen dating abuse. The program, called loveisrespect, is based in the Westlake area. Two service clubs at Westlake, GETMAD (Girls Engaged to Make a Difference) and GENTS (Guys Exhibiting Needed Traits in Society), sponsor a fashion show along with a committee of volunteers to raise money for the NTDAH. The event, called “A Day to Shine,” features current teen fashions, concluding

Fashion show info:

•Austin Country Club •April 10 •Teen fashion show and dessert at 2 p.m., tickets cost $25 •Adult dinner and fashion show at 6:30 p.m., tickets cost $100 •Get tickets online at

Senior Rachel English models in last year’s fashion show. The show raised money for the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline based in Westlake.

courtesy photo

with both girls’ and guys’ prom fashions. Members of each organization model the clothes. The event is held at Austin Country Club, and in past years, guest speakers have included America’s Next Top Model Jaslene Gonzales and authors Kristin Armstrong and Robin Givens. This year, TV show Judge Jeanine Pirro will speak at both the teen show in the afternoon and the adult dinner and fashion show later in the evening. Robert Hadlock and Leslie Rhode, news anchors at KXAN, will be the adult fashion show emcees, and Olga Compos from KVUE is the teen show emcee. Both events take place on April 10. “This issue has not gotten a lot of attention and young people need help understanding what a healthy relationship is,” event chair Julie Stevenson said. “They need support and the NTDAH does that with communication that teens use such as online chat.” Each organization, GETMAD and GENTS, hopes their contributions can make a difference, even if it’s just for one person. “GETMAD and GENTS are teaming up with the NTDAH to raise funds and awareness to prevent teen dating abuse,” GETMAD president senior Anna McNair said. “This is the third annual fundraising fashion show the two organizations are doing.” Dating abuse is a real threat, and with the volunteering and dedication by organizations like GETMAD and GENTS, violence is decreasing. But the amount of dating abuse is still too much. GETMAD and GENTS hope that they can change that. —Jono Krawczyk

Facts about dating abuse from

•One in three girls who have been in a serious relationship say they’ve been worried about being physically hurt by their partner. •One in four teens who have been in a serious relationship say their boyfriend or girlfriend has tried to prevent them from spending time with friends or family. •Nearly one in four girls who have been in a relationship reported going further sexually than they wanted as a result of pressure.

Newdirections Leftover bond money funds new navigation system A few weeks before winter break, many students began tilting their heads in confusion upon driving past the giant neon poles that popped up along Westbank Drive and Camp Craft Road. The signs were the result of a decision made to improve campus navigation. Following the construction of the Performing Arts Center and the Student Research Center, the district looked for the most efficient way to spend the money left over from the 2006 bond. “We had numerous meetings with input from the Westlake Fire Department, police, sheriffs and community members to come up with the best possible navigation system for the campus,” associate principal Ross Sproul said. Campus facilities are often used by community organizations not affiliated with the school, such as Pop Warner, club soccer and church groups. Based on the size and complexity of the campus, navigation can be difficult for someone who is unfamiliar with the area. The school started carefully devising these plans last May. The goal was to come up with an innovative and efficient way to improve campus navigation both externally and internally. “It’s called the External Wayfinding System,” Sproul said. “The different colors are designated to various entrances around the school. For example, if someone was looking for the softball field, you could simply tell them to go straight down Westbank Drive and turn into the yellow parking lot.” Wayfinder is intended to be a navigation tool for people who are unfamiliar with the campus. Proponents of the plan also hoped it would reduce potential safety hazards. “Each of the Wayfinder poles has a letter on the top that corresponds to the wing of the school that it is closest to,” Sproul said. The project has an internal component as well, called the Interior Wayfinding System. Navigational plaques on pillars in the Commons with directions to different wings of the school will be added, as well as new numbering for all classrooms including teachers’ names.

“We have a bad numbering system right now,” Sproul said. “All freshmen classroom numbers begin with nine, as do the classes in the old gym building, so room 9.100 could easily be confused with room 910. A few years ago there was an emergency in the Ninth Grade Center and the paramedics were directed to the 900 wing instead.” According to Maintenance and Operations coordinator David Hoedebeck, initial meetings with emergency personnel resulted in the agreement that every room on campus should be easily identifiable. “Every room within a hall will have sequential numbers,” Hoedebeck said. “Classrooms, custodial closets, restrooms — everything will be numbered in order to make it easier in case of emergency.” The cost for each acrylic, removable classroom identifier is $19.46, according to Hoedebeck. Based upon the average number of teachers retiring or leaving per year, the annual cost of replacing the transferable part of the nameplate will run the district between $400 and $800. The system will be beneficial to new students and visitors, but current students may not see the need. “Frankly, I think this is a complete waste of money,” junior Douglas Vaaler said. “I don’t think that people have had serious problems finding their way around the school — surely this money could be spent on more important priorities.” The district spent approximately $118,000 on the internal component of the system, which includes funding for Braille translation and Americans with Disabilities Act coding. The external signs, Hannah Kunz which were up just weeks before being taken down, cost roughly $145,000. “The signs were too small,” principal Linda Rawlings said. “They were fine for pedestrian use, but people driving by aren’t going five miles per hour.” The company responsible for the signs is currently working on remaking them. As for the room numbers, the plan is to install them in May or early June. “We’re going for better safety and security, in addition to a more professional look,” Rawlings said. —Sofie Seiden

Estimated costs of new navigation systems

Interior System: $118,000

Exterior System: $145,000 { }

brains + brawn


Shooting for the stars Girls varsity posts 12-2 District record, passes Churchill in Bi-District Finishing 2nd in District with an overall record of 28-6, the varsity girls basketball team pushed through struggles and obstacles to stay at the top of its game and keep the tradition of excellence alive. New and seasoned basketball players made up the team of 13 girls whose ultimate goal was to win this year’s State Championship. This team certainly did not lack in devotion. Many players were injured or hurt, yet were still committed to the team. “This year there were lots of struggles with injuries,” point guard junior Rose Minutaglio said. “[Junior] Hannah Coley tore her ACL and [junior] Jackie Manzano also hurt her knee. It’s hard to see your teammates hurt, but they both came back and played, which showed real dedication.” Aside from injuries, the girls also realized that other teams were stepping it up as well. Tough losses and close games tainted their District record of 12-2. “We played a lot of quality teams and we had a couple of tough losses,” coach Keith Smith said. “The biggest thing is we thought that we could have won a couple of battles that we didn’t.” Finding the chemistry and balance between strengths and weaknesses on this team was a crucial part of the success they had. “I think the biggest struggles we faced this year were finding our identity and being consistent in how we played,” point guard junior Cherrell Mays said. “I feel that the game we won against Pflugerville was our best performance and showed how good we could be if we could stay consistent and hungry for success.” They began their playoff run Feb. 16, beating San Antonio Churchill 51-37 in a Bi-District match-up. “I think as a team we all played really well,” sophomore Jaimie Grace said. “Even though the game was close at times, I was confident we could win.” The Lady Chaps then faced San Antonio John Jay Feb. 20 for the Area game, losing 50-52 in a heartbreaker. One key to this year’s success lay in the rigorous practices. “A typical practice consisted

Barrett Wilson

Dribbling the ball, junior Rose Minutaglio takes it down the court. Rose added 12 points in the Chaps’ victory over Anderson, clinching the team’s spot in playoffs.

of agilities, team stretching and drills, such as the flying three,” Rose said. “Then we split up into posts and guards to work towards our individual strengths. Then we usually scrimmaged. We ended with free throws — we had to make seven in a Barrett Wilson row.” As the Up in the air, junior Hannah Coley takes a shot against Anderson, winning 78-50 with end of the an overall District record of 12-2. “This year’s team was a lot of fun,” Hannah said. “I school year loved being a part of it.” approaches, the seniors are starting to wrap up their high school careers and move on. A chance to play collegiately is coming up for a handful of seniors on the varsity team, including senior Courtney Deuver. For Courtney, the dream of playing basketball at the collegiate level has become reality. She signed with Central Arkansas University where she will be attending in the fall. High school basketball more than just paves the way to play in college — it helps to prepare for various situations that will be encountered later in life. “High school basketball has taught me how to play with different people at different ages and skill levels and how to react to certain situations,” Courtney said. For others, such as guard sophomore Lindsey Harris, a varsity basketball career has just begun. Despite being as much as two grades younger than some other players, Lindsey keeps up with the others with hard work and dedication. “Sometimes the upperclassmen can be a bit intimidating, but that’s just a part of being an underclassman,” Lindsey said. “I definitely have to work hard to keep up, but I’m holding my own and they push me to try my best.” For others, the varsity basketball career hasn’t yet begun. This varsity team sets a high standard and is the emblem of skill and dedication. “Watching varsity really inspires me to become a better basketball player because it shows me a higher level of play and skill,” basketball player freshman Regan Eppright said. “It gives me hope that if I work hard I will be able to progress to that level and intensity.” —Sofia Mitre

high o p e s

13-1 Chaps claim District Championship, lose to Churchill in round one

Holding both their place among the top 10 basketball teams in the state and the District Championship, the boys, or rather men — the average height of the players is over 6’3” — of the varsity basketball team fought their way through one of the most successful seasons in Westlake’s history. After dominating in District, the Chaps faced a seasoned San Antonio Churchill team Feb. 24. Trailing the entire game, the favored Westlake team had its playoff run cut short by a 77-84 loss. “We started out really flat and we were trying to come back the whole game, but we just ran out of energy,” senior Cody Doolin said. “It did not feel good, but it doesn’t take away from all the accomplishments we achieved this season.” Changes in the physical size and experience of players, along with tweaks in the team’s style of play, contributed to its accomplishments this season. “The main change was that we worked to be a little more well-rounded,” head coach Tres Ellis said. “We worked on being able to play both in the full court and half court with success. We tweaked our play a little to take advantage of our size, but most of our work was at becoming more multifaceted.” The team’s “bigs” were moved around in order to make the most of their size. “Moving [senior] Conner [Kemper] to the three [small forward] allowed us to play a big lineup with [seniors] Gus Leeper [6’9”], Carl Meyertons [6’5”] and Conner [6’6”],” assistant coach Robert Lucero said. While the team worked hard on being more versatile, the up-tempo play that Ellis introduced last year remained. “We kept the constant of our mentality to play fast,” Ellis said. “This kept the other team on their heels and helped us

be in control of the game.” Despite their polished record and top-notch performance, the team had to overcome a few weaknesses along the way. “The number one challenge was keeping everyone with the focus of ‘team first’ in mind,” Ellis said. “It gets hard for some players when they are not playing a lot so we really had to make sure those guys recognized their importance to the team and that they kept working hard. We also had to work to keep everyone practicing hard because oftentimes the best team we played in the week was ourselves and we had to make each other better.” The players, along with the coach, recognized the need for team concentration. “Maintaining focus on and off the court was challenging for us,” senior Jeremy Cox said. “Luckily, our coaches have kept a good attitude throughout the year and that reflected in our team and helped us all be able to continue to strive to be the best.” Obtaining their high state rank, which was number five, also came with its challenges. “The level of competition this team faced pre-District was the hardest thing the team faced this season,” Lucero said. “We were constantly playing against top-ranked teams so we had to push ourselves to play at a high level. It was great experience to play in such intense, meaningful games.” —Katy Roden

Keren Rempe

Above: Head coach Tres Ellis consults the team during a time-out at the Austin High game at home Feb. 5. ”I was happy that the team was able to overcome the emotion of a rivalry game in order to play well and win,” Ellis said. With a 55-50 victory, the boys swept Austin High for the second Barrett Wilson time in District play. Sophomore RJ Rowan makes his second varsity Right: Junior Hagen Fell goes for a layup at the last District game of the appearance against Austin High Jan. 12. The Chaps season. The 72-63 victory over the Panthers secured Westlake as the beat the Maroons 65-62. District champions.

Barrett Wilson

Senior Cody Doolin fights for two of his 18 points Feb. 16. Cody was announced the alltime leading scorer in Westlake history after Barrett Wilson the game with 2,033 career points.

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brains + brawn








Girls soccer sets goals, shoots for perfection “Our motto starts with ‘out work’ and that’s pretty much how we accomplish all of our goals,” senior Kelli Bagwell said. “I don’t know any other team out there that puts as much effort into practices and training as we do.” A large part of the team’s strong mindset is the group of seniors on the team. On and off the field, they focus less on individual goals and more on the success of the team. “My goals are the team’s goals,” Kelli said. “It’s not about individual performance because as long as the team is doing well, I’m happy.” During the pre-season the team faced the challenge of incorporating new starters and organizing their team in time for District play. “We played against a tough “With several players in new posicompetitor [Bowie],” freshman tions, we had a huge learning curve that Hannah Meyer said. “However, we had to master in a short period of with determination, we were able time,” Rebe said. to win.” Westlake beat the Bowie In their new positions, the newer Bulldogs 3-1. and younger players have had a chance Austin Hix to show their fresh talent so far this season. “We have tons of newcomers that have never played at the varsity level, so it’s interocus.” “Get the fire esting to see what they bring to the team,” in your belly.” “Learn to Kelli said. win.” “Out work, out play, After practicing until they were fully in out score.” rhythm, the team began to focus on this seaThese are the words of son’s high-set goals. preparation head girls soccer coach Rennie “We’re shooting for a District championRebe gives her varsity players in practice and ship, a long run in the playoffs and hopefully a before each game. spot in the State tourAustin Hix “We focus on what’s coming up,” sophonament,” Kelli said. more Katharine Noonan said. “Coach Rebe Kelli isn’t the only tells us to ‘put the nail in the coffin’ and the team member with this rest will take care of itself.” in mind. Since the first However, the team knows that this seaday of practice, there son’s success will require more than inspirahas been an unspotional metaphors. The girls have been training ken goal in the back since the second week of school through of everyone’s mind: intense workouts and tough scrimmages. The playoffs. team has developed a strong work ethic and a Last year, the team drive to succeed. was the District cham“We push ourselves in training and we pion and Bi-District push ourselves on the field,” senior Morgan champion, but they fell Hume said. “We don’t want to let each other short in Area play. The down.” last time the Chaps Team members live by their motto, “out made it to the State Fiwork, out play, out score,” every day in pracnals was in 1996, but in tices and it translates into their games. 2007, they came very


close, making it to the State Semi-Finals. For now, the team is taking it one day at a time. The girls are not letting their 3-4-2 preDistrict record distract them. “We started out slowly in the tournaments, but I know we have the talent,” junior Aubree Brown said. “The District games will prove it.” In their slew of District games, there is one opponent that the girls practice hardest for — the Bowie Bulldogs. “It’s pretty much our biggest showdown and always gets us really excited,” Kelli said. “Training for this game is excruciating — running for a solid 80 minutes is tough and we have to train hard to even be able to compete.” The Chaps played the Bulldogs on Jan. 26, winning 2-0 in a shootout, after a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation. This win earned them a great 1-0 start in District play. They will play the Bulldogs again Feb. 19 and March 1, and the girls know Bowie won’t let them off easy. “Winning against Bowie is probably the best win we could have in District,” Morgan said. “It feels good to win against them but we have to keep this momentum and win the rest of our games.” After defeating Bowie, the girls have refocused and concentrated on the rest of their District opponents including Pflugerville, Bastrop, Connally, Anderson and Austin High. This concentration has brought them four more District wins, giving them a 5-1 District record. Of course, the seniors’ leadership has been crucial in earning this record. —Hirrah Barlas

Freshman Christy Goldberg fights for the ball against a Bowie player. Westake girls varsity soccer is 4-1 in District.

Boys varsity soccer undergoes changes, looks to win District


t’s Friday night and the stadium lights are on. Yet it’s not the football score on the Jumbotron. Now it’s time for the other football to shine. The Westlake soccer team plays its heart out for the sport they know and love, though few even know when they are playing. This doesn’t faze the players, who play hard for the fans and supporters who attend the games. With District wide open this year, the Chaps hope to break through the competition, claim the District title and go deep into the playoffs. This year the soccer program has undergone many changes, including the addition of two new coaches and promoting John Campbell to head coach. Campbell relishes the opportunity to finally show what he can do as coach of varsity. “It feels good,” Campbell said. “It’s been a long time coming, I think. This is only my fourth year of coaching at this school and I’ve just been biding my time. I’ve coached a lot of these guys for all four years and it’s good to see them all the way through the program and to get Westlake back into the playoffs, where it needs to be.” The two new coaches come from very different backgrounds. The junior varsity A coach James Baker was a former student at Westlake and the junior varsity B coach Cody Whitney coached in Kansas City, Missouri before moving to Austin. “I went to Westlake when I was younger, so I knew the quality of the school and it’s always been a place I wanted to come back to,” Baker said. “I know the quality of the athletes who go here and it always has been a community I wanted to return to.” “I’ve been coaching for about eight years,” Whitney said. “I started coaching in college, and then I went and coached at a high school in Kansas City, Missouri. I was the head coach at the program there. On a competition level it’s pretty similar [to Westlake], though there are more opportunities for the kids here.” Along with new coaches comes change.


After a rough couple of years, Campbell is retooling the team with tactics that he hopes will make his team a dangerous threat in the playoffs and have them come together as a team. “I think the last couple years we didn’t have the team together and that was my focus coming in,” Campbell said. “I wanted to get rid of our egos as individuals and try to make that a point. From day one, I’ve really pounded on that.” Some of the team has already received attention, with two players receiving scholarship money toward their respective colleges. Seniors Dylan Shomaker and Bailey Hinners have both been recognized for their hard work and are attending Division I schools with successful programs. “I committed to the University of South Florida, and I am getting some academic money my first year,” Dylan said. “South Florida’s great because it has a really nice campus and I have family out in Florida. It’s also a top ten program.” “I got a full ride to George Washington University because I play center mid and obviously George Washington was looking for a center mid, but I think they also like that I work hard,” Bailey said. “I really like the campus there and I also met the players on the team and Varsity player sophomore Walker I like them a lot Hume takes the ball from a too.” Pflugerville player at the game at Even in Westlake on Jan. 29. The game this transition, was a tie, but in the shootout with new coachPflugerville got ahead 4-1. es, players and attitudes, Campbell is confident that the team will do very well this year. “District is wide open this year between four or five teams that are going to be really good quality,” Campbell said. “From top to bottom it’s really anybody’s race. I definitely see us in the title race for District.” The players are also confident that they


will do well this year, hoping to play better when District play rolls around. “The team has done okay so far,” sophomore Ryder McGough said. “District is what really matters.” Varsity is not the only team that is playing though. Junior varsity A and B have played very well under new coaches Baker and Whitney, with JV A having a 12-1-3 record. JV B has also done very well under coach Whitney. “We are off to an awesome start,” Whitney said. “We have great kids and I believe they will have great success as they progress through the program.” As the Chaps finish another one of their games, most don’t know that they even played. With many games left on their schedule, this year the Westlake team hopes to make an impact in District and in the playoffs. The Chaps hope to kick off a new era of success. —Cody Crutchfield

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Hannah Kunz

brains + brawn


Sticking to it Senior John Jackson leads his teammates during practice drills Jan. 28. “I’m excited for this season,” John said. “I think we have huge potential.”

Allie Carlisle

Armed with a new coaching staff, renovated style of play and a set of talented and experienced seniors, the boys lacrosse team is entering the 2010 season with high expectations. One senior in particular knows what it will take to win a District championship and make a run in the playoffs. Senior John Jackson began playing lacrosse in middle school, a common age to enter the sport; however he differed from his peers in that he clearly had a gift for the fast-paced game from the start. “I’m an only child so no one in my family played before me,” John said. “Some of my friends were deciding that football and baseball weren’t for them, so they joined lacrosse in sixth grade and I just kind of did what my friends were doing.”

Senior plays four years on varsity, commits to play collegiate lacrosse

Despite his youth and inexperience, John knew he had found the sport he was meant to play. By seventh grade he had visions of playing lacrosse in college. “At that age, you want to play at one of the powerhouses like Hopkins, Maryland, Duke or North Carolina,” John said. “Later it dawned on me that you have to be pretty big to play at schools like that.” The West Ridge squad was small, with only one team for both the sixth and seventh grades. So it wasn’t until high school that John got to showcase his competitiveness, making varsity as a freshman and starting over older players. “At first it was difficult to fit in,” John said. “But the guys warmed up to me pretty quickly and after that it felt just like being on any other team. It felt good to be starting, but there was added pressure to perform well because some of them didn’t like it.” After failing to make it past the first round of playoffs John’s freshman year, the team went 5-4 in District his sophomore year and lost in the District championship game by two points. In the 2009 season, the boys finished 5-5, losing in the first round of playoffs to Bowie by two goals. “We had several one-goal losses last year that should not have happened,” John said. “We were also pretty injury-plagued. I had two stress fractures in my back and couldn’t play the second half of the season.” After his back injury healed, John got back into the game and soon made an important decision — committing to play at Haverford College in Philadelphia, which has a strong Division III lacrosse program. “Haverford sent me a letter last summer after a tournament in California,” John said. “I talked to some people who knew more about it and it sounded like a good fit for me, so I visited and fell in love with it. It’s a beautiful campus and everyone there was really friendly.” Now that the college decision is out of the way, John is focusing on the upcoming season and the team’s amplified chances of success, due in part to the new coaching staff. Head coach Evan Whelchel came to Westlake from Westwood and brought assistant coach Bronson Parker, a former defensive coordinator at the University of Texas. Midfield and offensive coach Matt McIntosh, who played collegiate lacrosse at the University of North Carolina, stayed on staff from last year. “[Whelchel] is making changes and I think we’ll be a lot better on offense this year,” John said. “Our game used to be pretty run-andgun, but this year it’s going to be more possession-oriented. We’ll be doing a lot of running because we’ve got some really fast guys.” The team began practicing and working on their new offensive system Oct. 3. “We’ll all be disappointed if we don’t win District,” John said. “Westwood and Austin High will be good as usual, but we have the talent and the drive. Our coaches are doing a great job preparing us for what should be a successful season.” —Alex Bishop

2010 Boys Varsity Lacrosse Schedule March 3 at 8 p.m. vs. St. Andrew’s (away)

March 7 at 12 p.m. vs. Southlake (home)

March 24 at 8 p.m. vs. St. Stephen’s (away)

April 8 at 7 p.m. vs. Westwood (home)

April 17 at 8 p.m. vs. Anderson (home)

March 6 at 2 p.m. vs. Lake Travis (home)

March 7 at 2 p.m. vs. Harker Heights (home)

March 27 at 7 p.m. vs. McNeil (home)

April 10 at 6 p.m. vs. Georgetown (home)

April 23 at 8 p.m. vs. Austin High (away)

April 1 at 8 p.m. vs. Bowie (away)

April 14 at 6 p.m. vs. Vandergrift (home)

March 6 at 6 p.m. vs. Dallas Jesuit (home)

March 11 at 7 p.m. vs. Vista Ridge (home)


in the

crossfire Nathan Kallison

Preparing to enter the game, senior Jill Capatosto looks on and observes the action during a scrimmage Feb. 13. Michelle Ling

Girls lacrosse team heads to San Diego, begins season

As the girls lacrosse team prepares to embark upon a new played its opening game against Westwood. The game helped set the season, it already has a significant competition under its belt — the tone for the remainder of the season, and provided the first test for the Adrenaline Tournament in San Diego. A combination of Westlake, new head coach, Brandie Leach. Austin and Westwood players traveled to California on Jan. 9, set to “Games against Westwood are always a challenge,” sophomore compete against schools spread out across the country. Natalia Renna said. “We are very excited to see what improvements “Since none of us had ever played together Coach Leach will make, and how she will cope before, it took some time for us to get in sync with under stiff competition.” each other,” junior Mia Collins said. “But, by the The opposition didn’t stand a chance against end of the tournament, we had gotten a lot better the effort put forth by the varsity team, who It was fun to see as a team. It was fun to see how we started trustdominated the field and brought home a 14-5 how we started ing each other on the field.” victory. trusting each other Lacrosse teams from California and Nevada “I was a little apprehensive going into the on the field. joined in the fray, creating the opportunity for game about the rest of the season,” junior Adriathletes originating from different sections of the enne Dodd said. “But after our win, I think that —junior Mia Collins nation to interact on the field. we have a good chance to go far.” “All of the teams there were pretty good, and Though it is a long road to State, the strong it was really fun to play teams we’d never heard win is an indication that the team has a bright of before,” Mia said. “We always had to put in our future ahead. best effort, since we never knew what to expect.” “I have high hopes for this season because we have a lot of strong Following its return on Jan. 10, the lacrosse team focused its energy players and all of us want to do well,” Mia said. and time on the swiftly approaching season. On Feb. 9, Westlake —Jake Bitting

“ ”



1 2 3 Senior Caroline Bennighof charges towards the goal against teammate senior Sarah O’Neil. The Chaps play Austin High at home March 4.


Nathan Kallison

Nathan Kallison

{ }

Goalie junior Adrienne Dodd attempts a shot on goal as senior Sarah O’Neil defends her during a scrimmage at Westlake.

Freshman Madalyn Hostetler and senior Sarah O’Neil fight for a ball during an intersquad scrimmage Feb. 13. The Chaps started off their season well, beating Westwood 14-5.

Nathan Kallison

brains + brawn


Juniors defy gravity while participating in parkour

On the fly Juniors Rob Stover and Walker Jezek practice parkour on a chilly morning before school by the band hall. Indigo Colton


ou may have seen them at Westlake, or in a parking garage, or just about anywhere. They run and jump over anything — no obstacle is too big to conquer. These everyday ninjas scale walls, make huge leaps and train for hours to hone the skill of their discipline — parkour. “Parkour and free running are the arts of efficient movement,” junior Walker Jezek said. “I guess you could define it as an urban obstacle course. The objective of parkour is to get from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible. Free running is more of an artistic expression — it’s like running up a wall and doing a back-flip off [of it], whereas parkour is just vaulting over the wall.” Although many generations of daring people have run and jumped to their hearts’ delight, the activity was given a name in the 1980s by French stunt man David Belle and his friend Hubert Koundé. “I’ve been doing parkour my entire life, ever since I could walk, basically,” Walker said. “I didn’t know what it was; I had always been running and jumping over things. I only recently figured out that it was an actual discipline. But it’s not a sport because there’s no competition. The only competition you have is with yourself.” Parkour doesn’t have any rules or limits. You only think about getting from one place to the next, and how you’re going to do it.


Traceur/Traceuse: The French term for a male/ female who practices the discipline of parkour.


“You just go for it,” junior Rob Stover said. “I have always been a monkey. I always climbed trees and things like that, but I really got started at the beginning of freshman year. My friend Troy [Morris] came up to me and said, ‘Hey Rob, look at this awesome YouTube video,’ and he sent me a link. I looked at it and it was some guys doing parkour and I was like ‘Whoa, that’s awesome!’ so I looked up videos on how to do it, and just kind of picked it up.” Parkour isn’t something that is easy right from the start. You have to get a lot of practice in before you can do vaults, flips and other tricks. “You definitely need to train on the ground before you jump three-story gaps,” Walker said. “I usually train down on the UT campus with a group, Texas Parkour, but outside of there I find walls and stuff that I can practice vaulting on. For training we do exercises that build up our upper body strength and it just builds up our endurance. And we practice technique off of vaults and stuff.” When it comes to training and technique, groups like TXPK have proven to be extremely helpful. “I really wish I had known about TXPK when I had started.” Rob said. “It’s a group that has professionals who work with people to train their bodies correctly to perform parkour and free running maneuvers without straining their bodies. And it’s free!”

Kong: Diving forward over something in a horizontal position. Then you push off with your hands and tuck your legs in so that your body is brought back vertically for the landing.


Even if you train and practice parkour safely, falls are inevitable with jumps going as high as five stories. “The highest I’ve fallen is a story-and-ahalf to two stories,” Walker said. “The scariest moment was when I misjudged a gap, and I landed a little short and fell backwards.” Although with correct training and reasonable caution, parkour can be pretty safe. “I’ve never broken, sprained or twisted anything,” Rob said. “I have bruised myself quite a bit. There are parking garages that have really smooth concrete, and my foot will go against that and I’ll slip and just eat it, straight into a wall. Other than that there isn’t a lot that I’ve really hurt myself doing. I took it slow and made sure I had a decent idea and tried it, little by little.” Since it isn’t a “sport” with teams or uniforms, the attire is pretty casual. “You just wear regular athletic clothes, and for shoes, there are these shoes called Five Tens,” Walker said. “The rubber is engineered to have more friction than other rubbers.” Parkour is different than any other activity — it’s not a pre-planned route. Traceurs only know where they’re going, not how they’re getting there. “You have to think about what you’re doing next, but if you think too hard about it, you’re going to mess up,” Walker said. —Becca Burt

Lazy Vault: To do a lazy vault, one hand is used to swing both legs over an obstacle and the other to carry yourself over.


Speed Vault: Involves going over something by jumping sideways first, then placing one hand on the obstacle to get your body vertical and continue running.

From start to finish

Student rowers compete in club; regatta season picks up “1-2-3 catch, 1-2-3 catch.” “Even hands, sit up at the finish.” “Set the boat, keep it on keel.” “Watch your blade depth.” These are the overheard bits of a coach in a motor boat on the megaphone from the shores of Lady Bird Lake. Underneath the jumbled language of terms, the graceful beauty of oars in sync and the calm expressions on the athletes’ faces is an extremely painful, complex sport. This isn’t kayaking, canoeing, nor a “row, row, row your boat” moment. This is competitive rowing. The spring season for the junior competitive rowing program at Austin Rowing Club includes 2,000-kilometers races called 2ks. A 1k is a little over one mile and involves sprint racing, while the fall season 5k races are based on endurance. The boats are lined up in a row and released at the same time and then it’s a race to the finish. “I’m looking forward to the spring because the races are so much more intense since they are only 2ks instead of 5ks and you can actually see who you are competing against,” sophomore Hannah Glaw said. Starting Jan. 5, the competitive spring season includes a variety of competitions around and outside Texas. The first event, which took place Feb. 6 at the University of Texas Campus, is the Erg Rodeo. The Erg Rodeo is a competition on land on indoor rowing machines called ergometers. Racing on the erg is determined by strength, using a large source of power from the legs and then continuing with the back and arm muscles. Austin Rowing Club Juniors won five out of the eight races at Erg Rodeo. “I really enjoyed Erg Rodeo,” sophomore Walter Curtis said. “Even though I didn’t get first place, I beat my personal time.” Austin Rowing Club Juniors team won five out of the eight races at Erg Rodeo, Hannah winning first in Women’s Junior Novice Openweight. Next in the rowing season are formal regattas, which are series of races on the water. The Heart of Texas Regatta is March 6-7 on Lady Bird Lake, held by Austin Rowing Club. Following is the Dallas Regatta on March 27 and then the State championship April 24-25. The regular season ends after the State championship, but the competitions continue with the Regional championship in Oklahoma City May 8-9 and, depending on how the Austin crews place, Youth National Championships in Cincinnati June 11-13. “My favorite part about regattas is getting medals and bonding with my teammates and of course the intense fast dock times,” Hannah said. To compete well, an intense practice schedule is needed. For Austin Rowing Club, the juniors program practices four days a week for about two hours each practice. “The schedule is hard, but once you get used to it it’s like breathing,” freshman Allie Martinez said. All practices have a set schedule and workout plan to maintain fitness in different ways. “The training schedule is very systematic,” sophomore Chris Duke said. “Our groups have certain days that we either row, lift weights, erg or do body circuits (usually a combination) as not to interfere with the others. We practice four days a week to ensure that we maintain the fitness and technique required for our row.” Building up endurance, mental strength and physical strength, the practices keep rowers in mint condition. “It’s hard but worth it,” sophomore Caroline Allan said. “You have to be in shape to have a chance at winning.” Even with the physical demands and tough training schedule, rowers stay loyal to their sport and to the bonds it builds with other teammates. “The most enjoyable part about rowing is the people,” Caroline said. “You really can’t beat rowers. I love them. It’s like a big, in-shape family.” —Danielle Brown

{ }

Sophomore Sophie Costa selects her oars for rowing during a Friday practice. “I love rowing because not only is it a great team sport, but it is also a technical and mentally driven sport,” Sophie said. Laura Aldridge

Practicing their drills on Lady Bird Lake, Austin Rowing Club prepares for Erg Rodeo, a 2k erg competition hosted by UT’s crew on Feb. 6. The team did very well in the competition, winning the lightweight novice girls and boys events and the openweight for boys and girls , along with setting a new record. Freshman Meghan Gomillion rows second from left.

Laura Aldridge

brains + brawn


Research has been reported linking repeated concussions to Alzheimer’s, depression, and dementia in NFL players.

The NFL is taking heat to

take concussions seriously — but there’s even more concern for high

school players.

KNOCKED OUT He was only aware of the sharp ringing in his ears, and the pain shooting through his head. “Do you remember your name? Do you know where you are?” He could answer the first question, but not the second. Where was he? He couldn’t remember the moments leading up to this, to being sprawled on the field, looking up into a circle of concerned faces. Rugby player sophomore Daniel Twomey tried to stand, but fell right back down; his teammates pulled him up and guided him to the sidelines, where he leaned over and vomited on the Astroturf. Dr. James Robison, volunteer team doctor and father of two rugby players, checked him out and quickly realized what was wrong. Instructing teammates to keep the injured athlete awake so he wouldn’t slip into a coma, the doctor phoned the player’s parents to take him to the emergency room. Daniel had been concussed. It’s one of the most dangerous injuries for adolescents — and also one of the hardest to detect. Unless there’s bleeding or swelling in the brain, a concussion can’t be diagnosed through a CT scan or MRI. Doctors and trainers have to rely on the symptoms they see, and players’ reports — which aren’t always reliable. Not every concussed player gets knocked out, throws up or finds himself unable to stand. For some it’s more subtle, and they can downplay their dizziness and aching heads, claiming they’re ready to get back on the field. That’s where the real danger comes in. When the brain doesn’t have the time to heal, an athlete who takes a second blow risks Second Impact Syndrome — potentially deadly bleeding and swelling in the brain. For that reason, Westlake athletes who sustain concussions can’t return to play until seven days after symptoms are gone. Some athletes feel fine 24 hours later; others don’t return to normal for over a week. And some players may not even realize they were concussed until they get a second, more serious concussion.


The icepack on his forehead and the throbbing at his temples were sophomore Jackson Kothe’s only clues that something had gone wrong. It was 7 p.m., but he had no memory of the preceding hours. His entire day was a blank. “I went downstairs and asked my parents what had happened,” Jackson said. “They said I’d gotten a concussion. [Later] my friend told me I was elbowed in the temple at basketball practice, and I went to the floor. I didn’t remember what happened.” It wasn’t Jackson’s first concussion. He’d unknowingly suffered another about two weeks earlier, during the last game of the JV football season. “I made a tackle and got hit — stars came out — and then I had a headache for a week,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t that bad of a headache; I actually didn’t realize it was a concussion at the time. My doctor said I hadn’t fully recovered from the first one so I got the second more easily.” Trying to ignore his nagging headache and a painful sensitivity to fluorescent lights, Jackson struggled through finals and rested through winter break. Then, shortly after the break and more than three weeks after the injury, he was hit again and concussed for the third time. The problem is, there’s no “one size fits all” healing period — but “seven days after symptoms are gone” is Westlake and UIL policy. According to research done by Drs. Fred Theye and Karla Mueller at the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin, concussed high school athletes still showed “significant memory impairment” a week after the injury, and 10 percent took longer than seven days to heal. “Individual recovery rates are different,” said Dr. Theye, who is now retired from the clinic. “I don’t think it’s fair to athletes to have an arbitrary number [of days out]. Some can go back to play in four or five days; for others, it may take 15 to 20 days.” The healing period, like the diagnosis, is difficult to determine. How do you diagnose an injury that’s invisible on a CT scan, an injury with symptoms that can be camouflaged and, when symptoms do appear, don’t necessarily show how bad the damage is? Part of the answer is neurocognitive baseline testing — a computer program that assesses players’ memory and reaction time. WHS is looking into buying a system, offered by companies like imPACT or CogState, but currently doesn’t have one. If the school gets the program, at the beginning of the year every athlete would take the test and get a “baseline” score showing how well they’d normally do. If trainers and coaches were concerned a player had been concussed, the student would take the — the Center for Disease Control test again and it would show

As many as


of high school athletes who suffer concussions

return to play



Concerns mount over long-term effects of concussions

and coaches are their only medical help. While state law requires coaches to have safety training, they don’t have the background or experience of the school’s licensed athletic trainers. Sometimes medically trained parents step in when a kid goes down — as when 2007 football player Matt Nader’s parents restarted their son’s heartbeat with a defibrillator. In club [non-schoolsponsored] sports, athletes like Daniel hope to rely on doctor parents who volunteer. But parents with M.D.s aren’t always at practices and games, and trainers can’t be in two places at once.

whether their reaction time and memory had worsened. Several days later, the athlete could take it again to see if the brain was healing. It is, as athletic trainer Brad Hawkins says, “one of the more reliable ways to show whether the brain has healed.” A score on a screen can’t be slanted like a self-report.



Use your shoulder. Tackle with your face up. Don’t hit with your head. It’s a mantra that football coaches drill into their teams from the time the players first put a helmet on — for many, at about age 8. It’s a football fundamental, because a blow to the top of the head can knock guys out, leaving them concussed — or worse, injure their spinal cords, leaving them paralyzed. It’s a penalty — but it sometimes goes ignored. “Guys will tackle with their heads all the time — the problem is, that’s very dangerous and it’s actually illegal to do it,” quarterback senior Tanner Price said. “It’s called spearing.” In the heat of the game, sometimes players lose control. “[Players] are just playing with a lot of intensity and hitting hard,” tight end senior Charlie Copa said. “None of the spearing is ever intentional.”

What’s unclear, for high school students, are the long-term effects. Some high school athletes who suffer multiple concussions become depressed and anxious, especially if the injury wasn’t cared for properly. But researchers don’t know, for athletes who have received multiple blows at the high school level, whether their temporary memory loss will ultimately turn into Alzheimer’s or if their short-term anxiety will become serious depression. “In our program, if any student athlete suffered a second concussion in a season, we counseled them to stay out of the game for the rest of the season,” Dr. Theye said. “We were conservative because of the potential for long-term deficits, and that’s now being shown by studies in the NFL. One concussion, if it’s managed correctly, isn’t bad for you. But how many concussions are too many? We simply don’t know. We chose to be conservative to protect the student athletes.” —Holly Heinrich

UNPROTECTED With its armor-like equipment and high-impact collisions, football is thought of as the ultimate physically punishing sport. At WHS this year, six of the seven athletes who received concussions were football players. But according to the Center for Disease Control, boys and girls soccer ranks with football when it comes to the number of concussions. In football, one obvious fix is to amp up the equipment — but headgear hasn’t taken hold in soccer, although it exists. “Some players have this new headgear that softens a blow as it comes in,” girls soccer coach Rennie Rebe said. “There are players who have had multiple concussions and wear them for prevention, but it hasn’t really spread. The problem is, it’s not comfortable, it’s not attractive and it’s not very functional right now. It moves if you hit a ball with your head, so you have to keep adjusting it. I think until they come up with something that doesn’t affect a player’s ability to focus and play, it won’t catch on.”

*Additional information supplied by head football coach and athletic director Darren Allman.

Standing on the sidelines, Vicki Stafko and Brad Hawkins are the foundation of the concussion management program — they have the training to diagnose and make decisions. But there are only two trainers at WHS — and there are often more than two practices or games going on at one time. In these instances, some athletes will find that student trainers

Emily Mitchell


brains + brawn


Nine wrestlers compete in Region; 5 advance to State District placings Seniors

*Chase Betzer - 1st in 130 lb. *Peyton Burns - 1st in 152 lb. *Jim Gianakopoulos - 1st in 140 lb. *Sawyer Morris - 1st in 160 lb.


*Trevor Hershey - 2nd in 171 lb. Richmond Howard - 2nd in 189 lb. Connor Shults - 2nd in 125 lb. Keren Rempe

Senior Chase Betzer holds his Vista Ridge opponent at the District tournament on Feb. 6 at Westlake. “I was happy with the whole team’s outcome,” Chase said. “A couple of guys that I wasn’t expecting to qualify to place placed and we all wrestled our best.” Chase is Westlake’s first four-time State qualifier.

Boys, girls swimming take first in District


Sammy Ivester - 3rd in 112 lb. Marshall Brock - 3rd in 145 lb. *State qualifiers

Swimmers of the meet: Senior Samantha Tucker Sophomore Matt Ellis For Regional results visit

District was a big confidence booster for both teams and got everyone that much more excited for Regionals.

Senior Ruthie Norval races hard in the 100 butterfly, earning first place. Ruthie also won gold in the 200 medley relay with senior Sarah Southworth, junior Jennie Thomas and freshman Bayley Wiltshire.

—senior Samantha Tucker Barrett Wilson

Right: Swimming backstroke, junior Lindsey Regan gives a strong showing at the District meet. Lindsey won third place in the 500 freestyle and second in the girls 400 freestyle relay with senior Samantha Tucker and freshmen Mackenzie Franklin and Bayley Wiltshire.

Junior Eric Dirvin finishes the 200 individual medley in first place. Eric also won the 200 freestyle relay with senior Adam Shedlosky and sophomores Matt Ellis and David Cox.

Keren Rempe

The referee signals sophomore Sammy Ivester’s victory. “I missed making it to Regionals by one place,” Sammy said. “But at least I won my last match of the season.”

Junior Richmond Howard Nathan Kallison

Nathan Kallison

This is the way we see it. Experiences shape perspectives. When you accept who you are, embrace what others have to offer or come face-to-face with a life-threatening moment, your perspective is altered. Life from a chair is different from life on legs, and living on a farm is far from life on the pavement. The uniqueness of your experiences defines your outlook. These are our stories. This is our perspective.

{ } trends + traditions 31

A day in the life of an

underachiever Sophomore perfects the art of laziness I live a life of satisfaction. To some, I am the epitome of apathy and laziness. To others, I am a master of my craft. But to all, I am the bare minimum. A healthy sense of efficiency-obsession (and a very healthy sense of indolence) has caused me to perfect what it really means to be a “Big League Slacker.” Originally, I would tell people that I had crafted this lifestyle for the benefit of future students, but in recent years, I’ve been using it because of the immense productivity to work ratio that it provides. A regular morning goes as such: 8 a.m., I am awakened by what it may have sounded like if a Jamaican island dweller were to make love to a bottle of Don Pérignon. I know this sound as Shaggy’s smash hit “Mr. Bombasta.” After killing a solid 15-30 minutes bathing in the silky rhythms of the Caribbean Casanova, I glance at the clock, surprisingly underwhelmed by the fact that I have about 10 minutes before I need to be sitting in my desk in first period. However, this tardiness poses no threat to me, as I have previously maximized sleep hours by calculating the exact amount of time it takes me to arrive at school from the end of my favorite Shaggy song. I arrive within seconds of my hypothesized time. On the school spectrum, I practice a work ethic typically reserved for high school dropouts caught in a “transition period.” The day goes on, and my mind continues to slowly drift in and out of rational thought. I spend a hefty majority of my first three periods alternating between semi-conscious sleep and figuring out ways to shoot a buzz-saw blade out of a PVC pipe. Unfortunately for me, my thoughts on the senselessness of the Spanish language were not acceptable by classroom standards. I am now forced to have to explain why my scribbled artistic rendition of Mexican soldiers getting “owned” at the Battle of the Alamo is a correct answer to an essay regarding the history of the Mexican nation. Two periods later, my lack of preparation for an Algebra test (Speed was on HBO) requires me to resort to my God-given knowledge of logarithms

Barrett Wilson

and exponential functions to carry me through the hour. My artisan-level “educated guess skill” does me well. It is a booming success. I spend my lunch hour attempting to reverse my underachieving habits in the library picking up some slack (more slack than you can accurately measure) that has been dropped in certain courses. I divest myself of all distractions and objects that could potentially be turned into supplementary appendages or weapons through the art of mime and buckle down. And there it is. A mistake on the part of the Westlake High School library. I discover Google Earth (the Flight Simulator, more specifically) on the computer and spend the next half hour flying around Los Angeles pretending to mow down pedestrians with an airplane. It seems that my previous death-flight through southern California has caused me to forget a vital paper due the following period. The thing is, I don’t really “do” deadlines. This philosophy (one that I still stand by) warrants me another solid 50 minutes of conversation-dodging and remaining under the radar. I set a goal for my home arrival time every single day. It usually sits around 4:30, sometimes varying depending on my mood and whether or not I can find the radio station that plays that one song about letting all the dogs out. My speed is unmatched. And, if not for the sweet radar detector I found in a box full of cords that look like they were at one point used to electrocute terrorists, I may very well not be legally allowed to pilot an automobile in the state of Texas. 4:26. Four minutes ahead of schedule. Unfortunately for the content of this column, my days generally end upon my arrival at home. While I’d love to embellish my life more than I already have, all that happens after that 4:30 mark is me falling asleep in a chair and waking up to an episode of Two and a Half Men. —Connor White

Michelle Ling

How to be a successful underachiever • Maintain a constant state of relaxation by setting your watch back by 25 minutes. Or, don’t even wear a watch! Blame your tardiness on the position of the sun. • BS your way through confrontation or questions. Nothing says “stop talking” like the first 17 lines of MLK’s “I Have a Dream Speech.” • Track your achievements. Find out the exact amount of work you need to exert to stay right on the “average” line. • Master the Google Earth Flight Simulator. • Have your birth name be Connor McGraw White.

Freshman Megan Lee and her brother junior Ryan Lee enjoy a tasty snack after school before getting picked up. They enjoy attending the same school together.

My sister’s keeper Yasmin Alkusari

Junior Ryan Lee cares for sister with disability, gains new perspective Every day before school starts, junior Ryan Lee walks with his sister freshman Megan Lee to her first class of the day. Although Megan clearly leads the way, occasionally she turns to look back at her brother, making sure that he’s following and supporting her. Megan was diagnosed with a specific type of autism called Pervasive Developmental Disorder at around 2 years of age and had a speech regression at about 18 months. Since then, Ryan has played an important role in her development. Though an age gap of only three years separates them, an immeasurable communication barrier remains between the two siblings due to her disability. “There are different cases of autism: some kids have a harder time talking and understanding, and others are really spontaneous,” Ryan said. “They’re missing one thing, but excel in another area. My sister has a hard time communicating with people. It’s really hard to understand what she’s saying some of the time, which makes it kind of difficult in the family.” While autism implies a deficiency in one aspect of development, it is usually accompanied by a special skill in another area. Although Megan struggles with communication, she has a talent for memorization. “She has a really good memory,” Ryan said. “If she goes to a place once, she’ll know where to go to get there the next time. There are times during movies — if she has a favorite part, she knows exactly where to rewind it to.” When Megan was diagnosed with autism, Ryan’s parents were quickly faced with the challenge of caring for a child with a disability. “I guess they noticed that she was different,” Ryan said. “At first, they were kind of surprised, but they accepted it, because she’s their daughter and everything.” As a child, Megan’s disability was more difficult to deal with. The Lee family faced problems with going out in public settings and communicating with her effectively. “We couldn’t really have normal family-type outings,” Ryan said. “She wouldn’t wait in line in crowded places for an extended amount of time. We would avoid situations like that. Before we could never really understand. It was like a wild guess at what she wanted from us.” Now, Megan’s social skills have improved. In many respects, she leads a relatively average life, and her communication barriers have decreased as she has become older, especially with her encouraging older brother. “Right now, she can communicate a lot better than she could before,” Ryan said. “She’ll ask questions and everything. Now we can actually tell what she would like us to do. She acts like a normal kid but still has the language delay.”

Megan’s family believes that the key factor contributing to her improvement is their own demonstration of effective and clear communication to progress her speech, support her emotionally and bolster her independence. “We talk to her as much as we can,” Ryan said. “Pretty much everything we do is to build up her confidence so she can make decisions on her own. As soon as she has that confidence, she’ll be more independent. Now she looks at us before she does something to make sure that it’s okay with us. We kind of want her to step away from that and make decisions by herself.” Although Ryan plays an important part in Megan’s life by helping her get around at school, their roles are often reversed at home. “She wakes me up because she wakes up really early for some reason,” Ryan said. “And then if I don’t get up, she drags me out of bed, so that really helps my mom a lot. She talks to me, asking if I need anything. She’s actually a pretty good cook, and if I sleep in too late, she’ll make me breakfast. She also does laundry, washes dishes, takes out the trash and makes a cup of coffee for mom and dad in the morning.” During an ordinary school day, Megan attends several typical courses offered at Westlake in a designated Special Education class period after Ryan escorts her to her first class of the day. “She has gym, lunch, Teen Skills and everything,” Ryan said. “The only different thing is that she has specific classes to work on her motor skills and development.” Outside of Westlake, Megan enjoys several hobbies at home. Besides a passion for watching movies, she also takes pleasure in cooking and art. “She has a substantial collection of about 150 DVDs,” Ryan said. “And she really enjoys coloring and drawing. Those are her major activities — they’re all she likes to do all day. She normally cooks stuff she enjoys, like quesadillas and stuff like that. Sometimes we go shopping, and she really enjoys that. She gets a big smile on her face.” Though caring for a child with a disability can be frustrating at times, taking care of an autistic sister has altered the way Ryan sees people — he has learned to avoid basing opinions on first glances. “Growing up with Megan has changed my outlook in life in that I don’t judge people by a first impression,” Ryan said. “Sometimes my sister can be a little off, and she has some times when you really want to get away from her, but that can be the case of any sister. She’s actually really fun to hang around, and I wouldn’t give her up. It’s just good to have another kid around the house.” —Anisha Ganguly

{ } trends + traditions 33

Zelda Mayer

Lifethro R

Senior pursues passion for photography

ecurring disappointment — a feeling senior Ursula Barker knows well. The feeling of wasted moments, the feeling of frustration — the realization that, today, she forgot her camera at home and just missed the perfect shot. To some, lighting is a matter of convenience. For a photographer like Ursula, it’s everything. As she goes through her day she sees photos. And when she has her camera, she captures them. Ursula developed an interest in photography in middle school when she moved to California. After receiving her first camera, a standard single lens reflex, she enrolled in a beginner’s art class that specialized in black-and-white photography. “At Christmas I got a film camera and decided I wanted to take a photography class,” Ursula said. “I was part of an art program in Venice Beach, California called Venice Arts. We met twice a week, after school Thursday and on Saturdays.” Through Venice Arts, Ursula learned photo tricks and techniques and discovered Los Angeles’ beach and street culture. “We had mentors who would take us wherever we wanted to go shoot,” Ursula said. “Most days we would go on field trips and shoot assignments, which were really broad. We would pretty much take pictures of whatever we wanted or found interesting. We went up to people on the beach and asked if we could take their photo. We wanted to capture people’s emotions. We printed them in the darkroom and learned how to use the equipment. And when I got into the advanced photography class we learned techniques like sepia toning and scratching negatives — pretty much anything. We would experiment with different types of photography including Polaroid transfers and taking pictures with medium and large format cameras. I thought that was awesome.” Ursula’s mentors also exposed her to LA’s art scene, taking the classes to local and traveling photography exhibitions and galleries. “The one I remember most was called Ashes and Snow,” Ursula said. “There were these huge black and white prints that were all taken in Africa with people and animals in all the pictures. They were very up-close and intimate with the animals. The museum they were shown in was made of the boxcars that transported the exhibit. It was really dark. The only light you could see was illuminating these huge photos. It was one of the more impacting photography shows I’ve seen. I remember most of the shows I’ve seen, but that one was just incredible.”

The exhibit’s bold representation of the “human form” had a lasting effect on Ursula’s work. “It showed form in the purest way possible,” Ursula said. “Most of the people were naked and were with other creatures, and I just thought it was beautiful. It inspired me to be more into portraiture and capture what people were expressing. I like taking portraits; [people are] actually my favorite thing to take pictures of. When you get a black and white photo of someone you see their expressions, and you see their personality.” After taking classes with Venice Arts for two years, Ursula began seriously considering photography as more than just a hobby. “Through taking those classes I began realizing how much I loved it,” Ursula said. “I love learning things. Photography is something I’m always interested in. There’s always something new to take or to do in the darkroom. I can’t imagine doing something else [besides photography] because it’s what I see everywhere. It’s what I think about almost all the time. Taking those classes was eye-opening. I realized that besides listening to music and hanging out with friends that was the only thing I loved to do.” Though she has experimented with a wide range of cameras from digital to film, Ursula prefers to shoot with her SLR, like she first learned. “I remember we only did one unit of digital photography and everything else was based on film photography,” Ursula said. “Digital photography is an art, but I feel like film photography requires more specific knowledge and skill. Enhancing digital photos is an art in itself, but I like something I can actually feel, instead of looking at a computer screen. I like hands-on things.” However, Ursula may be forced to give up her favorite medium if film cameras continue to become more outmoded, and film providers stop production. “I’m not sure if it will die completely, but I know it’s really a dying trade,” Ursula said. “It’s almost completely obsolete. I’m sure basically everything you can do with film you can do with digital, but personally, film is much more fun.” Ursula’s background in photography has provided her with a new way of seeing the world around her. She views things as if she were taking a photo of them — analyzing the light and shadow, searching for pattern and contrast. “I see pictures everywhere,” Ursula said. “As I go through my day

As I go through my day I notice different lighting in every position and every situation. I see pictures everywhere.

—senior Ursula Barker

ugha lens I notice different lighting in every position and every situation. I see the world in patterns and shadows, instead of color. I’m constantly aware of my surroundings because they change all the time.” Ursula believes that seeing the world as a photographer has changed her outlook on life. Through a lens, she steps out of her own problems and “sees the world in more of its entirety.” “I think the main thing that photography has done for me is that now I see the world through all these different perspectives,” Ursula said. “I’ve become more relaxed and open-minded. There’s a lot of drama involved with being a teenager. Seeing the world in so many different ways is comforting. I know that there are so many things that can happen or will happen. Things change and move on. There’s really not anything to be upset about.” In order to pursue the arts as a career, Ursula plans to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree while majoring in photography. “I’m only applying to art schools,” Ursula said. “Honestly, in my field you don’t need a college degree, but through college you hopefully open new doors and make connections. I feel like if I didn’t go to an art college, photography would just be a hobby and not a career.” Ursula’s parents helped influence her to pursue a career as a photographer. Her father, a full time musician, introduced her from an early age to various forms of art, music and photography. After having experienced the art world her entire life, Ursula believes a career in photography will naturally suit her. “My parents support me in whatever I do,” Ursula said. “They do what they love, and they want me to do the same. A lot of my parent’s friends are artists, and through my parents I’ve only ever known artists, musicians, painters and photographers. I just grew up around that.” After college, Ursula plans to follow underground “street culture” as a photojournalist. Street culture, loosely defined, is the collection of graffiti artists, vendors, street musicians, skateboarders and poets found in cities like L.A. Though these artists are generally defined as independent, or “indie,” they have a large effect on impacting popular trends and ideas. “People involved in street culture do whatever they want and live the most influential lives,” Ursula said. “They do things differently from the norm. I think that doing weird things is much more interesting. I want to be a part of that and help make it happen. I guess I’m hungry for knowledge of what it’s like to be different. I don’t want to be part of the norm. I find that boring and discovering something new is really exciting. Also, if I were to photograph it for a magazine, I could spread it to more people, encouraging more variety in common society.” Photography has greatly transformed the way Ursula perceives and appreciates things. Carrying around a camera and taking pictures allows her to capture memories and “moments in time.” It has become an essential part of remembering her past. “[Photography] has made me value relationships and memories more,” Ursula said. “It helps me remember things I maybe would have forgotten. I like remembering the little things that most people forget. It’s those little things, they’re stupid or silly, but they make you happy most of the time. They’re amazing if you can remember. Photography allows you to capture them. It is a reminder that the past actually happened. Photography is a very personal thing. It pieces together my life and really, the life [of] anyone else who has ever taken a photo.” —Lauren Nelson

Pieces from her portfolio

{ } trends + traditions 35

Setting the


in motion

Junior spends day in wheelchair, experiences difficulties of being disabled

Hannah Kunz


pening a door had never posed much of a challenge for me before. Getting to class on time had only been a matter of not stopping to talk to friends. But doing these things in a wheelchair became an extreme challenge. In order to get from class to class required careful planning and flawless execution; it felt like performing surgery with my meticulous preparation. Some parts of my day were really irritating. For example, the ramps that go into the Ninth Grade Center were amusing to go down, but not so much to go up. To anyone who hasn’t tried to roll himself up these inclines, this wouldn’t seem like a big deal. However, when you’re in a wheelchair, every incline seems about five times steeper than it really is. Plus, some of the other ramps that were difficult to go up were just placed in a silly location. The most blatant example of this is in the area outside of the Ninth Grade Center lunchroom. In order to get down to the circular area you have to go all the way around it and are only able to leave the ramp once you are almost all the way to the outside doors. The most frustrating thing though was trying to open doors that only opened toward me, especially the ones going into the Commons when hundreds of other people were trying to get through. This was nearly impossible since I didn’t have nearly enough hands to accomplish this and because almost every single door in the school is extremely heavy. It wouldn’t be a big deal if there were more dooropening buttons around the school but the only ones are around the main entrances. This, of course, doesn’t help trying to enter any of the buildings or rooms throughout the school. This also made it apparent that Westlake is in no way meeting the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It seems like Westlake is trying to get by with meeting only the minimum with only having four door-opening buttons throughout the entire school and having ramps that circle around their destination which is really a shame. If Westlake has the money to buy Smartboards for both the math and science departments, there is

no reason that getting around the school should be difficult. There are a lot of things that could be easily done to fix these problems, the first being to install more door-opening buttons. This isn’t even a major renovation; it’s just a couple of motors on a door that will make a huge difference. The second is to use common sense when making ramps. Don’t make the ramps that circle around where they’re supposed to go, these are very frustrating. Also, don’t make steep inclines that make it difficult for people in wheelchairs to get around when they’re supposed to help. Once again, there is no reason that getting around in a wheelchair has to be difficult. Lunch presented an interesting challenge. I knew I couldn’t physically go buy lunch and roll back to my table without dropping my food everywhere. Once again, I just didn’t have enough hands. I also knew that if I went up there when there were a hundred people, somehow, one of my wheels would get stuck on something or I would run over someone’s foot. Basically, it would be a quagmire. So, I decided that I would wait until all of the lines were gone, go up there with one of my friends and have them carry my food back. This turned out to be one of the most fun parts of my day. Instead of just rolling up at a leisurely pace, my friend pushed me up to the line as fast as he could, almost hitting several people on the way up. When I arrived, my friend, the lunch lady and I were all laughing hysterically. Even though my experience at lunch was a highlight of my day, it did point out how dependent I was on others to help me do everyday activities. I was further reminded of this after I embarrassingly fell on my back after one of my attempted wheelies. Immediately after I fell, I tried to get up on my own but quickly remembered I wasn’t allowed to use my legs. This was one of those “I really wish I could do this myself” moments. I don’t know if it’s just me, but, even though I had chosen to disable myself for the day, every time I couldn’t get to my assigned seat or had to use the elevator I just wanted to suddenly have the ability to teleport and avoid having to use any sort of help. Maybe because I was so used to doing all of these everyday activities it felt weird to suddenly not be able to. Maybe it’s something you get used to. Then again, maybe it’s just no fun to be disabled. Needless to say, my day had its ups and downs, mostly in the elevators. However, the most important part of my day in a wheelchair was gaining more insight into the difficulties a disabled person faces on a day-to-day basis. Obviously, I could only scratch the surface on what this feels like since I only did it for one day, but it has still given me a unique understanding of how difficult simple daily activities can be. These are the things that nobody really thinks about — things like getting around a classroom, getting a door open that only opens toward you or getting lunch. These things are important to understand because while none of us can completely understand the difficulties of being disabled unless we have fully experienced it, it is still important to try to have a basic understanding. —Matt Frank

Speaking her mind

Sophomore recovers from brain aneurysm

For many teenagers, life plays out like a TV show, where own home, where she has been staying while getting back into school. each episode portrays them going to school, doing homework, hanging “At first, I wasn’t that hopeful because the last time they had said out at the mall or enjoying a movie. But for sophomore Paulina De la that [I could go home] I only got to be back for one night,” Paulina Fuente, life became more like an episode of “True Life” than a scripted said. “But after a couple of nights it felt awesome. Every day something sitcom within a matter of minutes. One moment enjoying winter break, gets easier now that I’m home.” the next in the emergency room of Dell Children’s Hospital, Paulina’s The aneurysm was in the right side of the brain in an area that life changed in an instant when a routine check-up turned into a lifeaffects the motor control of eye-contact and speech. Paulina has three threatening situation. therapists — physical, speech and occupational — to help retrain her It started with the slightest symptoms — ranbrain function to perform everyday tasks. dom dizziness and numbness in her left arm and “I feel like I need the physical therapist leg that would disappear as fast as the feeling because my legs and joints are just so tired all came. But when the symptoms became more frethe time now and balancing is harder,” Paulina quent, and began to last longer, Paulina took a said. “My speech therapist helps with focusing trip to the doctor for answers. After her MRI on and eye contact because that’s harder now too. I Jan. 6, she was immediately sent for a CT scan don’t feel like I need my occupational therapist for further analysis. Paulina was then released because I feel like those things will go back to to go home. Knowing nothing about what was normal with time.” happening inside her head, Paulina continued An incredible aspect of this situation for Pauthe day like normal. When the phone rang with lina has been the community support. With radio results she wasn’t anticipating, she was rushed announcements, friends and even a public plea to the ER. Her father explained that they had asking for prayers on the Hill Country Animal to go in fast because the doctor who wanted to Clinic sign, Paulina has been blessed with the look at her was going out of town later that day, love and helpful attitude of the community and but Paulina found out after that this wasn’t the family friends. case. In order to keep her calm, she was told very “The love that the whole community has sent courtesy photo little. my way is overwhelming,” Paulina said. “Lately CT scan of Paulina’s brain taken Jan. 6 to analyze unusual “I was watching TV with my brother,” Paulina symptoms of numbness in her left arm and leg. with all the free time I’ve been having, I’ve been said. “My dad came in and said we had to go to thinking of ways to give back.” the hospital before the doctor went on vacation, Considering the dangers and statistics on so I thought nothing of it until I ended up in the ICU.” aneurysm patients, Paulina’s glitch-free surgery and rapid recovery is The reason for the extreme concern was the discovery of a pingnothing short of miraculous. pong sized aneurysm that was leaking. A brain aneurysm is an abnor“The scariest part was realizing how lucky I was,” Paulina said. “Not mal bulging or inflating of a vein or artery in the brain. It can spread to just that they found the aneurysm and [that] I had symptoms (which multiple arteries, and when it ruptures the danger is life-threatening are not normal), but that the surgery went perfectly and I got to keep to the point that, at any second, a patient could have a stroke and most all my hair. Realizing that now, if the surgery had gone wrong, I could likely not survive. be paralyzed or even dead is mind blowing.” “It all happened so fast I didn’t realize the seriousness of the situaReality TV shows will always be dramatic, but real life is more tion until after the surgery,” Paulina said. traumatic. In Paulina’s case, her life took a 180 degree turn within First released from the hospital on Jan. 13, Paulina was rushed back minutes and is now on the road to recovery. Soon, Paulina will be back to the hospital Jan. 14 after two seizures. She was kept in the hospital to normal, whatever the new normal will be. on a close watch until Jan. 19 when she was finally released back to her —Danielle Brown

After unexpected brain surgery, sophomore Paulina De La Fuente visits with Dr. Timothy George.

courtesy photo

{ } trends + traditions 37

ref le Senior

Keren Rempe

g gay at West n i e b lake n o cts

Out in the

Seeing him stride down the hallways today with his head held high, it’s hard to imagine that at first, senior Jared Peterson was in denial. Ever since middle school he had known that something set him apart from the majority of his peers. “I don’t think there was ever a momentous second when I realized I was gay,” Jared said. “It was closer to a war of attrition. Finally, I had to admit it to myself. You can only try to convince yourself of a lie for so long. In sixth grade I knew I liked guys. I tried to like girls too, then in seventh grade I gave up because it was a hopeless battle.” Though he jokes about it now, this period of his life was an immense struggle for Jared. “I have always been a perfectionist, and I didn’t want to be gay,” he said. “It was like this huge flaw marked upon me. I tried so hard to fix it. Not only that, but middle school is a point in your adolescence when all you want is to fit in. Homosexuality is still considered by most parents in the realm of sex, STDs, drugs and alcohol. It’s something you don’t talk to a kid about. So you try to turn to your family for support but you find it’s a taboo subject. The worst part about dealing with being gay [at such a young age] is that you feel you have nowhere to turn. You don’t want to lose your friends. You don’t want to be rejected by your parents. Most churches won’t give you support.” Jared did, however, find comfort in the words of one of his teachers, whose son was gay. “There is an amazing teacher at West Ridge who did more for me than anyone else did at that time in my life, and I am so grateful she was there for me,” Jared said. “Her name is Mrs. [Tracy] Kriese, and I remember she was the first person who made me think that being gay was okay. That was all I really wanted to hear. I wanted to know that even if I was gay, I was still Jared.” He waited three years to divulge his secret, but his qualms about coming out were quickly dispelled by his friends. “I waited from seventh grade to 10th grade, because I thought people wouldn’t be ready for it or would have a bad reaction,” Jared said. “But everyone already kind of knew I was gay, so people would always drop hints to me that they were okay with it. If they hadn’t done that, I don’t know whether I would have felt as comfortable coming out.” The supportive social network he initially found in Westlake has stuck with him through the years. “In three years of being completely out, no one has ever said a mean word to me at Westlake, which is kind of unprecedented for a high school, I think,” Jared said. “I feel like I won’t even realize how good Westlake has been to me until I go to college and don’t have such a wonderful group of peers. It’s a community. You know,

you can disagree on very fundamental issues like religion, politics or moral beliefs and approach life from completely opposite perspectives, but you’re still great friends with each other. There are people who have personal religious beliefs against being gay, but none that are going to harass me.” Jared attributes the positive reaction of others in part to his own personality. “If I were a different kind of person I might be picked on more,” he said. “If I were less smart I might be picked on; if I were less social I might be picked on. It also helps that I fit into Westlake. I mean, look at me. I’m wearing Sperrys and Ralph Lauren.” He has certainly found his niche within Westlake. He’s even been claimed by Hyline as their “unofficial manager.” “I love Hyline,” Jared said. “Hyline is my family. They’re like the sorority that adopted me. And since I’m friends with all the girls, I feel like guys won’t pick on me because they feel like I’ll trash talk them to the girls now, and there goes their dating life.” This doesn’t mean that Jared doesn’t have his critics, though. “Actually, the interesting thing is, many of the people who dislike me the most are other gay guys,” he said. “There are some gay people who don’t want to be accepted for being gay. Some want to be rebels. Some want to be outcasts of society. And they feel that, by still being friends with [anti-gay straight people] and not calling them out on it, I am appeasing straight people somehow — I’m not standing up for being gay.” Nevertheless, being gay, or perhaps just being himself, has helped him achieve somewhat of a celebrity status. “It’s almost as if, if I wasn’t gay, I would be less popular at Westlake,” Jared said. “Sometimes I think that I have more friends than I would otherwise — people think it’s cool, they want to talk to me. In Westlake it’s almost become a positive thing. But here’s the interesting thing about Westlake: it’s very gay-friendly but still very gender-role defined. Even if you’re gay, they still want you to be a ‘Westlake guy.’ Which is why there are other gay guys at school that get bullied some, while I don’t.” Jared has tried to be particularly open about his sexual orientation with the hope that he will help other students in a situation similar to his. Leading by example, he wants others to realize how positive his experience has been. “When I was contemplating coming out, I didn’t know anyone who was ‘out’ at Westlake,” Jared said, “so I never really knew how I would be treated. My hope is that seeing someone that is out, entirely accepted and not bullied at all could reassure other gay students considering coming out at Westlake. It’s something I know I would’ve wanted to have.” Jared’s everyday demeanor certainly doesn’t project any notes

of doubt or disappointment about who he is, but when he pauses to reflect, he finds that there are multiple layers to it. “I’m happy being gay, obviously,” he said. “I like it; I have fun with it. But, at the same time, you don’t really want to be, you know? If I was able to choose, if I could go back and plan my life ahead, I probably still wouldn’t choose to be gay. Just because overall it is easier to be straight. And being gay does probably close more doors than it opens.” This is how he approaches those who think that being gay is a choice, and he speaks purely from personal experience. “I really didn’t want to be,” he said. “And I don’t think any kid ever really wants to be. I accept the fact that I’m gay, but it’s not something I asked for.” Still, Jared sees multiple silver linings in gay relationships. “For one, being a gay guy is so much better than being a straight guy because it’s half as expensive because you split everything,” he said, laughing. “Two, when you have a guy and a girl, they can’t do everything together. You know, the girl is like, ‘I want to go shopping,’ and the guy’s like, ‘Are you crazy? I don’t shop.’ Gay guys, since you’re both dudes, you’re more likely to share similar interests. So I think in some ways gay relationships are almost easier to get along with because the people are more alike. There’s innately a similarity between the two. If you stuck a random guy and a girl in a room together, and two gay guys in a room together, I think the gay guys are more likely to end up dating than the guy and the girl.” Since Jared came out to his parents, they have shown unwavering support. “Although she had concerns at first, in the end my mother has grown to love it,” Jared said. “In some ways, I think she wanted a gay son. She might have been disappointed if I ended up saying I was straight. She dated, like, three guys in high school and they all ended up gay, and her roommate in college was gay. [My dad is] still kind of uncomfortable about it, but he does try really hard. He does his best to be supportive, and I’m really glad he does.” The fact that gay relationships are less common often offers these couples more liberties. “There’s less expectations of it,” Jared said. “You’re not expecting yourself to get married, have kids and live the traditional American dream. That’s one of the nice parts about being gay. You already don’t fall within standard social expectations. When you’re gay you have more freedom to choose what you want versus what the accepted life plan is.” That’s not to say that gay parents aren’t becoming more com-

mon. Jared himself is undecided on the subject of parenthood, but he has given it thought. “Do I think two dads are as good as a mom and a dad?” he said. “I don’t really know. I guess if I was a proper, politically-correct gay guy I would say, ‘Of course, they’re equal,’ but I can’t claim to really know. I haven’t spent time around children raised by gay parents to truthfully be able to say what it’s like. Do I see any reason to believe gay parents would be inferior to straight parents? Not at all, but at the same time it’s been something that I’ve worried about. I don’t ever want my kids to wish they had a mom and a dad versus two dads. If you’re going to have a kid, obviously you don’t want them to ever regret that they had you as parents.” Jared also faces other stereotypes when he contemplates his future. “Everyone thinks I want to be either a fashion designer or an interior designer,” he said. “I tell them I want to be an engineer, and they’re like, ‘You can’t do that!’ A gay guy in engineering, that’s crazy. I know some people will claim, ‘Oh, stereotypes don’t exist.’ But they do exist. I’d probably say I promote some stereotypes, simply because I fit some of them. I do have an inordinate concern with clothes. I do like watching chick flicks. Half my iPod is ‘80s music. Yet at the same time, there are many aspects of the gay stereotype I don’t fit into, and I think you’re going to find that with any group. See, for a long time I acted more stereotypically gay than I am. For me to be friends with girls, I had to be the gay friend. I had to always love to go shopping with them, and I had to love to do their hair and makeup. For a while I made myself gayer than I was so girls would embrace me. I had to be Will from Will and Grace.” He runs across some common misconceptions, as well. “Every straight guy thinks that you’re going to find him attractive,” Jared said. “[They think you’ll] either hit on them or if they spend too much time with you you’ll get a crush on them. But they don’t realize that gay men find gay men attractive, personalitywise. We don’t like crude guys, you know? We don’t want to date a guy who thinks belching is funny. Being a gay guy doesn’t mean that I’m attracted to every dude that walks down the hall. There are tons of really great straight guys in the world, but I would never be romantically attracted to them.” Jared contemplates the near absence of his female counterparts at Westlake. He thinks that our society needs to work on making it easier for lesbians to be open. “Being a lesbian is much more difficult, I think,” he said. “Lesbi-

{ westlakefeatherduster.

trends + traditions39

Working the



English teacher pursues rural lifestyle away from school

Anyone who had Kitty Mellenbruch for freshman English knows she’s not quite the same as any of the other English teachers — or any Westlake teacher, for that matter. Mellenbruch’s family consists of not only her husband, two children, dogs and cats, but also two miniature donkeys, four horses and about 50 head of cattle. Mellenbruch and her family reside on a large plot of land about three miles from Austin Bergstrom International Airport on the Colorado River. On top of being a full-time mother and teacher, she also raises cattle, bales hay and harvests pecans. “I used to raise dairy goats so I would have to get up really early in the mornings,” Mellenbruch said. “Now, in the lap of luxury, my mornings start at about 5:30. I wake up, check on the animals, make lunches for the kids, leave the house by 7, drop my son Justin off at Eanes and my daughter Megan at Hill Country, and then come to Westlake.” Mellenbruch’s ranch has what is called a cow-calf operation, which means that they have many mother cows and one bull, and they ranch and sell the cattle they raise. They typically have ranch hands who stay on the ranch during the busier seasons. “How many employees we have at a certain times determines a lot of what we have to do,” Mellenbruch said. “The animals have to be fed each morning and night. So with the workers and without the dairy goats I do less and less. When I get home in the evenings, I often will have to meet with people who are purchasing hay, and I do all the book work for that. We sell about 15,000 to 18,000 square bales of hay a year, so I have to keep up with all of the hay sales, equipment, paperwork, payments for our employees, all the business and finance of the farm.” Although the farming lifestyle is often associated with Texas by most outsiders, smaller, noncommercial Texas farms are actually growing less common. “I think that a lot of people still have the misconception that all Texans walk around with cowboy boots and a cowboy hats,” Mellenbruch said. “It’s interesting to find out just how many students that I have who know very little about where the food that they eat comes from. It’s sometimes kind of shocking to realize the process and the labor that is involved; I think as [more people] are becoming city dwellers, [farming Texans] are becoming a dying breed.” Due to growing prices of land and equipment it is almost impossible to start a small farm unless it is something that is inherited or passed down. “I think the idea that the American farmer is dying out is a true concept because the products most people buy now are raised commercially,” Mellenbruch said. “Look at your fast food restaurants. McDonalds, for example, owns all of their own land and raises their own potatoes for their French fries — they don’t buy from any other people. Austin does a lot of stuff like buying locally, which does help, but that’s really kind of a grassroots approach. It is very difficult to compete with a corporation that is raising their own [goods] and doing it for much cheaper than the goods from the mom-and-pop type farmers. I

ily Em ll

e tch


think that’s why some people have gone organic to find a niche in the market, but that’s a very difficult thing to do as well.” Mellenbruch’s ranch typically brings its cattle to auction two or three times a year where processing plants will buy them for slaughter, and some other companies will buy younger cattle to be raised in feed lots. “We don’t really sell to individuals and we don’t slaughter our own,” Mellenbruch said. “We sell pecans to wholesalers, a lot of whom make candies and pies.” At 300 acres, Mellenbruch’s ranch is relatively small compared to most Texas farms. “We probably have from 40 to 50 head of cattle [at our ranch] each season, but we have larger ranches in South Texas so we have larger herds there,” Mellenbruch said. “That’s a family-run business. My brother-in-law runs that for the family and they have people that work for them as well. My ranch was not inherited; my husband and I purchased it 15 years ago — we were very fortunate to find something so close to Austin.” Considering her love of farming, it is surprising that this is not the type of lifestyle Mellenbruch grew up with. “I grew up with a father in the military,” Mellenbruch said.” I was the youngest of six so I was at the end of my father’s traveling career. I was actually born in Japan and moved to San Antonio, then relocated to Austin by second grade, so I’ve gone to school and lived in the same area since second grade. My ranch is only four miles from my childhood home. I think organization is a big part of the military lifestyle, and the flexibility of being able to move and having been one of six children, learning how to work with people, being versatile that way. That’s really how you have to be in both farming and teaching. I think they all relate.” Mellenbruch’s English students love to hear about happenings on her ranch. “[The students] love looking at the pictures that I put up,” Mellenbruch said, “Last year my kids were really shocked when I showed them a picture of Justin, my 10-year-old, after he got his new truck. They were like, ‘He got a truck? What do you mean he got a truck; he’s only 10 years old!’, and I say, ‘Yeah, he got a truck, he’s been driving

for two years now.’ He can’t drive it off the ranch, but he can drive it around our land. Things like that are a little different for them since it’s a very different lifestyle. If you own the ranch property you can drive on it, so that’s why he can drive at any age. I wish I could prop him up with a pillow or something and get him to drive me into town — they’re great drivers, both of my kids. I don’t know how they’re going to suffer through Driver’s Ed!” Mellenbruch has to find time for schoolwork between taking Justin to basketball practices, Megan to club volleyball games and tournaments and her farm work. “There’s some late nights. I always carry my bag with papers to grade, so when kids are at practices and things like that, I will utilize the time as wisely as I can,” Mellenbruch said. “I spend most of my lunch hour grading — I don’t go out to lunch very often during the week to try to catch up, and I always take the papers with me so if there’s an opportunity to grade, I will grade.” Mellenbruch’s children, rather than feeling secluded by living so far away from their friends, actually enjoy being able to take all of their friends out to see the ranch. “[Their friends] all want to come out,” Mellenbruch said. “They want to go fishing, want to ride the four wheelers or want to go horseback riding. A lot of Megan’s friends want to come out when we work cattle because they want to see how its done. They want to come when we’re cutting hay; it’s a good opportunity for kids who have never seen that to see it.” Mellenbruch says she believes that her family is very fortunate to be Kitty Mellenbruch and her blessed with such a unique and multihusband, David, pose with faceted way of life. one of their calves. “I always tell my own children photos courtesy of Kitty Mellenbruch that they really have the best of both worlds,” Mellenbruch said. “They get to live in the country, not have neighbors, get to have the animals that they want and the freedom that they want to run around and I don’t have to worry about them. But then they get the wonderful opportunity to go to a school like Westlake and that’s part my incentive for teaching here.” —Sofie Seiden

{ } { } trends + traditions 41 43

Gimme Shelter Y

ou’ve likely seen a plethora of panhandlers while at stoplights around Austin. Maybe you’ve given them some money. Maybe you’ve rolled windows up, locked your doors, turned your music down and tried to avert your gaze. Or maybe you’ve just scoffed to yourself, thinking, “they probably aren’t even homeless.” Some of those people are homeless though, and they lead vastly different lives from you or me. Just how vast, though, was something I was determined to discover. I would become homeless for a day. I knew there would be no way for me to truly replicate the struggle of being homeless in a single day, but I also knew wandering around Austin aimlessly for eight hours wasn’t going to be close enough to what homelessness was actually like. Therefore, I decided to make the day before my undertaking as uncomfortable as possible. I ate about half of what I eat on normal days, as well as not getting any sleep that night. As dawn broke, I was tired, hungry, dirty and ready to get into the mindset of a homeless person. So, at 7:30 I got in my car and drove down to Threadgills. Immediately upon leaving my automobile, my personage was assailed with the wrath of 1000 icebergs. It was about 30 degrees outside, and I knew that I would be lucky if the temperature got even a little bit warmer. Despite wearing the biggest coat I could find, I reckoned that I would be freezing all day. With haste, I set off, hoping that movement might warm my limbs. I had not planned where I would go, so I decided that downtown, about a mile away, was a good idea. As I began walking, I realized the next eight hours would not be the most exciting. Usually, if I had to spend an extended period of time wandering around alone, I would at least be able to listen to music to occupy my time. Now, all I had with me were my keys, a Styrofoam cup for people to put change in, my phone and large amounts of candy in a backpack in case my blood sugar went low, because I have diabetes. Once I finally reached the heart of downtown, I decided it was time to pick a spot to stand around and try to get money for food. Even though it was only 9 a.m., it had been more than 20 hours since I last had anything resembling an adequate meal.

Junior samples life on the streets

Pulling my “Homeless — need food” sign out, as well as my Styrofoam cup, I propped myself out in front of the Austin 360 Condos. I was well aware that I was loitering and I would probably have to relocate in a couple of hours in order to prevent getting harassed by no-nonsense security guards. After about the first hour of panhandling, my situation looked bleak. I still hadn’t received even the smallest modicum of change, and my hunger was beginning to increase exponentially. I decided it was high time for a more engaged approach to scrounging for money. Putting

Barrett Wilson

everything except my sign into my backpack, I began to trek down Guadalupe Street. Every time I crossed paths with someone who seemed like he wouldn’t be opposed to giving alms to the poor, I walked up to him and inquired as to if he wouldn’t mind giving me some change. Generally, I got positive responses from people, who would give me a dollar or two. Things were going pretty well, and I had $9.26 — enough money for lunch, but I figured if I were an actual homeless person, I would need to keep asking, because hey, I would need money for more than just a single lunch. So I embarked once more, on a journey to receive more money. This was not the best idea, as the next man I asked was either having a bad day, or not a fan of beggars. Before I had even finished asking him for spare change, he pushed me out of the way and certain words were thrown around that I shan’t reprint in a respectable newsmagazine. After this turn of events, I figured it was about time for lunch. After two hours, I had

about $15, which I knew was more than enough to get me a sandwich at Which Wich. Never before have I truly had such a wonderful meal. Maybe it had just been the hunger, but something in that combination of meat, cheese and bread rejuvenated me. I was still pretty tired, but no longer was I on the verge of starvation. I tried to enjoy eating, as well as the climate-controlled building, because it was still about 33 degrees outside. After 45 minutes, I set off once more. I headed to the nearest street corner, determined to earn some money by dawdling around a building. I plucked my Styrofoam cup out once more, leaned my back up against a wall and waited. About 15 minutes into this, I fell asleep. This might have convinced people that I actually needed money — as when I woke up about 30 minutes later, I had $7.50 in my cup. This gave me an odd sense of accomplishment. Seeing that it was about 3 p.m., I decided to end my day on a high note and call it quits on being homeless. On my way back to my car, I looked for the first true homeless person I could find and gave him my money. As I handed him all the remaining money I had collected, he seemed surprised about the amount of money he was receiving and after the day’s events I know $7.50 is quite a bit to receive at one time. As I drove home, I thought about my day. I had done something that hopefully I would never have to do again. Spending my day hungry and tired in the freezing weather was definitely not the most enjoyable thing I’ve done, and I could only imagine how much worse it would be in the rain, 100-degree heat or over an extended period of time. I was able to shrug off any harassment I had received, because I was only doing this as an experiment, but for someone struggling day in and day out to find a place to eat or sleep, though, it might have had more of a degrading effect. At the end of the day, I was back where I had started: cold, tired and hungry. But even though my physical state was not the best, I could look back at my day and consider it a success, because I had seen the world from a new perspective. Next time I am driving and see someone on the side of the road with a sign saying he doesn’t have any money for food, I will have a new reaction. Instead of hoping that he won’t look at me, I will make sure to catch his attention and give him a few dollars.

Life Skills program affects more than just students

Life Skills teacher Drew Gunn stands with his student, Mark.

Live and learn

“The kids learn more because of the [community and technological] access they have,” Gunn said. “I don’t get to spend a lot of time with the general education group, but I think back to my high school years when it was completely separate. Everything is a lot more integrated now. There is a greater understanding.” Hirrah Barlas This isn’t the only insight Gunn has encountered since working here. As he didn’t always plan to go into special education, the experiAs the familiar chime of the sixth period bell sounds ences have changed him quite significantly. through the hallways, Mark creaks open the door ready to do his job. “Working with any students with disabilities, you will run into difCollecting the litter laced throughout the campus provides him with ferent behaviors, whether they be social or physical,” Gunn said. “You indescribable happiness and a sense of accomplishment. This, and often have to remind yourself not to be offended. I don’t know if this other jobs that he enjoys, are all a part of his daily routine at school. has changed as I’ve worked here longer, but I have grown accustomed And with him every step of the way is his teacher Drew Gunn. and sometimes forget that they have disabilities.” The Life Skills program at Westlake Although being a Life Skills is one that most Westlake students have teacher has its challenges, Gunn loves heard of, but essentially know very little what he does and the rewarding feelabout. Working with students with special ing he gets. needs, the department has been success“All of the kids are great,” Gunn ful in providing each of its participants said. “We laugh a lot and are always with the tools needed once they leave high doing fun activities like going outside school. Mark, an autistic student in the and into the community. Sometimes program, is just one of the many who has we spend time at the food bank.” the ability to learn and grow with the help His new job has even changed his of their teacher. view of others outside of the class“[The Life Skills program] works with room. He constantly finds himself kids that need to focus on everything thinking of the students. from establishing routines and hygiene “I’ve always been pretty opento reading and academics,” Gunn said. minded when thinking about the re“We also work on post-secondary issues, actions of others,” Gunn said. “Since incorporating jobs and interests. Vocaworking in special education I have tional activities are an important part of —Life Skills teacher Drew Gunn become more considerate and have the day.” started noticing things in the real For Mark, this is where he tends to world. I wonder how [our students] shine. By helping with trash and recywould react in certain situations and cling pick-up, he has a responsibility. As if they’d be taken care of.” Gunn’s only student, he has made remarkable strides since they first As a faculty member of the department, Gunn finds that all of the met last May. Life Skills teachers and students are genuine and good-hearted. He “He is more willing to participate in all academic and vocational encourages general education students to uncover an occasion to get activities,” Gunn said. “He is developing great social skills and apto know a Life Skills student in the program because of the eye-openpropriate manners. What we will never know is whether or not my ing experience it has given him. student’s progress is related to new teaching methods that I have It is difficult to comprehend what Mark’s life would be like without introduced, his overall ‘growing up’ or that he is physically healthier this program. Not only has it provided him, and others, with the than he has been in a long time.” chance to prosper at a future job, but it has given him far more. It has As expected, Gunn’s job is not always easy. Currently in his first supplied Mark with exactly what he needs to be a success. This alone year of teaching, he continues to learn something new every day from is enough to put a smile on Gunn’s face. the program, as well as from Mark. With every scrap of paper gathered and placed in his bucket, Mark “When any student is having a bad day, a teacher has to switch walks swiftly ahead of Gunn. Close behind, Gunn allows his student to from an hourly schedule to a minute to minute schedule,” Gunn said. enjoy some independence, but looks on with a sense of pride. “You have to make a continuous effort to engage the student in school “Compared to last May, he is doing 10 times more,” Gunn said. activities. It’s a delicate process with tons of trial and error.” The ac“Seeing the changes Mark has made is what keeps me going.” cess to technology at Westlake is one of the things that Gunn believes —Lizzie Friedman makes the program thrive.

[The Life Skills program] works with kids that need to focus on everything from establishing routines and hygiene to reading and academics.

{ } trends + traditions 43

on an



A long way from home Math teacher tells of flight

rom war-torn homeland


n America, most children learn about the pioneers talking to our families] and wonder if they were still alive.” in their elementary school classes. They envision the roIt took an immense amount of courage and hope for mantic aspect of the journey — the long, hard road, the thrill Abusalbi to leave behind her parents and eight siblings, of the great unknown, the approaching freedom. But the but it took even more to take that first step into the United journey of a real-life pioneer isn’t like the movies, at least States without knowing anybody there and having no for Calculus teacher Ilham Abusalbi. knowledge of the English language. “It was our first time leaving the country,” Abusalbi said. “We didn’t have money [to send me to] school,” Abusalbi “It felt like going through a tunnel, [not knowing] if you’ll said. “My husband [who had gone to English school in Lebasee the light. It was scary.” non] tutored me. We bought books to help.” When they were in their early 20s, Abusalbi and her The accomplishment of learning the English language husband left Lebanon in with no proper teaching was 1976 during its civil war. impressive, to say the least, They started their new lives for a woman who considered in Baton Rouge, where her herself a sort of Christopher Through hard work you husband had a pre-arranged Columbus. scholarship at Louisiana “We felt like we had disget where you want to State University. covered America,” Abusalbi “It was a dream come said. “We didn’t know anybe. We came having true,” Abusalbi said. “[It one.” was] a way to get away from Their luck changed a the war.” nothing, and now we have year after they had moved to The war in Lebanon was America. Abusalbi and her a long, brutal fight between husband came across another everything. It is a dream warring religious and politiLebanese couple in their cal groups, and the casualtown. that came true. ties were devastating. Even “They helped us tremenon the road to the airport, dously,” Abusalbi said. “The Abusalbi could see the efyear I had my daughter, she, fects of the war all around the lady, stayed with me the her. whole time in the delivery “[There were] ruins, room. She acted like a mother bombs, burnt houses everyto me.” where,” Abusalbi said. “[Our escape] all depended if there Soon, the Abusalbis became official Americans. The comwas a plane [at the airport]. We were so relieved when our pany Abusalbi’s husband worked for, Schlumberger, applied plane took off.” to get the couple green cards and eventually citizenship in But the most difficult part of leaving for Abusalbi was not 1994. the unpredictable airport or the bomb-bruised landscape They fell in quickly with the American way of life. she had traveled through to make her escape — it was the “Since I didn’t really know how to raise a daughter, I thought of leaving her family behind. got baby books in the U.S.,” Abusalbi said. “Our kids were “It was very hard [to leave them],” Abusalbi said. “The raised in an American way. I started taking them to a daywar stayed for 16 years. We would hang up the phone [after care on a daily basis so they wouldn’t have my accent.”

“ ”

—Ilham Abusalbi

AP Calculus and Multivariable Calculus teacher Ilham Abusalbi sits in her classroom. Abusalbi has also taught Algebra II and Pre-Calculus. Before teaching at Westlake, she and her husband fled a war-torn Lebanon. Keren Rempe

Though the war didn’t end until 1990, Abusalbi and her family went back to Lebanon for the first time in 1989. “We were desperate,” Abusalbi said. “The war was still going on, but we hadn’t seen our parents in 12 years. [My] parents didn’t know my kids.” It proved to be a terrifying experience for all of them. Abusalbi’s parents lived in West Beirut, while her husband’s parents were in East Beirut. Unfortunately, this meant they had to cross the Green Line, the metaphorical line between the two fighting sections of the country. “We had to stay in the car for five hours,” Abusalbi said. “There were active snipers on the Green Line. We had to wait until night, [when] my husband’s cousin was going to come pick us up. [When he did], he sped with the lights off to get to my husband’s parents’ house.” It took a great amount of bravery to make that trip home, and reflecting back, Abusalbi is astonished. “I don’t know how you get the courage,” Abusalbi said. “Now my heart shivers [to think about it].” The most horrifying part, though, was the fact that they made that trip with their two young children, Samer Paul and Marcelle. “My daughter asks me now, ‘Why would you take us to a place where there is war?’” Abusalbi said. “But we wanted [our parents] to see us and see our kids.” Soon after, in 1991, Abusalbi and her family moved to Austin. They had lived there once before, in 1984, but had been living in France before they decided to visit Lebanon again. It was then that she received a degree in math from the University of Texas. “When I left Lebanon, I promised my dad [I would] get a degree,” Abusalbi said. “My mom and dad didn’t know how to read or write. They raised nine kids and sent them

to school. [My] dad was concerned that I would never finish my college degree. I felt I had to make a promise to him.” She was able to keep that promise when she graduated from UT in 1998. “[One of my siblings] told me that the day I sent him my graduation picture and a photo of my degree, my dad literally danced around the house with it,” Abusalbi said. Sadly, her parents both passed away shortly after she graduated. “I fulfilled my promise to them, and they were so happy,” Abusalbi said. Soon, Abusalbi started substitute teaching. It was there, in one of the classes she was watching over, that a student convinced her to get her teaching certificate. “One student was doing his math work, so I helped,” Abusalbi said. “He asked me, why was I subbing? With a degree in math, why wasn’t I teaching?” After going back to UT to earn her teaching certificate, Abusalbi immediately applied for a teaching position at Westlake in 2000. “I only applied at Westlake,” Abusalbi said. “It was Westlake or nothing.” She got her wish and became a member of the Westlake staff the same year. Abusalbi’s children both attended Westlake, and now they have grown with kids of their own. While she raised her children as Americans and lives an almost totally American life, Abusalbi didn’t leave everything behind. “I brought the things I learned from my parents,” Abusalbi said. “[Things like,] ‘through hard work you get where you want to be.’ We came having nothing, and now we have everything. It is a dream that came true.” —Anna Macdonald

{ } trends + traditions 45

This just in Junior pursues broadcast journalism dream through ISM program, interns at KISS FM

r Kathe

inn ine F

At 4 a.m. on a Tuesday with an emphasis on celebrity morning, while most teens are gossip. still asleep in bed, junior Lizzie “My favorite part would have McWilliams is already getting up to be learning how to do all of for her morning radio internship. the things the other interns do Every Tuesday and Thursday, she so that I can get better at it and interns at The Bobby Bones Show just start to do those things on until she has to leave for school at my own, like uploading podcasts 7:45 a.m. on iTunes,” Lizzie said. “I am still Broadcast journalism was a learning how, but hopefully, as I part of Lizzie’s life a long time learn more, the easier it will get.” before her internship, however, When Lizzie arrives at the and it had a much more humble radio station at 5 a.m., she imbeginning. mediately reports to Messer. Up“Ever since I can remember, loading videos or pictures to the my neighbor Martha and I would website are just some of the tasks dance around making funny vidLizzie is often presented with. If eos,” Lizzie said. “I just had fun she’s not given an assignment, entertaining people with her. We Lizzie waits a little while for basically took over my family’s further instruction. For the next first video camera.” few hours, Lizzie and the other Lizzie’s love of visual media interns take notes on the radio caused her to explore various broadcast and answer listeners’ related fields in high school. Durquestions when they call. If they ing her freshman year, she took can, they attempt to connect the yearbook, and at a convention in calls to the DJs. California, she attended a news “The other interns are great,” anchor seminar. The news anchor Lizzie said.“They all are willing inspired Lizzie, and when choosto help me out, even though all ing her classes for sophomore of them are in college. They have year, filmmaking immediately been so sweet and kind to me. I Emily Cohen caught her attention. While at the KISS FM studio where she is interning, junior Lizzie McWilliams poses with one of the hosts of the morning really feel welcome there.” “I mainly loved making music Along with the interns, the show, Bobby Bones. “Bobby’s a pretty personable guy,” Lizzie said. “All of the hosts are pretty down-to-earth and videos,” she said. “I had basically rest of the radio family is also they’re nice and fun to be around.” Lizzie’s intership is through her Independent Study Mentorship class. tried most of the things [involvvery welcoming. Although he is ing] visual media, and radio just very busy, she once met the host, very next morning, Lizzie received an e-mail crept up on me. I immediately Bobby Bones. Messer, as the producer of the took a liking to the idea of talking on the radio accepting her internship request. Corresponshow, works as the interns’ mentor, keeping dence between Lizzie and Messer followed reand all of the technological aspects of radio track of them and giving them assignments. garding what times she was available to work. while interning.” “She’s really nice,” Lizzie said. “She gave “I started on Jan. 12,” she said. “The first Through the Independent Study Mentorme an immediate response and let me be an day I was really nervous and just basically sat ship program, Lizzie was able to enter the intern, even though I’m only in high school. and watched how they answered phones and working world and experience what a radio She’s really helpful and patient.” just learned where everything was, and the job would be like. Through the ISM program, Lizzie is findother interns gave me some great advice. I got “I wanted to enroll in the ISM class and ing that she really enjoys interning at a radio to answer the phones and that was scary in was thinking about where I wanted to work,” station and hopes that, in the future, she will itself. Every time we pick up the phone we say, be able to work on the radio or another field of she said. “Every morning when I woke up, I ‘Good morning, Bobby Bones Show. How may broadcast journalism for a career. would listen to them talk on the radio while I help you?’ We get their name, age and what getting ready and got the idea of e-mailing “I want to continue in radio or broadcast,” city they are calling from.” them, because I’ve always been interested Lizzie said. “I have always loved the idea of The Bobby Bones Show is a morning radio in visual media like film, broadcasting and doing something like that for my career, and broadcast on KISS FM, hosted by Bobby, radio.” so far with what I have seen and done, I am Amy, Carlos and Lunchbox. A typical epiShe e-mailed Bobby Bones and Amy from inspired to work towards getting into the sode includes games with callers, interns and the morning show, and Amy forwarded her radio business.” special guests, current events and pop culture e-mail to Alayna Messer, their producer. The —Selah Maya Zighelboim

From Dad, with

l ve

Junior Jaci Eckert receives kidney from father

Junior Jaci Eckert endured a kidney transplant during the summer before her junior year. Jaci’s father donated one of his kindneys for her transplant. Barrett Wilson

The car finally reached its destination. The patient got out and went inside the hospital. She knew this day would come. It had always been a possibility, but now it was a reality. Junior Jaci Eckert prepared for her kidney surgery. “I have had kidney problems since I was 3,” Jaci said. “They got worse in the past five or so years. My kidneys weren’t formed correctly. The ureters were not connected properly and they used to get infected often.” The transplant was a last resort for the Eckert family. Doctors tried various treatments before it became necessary. “I had to be on dialysis all sophomore year,” Jaci said. “I slept through some of it [for] eight hours every night. I couldn’t be out of the house all afternoon. I had to have everything done because it was hard to concentrate with a tube stuck into my stomach. It was very painful.” The dialysis, however, did not offer a permanent solution, and Jaci was told that she needed a kidney transplant. Kidneys are generally hard to come by. In the past 10 years, the number of people waiting for a kidney increased by almost 40,000. Relatives or close friends can donate the organs. Jaci was lucky — her father was the ideal donor. “My dad was the first one we tested,” Jaci said. “He was a perfect match. It was convenient and much easier to plan. I am very thankful.” Jaci now has two kidneys, a very rare occurrence in a kidney recipient. “The doctors took out my right kidney,” Jaci said. “I still have my left because it is 20 percent [functional]. And I have my dad’s.” The doctors performed the transplant surgery on June 11 in San

Antonio. Soon after, Jaci made a speedy recovery. “I was at the hospital only one day before the surgery and spent one week in the hospital after the surgery,” Jaci said. “One week is the fastest anyone has gotten out because I’m young and because my dad was such a close match.” Having to be at home after the surgery, Jaci found herself with hours of idle time. “After the surgery, I was pretty sedentary at home for two weeks,” Jaci said. “I had always liked to read, but I read a lot more books and I kept in touch with my friends over the Internet. [But] I think I could have had a lot more fun that [summer].” Jaci had a challenging time trying to overcome her surgery and the issues that ensued. “I had to wear a [white surgical] mask for the first semester,” Jaci said. “My immune system was suppressed. With swine flu and regular flu [going around], I couldn’t take the risk of getting sick. People did look at me kind of funny when I wore the mask.” Jaci has not entirely recovered from her surgery. She still has to go to regular monthly doctor appointments. “I [can’t] play sports now,” Jaci said. “I can’t have the chance for injury. I cannot risk it. I had minor heart problems because [of the kidney]. One side of my heart was larger, so I take medicine [for it].” Nevertheless, Jaci is exceedingly pleased with the end result. “It is very nice to hear I’m in good health now,” Jaci said. “I’m happy that everything is over.” —Hailey Cunningham

{ }

people + places


How to get involved with Breakthrough

Visit either the website,, or the office at 1605A East Seventh Street to sign up to be a volunteer and wait to be approved. Another way to contribute to Breakthrough is by making a donation on their website.

Services Breakthrough provides:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Individualized Case Management School Summer Program Saturday Programming Rigorous Course Placement High School Placement High School Transition Early College Start Enrollment College Preparation College Counseling and Guidance Alumni Outreach

Senior volunteers at organization to benefit underprivileged students


It only takes 20 minutes to get there. But when she crosses under IH-35, it might as well be into a different world — one away from the bubble that is Westlake and into a world where kids are struggling to stay in school, let alone graduate. But she likes it here; she is part of a family — the Breakthrough family. Last year, senior Shannon Glen began volunteering at Breakthrough, an organization that helps students build a path to college in underprivileged areas. “I began volunteering after school twice a week in January of 2009 at Breakthrough,” Shannon said. “From the first moment that I walked into the After School tutoring office, I was surprised to see that it was more like a home than an office. Middle school and high school students were lounging in comfy chairs, grabbing a snack in the kitchen or working with a tutor on their homework. I was immediately aware of the fact that Breakthrough was not just a place for the students to learn, but also a place for them to relax from the stress of their daily lives in a safe, friendly and respectful environment.” Breakthrough is made to create an atmosphere of stability, something these students may not have outside the Breakthrough office. Students know that they are in a commitment that lasts through their graduation from high school and beyond. Breakthrough provides individualized and comprehensive support to each and every one of its students. “Breakthrough builds a path to college, starting in middle school, for low-income students who will be first generation college graduates,” Breakthrough program coordinator Christian Villalobos said. “Recognizing the importance of building skills and confidence through early intervention, the program makes a six-year commitment to students and families, beginning in sixth grade.” Founded in 1978, Breakthrough now has 34 locally governed and funded sites all over the United States, with the Austin location opening in 2001 by Jessica D’Arcy. Breakthrough does give an opportunity to many low-income students, but it is not without a rigorous admission process. “The admission process is similar to applying to a school,” Villalobos said. “There is an application the student fills out, recommendations which must be completed by a student’s teachers, a writing sample, a student interview and a parent/guardian interview. Each year, Breakthrough admits a new class of 50 low-income students from Austin Independent School District campuses that feed into the high schools with the highest dropout rates.” Shannon has been able to see these students go from the admission process to becoming part of the Breakthrough family. She is inspired by the kids she has been able to work with. “One thing that a lot of people don’t realize when they hear about the program is that many of these students aren’t ordinary middle school and

Major breakthrough high school kids,” Shannon said. “They’re exceptionally brilliant and have a passion for learning that we don’t see every day. These students have a strong will to succeed and a love of knowledge.” After Breakthrough had such an impact on her, Shannon decided to become even more involved by choosing to take Independent Study Mentorship and study the inner workings of the non-profit organization. “Having the opportunity to get the inside look on how a nonprofit organization operates was incredibly rewarding for me because it gave me a better idea of how I might be able to start one myself someday,” Shannon said. “I went into the ISM project knowing nothing about the financial, managerial and business aspects of a non-profit and came out with a full understanding of how much hard work and how many caring people it takes to make it happen.” These caring people, such as Villalobos, are putting in all of that hard work for a purpose. Everything they do is helping students earn an education and escape the cycle of poverty so they can have a foundation that will carry them through the rest of their lives. “We want our students to walk away with a college diploma — that, and the knowledge that college is not automatic, but nor is it only available to certain types of people,” Villalobos said. “It takes preparation throughout middle school and high school, access to resources and personal motivation and effort.” Shannon acts as one of these resources by being a tutor at After School Hours, just one of the programs Breakthrough offers that facilitates students to do their school work. “Shannon has been a wonderful, dependable volunteer,” Villalobos said. “Her main responsibilities involve helping students with homework and school projects during After School Hours. Shannon helps make sure students are getting their work done, and helps them figure out answers to their questions.” By working with these students she has been able to see how fortunate most students at Westlake are. She sees how many resources are at her fingertips and how that compares to the students with whom she works. “When we register for the SAT at Westlake, we get online with our parents, fill out the information, whip out the credit card and it’s as easy as that,” Shannon said. “Then we pay for SAT prep courses and drive ourselves to the classes. The day of the test we eat a big breakfast, drive to the testing facility and hope for the best. But what

Senior Shannon Glen volunteers at After School Hours, a program where students can come after school and do homework. She is helping by making birthday cards for each child involved with Breakthrough. Barrett Wilson

if our parents didn’t have a credit card or were not able to pay the registration fee? We would have to go through the process of getting a fee waiver. What if we had no transportation? What if we couldn’t afford to get proper preparation for the test? We wouldn’t be getting the same college acceptance letters that we’re so used to hearing about. The fact that Breakthrough students face challenges like these every day and are still so determined to make it to college sets them apart from most Austin teens.” Shannon loves working with these students, not only because she can help them get an A but because she can help change the course of their lives through education. “The students I work with at Breakthrough have inspired me in a way that I will never forget,” Shannon said. “It is hard to describe what it’s like to sit down with a student and really feel like you are helping them and that you are making a difference in their life. I could be in the worst mood when I leave school and head over to the Breakthrough house, but no matter what, every time I leave after tutoring for a few hours I find myself walking to my car with a huge smile on my face.” —Leah Whitlock

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people + places



to high beams

World history teacher Jessica Hawkes shows her gymnastic abilites. Previously, Hawkes was training to be an Olympic coach.

history books

Ex-gymnastics coach turns history teacher

Not everyone can say that they can do a double flip in the air and also recite the most influential Russian rulers. But for AP World History teacher Jessica Hawkes, both of these things come naturally. The two worlds of gymnastics and teaching have converged into one for Hawkes. She’s taken classes on history in different perspectives like film, and has also coached alongside famous Olympic trainers. Though she is now a teacher, her passion for gymnastics still continues. “I started doing gymnastics when I was 3 years old,” Hawkes said. “I was hyperactive as a child and my mom originally put me into ballet, but I didn’t like it. Then I started gymnastics, and fell in love with it. I was good at it too so it worked out well.” Like many young athletes, she dreamed of making it to the Olympics. This dream, however, soon vanished once she found her true calling — coaching. “I don’t think I had the potential [to be famous], but when I was younger I would watch the Olympics and want to be one of those gymnasts,” Hawkes said. “Later on I realized that I’d have a better chance at being one of those coaches up there.” Although some people know what they want to do their whole life, for Hawkes, coming across the opportunity to coach was pure luck. “I was 17 when I signed up for work release [a program where high school students leave early for their jobs] and by chance, the gym that I trained at was looking for a coach,” Hawkes said. “I hated kids so I was terrified of the job, but it grew on me — within the first week, some 4-yearold girl told me she loved me and it sealed the deal.” —history teacher Hawkes later received the opportunity of a lifetime to coach with Olympic coaches, specifically Belloa Karolyi, who coached Nadia Elena Comăneci, the first gymnast to ever score a 10. “The main opportunity for coaching came because I had gotten a job to work at Houston Gymnastics Academy, the biggest gymnastics place in Houston,” Hawkes said. “I went on as a recreational coach. Then they asked if I wanted to coach with a team and I jumped on it. That following summer they sent me to work with Bella Karolyi in his camp in north Houston.” Luck aside, what really helped her rise as a coach and provided the most opportunities was her hard work and commitment. “I would come two hours early and stay two hours late every day and work my butt off,” Hawkes said. “I got tips from everyone.” Because of the opportunities she got, Hawkes was able to work with many famous gymnasts. “I’ve worked with several Olympic coaches and trained girls alongside them,” she said. “Some of the people I’ve helped train with are Sean Golden, Sean Townsend and Todd Thornton, who’ve

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competed in Nationals and Globals. I helped train Jordan Jovtchev [who won silver in the ‘04 Athens Olympics] and Alexander Alexandrof [former women’s Soviet team trainer] also trained me to be a coach.” One might wonder why Hawkes didn’t continue to coach with these experts and become a world-renowned coach herself. But coaching, in fact, was one of the reasons she decided to pursue her other passion, teaching history. “When you get older, you get to see how everything comes together,” Hawkes said. “What makes the world what it is today is history. There is a history for everything: math, English, science and everything else. Coaching made me realize I wanted to teach, because I discovered I liked working with Jessica Hawkes kids. I love gymnastics but I also had a passion for teaching. History makes you well-rounded — if you know history, you can have a conversation on everything.” Though teaching World History may seem like the end to her dream of becoming an Olympic coach, the truth is, she’s far from giving up. “I want to have a national champion one day,” Hawkes said. “I will have a national champion one day. I’m by no means done coaching — I’m trying to open up a gym in Austin within the next five years.” For Hawkes, gymnastics will always be a part of her life. “I love [gymnastics] because it’s such a hard sport and it’s beautiful and complex,” Hawkes said. “And all the hard work that goes into it to be successful — I love that it’s artistic and athletic at the same time. I love that it’s mainly a sport about how your body moves, muscle control and muscle memory and that’s why I think gymnasts are the strongest athletes in the world. Body builders are strong, but only in one area. In gymnastics you have to have control over all the muscles in your body. Anyone can dribble a basketball and shoot it in, but very few can jump up in the air and do a back flip.” —Emily Huang

I will have a national champion one day. I’m by no means done coaching.

For the

time being Sophomore discusses life-altering experience in Indonesia


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t is 8:40 a.m. at Westlake High School, only weeks into the ‘08-‘09 school year, and the bell has just rung marking the beginning of first period. A chain reaction of yawns disperses through the room as the students begin to take their seats, open their binders and check those last-minute text messages. Among the groggy teenagers is freshman Bryan Graybill, who’s new to Westlake and its atmosphere. It is one thing to start your first day at a new high school, but for Bryan, there was more to it. That bell marked the beginning of his new life after moving back to Austin from Indonesia, while also recovering from the recent death of his father. It was in October of seventh grade that Bryan, now a sophomore, moved to Austin from Maryland where he spent the majority of his life. He completed a full year of eighth grade at Hill Country Middle School before his parents told him and his younger brother some news that would change their lives forever. They were moving to Indonesia to accompany his dad who would be taking on a new job. “We moved [to Indonesia] because my dad worked for nonprofits and he got a job offer from Save the Children,” Bryan said. “Because Indonesia is a third-world country, he would be over there for a 2-year contract, so of course we wanted to be with him. My dad left earlier than us and then we followed him in the summer of 2008, and so I began a little of ninth grade in Indonesia.”

Living in the capital city, Jakarta, Bryan was immersed in the Asian culture. He can recall the food being quite up to par. “I liked [Indonesia’s] cuisine,” Bryan said. “Almost every meal was served with white rice which was great and we hired a house maid who helped us out and she made awesome meals.” Besides the food, Bryan also had to adjust to the school he attended, the Jakarta International School. There, he got involved in track and soccer and also made friends with students from around the globe. “Going into high school was easier because a bunch of people were also new coming into the school,” Bryan said. “Once we were there for a month, we started to get accustomed to it. I liked our new house and the neighborhood was fine. I had good friends there, but I still missed my old friends. I guess I feel a little more experienced now because I got to meet people from all over the world. I have friends who are now in Tanzania, Australia, China and Germany.” Life was beginning to settle down for Bryan as he became acquainted with his new home. There was only one negative aspect to their living in Indonesia: the intensity of his dad’s work. “His job was very stressful and he was the director of a big part of his mission, so he was under a lot of pressure,” Bryan said. “He also had type two diabetes and he had stopped smoking, but when he moved to Indonesia, the anxiety was building up for him, so he started smoking again.”

Sitting in an airport terminal, Bryan, his younger brother Ben Graybill and his dad pose for a picture as they wait to board their plane.

On Aug. 27, 2008 Bryan’s life turned upside-down. It was a day that marked a tragedy in the Graybill family. “I had woken up at 5 a.m. to get ready for school and I looked out the window to see a body being carried into a taxi by the guards while my mom got in,” Bryan said. “I then found out that it was my dad. I called my mom to see what had happened and it turned out that he had a heart attack. I started having a panic attack and my brother and I then just kind of comatosely paced around the house anxiously. My mom told me to call our family members over Skype to tell them what had happened. Later, my mom came back with the news. We found out that he had died and we went into shock. The rest of the day was a blur. I think I just numbed out and started playing music really loudly while the pastor and his co-workers and friends we had met came over. It was all hard to decipher.” After the death of his father, Bryan needed to spend time with the people he truly knew to get him through such a life-altering experience. It was difficult, but after a month or so, Bryan began to feel okay again. “After he died, I felt like I needed more attention from my —sophomore mom or friends,” Bryan said. “It sounds really childish but it sucked a lot and at times, I just needed someone to chat with about random things.” Bryan, his mom and his brother decided to move back to Austin to surround themselves with familiar old friends. It would help them heal from the tragedy they had left behind in Indonesia. “Coming back was kind of bittersweet,” Bryan said. “It was like, ‘Hey, I am home, but not, because he’s not here with us.’ Besides that it was great to see my friends and I got to enter ninth grade here after it had already started.” Coming back to Austin marked a new beginning for Bryan and his family. Here, he was welcomed into ninth grade by all of his previous friends and he joined band which became a new life

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in itself. Bryan claims that Indonesia allowed him to grow as a person. He believes that living abroad was an opportunity to experience life in a different way. “If your parents one day tell you that you are moving abroad, don’t freak out, because it might actually be better than you think,” Bryan said. “Be open to change and new experiences.” It was unimaginable for Bryan that his dad could pass away so unexpectedly with no warning or goodbye. However, he is left with the many fond memories of his dad, such as their shared love of reading. “My most fond memory was early on when I was 6 or 7 years old and my dad took me camping to a place called Little Bennett,” Bryan said. “We stayed up late and he started reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to me. He only wanted to read two or so chapters, but I got so hooked right from the beginning and from me begging, we ended up reading like nine chapters. The next day I think I finished the book. That was the definite moment when I fell in love with reading and I have been reading avidly all my life since then.” Bryan Graybill Bryan’s bond with his dad was shaped by the small moments they spent together. “My dad and I had a tradition when we lived in Connecticut, that whenever we would go to a place called Jennings Beach, we would get lemon shark popsicles, and that was also a great memory with him,” Bryan said. “He was a pretty awesome guy. Very charismatic and he was very, very caring. His job reflected that.” Bryan’s dad traveled quite often, however he still managed to be there for him and his family. Although he is gone, his memory still remains present and will stay with Bryan forever. “We were close,” Bryan said. “Whenever he was around he tried to involve himself as much in our lives as he could.” —Caroline Hunt

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I feel a little more experienced now because I got to meet people from all over the world.

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people + places



Junior leads effort to aid children in Africa, partners with organization

stop‘‘til it’s done

“We want everyone to be a part of this,” junior Maclean Martin said as he described his involvement with Invisible Children. Donating books, collecting donations and promoting awareness of the situation in northern Uganda, Maclean actively spreads the word. He sends the proceeds to rehabilitate former child soldiers in Africa. “I want to see what people can do for this because the more people know about it, the quicker we can bring about peace,” Maclean said. The war in northern Uganda has been going on for 23 years — young children are being abducted and forced to be brutal killers for the Lord’s Resistance Army. Those who aren’t in the army either live in displacement camps away from the war or are homeless on the streets. “1 .8 to 2 million people have been displaced from their homes due to the war,” Maclean said. “There are 202 displacement camps in Uganda with some camp populations reaching 60,000 people. At times these camps were tolling over 900 deaths a week.” Horrified by these statistics, Maclean actively reached out. “It just isn’t safe to live there,” Maclean said. “The living conditions are awful and hundreds die each week from insufficient food and resources.” After hearing about the tragic situation a year ago, Maclean discovered his passion for helping young students become educated. “I first heard about the organization through a few friends back in my freshman year but I never really looked into it,” Maclean said. “In March of last year, I was wondering about nonprofits and decided to look at Invisible Children. They had a video called ‘The Rescue’ that I watched and right away I was sold to give my all for the organization and do everything I could for the situation in Uganda.” He joined the organization, Invisible Children, to help promote peace and recovery in Uganda. He even created a club at Westlake to further his cause. Forming this club and actively seeking members not only raises the amount of donations, but increases the awareness of the situation in Uganda. Maclean sets up boxes for book donations, asks around for donations and makes brief announcements. Expanding this project to involve more students is a lot of work, but it’s worth the effort. “I don’t like taking people’s money, but when it goes to something I know needs money, I guess it is something I have to do,” Maclean said. With Maclean’s help, The Invisible Children’s club has raised between $700-800 since November, which is impressive considering they are not allowed to fundraise on campus. All the money and books are being donated to a company called Better World Books which is partnered with Invisible Children. “Better World Books is like Amazon — a big online bookstore —

Junior Maclean Martin sits in front of the stacks of books he helped collect for a book drive. This book drive benefitted Better World Books, which gives the books to schools that can’t afford to buy them.

Katherine Finn Katherine Finn

except that they do a lot of work with nonprofits,” Maclean said. “They mainly focus on global literacy and each purchase goes towards a cause. Books are donated to this company and they resell them, collecting the profits to help fund the secondary schools.” “It’s difficult to know exactly what books the school will need, but any book with an ISBN [barcode] number will be accepted,” Maclean said. “Basically any type of book may be resold.” Secondary schools in Uganda are being supported by schools in America through a program called Schools for Schools. “Schools for Schools sponsors another school in northern Uganda to help raise money for books,” Maclean said. “They showed us the profile of the school of what it looked like before the Schools for Schools program, then an after picture of what new buildings they have added, like sanitary water systems and actual bathrooms, things that are necessary for a school to function.” Improvement for their secondary school seems to be on the way. “Invisible Children sent us a letter written by the Roadies, people that travel by road though the country, the world actually, spreading the word about Invisible Children,” Maclean said. The Roadies travel around in a van doing presentations on Invisible Children at schools and churches, telling stories about the child soldiers and the situation in Uganda. “The letter was handwritten and contained pictures of the progress being made. It’s great to see what they’ve added,” Maclean said. Maclean plans on working on the project beyond high school. “I want to be a Roadie, one of those people that travels across the country,” Maclean said. “I want to work with Invisible Children. I would love to travel to Africa to meet the children. That is honestly one of my biggest dreams in the entire world. I would want nothing more than to see that.” —Jennifer Woo

Emily Mitc

Freshman Bridget Walsh challenges herself to set personal gum-chewing records, looks to surpass her own 4-day mark


Freshman Bridget Walsh gets ready to pop her favorite 5 gum in her mouth. “I hate it when people waste a piece of gum,” Bridget said. ”It really bugs me when people throw away a piece of gum after chewing it for 10 minutes.”

Barrett Wilson

Freshman Bridget Walsh has taken gum chewing to an extreme. Everybody has his or her pet peeves, and hers is when people throw away their gum too soon. “I hate it when people waste a perfectly good chewing item,” she said. “We should cherish every last piece until the end.” Bridget’s pet peeve became a hobby that transformed the way people think about gum. While others went on with their daily lives, Bridget was setting a new personal record. Last year, she chewed a single piece of gum without removing it from her mouth, even at night, for 92 hours. Bridget finally accidentally swallowed her gum when a friend made her laugh too hard. “People always ask me if it grosses me out when the food mixes with the gum, or what I do when it loses flavor,” Bridget said. “I don’t chew gum for the flavor, I just chew it for something to do. I chew food on one side of my mouth and my gum is on the other side and they never mix.” Chewing a single piece of gum for nearly

Transcending borders The exchange between Westlake and South Korea’s Bugil Academy came to fruition Jan. 31 when 14 Westlake juniors arrived in Korea for the three-week crosscultural program. The American students quickly realized how different Bugil’s Global Leadership Program was from Westlake. “One of the most significant things I noticed was how much closer the students are because they’re such a small group of people,” junior Maddie Picone said of the 31 Korean students. “I saw how it affected their relationships. They were much closer.” The Korean students were thrilled to host the Westlake students in their dormitories and initiate the cultural exchange. “This opportunity will be the most valuable and beneficial cross-cultural activity of my entire academic career,” GLP Boys Dorm Prefect Dong-Soo Kang said. “It was exciting because we got to share the cultural experi-

ences of our lives and blend together and form a better system between the two schools.” Besides daily classes coordinated by both Westlake and GLP teachers, the students took part in several cultural activities around Cheonan, the city where Bugil Academy is located. “On the way to the Korean department store Ya Woo Ri, Cheonan has these awesome food stalls where you can get hotas, which are fried pancakes with brown sugar in the middle,” junior Grace Gabel said. “In the department store they have a food market that sells the best cookies in the entire world.” The American students went on a three-day trip to individual students’ houses for the Lunar New Year to experience Korean culture. “It was such a party,” junior Brittany David said. “We went into Seoul and to these marketplaces. We visited all their rela-

four days has its challenges. “It was really hard,” Bridget said. “Sometimes the gum would fall apart and I wouldn’t have anywhere to spit it so I’d just have to tough it out and keep chewing and eventually it would come back together.” She finds that her hobby can be a metaphor for life, saying that if things are falling apart and you’re having a hard time, just keep trying (chewing) and things will come back together. But Bridget’s hobby ended just as quickly as it began. This summer Bridget got her braces off, a happy moment for most people. She was excited but also sad that it would be harder to beat her records now that she had to wear a retainer at night. Now, Bridget cannot chew a piece of gum for more than 15 hours a day. “I was sad when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to break my record,” Bridget said. “As soon as they tell me I don’t have to wear my retainer anymore, I’m going to try again. It was fun to have something about me that was totally unique, and I like the challenge.” —Monica Tan

Westlake goes international with first global exchange program

tives’ houses and bowed and had traditional meals. On the last day we went to an amusement park.” Though Westlake and Bugil are equally rigorous academic institutions, each has a distinct learning environment. At Bugil, students take an average of six classes per day, anytime from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. During the 10 minute passing periods, students often go to their dorm rooms. All GLP students are required to wear their uniforms until 6 p.m., and may wear slippers within the school. “It feels a lot more homey here because we live like 10 feet from the classrooms,” junior Paul Zuker said. “It’s a bit more relaxed, even with the panic from our classes and work. There’s a lot closer connection with your teachers.” During the cultural exchange, the American students were able to catch a glimpse of what everyday life is like in Korea.

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Junior Sofie Seiden waits with her host family for the Korean New Year celebrations to begin. “It was at once surprising and predictable,” junior XiaoSong Mu said. “It was surprising in that Korean life was so similar to our own in terms of education and leisure time. Yet, it was also predictable that the Koreans would have so much to offer us in terms of cultural exchanges and social interactions.” For the second phase of the mutural exchange, the Korean students arrived in Austin Feb. 22 and are currently attending classes at Westlake. —Anisha Ganguly

people + places


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e d t a r A ro less a v el d Students at TLC find their own learning style


wasn’t doing too well at Westlake. I wasn’t getting individual help from the teachers, and that didn’t work for me,” senior Christina Crowley said. “I wanted a change. I just wasn’t going to make it. I could see myself slowing down, and the only way I could speed myself up was to change my environment,” senior James Lambrecht said. The Learning Center was created in 1994 as an alternative high school that would allow students to earn their diploma in a more creative way. Counselor and Dean of Students Shelly Blank and social studies teacher David Paschall have been with the program from the very beginning. “We were actually in a house that was where the tennis center is now,” Blank said. “Back then there were no parking lots and there were no fields. It was a house in the woods, so it was very different. The house had kind of gotten out of code, actually, and that’s when they built this and moved us.” From its inception, TLC has worked hard to create an environment where students not only master the curriculum, but also enjoy the experience. “There’s less of a focus on structure and there’s more of a focus on completion,” James said. “I’m also starting to realize that [it has] a real focus on keeping people more socially open.” Teachers try to ensure that their classes are accessible to all learning types. “In our history class, instead of flat-out having a solid curriculum of what used to happen, a lot of it is involved with current events that are happening today,” junior Lindsey Dennington said. “There’s definitely a lot more time for discussion, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot of life skills and how to better interact with the real world.” With smaller classes, teachers have more of a chance to connect with their students. “We have the opportunity to get really close to our students and know them well,”

English and art teacher Anne Jones said. “It’s based on community and mutual respect, and we work really hard on making everyone feel welcome.” As interactive and fun as TLC sounds, it’s definitely not for everyone. There are no AP classes or six-weeks grades. But even with the more relaxed structure and focus on independent work, the innovative learning style has its own challenges.

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I learned how to make school work for me. —senior Christina Crowley

“Sometimes it doesn’t work for people because it’s not as structured as it is [on the main campus],” senior Chris Clift said. “It’s more like they’re giving you more space to learn in the way that you want to learn, and they’re just trying to help facilitate that. A lot of people can’t deal with that much freedom. You have to do [the work] on your own time, and you have to motivate yourself to do it.” Instead of daily homework, students are expected to keep up with their studies over time, and must be finished with a portion of the curriculum by certain intervals throughout the year. “The thing about the school work is that it’s not ‘do it by tomorrow or you get a zero,’” Christina said. “[It’s] ‘do it however you want, in the order that you want and the way it works for you.’ It’s a procrastinator’s nightmare.”

Seniors Christina Crowley, Olivia Rapisand and Zach Felder stand beneath the Dr. Seuss-themed poster they helped create for a TLC luncheon.

While students on the main campus often get the two confused, TLC is not the Alternative Education Placement. Each student must submit an application for review before being admitted to TLC. According to the campus handbook, students who apply to TLC must prove that they cannot meet their potential at the main campus, that they feel alienated from the traditional high school and they are at risk of dropping out without a new direction. “From the very start there’s been this attitude that this is a school for users and dope-heads and hippie kids, and that’s just not true,” Paschall said. “We’ve got all kinds of students here.” Although the TLC students understand and embrace the concept of their new environment, the view from the main campus isn’t quite as clear. “I honestly had someone ask me, ‘Do the teachers let you trip acid at school?’” Christina said. “They were dead serious.” Despite the rumors, TLC is not a place for slackers. In fact, the self-motivated curriculum allows students to take it at a rate that is convenient for them. “There’s always been at least one person a year that’s tried to graduate early, and succeeds,” Chris said. This year, that person is Lindsey. “It’s self-paced,” Lindsey said. “So I looked at my credits and it turned out that by the end of the year I would be done, judging by my progression of the course.” At the end of the day, TLC is a place for students to re-energize their learning experience. “The whole self-paced thing has made my whole year just so much less stressful and I have a lot more time to focus on my classes,” Lindsey said. “You actually look forward to going to school when you wake up in the morning.” —Hetty Borinstein and Mariah Stevens-Ross

Westlake celebrity known as White Lightning opens up about dark past, how it led to bright future

Quick as a

fla h

W photo by Keren Rempe art by Emily Mitchell

e often confuse the distinction between who people are and who we perceive them to be. We judge by appearance, not character. We look to status and success, not the years of defining grit and determination leading up to the personal gratitude. To the average Westlake student, the name Steve Race is relatively unremarkable. To say that this man battled alcoholism and drug addictions for more than half of his life, became a nurse and is now an aspiring musician might spark some interest, but with no face to tack onto the name, the space for personal attachment would remain void. But to say that Steve Race is White Lightning — well, that’s another story. Whether he is known as White Lightning, Pegasus or simply the guy who runs around the Westlake track with the unmatched speed of an Olympic sprinter, Race has remained something of a mystery to those who know of him. For years, the now 56-year-old Race, dubbed “White Lightning” by the baseball team, has used the high school track as a place to practice and improve his staggering speed. Four days a week, Race thunders down the track, long hair billowing behind him, leaving an audience of open-mouthed coaches and athletes in his wake. However, this agile sprinter is not only defined by his age and distinctive speed, but also by the experiences of his past. Various addictions have sculpted his life to be a warning for athletes considering using drugs. “I grew up in the ‘60s, and although my parents were good with care and love and discipline, marijuana and alcohol tended to be something that youngsters did in kind of a rebellious fashion,” Race said. “So we never really solved those behavior and drug issues when I was young. Cigarette smoking was a learned behavior from my parents. I smoked from the age of 8 until the year 1993. I also had a teenage and adult addiction to marijuana, and became an alcoholic about 12 years ago during the fatal illness of my late wife.” After years of living with multiple addictions, Race realized that he needed to turn his life around. Motivated by the goal to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing and improve his athletic physique, Race took the decades of drug dependence and replaced them with the drive to live up to his full potential.

“You cannot do drugs and be a good athlete,” Race said. “Ambitious and steady athletics is more of a visceral, spiritual thrill on its worst day than all the drug-high days in the world put together. Drugs and alcohol are not just depressing and ruining of a discipline purpose, but they’re also very deadly, not just to the health, but life itself. I’ve used my hobby of track running as a natural high.” Despite his strong and consistent drug abstinence for the past few years, Race does fear the temptations that occasionally arise. “I am particularly afraid of alcohol and marijuana,” Race said. “When I completely abstain from those drugs, I am very happy and feel quite secure and don’t need them. But should I indulge even a small amount, this physical addiction goes roaring into my brain, into the neurological pathways and I instantly become re-addicted. They say for an alcoholic or a drug addict that once is too many and a thousand is not enough. I have a great life completely apart from drugs and alcohol, but if I indulge, I will die, and I will also lose these wonderful activities that I can only do when I’m not doing any drugs.” After giving up drugs, Race was able to focus on his next goal: becoming a nurse. Now clean, a door of opportunity in the medical field opened up to him, and he was able to earn his degree. Today, the hours not spent on the track are devoted to the care and health of his patients. “Right now, I’m working in child care,” Race said. “I’m taking care of individuals in their homes. They tend to have a number of physical and mental disabilities that need a number of treatments. They often need special nutrition and a lot of physical care. They need a range of motion or stretching of their limbs, and they need a lot of emotional, psychological and spiritual support.” Race has also picked up a new hobby that widens his vast array of opportunities for the future. Using his strong family background in classical music, Race is attempting to re-create the magic of traditional piano pieces. “Currently what I’m working on is singing a lot of the classic love songs,” Race said. “I’m working on learning and recording my own piano accompaniments to these songs. That’s something I even hope to do in a low-grade professional way someday.” No matter what type of profession Race may be involved in, the Westlake students know him best for his outstanding performance on the track. Captivated by runners such as Usain Bolt and Michael Johnson, Race continues to keep up with the records and times of other professional athletes, while challenging himself to break records of his own. “Watching the Olympics made me fascinated with records, in hopes of someday breaking a Master Record,” Race said. “About a year ago I ran below 12 seconds in the 100 meters, which is in the 4/10 quartile of the 55 and over age group record.” With no attachment to the school, one would be curious as to why he chooses to run at the Westlake track. “I feel welcomed at this track by every athletic team,” Race said. “I love the spirit of these young people. I love sports as much as they do. For instance, one time just a couple of months ago, a young man called out, ‘Hey, White Lightning.’ So I just said, ‘Well, gosh I’ve been slowing down the last year.’ He goes, ‘That’s okay, you’re still White Lightning to me.’ And that’s why I come here, because people show me friendliness and interest even apart from whatever ability I might have. They

just like to see another person in a different age group come out here and enjoy working in a sport like them.” While spending so much time at the track, Race observes the comings and goings of each individual athletic team, picking up a few tips along the way. “I am delighted with the football team — not just with their success in competition, but also their workouts are extremely impressive,” Race said. “I greatly admire the women’s soccer team as well. They train very hard in extremely realistic scenarios. In addition, I have picked up, and this is particularly from the ladies’ track team, a number of exercises that are helpful for a sprinter loosening up and getting stronger. For example, certain striding and lifting exercises down the track as well as certain ways of swinging and stretching the legs. I also note that both track teams favor 200-meter interval runs, so I’ve put that into my training as well.” Although most interactions with the Westlake athletes are limited, Race occasionally joins in the humorous games involved with certain team practices. He once participated in a game of “Run and Scream” with the girls track team, where the goal was to run a mock-race down the field, screaming all the way. In one of his very first dealings with Westlake athletes, he received his infamous nickname of “White Lightning.” “A few years ago in the late spring, I was finding myself burning in the hot sun and I began showing up dressed head-to-toe in white tights, white gloves, and a white cap,” Race said. “I was blazing white. So after a couple of reps I suddenly heard the words, ‘White Lightning’ and I looked over and there were a couple of baseball players hanging out next to the fence. I walked by them and they gave me some good marks for my speed and made it clear that the term ‘White Lightning’ was applied to me because it was clearly a combination of quick speed and my overwhelmingly bright white outfit. Ironically, I didn’t stop to think that White Lightning is actually a term that is also known to apply to one of the most potent grain alcohols on the planet.” Even years later after being dubbed “White Lightning,” Race continues to amaze athletes from all types of sports. Kids in sports varying from soccer to baseball can all agree that Race is an inspiration. “He is so determined,” soccer player sophomore Allison Von Der Ahe said. “He’s out on the track almost every day just running. His diligence inspires me.” Not only are athletes awestruck by Race’s sheer speed and agility, but coaches also note his impact on the kids themselves. “I think most of the guys are pretty impressed to see an older person be in such good shape and train so hard,” varsity baseball coach Jim Darilek said. “I think they get pretty fired up when they are running while he is.” Welcomed and admired by all, Race continues to practice at the Westlake track four days a week, a silent mentor and role model for athletes everywhere. He triumphed against overwhelming odds and set standards for himself that defined him as both an athlete and a man. Wary from his experiences, he lives by a philosophy that keeps him grounded and abstinent. “[People] can be a hundred times higher and happier with no drugs,” Race said. “Just a little bit of daily practice in the things that they love to do.” —Hillary Hurst

What would you ask White Lightning? “Where does he buy his pants?” “Will he be my boyfriend?” -—senior Olivia Caridi -—sophomore Stephen Barkan “Is that blonde his natural haircolor?” -—freshman William Norman

“What is his preferred race? When can we go to a meet and watch him?” —girls track coach Chris Carter

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people + places


Mi tc h ell

Every sense of the

Em il y


New English teacher talks about love of language, life A tweed jacket, a hot cup of tea and the day’s new lesson plan — this is how English teacher Chris Proctor prepares for class. It’s hard not to be intrigued by someone who cares so much about the subject he is teaching. The books he assigns and discusses are so filled with his notes and observations that they aren’t legible. He is a true English teacher in every sense of the word. Proctor believes that living around the country has formed him as a person and given him different views on life. “I grew up just outside of Washington D.C., went to high school in Maryland and went to [college] on the West Coast, so I feel like I’m shaped very much by the contrast between the East and West Coast,” Proctor said. “I think it’s a really good thing for people to spend time on both sides of the country and I’m increasingly finding that being in Texas adds more to my understanding of how America works. I feel at home on the East English II Pre-AP teacher Chris Proctor nonchalantly sips his tea on a Tuesday afternoon on his way out of school. He attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

Keren Rempe

Coast, an area grounded in tradition, but I spread his excitement about learning and also feel home in California, where you can do guide students at a crucial time in their lives. and be whatever you want.” “It’s so much fun,” Proctor said. “In some After graduating from Stanford University, cases, English is something that connects to he decided to stay in Palo Alto, California and people’s identity the most. Certainly there are taught at Palo Alto High School. He taught many skills that are valuable, but I think there there for two years, until he made a sudden is also an underlying importance to the issues decision to move from California to Texas. we tackle in class and the answers to those “My girlquestions really friend was help shape you. going to go to When [English] graduate school really goes well, [at the Universiit can connect In some cases, English is ty of Texas] and to people. I love something that connects I said I would teaching 10th follow her grade English to people’s identity the wherever she because they are most. went and UT it at a perfect age. was,” Proctor They are old —English teacher Chris Proctor said. “I had enough and they been researchare their own ing schools in people, and we the area and can talk about Westlake seemed like a fun place to teach.” really interesting stuff, but yet they aren’t In college, he hadn’t planned on becoming quite old enough to figure out who they are. an English teacher. His original plan included That’s a process that is fun to participate in working with technology. and watch.” “I had committed to it about halfway Though Proctor has a passion for English, through college, just about finished earning he also loves technology and the way people a degree in a field next to computer science interact with it. In his classes, instead of turnand I started feeling like that wasn’t someing in papers by hand, Proctor sends his stuthing I could really connect to,” Proctor said. dents to He assigns each “I had been taking some English classes and student to blog about the books they have I decided to be an English major. I had some been reading. Proctor tries as much as he can friends who were in a teaching program and to bring and use technology in his classes. that sounded really interesting.” “I also am secretly a computer programThough Proctor has spent a relatively mer,” Proctor said. “I am really interested short span of his life as an educator, he feels in how teachers use technology and how it as though he has always been a teacher. shapes the way people teach. I have a side“This is my third [year] working in a public project developing software.” school, however I have three little brothers so With his passion for literature and English, I’ve been teaching them my whole life,” ProcProctor walks into school each day, motivated tor said. “Even when I was in eighth grade, by his love of the subject he teaches. With his and my brother was in second, I thought I tweed jacket on and his cup of tea in hand, he would teach him Algebra, thinking, ‘Why is prepared to share his love of learning with wait?’” his students one day at a time. Being an English teacher allows him to —Cody Crutchfield

“ ”

Early College Start College classes for high school students and theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re free *

High school juniors and seniors can earn up to a yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s worth of college credit before graduation (512) 223.7355 *Tuition is waived for in-district residents. Other fees may apply.

Westlake HS_ECS ad_3.917 x 4.921.indd 1

11/23/09 10:09:59 AM

Early College Start College classes for high school students and theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re free *

High school juniors and seniors can earn up to a yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s worth of college credit before graduation (512) 223.7355 *Tuition is waived for in-district residents. Other fees may apply.

Westlake HS_ECS ad_3.917 x 4.921.indd 1

11/23/09 10:09:59 AM

Left: From left to right, Sam, Charlie, Molly and Will Copa sit in Riverbend church. The Copas attended preschool at Riverbend.

Katherine Finn

Senior Charlie Copa works with cancer patients at the Dell Children’s Medical Center. He spends time with them and helps them get through their ordeals. courte

sy pho



courtesy photo

Right: Charlie was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 4. He was cancer-free by age 6.

Senior Charlie Copa recalls battle with leukemia, continues to work with young cancer patients As a 4-year-old, he began his usual morning routine with a bowl of cereal and an episode of Winnie the Pooh. It wasn’t until the television randomly went blank that he attempted to get up to go to the kitchen to ask his mom what was going on. But when he tried to stand up, he realized he had lost feeling in his legs and he remained frozen where he was. “I started to yell for my mom,” senior Charlie Copa said. “My mom had to pick me up from where I was sitting and take me to the emergency room. They weren’t sure what was wrong, so they subjected me to a bunch of horrible tests involving needles.” After the tests, the doctors confirmed what no parent wants to hear. In May 1995, just before his fifth birthday, Charlie was diagnosed with leukemia. Being so young, Charlie had trouble comprehending what was going on. “All I knew was that I was sick, but not contagious,” Charlie said. “I knew it was an illness that I couldn’t give to other people. I didn’t understand that my cells were destroying themselves. I just knew the problem was in my blood.” Charlie’s understanding of leukemia was extremely minimal. His main concern was missing out on what the other kids his age were doing. “For the first little while, I couldn’t go to preschool,” Charlie said. “We took it a day at a time. My white blood cells were low so I couldn’t go outside. Not being able to play was the worst part of the whole experience.” At the Dell Children’s Medical Center, Charlie grew to know certain members of the staff who were with him through the majority of his treatment. “Everyone on the staff was extremely nice to me,” Charlie said. “My usual nurse was named Jamie and I had grown comfortable with her. One time, Jamie wasn’t there and a substitute was taking her place. I started screaming and shouting because I didn’t want her to give me my shots.” For six weeks straight, Charlie was forced to receive deep muscle shots in order to deal with the cancer. “The first treatment was really intense,” Charlie said. “They were trying to deal with the initial chemo. I hate needles, so they had to have three male nurses and my father to hold me down during my deep muscle shots.” Charlie’s young diagnosis was a blessing in disguise. The chances of surviving leukemia get slimmer and slimmer with age. “I was lucky to be diagnosed early,” Charlie said. “According to

a couple of my doctors, after 8, your survival chances go way down. I think it’s mainly because kids have a more positive outlook at a younger age.” Going to the hospital for treatments was almost like a vacation for the young patient. “Going to the hospital was awesome,” Charlie said. “At home, I had to eat broccoli and still got spanked like a normal kid. I got thrown in time-out too. But at the hospital, I got to play video games, eat Jell-O and watch Disney Channel.” Three years later, in August 1999, Charlie entered remission. “Obviously we were overjoyed,” Charlie said. “My parents breathed a huge sigh of relief.” Although Charlie had been cured of his leukemia, his involvement with the Dell Children’s Medical Center didn’t come to an end. “A couple of summers later, some of my friends and I put up a lemonade stand,” Charlie said. “We decided that all of the money we earned was going to go towards buying stuffed animals for other young cancer patients.” Charlie then attended Camp Discovery, a summer camp solely for cancer patients. Years later, he took his efforts even further when he dedicated his Eagle Scout project to the Dell Children’s Medical Center. “They have a really nice art room there, but its walls were completely barren,” Charlie said. “I made frames, magnetic boards and shelves for the kids so they could display their artwork.” Not only is Charlie working with the Dell Children’s Medical Center, but he is also working with one particular individual with whom he has a lot in common. “I’ve been hanging out with this one kid from the Travis County area who has leukemia,” Charlie said. “I go and meet with him because he needs someone who has been through what he is going through. He is 11 years old, so he is at the stage where all of his friends are starting to get busy with school, so he just needs someone to hang out with him. I also went and visited him before the State game and gave him a hat.” Although Charlie was diagnosed with cancer at such a young age, he doesn’t let the past affect him. He is appreciative of his past and is proud to say he is a cancer survivor. “It happened at too early of an age to make a huge impact,” Charlie said. “But, overall, it was an educational experience in the way that it taught me who I am and what I am capable of.” —Katie Sorenson and Mary-Margaret Parrish

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people + places


While waiting for the next customers to arrive, senior Sidney Tucker marks which tables are occupied during her shift Jan. 25 at the Lion and Rose.

rose thorns Every

Lily Pipkin

has its

New pub opens in Westlake

cabbage and instead had an overwhelming bacon flavor. On the other hand, the creamed spinach was clearly made with fresh, not frozen, greens and the delicate flavor of the cream did not overwhelm the vegetable dish at all. There were five or six desserts available, but our waitress recommended the renowned king’s bread pudding. The cinnamon-and-cranberry-studded bread was warm, moist, and sweetened by the vanilla brandy sauce. Having it served on a sizzling skillet made for a unique presentation. Other desserts include Queen Victoria’s fudge layer cake, English trifle and many more vast selections that’ll excite your sweet tooth. Considering how large the portions were and the quality of the ingredients, the overall price was a reasonable value for what was served, ranging from $7-$12 per entrée. If you are looking for a unique dining experience, visit the Lion and Rose Pub. Hopefully, this promising new restaurant will break the curse of this former “dead zone.” —Christina Shin and Taylor Kidd


itch ell

Lily Pipkin

Em il

First Tías, then Ruggles, then the Austin Cheesecake Kitchen, now the Lion and Rose Pub. Former occupants of the “dead zone” located in the Village at Westlake next to Chick-FilA experienced short-lived successes. However, the new British pub is a thriving restaurant and bar that is defying the pattern of failure. The minute you walk in the door, you are transported into another country. British décor lines the dark wood walls. Waitresses dressed as “bar wenches” serve you while a curlymustached man wearing traditional British clothes works the bar. The only things missing are British accents. Separated into various rooms, the restaurant contains a game room with a billiards table and a dart board. There are at least seven televisions in every room, mainly tuned to sports. Looking around, it is clear that this restaurant is not only a sports bar, but a family restaurant where you can find young and old couples, teens and children. As soon as you are seated, the waitress presents you with a large menu and a vast selection of beer (for those high schoolers 21 and older) from which you can choose. Covering various degrees of tastes, the menu is split into British favorites: fish and chips, bangers and mash (sausage and mashed potatoes) and shepherd’s pie. The other part of the menu is Yank’s favorites (American favorites), which contains items such as ribs, meatloaf and chicken-fried steak. After ordering our meal — fish and chips — we only waited for 15 minutes until the entrées arrived. Although we both loved the crisp, crunchy fish and circular French fries, our opinions differed over the side dishes. Bubble and squeak, a traditional mashed potato and cabbage dish, lacked any real presence of

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rants + raves





aM Ann

New technology brings another dimension to TV


never thought anything could be better than sports, until I heard of sports in 3-D. Imagine the feeling of being at the game without leaving the comfort of your home. Imagine being able to see the sport in all of its glory without having to deal with the weather conditions at the actual game. Imagine having a perfect view of the game, without the sweaty, fat guy screaming obscenities at the referee. For a sports fan like myself, it’s a dream come true. On June 11, ESPN will unveil the ultimate television experience for the first World Cup Game of South Africa vs. Mexico. At least 85 games will be televised using the 3-D technology. In order to watch the games, you will need a television with 3-D capability along with 3-D glasses, which are provided with the TV. After ESPN announced that it would air in three dimensions, The Discovery Channel soon jumped on board, announcing that they would also be airing certain programs in 3-D. This wave of three-dimensional programming is bringing change to the entertainment industry, especially sports broadcasting. With Discovery Channel now going three dimensions, before long we will see Fox, Disney and CNN joining the 3-D revolution. We’ll watch the President give press conferences in 3-D and we’ll see The Simpsons in three dimensions, but there will be shows that we DO NOT want to view in 3-D. For example, Jersey Shore, or any MTV reality shows (they say in 3-D you can see the STDs emanating from the screen). Even through the bad, this TV will be epic.

Let’s get back to why it will be awesome in sports. Now whenever a football is thrown, you’ll feel like it is being thrown next to you or even to you. In 3-D, it will appear as though you are receiving a pass from Peyton Manning (well...maybe Drew Brees) to win the game in the last second — now take away the fact that you didn’t catch the ball and that you weren’t even at the game. Still, it would be a pretty exhilarating feeling. Peyton Manning threw a pass to you, at least sort of. If football isn’t your thing, imagine yourself receiving an alley-oop from Lebron James. Or maybe taking a grand slam away from Alex Rodriguez (wouldn’t anyone?). Screw video games — this really puts you in the game. The best thing about ESPN 3-D is that it can only make watching sports more enjoyable. I have never seen a real quality movie in 3-D (I’m talking to you, Avatar). Basically, to me, whenever a movie says it will be shown in 3-D it’s a signal to me that this movie isn’t very good, so they needed to add 3-D. This won’t happen with sports. Kobe Bryant will still hit gaming winning shots at the buzzer, Brazil and Spain will still dominate in soccer, Michael Phelps will lead in swimming and the Oakland Raiders will still suck. I’m pretty excited and you should be too. We are witnessing the future of entertainment in the purest form: sports. Whether or not you are a sports fan, you can’t deny that 3-D television will be awesome. So everyone get your 3-D glasses ready, because the show is about to start. —Cody Crutchfield

•September 27, 1922 — first film shown to paying •1960s — new form of •June 11, 2010 — ESPN unveils 3-D made called Space audience in 3-D •2003 — Real D released 3-D television programming Vision 3-D (The Power of Love)

•1838 — stereoscopy creates 3rd dimension illusion

•1952 — Golden Era of 3-D begins

•1980s — IMAX begins to air films in 3-D

•November 2004 — Polar Express released as IMAX’s first full length animated movie

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Source: Wikipedia

rants + raves


Emily Mitchell

New show on MTV inspires viewers to follow their dreams “What do you want to do before you die?” The Buried Life, which premiered this January on MTV, revolves around that popular and much-asked question. The series follows four main characters, Ben (the “ring leader”), Dave (the “funny one”) and brothers Duncan (the “problem solver”) and Jonnie (the “brains of the operation”). Tired of their everyday lives, these young men compiled a list of 100 things that they want to do before they die, ranging from bull riding to holding public office. But there is a catch: for everything they cross off their bucket list, they ask a stranger, “What is one thing that you want to do before you die?” and help them accomplish that. The show runs from sweet — when they help a stranger fulfill a lifelong wish — to goofy, when they sneak into the Playboy mansion. The guys each have inspirational stories themselves. Dave Lingwood was a professional break dancer and followed his work to African safaris and Trinidadian carnivals. In 2008, however, he broke his ankle while doing a stunt and was forced to return home. Yet, that didn’t slow down his travels, and he recently went to a remote village in Costa Rica to deliver donated clothing and supplies. Duncan Penn, also involved in charity, founded an organization that introduces soccer to kids around the world. Duncan has delivered thousands of soccer balls

and cleats to poverty-stricken children in Ecuador, Rwanda, Uganda and Mt. Chimborozo. Jonnie Penn truly is brilliant and was chosen to participate in the prestigious Oxford University Debate Championships. Jonnie, the younger of the Penn brothers, also recently formed his own band, Bikini. The fourth member of The Buried Life crew, Ben Nemtin, had a small cameo in the 2004 movie White Chicks and is a talented athlete, receiving the honor of being chosen for the Canadian National Rugby Team fresh out of high school. The characters make the show what it is and they are all relatable and seem to have fun, easy-going personalities that are conveyed well on screen. The Buried Life also appeals to viewers because of the cheesiness in every episode — it’s an easy and fun thing to watch without too much thinking. The music is another thing that I enjoyed about the show. The theme song to the show is “Oooh Ahh,” a popular Christian rap song by Grits. The upbeat sound track adds a young, lively vibe to the show. I couldn’t wait to see the next episode and it is one of my favorite shows already. The show opens up the desire in its viewers to follow their dreams and create their own bucket lists. It makes me want to live my life to the fullest. I think it’s a cool concept and show. I would highly recommend it. —Luci Ortiz

What do you want to do before you die? “Visit Australia, travel the world and live in a different country.” —sophomore Aubrey Campbell

“Run an orphanage in South or Central America. That way I can have my million kids without overpopulating the earth.” —senior Jeffrey Huber

“Climb Mount Everest and go skydiving.” —junior Alex Beverly

“Overcome my fear of sharks by swimming with them.” —junior Amanda Webb

“I want to visit all seven continents.” —freshman Maddy Hines

T H P E A C E S photos by Lily Pipkin

of my life

How growing up with a family of do-gooders has pieced together who I am


lot of families are pretty normal: 9 to 5 job, dinner at 7, a couple hours of homework for the kids followed by late night TV. But my family has always been a bit out of the norm. My parents, Turk and Christy Pipkin, run the Nobelity Project, a nonprofit that works with various organizations to improve the lives of kids around the world. Their first documentary, Nobelity, was released in 2007 and their newest movie, One Peace at a Time, will be released on DVD in April. This January, the Nobelity Project hosted a screening of One Peace at the Paramount Theater on Congress Avenue. All $13,000 raised from ticket sales and donations went to Habitat for Humanity’s Haiti relief funds. In April there will be a silent auction/ celebrity dinner honoring the work that Willie and Annie Nelson have done to improve the world and recognizing the students and teachers who work with the Nobelity Project. The dinner will raise money to build and improve a community education center in Africa. After all the fundraisers, screenings and online donations at, all the hard work has paid off and now the Nobelity Project project is well underway. With all the filming, editing and fundraising — searching for new towns that need clean water, finding locations to build schools and orphanages to redesign and improve — my dad is usually out among the families and children around the world whose lives our organization helps to improve. Since he’s often on the other side of the world for weeks at a time, my mom has always been the errand-runner/ meeting-goer/email-replier all at the same time. My sister and I are the designated envelope-stuffers and event volunteers. We’ve got the whole, “You’re Turk’s daughters? Well of course I’ll donate!” thing going for us. Our organization is run by the family, for the families. It’s like America being for the people, only a whole lot smaller. And for a different purpose...and a nonprofit. So maybe it’s not quite America, but you get the idea. My family has always searched for projects benefiting kids around the world. We’ve worked with orphanages supported by The Miracle

Foundation in India. My dad even joined some of the kids on their first train ride to attend the ground-breaking ceremony for the newest orphanage, Sooch Village. He also interviewed refugee children from Afghanistan at an anti-cluster bomb convention. We are currently building a high school for a community in Kenya. When we started the school project in Africa, I was in eighth grade — which coincidentally would be the last year of education the students in Mahiga, Kenya would ever have. After my dad’s second trip to the school, the Nobelity Project promised a fully-functional high school, science lab, cafeteria and a covered basketball court that doubles as a community center as well as a rainwater collector for the surrounding areas. This last project had a more profound effect on me than the others. The kids who were over there at Mahiga Primary School were my own age and on the verge of becoming part of the labor force full time. No one’s even going to consider hiring me until I turn 16, and even then, I’ll be getting paid for some part-time job after school. The kids over there are 14 years old or even younger and they spend their time carrying massive amounts of water or firewood back home to their families while I’m sitting in a little plastic school complaining about how boring trigonometric proofs are. They get no pay, no education — just survival. Why couldn’t these kids have the same opportunity as I do? So, the promise of a full high school was born. This July, my family and I are heading out to Kenya to meet the kids and officially open the high school. It’s an odd feeling, knowing that I’m going to finally meet the kids that my dad has been visiting regularly for years now. I’ve seen so many pictures and so many hours of footage that I feel that I’ve already met the students and we could go play basketball — no awkward introductions required. As odd as it is to keep track of what country my dad is in now and all the new projects we’ve gotten funded or sponsored and all the donations we get, it’s great to know that my crazy, goofy, workaholic parents are doing what they can to set the world straight — one peace at a time. —Lily Pipkin

Relay for many lives

Freshman encourages others to become involved with annual charity event Three years ago, I joined a celebration called Relay For Life with some of my close friends on Team Queso. For me, joining was an important way to let people know the second-hand devastation cancer has had on my life. Losing my father to brain cancer around three years ago opened my eyes to how big the impact this disease has not just in our community but worldwide. I learned that you can never quite know how it feels to lose a brother, sister, mother or father until it happens to you. The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is an annual event that takes place all over the world with all different types of people promoting the same message. This event is not only to raise money and awareness for cancer, but to celebrate the lives of the survivors and remember loved ones who lost the battle. After sending e-mails, holding fundraisers and working together as a team to prepare, the night we had been waiting for arrived. The 12hour event is held in the Chaparral stadium where thousands of people gather to constantly walk around the track from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and show how much they appreciate being alive or simply say a prayer to the loved ones no longer with them. It’s a moving night and everyone feels a sense of unity with others around them. I walked with friends, with strangers, each with their own prayers and thoughts and memories. After my first year, I individually raised more than $2,000 and my team reached $3,000, making Team Queso the highest youth money raiser. Then my second year came around and I reached $3,000 and

courtesy photo

Freshman Laura Doolittle and her father, David Doolittle, take a fishing excursion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2005 when Laura was a fourth grader. David was diagnosed with brain cancer two years later. This will be Laura’s third year to participate in the annual Relay for Life event that raises money for The American Cancer Society. Team Queso peaked at $5,000. My goal is to double that amount at this year’s event. Although this event is only one night out of 365 days, The American Cancer Society works year-round to eradicate cancer. Every year I feel so lucky to be surrounded by thousands of people who are really taking the time to change the world around them. It takes guts to come out to this event and participate in a meaningful cause. My father’s death had and still has an effect on my life and everything I do. I think about big decisions with more depth and I can comfort other people who are going through the same thing I went through. Relay For Life reminds me every day that there is hope for people who are struggling with cancer. With the 24-hour cancer support line, free transportation to receive treatment, and research for the cure, The American Cancer Society takes each life and treats it with care. –Laura Doolittle

Student Council raises money for Brees Dream Foundation

Keren Rempe

On Feb. 5, members of the student body and staff assembled to show their support for New Orleans Saints quarterback and 1997 Westlake graduate Drew Brees. “I thought the shirts were a great idea,” senior class Representative-atLarge Sarah Gross said. “Not only did we get to support an ex-Westlaker as he made history, but also we raised money for his charity to rebuild New Orleans.” The Student Council had the shirts printed and organized the sale. “Once a Chap, always a Chap” appeared on the shirts’ fronts and “Brees” and the number 9 appeared on the backs. The efforts raised $10,000 for the Brees Dream Foundation. Brees led his Saints to win Superbowl XLIV over the Indianapolis Colts, 31-17. “Not everyone gets to show off their school pride with a Superbowl win,” Sarah said.

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rants + raves




Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will stay this student from her steadfast preoccupation with weather



a d th e

e Katherin




Va ug


was raised on a healthy diet of meteorological fanaticism. When I was about 8, my dad got my mom a digital weather forecasting device for her birthday. Whereas most mothers are perfectly content with gifts of jewelry or kitchenware on special occasions, in the subsequent years my mom requested and received both a rain gauge and an outdoor thermometer. Most mornings, the first bleary words mumbled from my brother’s and my mouths are, “What is the weather going to be like today?” On any given day, it is safe to wager that will be open in a browser on the downstairs computer. If the evening threatens even slight precipitation, the hauntingly robotic voice of NOAA weather radar permeates our house. An ornamental weather vane is even displayed atop the cupboard in our dining room. As my closest acquaintances can attest, I talk about the weather far more than is mandated necessary by social norms. Almost certainly a result of my upbringing, my fascination with weather goes beyond the scientific and into the realms of the psychological. Though my bones, unlike many a grandmother’s, do not act as barometers, the prevailing atmospheric conditions drastically affect my moods on a day-today basis. A good thunderstorm will leave me giddy for hours afterward. Weather tends to get a bad rap as the topic of conversation typically chosen to fill awkward silences. But I see this as a blessing rather than a curse. If there’s any subject we can all be authorities on, it is most certainly the weather. Despite the fact that not one of us found learning about the weather cycle in second grade terribly interesting, everyone fancies himself a meteorologist, ready and willing to engage in discourse with random strangers on the subject of the weather. Since the opening chapters of humanity, man has reveled in the thought that his locale is home to uniquely unpredictable weather. If you listen very closely, right now, you might be able to hear a good four dozen well-meaning uncles, college tour guides and hotel concierges boasting, “Well, you know what we say here in Waco/Miami/Anchorage/Seattle: if you don’t like the weather right now, wait five minutes…” For some reason, bragging to out-of-towners

n Fin

about the volatility of one’s weather is a mark not only of pride, but of hospitality. Clearly these narrowminded foreigners, who all inhabit towns that, inexplicably, never experience the least wavering in temperature or rainfall, would feel out of place in climes different from their own. It is therefore essential to put them at ease by reassuring them that at some point during the course of their stay, the weather will likely change to mimic that of their place of origin. In Austin, even the most adamant of weather cynics becomes optimistic when a weatherman so much as offhandedly mentions the possibility of snow. I won’t claim to be any different. So when, during the car ride to school on Dec. 4, my mother briefed me not only on the hour-by-hour forecast for the day but also the ups and downs in predicted temperature for the rest of the week, I couldn’t help anticipating the imminent flurries with delight. Rumors of snow, much like any other rumors, are highly prone to the snowball effect (no pun intended) of exaggeration. What had begun the day before as the slightest chance of “light wintry mix” had turned into up to four inches of snow, according to snatches of conversation I heard in the hallways. But as the hours dragged by without a single snowflake, our prospects looked bleak. After all, everyone knows that weather reporters harbor a compulsive need to toy with our emotions, or even to tell blatant lies. When the snow finally fell, it erased our memories. We insisted that this was a momentous historic occasion, that Austin hadn’t seen snow since 1994. What is this substance falling from the sky? we exclaimed in wonder. Has anyone in the world seen such a thing? Quick! Take pictures so we may share this extraordinary day with posterity! Catching snowflakes on my tongue, I nearly forgot that, little more than a year earlier, I had been victim to this same, perspectiveblinding sensation. Always the sentimental one, I had saved a text message from my friend, dated Dec. 9, 2008, asking “Do you see the snow?”, in order to forever remember that day. Every few years, when the snow returns, Austinites will dispense with their common sense and dignity long enough to flail about in snow-angel form on the barely-dusted pavement. And even when the skies are clear, my obsession with weather will persist. The best I can hope for is that I don’t catch this disease as acutely as my parents did. But as my symptoms worsen, I fear that it is already too late. —Helen Anderson


The Featherduster’s picks

With the Academy Awards coming up we at The Featherduster would like to present to you our predictions of who should be taking home an Oscar. The following views are the product of a majority vote taken among The Featherduster staff.

Best Actor Winner: Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes) Runner Up: Brad Pitt (Inglourious Basterds) Robert Downey Jr. blows away the competition by delivering a strong portrayal of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. Transforming the clever mystery solver into a socially reclusive and awkward crime fighter, Downey’s portrayal of the great detective can only be described as a masterpiece. The runner up is Brad Pitt as Nazi-killing Aldo Raine from Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. While his ruthless behavior and hilarious southern accent make him a formidable competitor for Best Actor, his limited screen time renders him inferior to Downey.

Best Actress Winner: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) Runner Up: Meryl Streep (Julie and Julia) Sandra Bullock steals the award for best actress by delivering performance as Leigh Anne Tuohy from John Lee Hancock’s The Blind Side. Not only is her act strong, but it’s also a huge departure from the usual romantic comedies Bullock stars in, as she tackles realistic and heartbreaking issues in The Blind Side, causing her performance to be memorable. Plus, she’s an Austinite, making her very popular among the staff at The Featherduster. Tailing behind Bullock is Meryl Streep for her interesting role as Julia Child in Julie and Julia. While she gives a unique performance, her portrayal may prove to be a little unrealistic for some viewers.

Best Supporting Actor Winner: Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover) Runner Up: Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes) Zach Galifianakis earns the award for Best Supporting Actor by a long shot for his performance as the socially awkward Alan Gardner from Todd Phillip’s The Hangover, because he is simply hilarious. Jude Law fails to beat Galifianakis for his performance as Dr. John Watson from Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. While he does have great chemistry with Robert Downey Jr., he doesn’t deliver a performance strong enough to match Galifianakis’s.

Best Supporting Actress Winner: Rachel McAdams (Sherlock Holmes) Runner Up: Amy Adams (Julie and Julia) Rachael McAdams takes the award for Best Supporting Actress for her strong performance as the smooth criminal, Irene Adler, from Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. Amy Adams is a great runner up for the award, due to her depiction as Julie Powell from Julie and Julia. Her representation is strong, but is overshadowed by Meryl Streep’s, causing her to fall behind Rachel McAdams.

Best Animated Film Winner: Up Runner Up: The Princess and the Frog Pixar’s Up annihilates the competition with its touching story, beautiful animation and strong moral message that makes it appealing for both adults and children. Following is Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, a film that embraces and compliments the traditional style of Disney’s storytelling, but isn’t as unique or touching as Up, causing it to fall short of Disney Pixar’s masterpiece.

Best Picture Winner: Avatar Runner Up: The Blind Side James Cameron’s Avatar completely deserves the award for best picture, as it’s not only impressive on a technical level, but is both imaginative and absorbing. Trailing closely behind is The Blind Side, a film that benefits from an inspiring story and an exceptional performance from Sandra Bullock, but doesn’t match up to Avatar, mostly due to its lack of subtlety. —Eric Robinson

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rants + raves


A day in the life of Poseidon The king of the ocean pours his heart out helle


Dear Diary, It has been a long day ruling 70.78 percent of the Earth’s surface. Presiding over an oceanic wonderland such as this one is hard on an old god. My trident has lost its former luster as belief and respect for me has dwindled with time. I was once feared and loved back in my prime, but now I worry that I am nothing more than the little fish that is tossed back because he is not up to standard. Oh Diary, today I was triumphantly riding along the Great Barrier Reef in my seahorse-drawn conch-shell chariot when my front-running seahorse was snagged in the net of a commercial fishing boat. Try as I might, I could not cut my noble sea steed free of its clutches. So, acting in the manner of any self-respecting god, I thrust my mighty trident deep into the hull of the vessel, thus unleashing the menacing wrath of my tri-pronged scepter upon their meager craft. “Now, you shall know the consequences of meddling in my realm!” My voice boomed as I melted their souls and condemned them for eternity into Davy Jones’ Locker. How I can only wish I had acted with such valor. In reality, I showed exceptional cowardice and only mumbled for them to cease their actions as the captain of the fishing barge let out a malevolent cheer. Now, here I am writing to you, oh Diary, mourning the loss of Frederick. I can only hope Hades is treating him well. I cannot be sure, however, as Hades refuses to return my calls. Nobody understands me but you, Diary. My once pure domain has now been littered with minefields of tourists’ urine. Do they not realize how hard it is to sustain equilibrium in this volatile ecosystem? Yet they complain about my waters. “Oh, it’s too salty,” they say. “It burns my eyes; let’s just go to the pool.” Yes, I suppose it’s my fault they leave

Katherine Finn


their eyes open underwater. They’re fully aware my waters are salty, yet they still try to look into my waves while the water splashes their sunburned faces. Maybe they shouldn’t pee in my water. Luckily for me, though, the water doesn’t burn my eyes. My eyes burn the water. Actually, my eyes are very sensitive. I have to wear goggles. Tourists always say that there’s nothing more awe-inspiring than the sunset over a beach. I wouldn’t know, as I haven’t been on vacation in several million years, not since I was mugged on the mid-Atlantic ridge. You remember, don’t you, Diary? Of course you do. It was the time that clown fish started to beat me up after he said I scratched his anemone. I didn’t even touch it! I could have gotten him, though, if I hadn’t left my trident in my grandiose Victorian-era sandcastle. Oh, but who am I kidding, Diary? I couldn’t have won that fight if he was named Nemo and had a gimpy fin. Diary, after all of these years ruling my aquatic kingdom, I have finally come to the realization that my power is clearly waning. I am not the noble all-powerful deity I once was. Yet as I sit here, confiding in you, I am questioning myself now more than ever. Was I ever as powerful as I once believed? Perhaps the notion of every sea-going man trembling at the mention of my name was only folly and my solitary strength was only in my mind, not my body. Perhaps, I wasn’t chosen to be the God of Seas as much as I was exiled to these cold, dark and oh so lonely depths. Or am I just making things up? Am I mad, or am I just the only sane one left? Until tomorrow, Poseidon (supreme ruler of the sea) P.S. Aren’t sea horses just adorable? Especially those little babies. —Matt Frank and Alex Gieb

When have you experienced Poseidon’s wrath? “I was swimming at the beach when Poseidon splashed me with the water so I was all like, ‘I’m gonna go to the hot tub.’ Then I was all like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s so not salty in here.’” —junior Avery Wallace

“Sometimes when I’m in the shower, the water gets really cold. Then it gets really hot and scalds my sensitive skin. It must be Poseidon trying to get me.” —junior Bennett Taylor


The stars dictate your inevitable fate


Aquarius (Jan. 21 - Feb. 19)

Leo (July 23 - Aug. 21)

Pisces (Feb. 20 - March 20)

Virgo (Aug. 22 - Sept. 23)

The moon is in the third house, and Jupiter has maligned Mars. Your peace and joy and love are gone, Aquarius. Gone! The stars are not being steered by love, they are being steered by anger, hate and pain. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you can isolate yourself with Facebook, illegal music downloading and cynical late-night humor.

Swim against the stream, my little Pisces, you will be rewarded at the end of your journey. As long as you don’t get eaten by a grizzly bear, or die of exhaustion, or become entangled in the nefarious mesh nets of a wily fisherman. Or, you know, just give up and go on with life as usual.

Grab your angry protest sign and picketing gear for a siege against that oppressive Man! Whether you prefer red paint, megaphones or emotional outbursts on national television, the stars are aligned for you to take a stand. The stars are not yet sure if your crusade will end in victory or disaster, but don’t let that stop you, mighty Aries. Go forth, and seek your fate!

Taurus (April 21 - May 21)

It is time for you to accept your rightful place in this world — time, if you’ll pardon the expression, to take the bull by the horns! Stubborn Taurus, the stars agree that you are destined to become the next Billy Mays! BUT HURRY, THIS IS A LIMITED TIME OFFER! TAKE ADVANTAGE WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!

Gemini (May 22 - June 21)

Oh, clever Gemini, your life is about change. Someone is going to give you something. Then, you’ll have some sort of adventure and somehow save the world from a threat of vague proportions. Unfortunately, due to the uncertain nature of this prediction, there’s absolutely nothing you can do to prepare.

The stars are rolling the dice upon your future this month. Either you will be attacked by a crusading Aries (resulting in serious rug burns), or you will rise to power and fame like the pirates of old, sailing the seas of life with wild abandon. Feeling lucky? art by Emily Mitchell

Your compulsions may be endearing, but only to your mother and the nice guy behind the checkout counter at Walmart. Get a hold of yourself this month, Virgo, because neurotic will never be the new quirky.

Libra (Sept. 24 - Oct. 22)

Aries (March 21 - April 20)

Cancer (June 22 - July 22)

People naturally gravitate toward you this month, and I mean that literally. Gravity is bending inexplicably around you, warping your personal bubble. Take the opportunity to meet new people and to indulge in cheesy pick-up lines. “Did it hurt when you fell from heaven into my gravitational field?”

In the sandwich of life, you want to be the peanut butter and the jelly, but you’re going to have to choose. Find the inner truth that will set you free and when you do, blog like you’ve never blogged before. In the anonymous responses of others, you will at last find a short-lived but socially acceptable sense of peace.

Scorpio (Oct. 24 - Nov. 22)

Oh, Scorpio, your friends are growing weary of your violent mood swings. There was the road-rage incident while driving your sister to dance class, the time when the mall cop had to escort you out of the Apple store for menacing the sales-lady with your flip phone and that sporadic compulsion to argue with your neighbor’s bulldog, Fifi. It’s not okay. If you don’t shape up, you will soon be lost to the dark side. And oh, how they lied about the cookies!

Sagittarius (Nov. 23 - Dec. 22)

You are so well adjusted, savvy Sagittarius, that people are starting to forget that you are human. Take malicious advantage of this blind faith. With a cape, a costume and an inventive new name, your alter ego could become the newest crusading avenger! The stars are not responsible for any resulting arrests, beatings or tazer wounds.

Capricorn (Dec. 23 - Jan. 20)

Your deep melancholy and self-worth issues are bubbling to the surface. Beware, dear Capricorn, for others will be more than happy to pop the bubble-wrap of your soul. When the opinions of others threaten you, a well-developed sense of sass will be super effective. See it like Sue. –Hetty Borinstein

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rants + raves


Stuff We Like art by Michelle Ling

Friendship Metaphors

Here at The Featherduster, we’re big fans of friendship. But sometimes, we become so ebullient at the prospect of camaraderie that we run out of ways to describe it — which is where naval metaphors come in. What better way is there to describe amity than as the H.M.S. Friendship, flagship of the Acceptance Armada, deftly avoiding the icebergs of animosity and striving forth through the Strait of Mutual Respect? Of course, the H.M.S. Friendship is not infallible. If she finds herself betwixt the Scylla of emotional disjointment and the Charybdis of falsehoods, then only the clever maneuvering of sharing each other’s burdens will allow us to dock at the port of solidarity.

Microsoft Windows

Nothing is better than the feeling of success after hard work, and nothing says hard work like Microsoft Windows. Some naysayers may claim that Macs are superior, but to them we say nay. With Windows, your computer crashing is almost always assured, so you have to struggle to make it work. But that struggle makes you a better person than Mac users who are nothing but lazy. Windows users are akin to America’s pioneers — they had to work for everything they got, and look at the result of their blood, sweat and tears: freedom and the extreme satisfaction of a job well done. So Windows users, we here at The Featherduster salute you.

Movie Trailers Who in their right mind would want to watch two hours of plot, characterization and action when you can just watch the much superior, two-minute abridged version? No need to trudge through those tangled layers of story or exhaustive dialogue when a few, rapid clips will do the trick. Only the funniest one-liners, the brightest explosions and the most essential plot points make the cut. Set to epic, melodramatic music and with the narration of that really awesome deep voice, there’s no need for full-length features.


On the list of top superheroes, Hawkman is non-existent. However, on the list of people whose only power is to fly really slowly, Hawkman soars above the rest. Now, some may ask themselves, how did Hawkman reach this level of prestige? Well, it all started back when Hawkman was first born and he was given the most useless and dumb superpower: wings. Not even wings and super strength, not even the ability to fly quickly, he just has wings. Mind you, this is a fictional character. He could’ve been anything. But no, he was given wings and a weapon so useless it hasn’t been used since the Middle Ages, a time when there were no cultural advancements for hundreds of years — a mace. This brings up the question: why was Hawkman even created? It could be one of those things where he’s just there to provide contrast to the extremely awesome superheroes. More likely though, it was just a sick, malevolent comic book artist.

The Featherduster Volume 41 Issue 3  

The way we see it.

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