Fe a t h e rd u s te r
Westlake High School
February 27, 2009
4100 Westbank Drive Austin, Texas 78746
brains + brawn
Musical quest Seven bands duke it out to win time in a recording studio.
people + places
Saving souls Senior Chloe Jordan works with Falling Whistles.
trends + traditions
All the fish in the sea What’s the lure of high school relationships?
rants + raves The Featherduster Staff Editor-in-Chief Sarah Adler
Managing Editor Molly Moore
Web Masters Matthew Chang Hetty Borinstein
Brains + Brawn
Sam Womack Asst. Shannon Soule Asst. Aaron Retersdorf
Katherine Kloc Holly Heinrich
Leah Whitlock Asst. Anisha Ganguly Trey Scott Katy Roden Asst. Meredith Kolda
People + Places
Ashley Carlisle Asst. Mary-Margaret Parrish Asst. Katie Sorenson
Trends + Trads
Jake Webb Asst. Helen Anderson
Rants + Raves
Leslie Reynolds Asst. Leland Krych Asst. Hannah Comstock Maff Caponi Asst. Lauren Nelson Asst. Trevor Wallace Photo by Barrett Wilson
Subscriptions Mekala Keshu
Photographers Barrett Wilson Hannah Kunz Jacob McLaughlin Katherine Finn Moira Bering Nathan Kallison Laura Aldridge
Abby Bost Abby Hanna Alex Bishop Alexandra Bell Amrit Khalsa Annie Valliant Blake Mackie
Brett Mele Caroline Hunt Chelsea Kneply Christina Shin Cody Crutchfield Danielle Brown Emily Huang Hillary Hurst Jake Bitting Jamie Lee Jamie Mathis Jasmin Khan Jenna Stene Jenny Messer Jessee Haney Julie Dorland Kelsey Randle Leah-Marie Duran Lee Caffee Lizzie Friedman Luci Ortiz Matt Frank Michelle Ling Morgan Ridulfo Peter Sorensen Ryan McGrath Shelby Christopher Walter Bezanson Zach Wasfi
Tell your fortune Use our sophisticated methods to decipher your true destiny.
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.
brains + brawn the scoop on school news and sports
In response to a solid performance by The Callback, members of the crowd, including seniors Cameron Brock, Alex Hershey and Alex Wolff, rush the stage to applaud the musicians who eventually were picked by the judges as this year’s champion. The 14th annual Battle of the Bands was co-sponsored by The Featherduster and TEC.
Battle of the
bands Sam Womack
The winner: The Callback
hey went from being cut during tryouts one year to winning Battle of the Bands the next. The Callback, four guys just having fun playing music, rocked the stage Jan. 24 at the 14th Annual Battle of the Bands in the Chap Court. “We went in expecting to have fun, but not to win,” lead guitarist senior Grady Baker said. “We were the underdogs to people, so they didn’t expect us to be that good.” Grady, bass guitarist senior Evan Reynolds, drummer freshman Carson Viglione and guitarist senior Chris Knight chose to perform a collection of all cover songs. “We chose all covers because we thought it would be more fun for the audience,” Grady said. Despite the fact that they played covers at the show, they plan on making a name for themselves using their own songs. With their win at Battle of the Bands, they got four hours of recording time at Tequila Mockingbird studio, as well as the help of a recording
engineer. “We wanted to play only covers because we wanted to play the best show possible,” Evan said. “But we’re probably going to use our Tequila Mockingbird time to make another version of our original demos.” The members of The Callback have been playing together since sophomore year. Matt Sparks, a senior in ’08, left the band after graduation, opening up a spot for their current drummer, Carson. They’ve been playing together ever since. “Performing and playing with people is fun,” Grady said. “We get to play together and hear ourselves get better.” And over time, they have improved greatly. “[The last time we tried out for Battle of the Bands], we hadn’t been together very long and we didn’t have great stage presence,” Evan said. “This year, we just wanted to have the best sound quality. We wanted to make the best sound we could.” This year, they returned with full force. “Battle of the Bands was the thing that I most looked forward to in high school,” Evan
said. “We were definitely going to try out again.” Evan, who began his time with the Callback as a drummer, eventually moved to playing bass. He made his way into the band through a connection in cross country. “We were riding back from a cross country practice and Grady saw a drum magazine on the floor of the car,” Evan said. “I told him that I played, and then I started playing with the band a few weekends later.” Evan plays a ‘60s Fender Precision bass handed down to him from his grandfather who used to play it in a polka band. “I had the choice to play with a nicer guitar, but I chose to play with my grandpa’s,” Evan said. “It’s a cool guitar, and it looks a little beat up, too.” While The Callback have decided to break up after graduation, they aren’t wasting any time before then. “We’re going to try to make a CD and get that out before college,” Grady said. “If we get the chance, we might do a few shows too.” —Jake Webb
the runners up:
second place Secret Spice third place Mother Falcon most entertaining Captain Chaos and the Space Cadets musicianship award Secret Spice Below: Cellists sophomore Danielle Suh, senior Nick Calvin and ‘08 graduate Nick Gregg, along with fellow musicians from the band Mother Falcon, perform during Westlake’s 14th annual Battle of the Bands.
Right: Singing at the top of his lungs, senior Lee Caffee and Captain Chaos and the Space Cadets took most entertaining band. Below: Guitarist senior Theo Halls basks in the glory of the charged crowd’s praise after Captain Chaos and the Space Cadets finish their set. Barrett Wilson
Right: Playing his heart out, sophomore Joey Rousseau performs with his band These City Lights at Battle of the Bands. These City Lights performed after the show while waiting for the results from the judges. Above: Rockin’ out on the bass, musician senior Sanyam Sharma plays alongside his band, Groove, during Westlake’s 14th annual Battle of the Bands.
the contests: Barrett Wilson
best guitar freshman Drake McGarrah best saxophonist senior Max Seiden best high-kick senior Theo Halls David Lee Roth award senior Lee Caffee best drummer freshman Carson Viglione
Girls grants giving
Fifty-five young women gathering together two Sundays a month sounds like trouble, but for the girls in Girls Giving Grants it couldn’t be for a less mischievous, more noble cause. The g3 program is the brainchild of Rebecca Powers, president of Impact Austin, a group of adult women who work philanthropically to benefit various organizations. Girls Giving Grants is her way of giving the same experience to her daughters and other teenage girls. “We decided we would focus on the needs of youth in our county areas,” sophomore Oriana Wright said. “Most importantly we decided membership would be limited to middle and high school girls.” Each girl donates $100, preferably earned by her, to commit to the grant that g3 gives every year. Every penny goes to the potential grant of one of the non-profit organizations that has gone through the extensive application process. “The grant process is easy to follow and understand,” said Debbie Tate, director of Development and Community Affairs for The Center of Child Protection. “I think a rigorous grant process lends to the credibility of the organization.” Through the course of six months, the members put their skills to the test. The 55 girls are split into six groups. Each group gets a section of the grants which are narrowed down to two, they then present the grants in slide shows. The girls vote on their favorites and in April, they announce the winner and present the organization with its grant. “Most of the members have experienced heartbreak,” Oriana said. “Due to the nature of the process, the grant application I have fallen in love with is not always the recipient.” With the help of many mentors, the girls were able to set up g3 and keep it running for four years now.
Students participate in philanthropic organizations In 2007, g3 awarded $2,600 to the Center for Child Protection, putting the money towards an emergency fund for families in crisis. The grant ended up aiding the emotional needs of the abused child and their family. Coming into the fourth year as an organization, g3 has already proved itself to the Austin community, with their contributions to Lifeworks in 2008, Center for Child Protection in 2007 and Austin Children Shelter in 2006. “The need for philanthropy and the hunger for young philanthropists is more now than it ever has been,” director of g3 Dinna Mavridis said. “This new generation as a populous is seen as lazy. The groups of girls in g3 are not even close to lazy.” The g3 girls have given $10,400 to the city of Austin over the course of four years. They have worked hard to grow into the organization they are now. “I was not aware that being a part of a single group would be able to change me as much as it has,” Oriana said. Not only is g3 a learning process in finance for the girls involved, it is also a place to grow; many of the girls have been there since the group began, and they all have strong ties to one another. “It helps with their communication skills, financial stability and makes the girls commit because of each other,” Mavridis said. This year 55 grants were submitted and are in the process of elimination. The g3 grant will be awarded in April of this year. —Kelsey Randle
‘Hy’ hopes for Hyline
Dance team prepares for, competes in spring contests Every Friday night during football season, fans enjoy the halftime show just as much as the game. The line of 45 girls highkicking their toes to their noses is flawless and well-rehearsed. However, the minute football season is over, Hyline leaps right into preparing for competitions. “When football season ends, many people think Hyline ends too, which is so not true,” Hyline officer junior Mallory Douthit said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked, ‘So what do y’all even do in Hyline now?’ Our focus just shifts from halftime shows and high kicks to competition dances.” To prepare for competition season, the girls add over 10 more
hours of practice to their weekly schedule, including lengthy Saturday rehearsals. “It’s time consuming, to say the least, and waking up at 5:30 is just as awful as it sounds,” Mallory said. “But it’s well worth it.” The team performs four dances: jazz, modern, pom and lyrical. The Funky Company—which has held the State title for the last two years—and the Jazz Company also compete, along with optional soloists. “Everyone hopes to receive high scores this year but personally, I would like to see Funky Co. win for a third year,” Hyline officer senior Sara Brown said. “Also, I would like Hyline to excel in our modern dance since it’s only the
second time we are competing in that category.” Hyline competes in four solo and three team competitions, including The Klein Oak competition in Houston, where the girls bond by spending the entire weekend together. The team’s first contest was Feb. 7 at Bowie High School. Hyline is also anticipating their annual performance, Zenith, on April 23-25 in the newly-renovated FAF. “Each season is unique but contest season always seems to bring the team closer together,” Sara said. “Everyone works so hard to achieve a common goal and be the best.” —Katy Roden and Katie Sorenson
Performing during a basketball game, second lieutenant junior Shaila Isham dances to prepare for upcoming competitions. Hyline’s first competition was Feb. 7 where Funky and Jazz Co. tied for runner up and officers got second overall.
2009 puts spin on traditional Senior Girls program as it transitions from football to soccer, basketball, baseball It’s 8 p. m. After a grueling day of school and a brownies for game days. You know, just something to team dinner, various high school boys are on their way boost them up so they are psyched for the game.” home—ready to sit back, relax and watch the latest epiIn addition to Bleacher Babes and Senior Girls, two sode of 24. As their cars silently come to a stop in their brand new support groups have sprung up to join the driveways, they grab their bags and head inside only to pack. Senior Celina Artusi founded the Soccer Stalkers be greeted by and senior Caroline Kimble created the Basketball their moms and Senior Girls, both of which are currently decoratunusually enoring rooms and baking dozens of cookies. mous smiles—the “I’m close with some of the boys on the team kind they only and I hung out with a few of them a lot over have when they the summer,” Caroline said. “It was during that know a secret. time when I came up with the idea because I just Shrugging off thought about how much they need to be recogtheir moms’ nized. Chris [King] told me they don’t get a lot of conspicuous good recognition, and I thought they really deserved mood, they make something so I thought I could get a basketball a beeline to their Senior Girl thing started.” rooms. However, this time when they step in, instead After a bit of a scare, not knowing if it would happen of being overwhelmed by the stench of dirty socks and or not, the Basketball Senior Girls were finally created. rotting food, they are welcomed to an abnormally clean, Thanks to the help of a parent, who brought it up during decorated room. Streamers adorn every inch of the ceila parent meeting, the Basketball Senior Girls were able to ing, creating an endless sea of red and blue, and balloons get enough money and members to help sustain it, and so clutter the ground making it nearly impossible to walk. far, 10 girls have joined. Setting down their “Basketball Senior bags and taking in the Girls is really relaxed,” new “interior design,” Caroline said. “There they glance upon a sign aren’t themes like during reading “Beat Austin football season and we High.” But this time, it’s don’t have to dress them for soccer, basketball up. Some girls are talkand baseball. ing about making signs Ever since the start to put around the school of Westlake, football and in the Commons. has been one of the top Since there aren’t that priorities. In addition many of us, we all work to countless pep rallies together and help each and the mind-blowing other out.” stadium, there is also Now that the Senior the Senior Girls support Girl phenomenon seems group. However, over to be spreading, questhe last few years the tions are rising about Senior Girls program why these groups didn’t has expanded to cover start earlier. baseball for the first “I guess it’s because time in Westlake’s hisSam Womack once football season tory. ended, the girls were Two anonymous senior girls are hard at work decorating guard senior Chase Womack’s room. “The Bleacher Babe probably just too tired program started as an to do another season,” idea to get senior girls involved in supporting varsity senior basketball player Jesse Breedlove said. “I know baseball,” head Bleacher Babe senior Kalen Faulkenberry that I wouldn’t have the energy to do what they do for said. “If we have a program for football, why not one for two seasons of sports.” baseball as well?” However, this time the basketball and baseball teams With the Bleacher Babes’ season just around the corhave lucked out as each sport proved to have enough girls ner, participation does not seem to be an issue as most willing to make the time commitment that comes along girls find enjoyment in this relatively new support group. with being a Senior Girl, and so far, the guys love it. “Being a Bleacher Babe is great because it’s a really “Ever since I heard that the football Senior Girls make fun way to support our varsity baseball team,” Kalen said. snacks for their guy, I wanted a few Senior Girls of my “Bleacher Babes typically make signs for their players for own,” Jesse said. “Now, I finally have them.” every big game and of course we bake them cookies and —Shelby Christopher
If we have a program for football, why not one for baseball as well?” —senior Kalen Faulkenberry
brains + brawn
n i T t s e a u A P W r e o s f t l b a e u k l e’s ch ar c g h n i ival T upstand rou ty ss n i
“Words once said by a teapot,” said senior Eric Upshaw, Lord Arch Bishop King Duke Imperial President and re-founder of the Upstanding Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea Society. “‘Here is my handle. Here is my spout. Tip me over, and pour me out.’” Gathered in a crowded “lounge,” snug between table and couch, 30 formal wear-clad tea connoisseurs check their pocket watches, raise their glasses and laugh wildly. Though an average afternoon for most, Wednesdays mark a more grandiose occasion for the gentlemen and ladies of Westlake—tea time. The Upstanding Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea Society was started four years ago by 2008 graduates Sam Westerfeld and John Hume. Though meetings became scarce, its reputation for elegance, ostentatiousness and top hats lived on. “It was a club when I was a freshman,” Eric said. “I always wanted to join but never had time, so I just revamped it.” One of UGATS’ basic founding principles is its requirement that participants be elegantly dressed in formal attire. “Everyone dresses ridiculously splendid in their formal wear,” senior Karen Tennison said. “It gives the room a certain vibe that speaks graciously
to the gentlemenship of it all.” Achieving the chivalrous status of a gentleman is a hard-earned task that few are able to accomplish. “Being a gentleman requires humility in the face of vanity, courage in the face of fear, kindness in the face of adversity and holding the door open for ladies,” Eric said. Though a club for gentlemen, ladies are cordially invited to join in the teatime merriment. “Ladyship is encouraged,” Eric said. “It only says ‘gentlemen’ because it sounds better in the title. There is no gender distinction.” UGATS is interested in any joining member that has a “natural urge to feel as if [they are] polite, courteous, very grandiose and exaggerated.” “My goal is to get a very diverse group with very diverse opinions and interests, so conversation never gets stale,” Eric said. Creating an Alice in Wonderland appeal, the tea party and its lavishly clothed guests provide a surrealistic break for rest and relaxation. “The purpose of UGATS is to have a good time with great people,” Eric said. “We try to have fun and not worry about things here. Stress is not our cup of tea.” —Lauren Nelson
Every other Wednesday after school in room 910
, e i v o m a ke
a M make a difference Filmmaking class gives students creative outlet
Lights! We are all critics. We’ve all had the experience of walking out of a movie theater and thinking to ourselves, “Wow…I just spent $9 and wasted two hours of my life to see the worst movie in cinematic history.” We have no problem criticizing movies, as long as we didn’t make them. Honestly, how many of us would be willing to put ourselves out there and have our films judged by others? It takes courage, something that Westlake’s film classes have in abundance. Filmmaking is an exciting new addition to the student culture. In years past, film was something that students did outside of school. It was simply a hobby, not a subject for school. Now, with the creation of the new film class, students are working with advanced technical equipment, using complicated software such as Final Cut, and are finally learning how to turn their visions into reality. “We have a state-of-the-art high-def Mac lab,” film production teacher Emily Burdett said. “The tools that students are using are industry standard. As a result, graduates can consider future employment in production.” In November, Westlake received its first film award. The students competing were required to submit an advertisement for Schlotzsky’s “Sandwich Your Story in 60 Seconds” Competition. Westlake took home three wins. Seniors Ryan Summersett, Jackson Wimberley and Sarah Mullinnex all received $500 scholarships for their commercials and were awarded the honor of having their films screened at the Austin Film Festival. Since then, Westlake Film students have been involved in other competitions as well. Most recently, Westlake swept the “Make A Movie, Make a Difference PSA (Public Service Announcement) Competition”, earning all five honors. The challenge was to design a
public service announcement about a controversial issue such as clean air, substance abuse or teen dating violence. The finalists selected by Sheriff’s Department and Austin Film Festival judges were: • Alastair Winston/Matthew Gary (Teen Dating Violence) • Carly Berryhill/Jackson Wimberly (Teen Dating Violence) • James Lambrecht/Ross Davis (Substance Abuse) • Olivia Reed (Substance Abuse) • Sean Elwood/Valerie James (Teen Dating Violence) Winners were announced Feb. 11. Two teams won first in their categories: James/ Ross and Valerie/Sean. “We decided to go with the TDV choice,” senior Sean Elwood said. “It all consisted of stop-motion and took a little over two hours or so to shoot, and then about a week and a half to edit. This is the first ‘award’ we’ve received since we’ve made videos so it came to us as a surprise.” The winners will receive week-long internships with film companies and passes to the Austin Film Festival. But filmmaking isn’t just about winning awards. It creates an opportunity for students who plan to pursue film as a career to get their work out into the community. “It opens up dozens of possibilities to get your work out there,” Sean said. “The class teaches you how to write treatments for your film ideas, how to write a pitch and how to present it to a director to make him or her buy it. We practiced selling our ideas through pitches, and then the filmmaking class went to the Austin Film Festival, where some students actually presented their pitches to real directors. I got to meet one of my favorite
directors, Danny Boyle, who directed 28 Days Later and Sunshine, along with the recent film, Slumdog Millionaire.” The film classes also produced music videos that will be shown in the Uncommon Space Gallery, and mini documentaries that will screen on The Featherduster Online at the end of this month. They are also entering some work in UIL and are about to embark on producing a few of the students’ short scripts that were written last semester. Like other activities at Westlake, filmmaking also demands excellence. Students are required to learn to use complicated programs and to work hard every day on their projects. It is definitely not a “blow off” class. “Filmmaking has really inspired me to make a lot more films,” Sean said. “I now know how to use Final Cut Pro a lot better. Filmmaking takes a lot of time and patience and you can’t really procrastinate because you’re always on a tight schedule with a specific deadline so you can’t ‘dilly-dally’ one day and put off all the work until two or three days before the deadline. Editing takes a while and you want to get your project to closely resemble your vision on how you wanted it to turn out as much as possible.” “We have very creative, hardworking students,” Burdett said. “That’s a great combo for a production. It was pretty fun to win our first contest out of the gate. Having advanced production students in a brand new program gives us a strong foundation. Their work serves as a great model for beginners and they themselves serve as great peer coaches. I think this has helped to raise the quality level of our work quickly. There are real filmmakers here. I am happy we offer a place on campus where they can develop their craft.” —Amrit Khalsa
secondary headline will go here.....• thew Gary (Teen Dating Violence)
coping it out “You, get over here, STAT,” the technician said. “Hold her arms steady.” Her mind raced and her adrenaline kicked in. It was senior Caroline Parrish’s first day observing in the ER of St. David’s Hospital, and she was already thrown into action. “I had arrived in the ER and was told that a patient was being brought in by ambulance complaining of chest pains and shallow breathing,” Caroline said. The ER personnel had been struggling to restrain the patient and place an IV in her arm. “The patient didn’t know what was going on,” Caroline said. “The patient was flailing her arms, punching anything and everything in her reach, preventing the nurse from getting a clean stick.” After multiple unsuccessful attempts, Caroline and the nurses were able to restrain the patient and place the IV smoothly. “I plan on going to nursing school next year,” Caroline said. “This year I had the opportunity to take Health Science Technology II, preparing me for the medical world.” HST II was added to the list of courses for the ‘08-09 school year and is currently taught by Sherry Moody. Students involved in the class travel to local hospitals three days a week, where they have the opportunity to observe and experience all the departments, rotating each week between the intensive care, X-ray, ER, physical therapy, lab and infant nursery. “This class has revealed a whole new side of the healthcare world to me,” Caroline said. “I have always been in the patient’s place, but now I am behind the scenes. I have the chance to understand and see the way doctors think while interacting with the patient.” For junior Zach Yates, the class also proved to be influential in deciding his future career. “The class gives me the option to test the medical field,” Zach said. “Since I was 12 years old, I thought becoming a doctor was a possibility and now I know this is what I want to do with my life.” Before a student can be in HST II, they have to take a year of Health Science Technology I, which teaches them about the body systems, medical terms and common diseases often encountered in the hospitals. After completing the class, students can then apply to be in HST II and observe in local hospitals.
MEDICAL TERMS TO KNOW
Adenosclerosis: abnormal hardening of a gland Verrucae: wart, caused by viral infection Adenomalacia: abnormal softening of a gland Idiopathic disorder: illness without a known cause Adipose: fat
Students acquire real-life experiences observing in local hospitals Senior Caroline Parrish learns about the equipment used in one of the physical training gyms at Breckenridge Hospital.
“Last semester we went to St. David’s, but this semester our class is going to Brackenridge,” Caroline said. “We made the switch because Brackenridge is a county hospital, meaning they can’t refuse to help people, therefore the hospital gets a wide variety of patients, whereas St. David’s is a private hospital.” Because the students are observing in the hospitals, they have to abide by hospital rules and regulations, including wearing scrubs. “I wear my scrubs to the hospital and school,” Zach said. “Sometimes I get funny looks, but honestly, I’m proud of being in this class and ‘promoting’ it in the best way I can, so it doesn’t bother me. People ask questions about my scrubs and I tell them it’s for HST II and that it’s worth it.” Like Caroline, Zach also was able to work hands-on with his technician. “In my ICU clinical rotation, I was able to assist in repositioning a patient who was HIV positive,” Zach said. “He was on a ‘prone table’ for two days which rotates 360 degrees every few hours to help his ability to breathe. Working along side a Pathologist, I was also able to prepare multiple lab slides of bodily fluids for observation—we were looking for Sickle Cell Anemia, which causes the red blood cells to become sickle shape and clot in clumps which blocks blood flow in blood vessels, causing extreme pain.” Through their experience in class and in the hospitals, students who take HST II are able to see and interact in all facets of the medical field, providing them with valuable experience for both college and their future careers. “Three days a week I have the opportunity to see the good, the bad and the ugly side of nursing, not just the glamorous Grey’s Anatomy version,” Caroline said. “The class has confirmed my aspirations of being a nurse and at the same time has opened up even more doors in my search for the type of nursing I want to pursue.” —Mary-Margaret Parrish
Crafting a tradition
Junior Monika Knap works with meticulous precision, building her pot from the bottom up.
Second: Include a CD with two views of your entry (in JPEG or PDF format, 180 or 300 dpi) and $7 entry fee.
Third: Submit your piece by March 22, 2009
First: Get the entry form that is available online
Think your pottery has the clay that pays?
This contest is unique in that unlike most art competitions, it is open to private school students as well as students not enrolled in art classes. Everyone is welcome to participate. “This event will juxtapose student work and professional work in the same show, allowing kids to participate in a more trained manner, not as professionals, but with professionals,” Delgado said. The festival is also a fundraiser for scholarships. School money has traditionally gone to only college-bound students, but the profits from the show will be available to all students, whether they are college-bound or tradebound. “The pottery festival is a way to showcase art as a viable choice for a lifestyle,” Delgado said. The festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 9 and noon until 5 p.m. May 10. There will be live music and refreshments at the opening reception which will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday in the Commons. Live demonstrations will be given throughout the weekend by The Greater Austin Clay Artists and WHS potters. “We’re hoping that this becomes an annual event,” Delgado said. “It joins the different pottery junctions in the city for a common cause to educate and create awareness of the incredible talent that we have in our students and in our state as a whole.” —Luci Oritz
n May 9-10, Westlake will host its first pottery festival which will integrate the work of students from Westlake and other local schools with professional work. “We are encouraging as many students as possible to participate, especially since this is the first year,” festival coordinator and ceramics teacher Dawn Delgado said. The show will include every major pottery organization group in the city. There will be an exhibit, a sale and a reunion cup shop for Art of the Pot. Art of the Pot is a tour of pottery studios which allows the public to meet 16 talented artists and view a large representation of their work, according to their website. The Art Stream, a nationally known pottery gallery, is also coming down from Colorado. A silent auction of the professionals’ work will take place and a collection of student work will be available for purchase. This is the only ceramics contest that Westlake students will participate in that is not being sponsored by the Scholastic Art and Writing Association or Visual Arts Scholastic Event. “I feel as if those competitions have gotten too big and have so many rules and regulations that they have lost their charm,” Delgado said. “Although they are very important I felt the need for a more user-friendly event.” All students enrolled in Delgado’s ceramics classes are required to submit one piece as part of their grade. “I’m really excited about the upcoming festival,” said senior Kaitlyn Herring.
Westlake Pottery Festival makes its debut with auction, fundraiser
Off to a running start Westlake Rugby launches into first season W Nathan Kallison
Much to the distaste of the defenders, junior Ellis Glaw runs toward the end zone. Ellis played hard and the Chaps won 46-22.
ith a strong start at a tournament at Burr Field in East Austin Jan. 10, and coming out the first place victor at the first annual Capital City Slug Fest Jan. 17, the Westlake rugby team is looking forward to a successful season this year. On Jan. 23, the rugby boys also won their first home match against the Dallas Jesuit rugby team, winning 46-22 in the first game. In their second game, however, Jesuit managed to grab the edge on the boys, defeating Westlake in a very close match. “I think we performed pretty well given that we didn’t have a lot of experience,” junior Alex Putnam said. “We still have room to improve, but I think we’ll do well the rest of
the season.” On Jan. 31, Westlake competed in a minitournament in San Antonio, where they won both games. At Westlake’s first cup match Feb. 7, varsity defeated Stony Point 34-0 and JV took the win by forfeit. “We’ve already beaten some of the toughest teams around,” junior Kelvin Arrindell said. “We’re ready to dominate the rest of the season.” The Westlake team formed this year after breaking away from the Austin Area High School Rugby Association. The team has club status and is not an officially sanctioned UIL sport. —Jamie Mathis
Soaking in success
Westlake douses competitors at qualifying swim meet At the District meet, the two-time State Champion Westlake girls swimming team advanced 12 swimmers to the Regional meet, scheduled for Feb. 14 in San Antonio. With internationally ranked swimmers like junior Samantha Tucker, their advancement was no surprise. But this year, the boys team sent 12 of their own swimmers as well, more than 65 percent of their team. “When you think of Westlake swimming, you think of the girls,” captain senior Niklas
Glenesk said. “But it’s really great to see guys come up and win District and see them on the podium. It’s good to see the girls and guys winning together. It’s not just the ‘girls’ team and ‘guys’ team, it’s the Westlake team.” Jake Webb The boys team is made up Varsity senior Niklas Glenesk dives in during the District swim meet. Niklas, along with 23 of mostly freshmen and sophoother Westlake swimmers, advanced to the Region meet Feb. 13-14 in San Antonio. mores, and they seem to be reversing the two-year slump the team has gone I’m looking forward to my whole team doing through since the During the District swim meet Jan. 30-31, varsity senior Grace Cheney does a butterfly stroke boys won State three years ago. well and making it to State.” during the preliminary 200m IM. She placed 11th in the 200m IM with a time of 2:34.17 At the meet this past weekend, Samantha “We have also been a little but advanced to the Regional meet in the 500m Free. was named District 25-5A Female Swimmer careless and had a couple of boys of the Year, on top of the other medals she relays disqualified from the Diswon in the 100-free, 200-free and the relays. trict meet in recent years,” coach “I was surprised when they said my name Isaac Grombacher said. “We now because there were other people that did have a very talented and very really well,” Samantha said. “But I felt great young team.” about winning because I had some good races, Both teams placed well in too.” almost every race, rarely parNow looking forward to Region and eventicipating in an event without tually State, Samantha has set some pretty a Westlake swimmer on the difficult goals. podium. To some swimmers, like “I already have Texas records in the 100Samantha and Nik, the Region and 200-free but not high school records, meet is familiar, but others like because you have to swim them at State,” Sasenior Grace Cheney and freshmantha said. “I’m trying to get the American man Mattias Glenesk will be record for the 200-free. I’m really eager and advancing for the first time. pretty confident. It’s my main goal for State.” “I’m so excited,” Grace said. —Jake Webb “It’s my first Regional meet and Jake Webb
Midfielder junior Dillon Short controls the ball in the game against Bastrop Feb. 3. They dominated Bastrop 2-1.
Varsity soccer team aims for State
Going for a goal, freshman Thomas Haws gets fouled by the goalie from Lake Travis. The goalie got a red card, and Westlake got third place in the Capital Cup.
It is morning in Westlake. The sun is rising over the horizon, shining upon the downtown Austin skyline. The varsity soccer team is heading out on the field for their regular 7:45 a.m. practice—sometimes with temperatures in the 30s. Under their big penguin-jackets, their cold-weather gear and their gloves and hats are 16 talented and optimistic guys and their motivated coach. The team hungers for a District championship, which they haven’t won since 2004. “I feel that our team this year has the talent to win State,” midfielder junior Dillon Short said. “If we can come together as a team, there is no reason we should lose a game.” Coach Ronny Michael is very positive as well. “We can go all the way to State,” he said. “If we get a good bounce and if we are lucky, then we can go all the way.” In the game of soccer, communication, understanding and teamwork are some of the most important components of a successful team. “Our key to winning this year is how we communicate on the field,” Michael said. “It’s so important that we talk, especially when we are going from offense to defense. We have to talk transition, and it has to be loud.” The Chaps have nine returning players from last season, six of whom were starters last year. Among them are midfielders junior Bailey Hinners and senior Jackson Widner, both of whom earned 5A first team All-District. Senior Sam O’Brien made 5A second team All-District. Jackson also received 5A Academic All-District honors together with Sam. “At this point in the season we’re much better than we were last year,” Michael said. “This year we are much more controlling with the ball and not just running north and south and trying to score as fast as we can. But we still have to admire what the guys did last year.” One of the team’s strengths this year is that they have the ability to knock the ball around the other team without any problems. “If we are not selfish and don’t try to do everything ourselves, then we should dominate our competition,” Dillon said.
The preseason scrimmages that the team competed in early on served as a great way for the team to develop chemistry. “I think that the scrimmages were a great way to get more experience with the team and a great way to bond,” midfielder senior Turner Willis said. Michael is also pleased about what he has seen so far. “When you play five games in 20 hours as we did, and you’re not yelling and screaming at each other but you are joking and relaxed, that shows a great team,” he said. The team hosted the Capital Cup Jan. 8-10 and was very successful, taking third place. “I think the Capitol Cup was a good start to the season,” Jackson said. “It got us into the soccer rhythm and made us play when we were both physically and mentally tired which makes us stronger.” During last year’s first playoff game against Reagan, Westlake panicked because they had the wind at their back, causing them to go from playing their game with short passes and controlling the ball to just running up and down the field and trying to score instantly. “We can’t just change our game because of the wind,” Michael said. “Actually, I hope we will get some windy games in District so we can learn from it. We have to learn to slow the game down and control the ball with our back passes and stuff like that.” The team has already faced some tough District opponents. They played Bowie at Westlake, losing 0-2 and at Pflugerville, losing 0-1. But after a 0-2 District start, the release finally came against Bastrop with a 2-1 victory at home Feb. 3. “It felt so good,” midfielder senior Eddie Maruri said. “We finally played as a team and everyone contributed on both sides of the ball.” Eddie and Turner both said a big weight was taken off the team’s shoulders and that they can take the confidence and patience with them to the upcoming games. “It was great to finally get some goals to our season as well,” Turner said. “It took us a while to score, but when we scored it was magic. We had a great build-up and a good finish.” —Peter Sorensen
Putting their best foot forward Four girls earn the chance to pursue soccer in college
This senior class has to lead by example with their work ethic. I know these girls will do Westlake proud as they move on to the collegiate ranks.” —coach Rennie Rebe
Carmela has been playing club soccer since she was four-years-old and has been on the Westlake varsity soccer team since her freshman year. Carmela’s club team won Premier this year and beat the number one national team. She has made State teams three times and will play soccer for a DII school, the Art Academy University in San Francisco. The school is not only offering her a chance to play soccer in college but also has the major she wants to pursue—fashion design and merchandising. Although Carmela has had to make social sacrifices this year due to soccer games, the lessons learned are well worth it. “I’ve learned so many life lessons I would have not otherwise learned,” she said. “I’ve learned about commitment and perseverance. Sometimes [during a workout] while I’m thinking I’m going to die, I keep going and afterwards the feeling of accomplishment is worth the pain.” Sam Womack
In her junior year, Lauren committed to playing for Southern Methodist University. Her biggest personal accomplishment concerning soccer is being picked to play for the Adidas All-Region team of 11 girls her sophomore year. The girls were chosen from high school teams. “Top players from club teams got picked for one team to go to State,” Lauren said. “It was a huge achievement.” Lauren was out for two months at the start of the Westlake season this year due to an ankle injury. Although it affected her playing time during the beginning of the season, her chances of making varsity remained the same. “My injury didn’t affect my chances for varsity because [Coach Rebe] had seen me play during off-season practice,” she said. “And I’m really confident in this year’s team because we have seniors who have been to State and who are very motivated to come back from our loss to Deer Park two years ago.”
Lexi is planning to attend St. Edward’s University next year to play soccer after playing for Austin United and Lone Stars for eight years. However, her biggest achievement is actually in track; she holds the school record for the triple jump. She also has her name on the record board in the soccer locker room for benching 100 pounds, doing 88 sit-ups in two minutes, running a snake in five minutes and 28 seconds and for finishing second to her sister, senior Alanna Iverson, in the two-mile run during this year’s soccer tryouts. “This year our team has been working better together and the right people were chosen,” Lexi said. “We can see the difference in the team this year, we’re much more aggressive.” Sam Womack
Erin hasn’t been playing on the Westlake varsity team for as long as the other seniors, but since college scouts rarely look on high school teams for players, her 13 years of club experience landed her an offer from Texas Tech University. “The Tech coach, Tom Stone, is on the U20 Women’s National coaching staff,” Erin said. “The team won the World Cup in Chile this past December; I’m very lucky he’s going to be my coach next year.” She received Newcomer of the Year last year for being the best new player in the district and also has her name on the record board for benching 100 pounds—tying with Lexi Iverson and for juggling a ball 251 consecutive times. “Most people have no idea how hard we work,” she said. “Soccer is way more intense than people think. It takes a lot of my time but has also allowed me to do a lot of really cool things and travel with my friends to games. Our new coach’s style of play is much more aggressive and we’ve been matching up to the best teams in the state. We can win State this year.” —Meredith Kolda
Varsity boys lacrosse team determined to win
Player to watch: Junior John Jackson
He may not be the tallest player on the field, but the 5’6” attackman could have a big impact on the team this season. John, or JJ, might have all the skills needed to dominate a game: speed, elusiveness and the vision to find open players for easy scores, but is still quick to dish all the credit back to his teammates. “My teammates, doing what they’re supposed to do, help make my job easy,” JJ said. “Our game plan works when everybody executes their roles.”
Hopes are high this year for the boys lacrosse team after an awe-inspiring appearance at the pre-season University of Texas Lacrosse Tournament. The team took first place and conquered many of its District rivals including Westwood, Austin and Bowie, as well as defeating an out-of-District team, The Woodlands. The varsity team had not beaten Austin High for many years, and after coming out victorious at the tournament, adrenaline is pumping and all eyes are on the District Championship and ultimately winning State. “It felt awesome to finally beat Austin High,” senior Austen Reichhold said. “If we can beat them again in the actual season, then I think we will definitely have a shot at winning the playoffs.” Head coach Dave Lapin has taken notice of the team’s unrelenting intensity and is adjusting his practice curriculum accordingly. In order to win State, Lapin knows that the team must be able to take on teams such as Highland Park and Dallas Episcopal who have repeatedly been named the State Champions. “Both of the teams, [Highland Park and Dallas Episcopal] have been formidable opponents for the last couple years,” Lapin said. “But I think that this year’s team might just have what it takes to win it all.” In order to garner respect in the Central Texas lacrosse community, the players are spending the first few weeks of their practice
schedule working on improving their physical strength, speed and agility. With the help of five NCAA Division I coaches and a doctor experienced in plyometric exercises, the team is making better progress than ever before. “We are making a lot of changes on how to get the players in their peak physical shape,” Dr. Ron Byrd said. “Rather than regular static stretching, we are leading the players through dynamic stretches which involves warming up the muscles through sport-specific movements; it’s what all of the professionals do.” But simply having high endurance and fast feet won’t guarantee the team the State title; there needs to be a strong presence of senior leadership, something that has lacked during previous years, according to Lapin. With a group of 10 seniors, many of whom have been playing together since sixth grade, it is expected that someone will pick up the reins and lead the team to victory. “Ever since I was at West Ridge, I have been playing alongside lots of the teammates that I still play with today,” senior Zach Bohls said. “I think that if the underclassmen see the seniors working well together, then they will try to do the same.” Whether or not the team makes it to State is purely a result of their hard work and dedication. As Lapin often says, “Your input controls your output.” —Aaron Retersdorf
Senior Chris Case attempts to scoop the ball during a practice scrimmage. Chris is a part of a group of 10 seniors that look to guide the team to a District Championship and a possible run in the playoffs. “I’ve been playing with these guys for such a long time,” Chris said. “It’s cool to see how far we’ve come.”
together Barrett Wilson
Left: Junior Jill Capotosto practices after school. “I think this will be a strong season,” Jill said. “Our opponents lost some valuable seniors so we should have an advantage.”
Looking to pass, junior Lindsay Stevenson practices hard for the season opener against Austin High. Barrett Wilson
Girls team seeks recognition The passes are quick and their formations are perfect as they sprint down the field towards the goal. Hair flying behind them, red and blue uniforms soaked with sweat and their opponents rushing towards them, there is little time left for the girl’s lacrosse team to win. But these obstacles do not faze them as they take a shot and score. With a promising season ahead, Westlake is ready to face tough opponents such as St. Andrew’s, Westwood, Cedar Park and Bowie. “Although the official season hasn’t started yet, we’re doing pretty well [at tournaments],” sophomore Grace Nowstrup said. “We have a really good team this year and I’m looking forward to playing.” While the team has been seen as a contender in the upcoming season, the girls are not out of the woods just yet. They still need a strong will to be able to make it through the time requirements that the practices demand. “As with any sport, it does take dedication, especially for varsity,” senior Katie Rose Gartman said. “We practice Monday through Friday for two hours after school. If you want playing time you have to practice hard, or you don’t get to play at all.” This dedication is also needed to survive through the long workouts that the sport dish-
Right: Battling for the ball, sophomore Ashley Berd and junior Sarah O’Neill run hard in a practice scrimmage. The varsity team has practice every day after school for two hours.
es out on a daily basis. Running around the field up to six times for warm-ups, practicing stick skills with partners, and doing strength training is only half of the daily practice. “My favorite drill is stretching,” junior Jillian Letemendia said. “It’s the one time we actually get a break.” Although the conditioning and drills can be a challenge, to some the sport comes naturally. “Learning to play the sport was not so hard,” said sophomore Olivia Parker, who began playing in eighth grade. “I picked it up immediately and have enjoyed it ever since.” The lacrosse coaches have an understanding for school and other important activities that run the average teenager’s life, making lacrosse a manageable extracurricular. “If you have something really important to do or have to study for a major test, the coaches understand,” junior Courtney Campbell said. “But most of the time we get out early enough to complete our homework.” Lacrosse is similar to many other sports at Westlake. It requires protective equipment such as mouth guards, eye goggles, gloves, shin guards and helmets. Like soccer, the team travels across the state for competition, such as the Aggieland and Cy-Fair tourna-
ments. “I feel blessed to be a part of the team,” junior Rachel English said. “I’ve already gained what I’d hoped for from lacrosse: friendship, leadership, sportsmanship and confidence. I’d do anything for [my teammates].” However there is little fan support for the girls. Throughout the season, they have had to become their own support system. “Most of my friends play lacrosse, so we support each other at games and give each other constructive criticism,” junior Carly Campbell said. “Because girls lacrosse isn’t a school sport [not UIL sanctioned], there aren’t any rallies; however, we don’t need a bunch of pep signs to get pepped up for a game.” Until UIL recognizes lacrosse as an official sport, the team will struggle for its share of acknowledgment. “I think that lacrosse should get more recognition in Westlake,” sophomore Jamie Kaplan said. “It’s as viable a sport as any other available, after school practice shouldn’t be the only option in order to play. We practice just as hard as other sports so lacrosse should have its own period just like other sports at Westlake.” —Jamie Mathis
Player to watch: Junior Rachel English
Years played: Five Hours a week devoted to lacrosse: 11-13 Why she chose to play: “It was different. Everyone else was playing soccer or tennis or something, and I wanted to try something new.” Why she loves it: “I like my team and they make it fun. It’s good exercise, too.”
Fast andfurious Sam Womack
Varsity boys sweep Austin High; secure spot in playoffs
Senior Chris King
Fast-paced offense has been the recipe for success for the boys basketball team this season, as the Chaps have run-and-gunned their way to an excellent record and look to be primed for the playoffs. When first-year coach Tres Ellis signed on with Westlake, he brought with him an up-tempo style of play that stressed pressure defense and transition baskets. The system has worked. The Chaps average 69 points per game, 14 more than last year. More importantly, their 23-6 record is a big improvement over last year’s, when Westlake had a 15-14 record through 29 games. Also worth mentioning are the two victories against rival Austin High, especially rewarding considering the Chaps were swept by the Maroons last year. Leading the charge has been point guard junior Cody Doolin, who leads the team with 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists per game. Classmates juniors Conner Kemper, 15 ppg, and Gus Leeper, three blocks per game, have also been key to the success of the team, as has senior Cliff Houston, who has provided outside shooting and veteran leadership. “The season is going well,” Cody said. “It’s coming to a close and we’re nearing an important part of the season because you start to wear down, but we have to keep pushing ourselves in practice to get better.” No one game might be more telling of the Chaps’ offensive abilities than the Dec. 1 match against Vista Ridge. After a quarter, Westlake led 16-3. At the half, it was 35-9. And when the final buzzer went off, the scoreboard read 82-30. It was a complete game, one in which no single Chaparral scored more than 13 points. Every team, however, has their Jekyll-and-Hyde moments. Nearly two weeks later in a game against the same Vista Ridge team, the Chaps lost 55-58. But as the season
11 2 3 During a well-fought game Jan. 20 at Bowie, junior Keaton Lancashire drives to the hoop. The Chaps lost 41-57.
Attempting a slam dunk against Austin High, forward junior Carl Meyertons helps lead his team to an 83-58 victory.
On Jan. 13, point guard junior Cody Doolin shoots a free-throw against Austin High. Cody leads the team with a .76 ftp.
Switching hands, 6’5” forward junior Conner Kemper beats Pflugerville forward Osas Ebomwonyi to the rim. Westlake lost to the Panthers 69-77 but rebounded with an 83-71 win over Bastrop in their next game. has continued they have become more consistent and now look to have all the pieces in place. Now it’s just a matter of playing to their tempo and keeping their poise. “We need to work on staying calm because sometimes we get rattled,” Conner said. “But we’re getting better at that. If we play our game and just play the way we’re used to playing, we’ll have a successful finish to the season. ” —Trey Scott
Varsity guard sophomore Cherrell Mays shoots a free-throw during a game against Connally which the Chaps won 43-42 in overtime. Cherrell is the daughter of former professional basketball player Travis Mays. “My dad makes me evaluate myself when we talk about basketball,” Cherrell said.
far from the
Sophomore Cherrell Mays has loved basketball from the first time she picked up a ball in elementary school. Now in high school, she has become one of the best players on the varsity team, though she has had some help. Her dad, Travis Mays, is not only a college basketball coach, but also a former professional player who played on four different teams and won numerous awards including being inducted into the UT Hall of Honor. Not to mention the fact that he has his own Wikipedia page. “My dad played at Texas in college and was drafted in the first round to play in Sacramento,” Cherrell said. “Then he played in Atlanta and Boston. He started coaching in the WNBA for the San Antonio Silver Stars. Then he assistant-coached at Texas and is now assistantcoaching the women’s team at LSU.” Cherrell’s situation works in her favor. Her dad serves as her own personal coach. “My dad makes me evaluate myself when we talk about basketball,” Cherrell said. “He wants to know what’s going on since he isn’t here.” Discussing her games with her dad isn’t just a way for Cherrell to become better at basketball. It is also a way for her to stay connected with him while he is gone. Cherrell always tries to find time to talk about her games as soon as she gets back from them. “We talk about my games on the phone; we’ll talk about how I could do better,” Cherrell said. “Sometimes it’s hard because I have a lot of homework, but when we do catch up we talk about them.” Although having a parent who coaches the
Dedicated basketball player follows in her father’s footsteps
sport that Cherrell plays undeniably helps her game, it’s surprising that the situation doesn’t put even more stress on her. “My dad doesn’t pressure me, he just tells me to be the best I can be,” Cherrell said. “I put pressure on myself just because I feel like I have certain expectations.” Having played since grade school and living with a famous basketball player for 16 years, it’s safe to say that basketball is a huge part of Cherrell’s life. “I haven’t thought about [playing for my dad in college],” she said. “He’s a good coach and if I played for him, I know he would treat me like any other player.” But it wasn’t always all basketball for Cherrell. She tried a lot of things before sticking with it. “I tried every sport before I did basketball,” Cherrell said. “I did soccer, tennis, golf, swimming and I was a power-tumbling cheerleader.” When she tried basketball, though, there was no comparison between it and any of the other sports. But once she found the sport, it still wasn’t easy. Just like any other sport, it took practice. “When I first started playing I was really frustrated because I wasn’t as good as everyone else was,” Cherrell said. “But my dad told me to keep practicing and it got more fun as I got better and there was more competition.” The selection of basketball didn’t just make Cherrell happy, though. Someone else was pleased by her choice. “I think my dad was happy because I chose the sport he loved,” Cherrell said.
Cherrell’s dad was glad she chose basketball but he never tried to influence what sport or activity she decided to stick with. He let her find out what she really wanted to do. “He wasn’t really involved [in my choice of sport],” Cherrell said. “It was mostly me getting out there and doing it.” It’s easy to see that Cherrell is an accomplished basketball player when you take a look at her stats. She has averages of nine points, 4 rebounds and two steals per game thus far in the season. But these aren’t her only accomplishments. “It’s hard to say [what my biggest accomplishments are],” Cherrell said. “We are 28-4 this season [so far] and I was All-Tournament at the Corpus Christi tournament.” Although it’s great that her dad is a basketball coach, the profession has proven to be one that has caused the family to spend a lot of time apart. Now that her dad is a coach at LSU, he rarely sees his family. “He tries to come down as much as he can, but in the off-season he’s recruiting and I’m playing in AAU (Amateur Athletes Union),” Cherrell said. “We’re both really busy all of the time.” The fact that her dad is no longer living with her hasn’t put a damper on her game. Her dad’s contributions to her goal of playing at a college level definitely haven’t left with him. “The most important thing he said was to always be the one that worked the hardest,” Cherrell said. “Even if I had a bad game, he said to work the hardest.” —Matt Frank
Juniors practice self defense with Krav Maga
he lights go out. Surrounded by darkness and music blasting from the speakers, juniors Morgan Dahlheim, Marie Jacobson, Erin Meyer and Jasmine Mills prepare themselves for attack. They’ve been trained to defend themselves by any means possible, and they’re not about to back down. For these four girls, who spend up to six hours a week practicing Krav Maga, this is a typical weekday afternoon drill. “[Krav Maga] is an Israeli martial art, but it’s not a very pretty martial art,” Morgan said. “It’s more destructive, in a good, self-defense kind of way.” Last June, intrigued by this atypical sport, they began classes at Fit and Fearless Krav Maga. “I saw it on TV and I thought it was really cool because it’s a system based on instinct and real situations,” Jasmine said. “It’s used for warfare. So it’s not some fancy stand-on-
one-foot-and-meditate kind of thing. It’s just straight, basic self defense.” Jasmine encouraged her friends to try a class with her, but not all of them were enthusiastic. “They dragged me along,” Marie said. “I didn’t really want to go.” But the group, including Marie, soon became fascinated by the unusual martial art. “It’s a lot of explosive movements,” Jasmine said. “The primary objectives are to assess the attack and if it’s a threat or not, and then you neutralize it by a simultaneous counterattack. So if someone punches you, you defend, and you punch them back. And then, you want to get out of there without getting hurt. The only rule of Krav Maga is don’t get hurt. You can eye gouge, you can kick them in the groin, you can do whatever.” The partner drills are set up to prepare them for the distractions and obstacles they might face if attacked in real life. “You’ve been assigned A and B,” said
Sometimes you’ll get choked by a 200-pound,
tattooed man in the dark with loud music playing.” —junior Jasmine Mills
In the middle of her Wednesday night training, junior Jasmine Mills practices her left hook drills. Jasmine and her friends train three times a week at Fit and Fearless.
Jasmine. “One of you closes your eyes and the other one walks around the room with the other A’s, and runs up to someone and chokes them. Your eyes are closed, you feel off balance, the lights are off, and some big sweaty person just grabbed you and there’s loud blaring music and you just have no idea what’s going on. You get this adrenaline rush.” The chances of being attacked on the street might be slim, but the girls have proven that they will be ready if the occasion arises. Erin has even managed to inflict a serious, albeit unintentional, wound on her instructor. “He choked me against the wall, and so you would break the choke and then push him up against the wall,” Erin said. “So I got him against the wall, and I was elbowing, but [in practice] you don’t actually hit them. I did one elbow, and then his head went forward, and I was doing the other elbow and it collided, and it broke his nose. It was bleeding. It
was pretty bad.” Though much of Krav Maga is done with your bare hands and brute body strength, techniques involving weaponry are taught as well. “We do gun and knife defenses too,” Morgan said. “And long gun [rifle] defenses.” In December, they took their yellow belt test, measuring their progress and moving them up to the next level. “It was seven hours, and I don’t remember it,” Morgan said. “All I remember thinking was that I was dying. That’s it.” “[Our instructor] wouldn’t let us drink water until he told us we could, and then he was like, ‘You have 10 seconds,’” Jasmine said. “And so we had our mouth guards in, and you can’t really drink with a mouth guard in, so half of the water you tried to drink was spilled on yourself. And then you just had to go straight back in to the test, which was just continuous punching and kicking and kneeing and elbowing your partner.” This stamina is one of the main focuses of the training, which is largely centered around defense in the case of a street fight. “They always say that you can’t mess up the technique unless you stop,” Morgan said. Though the belts themselves have little physical significance, they are well-earned. “Krav Maga isn’t so much based on belts as the other systems,” Jasmine said. “Your uniform is just a t-shirt and athletic pants. You don’t have to wear robes, and you never wear your belt.” Belts aren’t the only prizes that they receive for their work, however—the intangible rewards are often sweeter. “My brother doesn’t sneak up behind me as much now,” Marie said. “That’s always good.” Though their demographic is somewhat of a minority in their Krav Maga class, this only serves to add excitement. “It’s really interesting because it’s not just people your age,” Jasmine said. “We’re the youngest people there. And there are more guys than girls.” Above all, their zealous dedication to Krav Maga stems from its electrifying unexpectedness and lack of formal constraints. “There are no illegal strikes in Krav Maga,” Morgan said. “You can do anything.” —Helen Anderson
Varsity captain senior Neils Hazen pins his opponent during his final District match, capturing his spot in the Regional meet Feb. 13-14 and earning his team an additional six points. Neils took third in District in his weight class.
Team falls short of District; captains reflect on career Jake Webb
At the District 26 tournament Feb. 7 at Leander High School, the varsity wrestling team was able to advance nine wrestlers to the Region IV tournament in San Antonio. The Chaps fell short of winning their third straight District Championship, falling to Vista Ridge and taking second. Five Chaps claimed individual titles, three of which were repeats from last year. Juniors Chase Betzer (130 lbs.), Sawyer Morris (145 lbs.) and Peyton Burns (152 lbs.) all brought home gold for the second straight year. Other first place finishers include co-captains seniors Alex Hershey (160 lbs.) and Grant Perry (171 lbs.). Also advancing to Regionals are sophomore Connor Shults (119 lbs.), c0-captain senior Neils Hazen (135 lbs.) and junior Jim Gianakopoulos (140 lbs.). If wrestlers qualify in the top four of each weight class at Regionals, they will move on to the State Tournament Feb. 27-28 in Austin. “It’s exciting. ” Peyton said. “We have a chance to send more people to State than we ever have in the past. ” The varsity team brought home the runner-up trophy from the Sally George Invitational in Marion, Ohio Jan. 30-31. The Chaps had 10 place winners, in addition to five finalists. A placer is anyone who places in the top four or six depending upon the tournament. A finalist is in the championship match for first or second place. For O’Harra it was a trip down memory lane. He began his coaching career in Ohio after graduating from college in 1993. He was inspired to coach by his high school wrestling coach. “I went back and coached with him after college,” O’Harra said. “It was my best sport, and I always loved it. I still get very excited during the matches. ” On Jan. 22 the team defeated Leander 75-6 winning 14 out of 15
matches. Then, on Jan. 28, the team beat Cedar Park in 12 out of 14 matches to finish their regular season. Freshman Sammy Ivester, sophomores Curtis Loeffel and Trevor Hershey, juniors David Durham, Zain Khan, Chase, Sawyer and seniors David Nickelatti, Neils, Grant and Alex all put up wins against the Timberwolves. “I was very happy for the seniors to go out in such a nice way,” O’Harra said. “Cedar Park was a nemesis of ours for years. They are a little down this year, but really wellcoached. ” The captains, Alex, Grant and Neils, have handled the responsibilities O’Harra has given them well. “They do what you hope captains will do—come to the head coach about team concerns and motivate and lead the other wrestlers during practice,” O’Harra said. “They are all excellent role models, both on the mat and in the classroom. ” As the senior captains start to look back at their high school wrestling careers, they remember the struggles and hardships as well as the victories Barrett Wilson and fun. “The constant training, watching your weight and the two and a half hour practices [are the hardest part],” Neils said. “But my favorite part is getting to be with all the guys. ” The underclassmen are anticipating a bright future for next year’s team. “I think it will be a good strong season,” Trevor said. “We’ve got a lot of juniors who are returning next year like Chase, Sawyer and Peyton who will step up and take the leadership role. I think I will have to step up some but we will have really good leadership in our seniors next year. ” —Ryan McGrath
I was very happy for the seniors to go out in such a nice way.
—coach Pat O’Harra
Varsity junior Chase Betzer wrestles his Cedar Park opponent during the dual Jan. 28 at Westlake. The Chaps won 66-12.
Varsity sophomore Trevor Hershey controls his opponent during the Leander dual Jan. 22 at Westlake. Trevor won the match, helping the team to a 75-6 victory. Jake Webb
people + places who’s who at Westlake
Touching lives for
Like one of the family
Hurst impacts two generations of Westlake students
t is 5:30 in the morning. Westlake High School head track coach, football coach and art teacher Mark Hurst is preparing for the day. Every morning he is up long before the sun’s rays even begin to lap the edges of the sky, gathering his art lesson plans, football lineups and track times for the busy day ahead. It is 5:30 in the morning. Mark Hurst is ready. This morning ritual has been practiced for 30 years, one of the longest of any teacher’s career so far at Westlake High School. Three decades ago, in the fall of 1979, 23-year-old Hurst was asked by the head football coach at the time, Bobby Etheredge, to take a job as an assistant coach. Although he was ignorant of further details about this 2A school out in the middle of nowhere, Hurst eagerly accepted the job. “I knew nothing about Westlake,” Hurst said. “I didn’t even know where it was. I got lost going out there for the interview.” Not only did Hurst agree to coach football, he was also signed on to do a combination of jobs that had not been mixed together by the likes of a coach at Westlake before. “I was hired as a football and track coach and history teacher,” Hurst said. “Before school started the first year, there was an opening in an art class that they asked me to teach because I was trained in teaching art…
Mark Hurst teaches art and coaches football and track.
there was a lot of pressure for a first-time teacher with four different jobs at one school.” Hurst’s first year at Westlake included the Chaps winning the District football championship—a feat that had never been achieved by the school before—and a District victory for track as well. He thoroughly enjoyed his art class, while he struggled through the complicated dates and events of his history classes. But Hurst had to overcome much more challenging barriers than simply sculpting the minds of adolescents—the kids themselves. “It was very strange because I was straight out of college, which made me only a few years older than them,” Hurst said. “They treated me like a big brother. They sometimes didn’t pay attention to me in classes as they should and they joked around with me a little too much…I wasn’t as effective in teaching as I am now.” Coincidentally, these so-called “troublemakers” from the past find their way back into Hurst’s life through their own children. “I’m excited that students from 30 years ago come back to Westlake to raise their families,” Hurst said. “It’s just like small town America. I feel proud for what my students have become and to see their children grow up and be so much like them is amazing.” But not only do some former students return to Westlake as parents, others turn out to be legends. Hurst coached superstars such as 1999 graduate Drew Brees, who is currently playing professional football for the New Orleans Saints, and 2008 graduate Justin Tucker, the starting kicker for the University of Texas at Austin. “It makes me very proud and gratified as a coach to have even a little part of their high school experiences which, of course, eventually led to college and pro careers,” Hurst said. But whether his graduates become superstars or parents of his future pupils, Hurst treats all of them the exact same way and pushes them so they can strive to
Mark Hurst, Mark Cox, Dan Casper, Gorden Franzen and Ebby Neptune (kneeling) represent the football coaching staff for Westlake in 1984.
work to their highest potential all the time, no matter what they do. “Sometimes I feel I get to know athletes and students better than their own families know them because I spend so much time with them in class, on the track, on the football field, or even all three,” Hurst said. Hurst has watched numerous families flow into and out of the doors of Westlake, and now his own daughter is attending the school that has played such a major role in his life. “I think it’s a lot of fun to have my daughter in school with me so she can experience all that Westlake has to offer,” Hurst said. With all of his hard work and effort he has put into these past 30 years, Hurst’s peers praise him for the sheer determination he puts into his work. “I am impressed with the rapport Mark has with the players and students,” head football coach Derek Long said. “He has grown more confident in his coaching. I’m not sure there is another person in the state who understands our secondary and could coach it. Mark is an outstanding coach, a fine role model and a great friend.” It is 5:30 in the morning. Mark Hurst packs his lesson plans and lineups into his black Toyota pick-up truck. The crunching of gravel beneath the tires of his car signal his arrival into the parking lot of Westlake High School as tiny specks of light peek over the horizon, signaling that daybreak is near. He steps out of the truck and strolls to the entrance of the high school. It is 5:30 in the morning. Mark Hurst is ready. —Hillary Hurst
decades A long-term romance Veteran French teacher Libby Lucera reflects on 30-year career
hen freshmen enter French teacher Libby Lucera’s Van Gogh-covered classroom for the first time, they may not yet appreciate the knowledge and experience of their teacher. They probably know nothing of the traditions that have come and gone in the 30 years she has worked at Westlake. But if they were to ask Lucera what Westlake was like in 1978, they’re likely to hear some surprising stories. “There was a sense of closeness,” said Lucera, who observed a calm pace and family environment at the school of 850 students. Enrollment has since tripled, as have the responsibilities of those who call Westlake home. “Students and teachers are busier and have more obligations every year,” Lucera said. As a result, some of the traditions were lost as Westlake grew. “The weekly pep rallies used to be held during the school day,” Lucera said. “They
She knows so much about the language and is always happy to help you.”
—junior Elisabeth Abell
would change the schedule every Friday to accommodate them. It was a major production. There was more time for things like that.” There was also more time for the teachers, who enjoyed traditions of their own. “We all used to eat lunch together in the teachers’ lounge,” Lucera said. “The teachers had theme lunches every Friday. We would have pizza or pasta Friday, and everyone would bring something. Now teachers don’t even go into the teachers’ lounge. I think it
was easier with a smaller faculty, because everyone knew everyone. Being the only French teacher for 29 years hasn’t always been easy. “There was, and still is, a tremendous workload,” Lucera said. Libby Lucera began teaching This year Spanish teacher at Westlake in 1978 when the entire Doctora Gloria Garza has added high school enrollment was 850. French I to her schedule, taking Shannon Soule some of the weight off Lucera’s responsibility for Lucera. shoulders, but that also means “As far as I know, my students were always that Lucera will not be acquainted with some so good on the trips,” Lucera said with a of her French II students next year. However, smile. “Although, one time in Paris a girl in the change has been a positive one for Lucera, our group didn’t get on the metro. We began who has always collaborated and shared lescounting everybody and we realized we left son ideas with Garza despite teaching differher at the station. So we made a plan to get ent languages. off at the next stop and spread out along the Her interest in languages began at a young platform so we could see into all of the train age, sparked by her Italian father. cars. Fortunately, she was smart enough to get “My father was the first in his family to be on the metro and we eventually found her.” born in the United States,” Lucera said. “He When the time comes for retirement, refused to learn English, so at family gatherLucera plans to travel more often and abide by ings we always spoke Italian.” Lucera’s father encouraged her to continue her own schedule. “I’m looking forward to going to bed and her study of foreign languages. waking up when I want to,” Lucera said. “Like “I was a double major in college—French having time to go to a movie on a Wednesday and Spanish,” Lucera said. “My first job that night and not have to think about grading.” I got after I graduated was at a small high She also looks forward to spending more school in Illinois teaching French I and II and time with her animals. Spanish I and II. I was there for four years, “I’ve always loved animals,” Lucera said. and by the time I left I was teaching French I “I think I got that from my parents, because through IV and Spanish I through IV.” growing up we always had dogs, rabbits, birds The effort she puts into teaching does not and fish, but my mother didn’t like cats. As go unnoticed by her students, with whom she develops a unique relationship over the course soon as my sister and I graduated from college we each got a cat. Cats are my favorite.” of their high school careers. She will be eligible for retirement in five “She seems to really enjoy her work,” years, but plans to continue teaching indefijunior Ashley Charlton said. “She cares about nitely. her students a lot.” “I like to teach, and I am established as a A connection is also shared between the teacher here at Westlake,” Lucera said. “I will students within the French classes. keep teaching as long as I enjoy it and am in “There is definitely a bond among French good health.” students because there aren’t a lot of people In 1978 there were no computers at Westwho take it,” junior Stephanie Collinge said. lake, grades were recorded with a pencil and In the past, Lucera chaperoned students German teacher Scott Gardner danced at the on trips to France during the summer, where weekly pep rallies. Lucera still remembers the they took classes for four weeks—an experismall, tight-knit school where she began 30 ence that undoubtedly left a lasting impresyears ago. sion on the students, but also was a huge
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? German teacher Scott Gardner not ready to say Auf Wiedersehen
Scott Gardner teaches all the sections of German offered at Westlake. Shannon Soule
esy p ho
years. The dance was held in the old PE Gym and the teachers acted as the chaperones. “Every grade was responsible for decorating a hall and then coming up with a skit,” he said. “It was a competition between the grades. Seniors normally won. After a while, they did away with the skits.” Gardner sometimes struggles with the fluctuating enrollment in his classes but he has always kept his hopes up. This year, though, the amount of students has grown. “It has been a challenge,” Gardner said. “I have never gone to the middle schools to make ‘the sell.’ Sometimes I feel most students at the middle schools don’t even know German is taught. It is great there are so many students in German I this year. I get a lot of students who have a German heritage. Sometimes I like to think students hear about me or they are looking for something different, so they enroll in my class.” Though Gardner fell into teaching German by accident, it’s something that continues to suit him. “First of all, teaching is fun because I like people,” Gardner said. “It was clear I wanted a career with people. German just kind of happened. I studied it in college and one of my professors got me interested in it. I never knew that I was going to be a German teacher when I started college. I was also interested in travel.” Gardner has been able to pursue his travel interests by taking trips to Germany with his students every other year. “Being in Germany is not like being in a classroom,” Gardner said. “It feels more real for the students. It is a really big motivator for them.” Aside from all the paths German has taken him down, he has found great rewards in the simple profession of teaching. “I still love teaching,” he said. “I haven’t lost the fire. There can be some stress at the end of the year. But I still feel it. It’s nice to know the program is still growing.” Gardner plans on remaining at Westlake ready for more changes through the years. “Certainly I am planning on teaching another six or seven years,” Gardner said. “As long as I enjoy what I do, I will continue.” —Hannah Kunz Co urt
icture Westlake 30 years ago. There were no $125 parking permits, no Chips and Queso, no Ninth Grade Center. It was a different place in 1979 when German teacher Scott Gardner started his teaching career. “I was in graduate school at UT when I went into my class and saw a sign on a bulletin board for Westlake,” Gardner said. “I had to ask myself, ‘Where is Westlake?’ The card asked someone to teach German that wasn’t even certified.” Gardner went in for the interview. “I was hired on an emergency basis, but I took it,” Gardner said. “The teacher before me was on maternity leave. The school told me that I probably would only have the job for one year. She never came back so I just stayed. There have only been two German teachers ever at Westlake.” The school that hired him those many years ago is almost unrecognizable these days. From the growth of the student population to the changes of the campus, he’s seen it all. “The school only had 850 students when I came,” he said. “There was a time when Westlake was just pockets of neighborhoods. Cuernavaca was the furthest away. It was way out there. The community is just bigger. I like where we are now. We are just a larger school. My first classroom was in a room that overlooked the football field—I called it the Penthouse. It was before they expanded the stadium, so I had a nice view.” Once, Westlake was a small school, an environment that is somewhat hard to imagine nowadays. “It is hard sometimes not to yearn for the smaller school,” Gardner said. “I used to know some students that weren’t even in my German classes. It was more intimate.” Gardner was asked by the Booster Club to be the first mascot in 1980, a position he would occupy for the next four years, before passing the torch to students in 1984. “They came up with a homemade costume that was just bad,” Gardner said. “It had a tail that sagged, so we would tie fishing line to the shoulders and the tail so it would stay up. I wore yellow tights and painted my Converse brown since they didn’t sell brown Converse back then. I would dance at every pep rally. I would do the cadence dance with the band. Whenever Westlake would score they would play the road runner song and I would dance along.” But life as a mascot did come Courtesy photo with its challenges. “One time, I was running Scott Gardner in his yearbook photo in 1981. across the sideline, and it was hot and my contacts were fogging up, so I barreled over a cheerleader,” Gardner said. “And there was a love-hate relationship between me and the middle school kids. They would taunt me.” Homecoming is another thing that changed drastically over the
Latin Roots Teacher shares Cambridge, travel, high school experiences
he average person at Westlake speaks English, and perhaps either some Spanish, Latin, French, German or Chinese. Graham Brodock, Westlake’s newest Latin teacher, is anything but average when it comes to languages. He knows Latin and Ancient Greek, and has also studied Italian, French and Sanskrit. Yes, Sanskrit. “I got into language two years ago, when I learned Latin, [Ancient] Greek and Sanskrit after one year of college,” Brodock said. With such an impressive knowledge of foreign languages, it is surprising that Brodock’s interest in learning them was sparked just a couple of years ago. Language was certainly not a lifelong interest for him. “I never liked languages in high school,” Brodock said. “They were always difficult for me.” Instead, Brodock says he was more athletically-inclined, spending much of his time cycling and racing. “My academic life didn’t really sprout until college,” Brodock said. “I decided to study economics after high school because I knew I was interested in business, and really enjoyed my economics class in high school.” Brodock studied economics as an undergraduate student at Hamilton College, where he double majored in Art History. “Because I went to a liberal arts college, there was no business program, so economics was the closest degree track I could pursue,” Brodock said. “I finished nearly all the requirements by the end of my sophomore year, so decided to double major in Art History. I liked art history so much and my interest in economics was beginning to wane. I should have paid more attention to that, but my mind was quite set on a job in finance. Once my mind is set on a task, few things can slow its pursuit of the goal.” Upon graduating from Hamilton, he took a job in finance as he had intended. “I was so unhappy with my job,” Brodock said. “I didn’t enjoy it. Sitting in my cubicle, I began to read books on ancient history.” With a growing interest in the ancient world, Brodock continued to read even more English translations of classical Greek and Latin literature. “I started reading Homer, Polybius, Thucydides, Cicero, Tacitus and worked my way through two millennia of Greek and Latin history,” Brodock said. Having found his true passion in life, Brodock went on to study Ancient Greek at UC Berkeley, and then at UCLA, receiving a PostBaccalaureate in Classics. He graduated this past June with masters in Latin and Classics at Cambridge.
Latin Teacher Graham Brodock explains verb tenses to Latin I students on Feb. 5. This is Brodock’s first year at Westlake.
“Spending time in a distant, multicultural and diverse institution like Cambridge was important in developing a more well-rounded outlook and perspective on things,” Brodock said. “I made some lifelong friendships, and worked with some of the brightest people in the field.” When and how did this sudden interest in languages of the ancient world arise? Brodock has an explanation. “For me, it’s about the study of history, and the way to best study the history of the ancient world is to study their language,” Brodock said. His knowledge of these diverse languages also piqued an interest in travel. Brodock has been throughout Europe, especially Italy and Greece, but also to Turkey, North Africa, Israel and even Peru. He explored the ancient archaeological sights during his extensive trip, enjoying the historical aspects of the countries to which he traveled. “All of these ancient sites are magnificent,” Brodock said. “Rome and Athens are spectacular. It is their past grandeur, the models of the western world that they once were, that so fascinates me today,” Brodock said. “A trip to Peru, where I inspected the ruins of another ancient civilization, the Aztecs, was also very formative. It was important to experience a world and culture unlike anything I had ever seen: poverty, sickness and disease. We take these things for granted in America, and it was quite something to meet people who hadn’t ever seen a TV or a sky scraper.” When he returned to America, Brodock decided he could make an impact educating, sharing his passion and enthusiasm with students. He decided to take a job at Westlake teaching one Latin I class and three Latin III classes. Brodock also coaches the girls JV soccer team. About Latin, he says, “It’s a subject I really hold dear, and with the enthusiasm I have toward it, I’d really like to exude that, and try to affect people in the same way that it has affected me. I want to excite the students about the Latin language.” As much as he loves learning and teaching Latin, when asked what his favorite language is, Brodock had another answer. “Well, I shouldn’t admit it,” Brodock said, “but I really love [Ancient] Greek. It’s extraordinarily expressive.” While Westlake has no Ancient Greek class in its future, Brodock encourages everyone to learn about the ancient world in any way that they can. “I think we today would be wise to study more of our history in an effort to understand today and prepare for tomorrow,” Brodock said. “This is what it’s all about.” —Jasmin Khan
For me, it’s about the study of history, and the way to best study the history of the ancient world is to study their language.” —Graham Brodock
12-year-old prodigy tries to fit in while standing out t’s the first day of school and you said. “I had been going to cross country, but enter your final class of the day: that’s done now. I do regular stuff like Latin Algebra II Pre-AP. Most of the kids and I do advanced English, then I [go to Westin your class seem intelligent, or at lake for math], then I go to a fitness program least above average, considering it’s I do as a P.E. waiver, then I do my homework a Pre-AP class. About 30 seconds and start over again the next day.” later, a little boy with glasses and a Even with a jam-packed schedule, he blue backpack enters the room. He manages to only spend about an average of an looks a little too young to be in high hour to an hour and a half a night on homeschool, but you don’t give this another work. So what does a genius do in his spare thought and assume he just looks time? Read. younger because of his small size. Then you “I like to read a lot,” Austin said. “I mostly find out he’s not even supposed to be in high like to read fantasy or fiction. [My favorite seschool—in fact, he’s only 12 years old. ries] is the Eragon series because [the author] Austin Brown is a seventh grader at Hill started it when he was 17 and it’s such a hit.” Country Middle School who travels daily to In addition to reading, Austin enjoys attend Pre-AP Algebra II during eighth period learning and solving new math formulas at Westlake. His interest in math spans from and contemplating the books he’s reading. the time he was in third However, he does not grade, when his skill want to give people sparked attention from the wrong impresothers. In fifth grade, he sion that all he does took a private Algebra I when he gets home is class with his Gifted and hit the books. Talented teacher’s as“I try to make sistant. [other people] not “I liked math for a feel like [being a long time but I got really is such a big —seventh grader Austin Brown prodigy] into it when I went to the deal.” Austin said. McDonald Observatory,” “I’m not like this big Austin said. “They told me that since I was all-powerful person; I just like to do educahaving so much fun with math, I should get tional stuff. I don’t want to be known as the the TI-84 Plus Silver Edition calculator. I 11-year-old who took geometry. I try to calm it actually got it on the way back home. It was down because I don’t want it to be all over the in like third grade. Then I got this book called place. I just want to fit in, mostly.” Algebra the Easy Way, and that’s what kind Though this middle schooler isn’t a typical of set me off.” preteen, he doesn’t feel that he doesn’t belong. Austin may not look very intimidating, but “The kids in my [high school] class are he could easily surpass most of the student having relationships and are going through body in class rank before you can say “coldifferent stuff,” Austin said. “They’ll go to lege.” However, this 12-year-old prodigy dinner with their girlfriends and I’ll be going does not want to only be known for his brain to the science fair. But I don’t let it bother me. capacity. His focus on academics definitely I might feel younger [than my peers], but I makes him stand out from the crowd, but his don’t feel out of place.” schedule sounds similar to that of an average Austin is also surrounded by unique student at Westlake. people at home, including his younger brother “I wake up, [then I] go to school,” Austin who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. His
The kids in my [high school] classes go to dinner with their girlfriends and I’ll be going to the science fair.”
Seventh grader Austin Brown enters Laura Ringwood’s Algebra II class on a Friday afternoon. Austin comes up to Westlake from Hill Country eighth period every day.
brother’s disease has inspired him to use his intelligence to help others in the future. “I want to cure a supposedly incurable disease or solve something that nobody has been able to solve,” Austin said. “I would like to do some science and medical stuff [when I get older].” He looks forward to living a normal adolescent life before possibly going on to achieving some remarkable humanitarian awards. “I’m probably going to still like math and stuff [in high school], but I’m not just going to be staying at home and not doing anything,” Austin said. “I’ll definitely be social.” With a bright future, Austin has a good chance of leaving a positive mark in the world. But for now, he just wants to be like everyone else and have some down time from school. “I don’t just sit around and do older guy stuff all day,” Austin said. “Sometimes I just feel like I want to play around.” —Leah-Marie Duran
Junior Michelle Suh racks up experiences through extracurriculars
Along with Physics I AP, junior Michelle Suh also takes Chemistry II AP, English III AP and Calculus BC AP.
and eating it too
You walk into a cupcake shop and admire each and every savory morsel before you; with all of the endless options it seems impossible to pick only one. All of them are different and delicious in their own ways. The adventurous type may go for the maple walnut, while an eclectic person would go for pumpkin spice. Junior Michelle Suh is the type of person who would pick every flavor there is, curious to see what each has to offer. “It’s like going to a cupcake shop,” Michelle said. “You can go, buy one boring cupcake and leave. I want to try everything, from red velvet to lemon coconut.” This same thought pattern influenced her to choose to get involved in a wide variety of school activities. “I am in Student Council as student body VP, yearbook as sports editor, symphony orchestra, Champs, Shamu Club as president, varsity golf, Mu Alpha Theta and Chemistry Club,” Michelle said. Her list of achievements is long, but she remains entirely self-driven. “To be honest, I do what I love to do,” Michelle said. “Westlake is such an amazing school that offers me such incredible opportunities. We’re only here for four years, and I want to make the most of it.” Michelle enjoys every aspect of taking part in so many things, from the opportunities they present to the experiences she receives. But above all else, she cherishes the people she is able to be involved with. “My activities are all really different, so I get to meet the whole spectrum of Westlake students,” Michelle said. “I would never have met so many of my friends if I hadn't been in those clubs; I would have just been resigned to a creepy Facebook-stalking relationship. How to get involved: I’ve realized that in the end, we're just all trying to make the best of “Go for it. Westlake is a great life, and do what we love most.” place in that there are so many The organizations she belongs to require a demanding time opportunities for students. commitment, but somehow Practically speaking, find what Michelle has found a balance you’re really interested in, not between all of the things that are what the ‘cool kids’ are doing significant to her. “I understand I’m not going or what colleges ‘want,’ and to make straight 100s or have talk to a member or sponsor. 1,000 pictures on Facebook, but Take the initiative and find a I’m okay with that,” Michelle way to make your own unique said. “My New Year's resolution mark.” is to have better time management, so I can't really say I have —junior Michelle Suh it down. I try to use every minute as efficiently as possible, and I
prioritize like crazy. My hair doesn't have to be perfect every day, but my physics homework is going to be done. My dad used to tell me, evJacob McLaughlin eryone has 24 hours: it's what you do with it that counts.” And within those 24 hours, spending some of that time with her family is crucial to Michelle. “We have a lot of fun conversations, which range from favorite jeans to people's motivations in life,” Michelle said. “We also recently started experimenting in culinary matters; we've made chocolate-covered strawberries and apple waffles so far.” Her mother and younger sister give her a break from her stressful school life while also serving as a support system. “My mom has been incredible enough to drive me to orchestra sectionals, student council meetings and so much more,” Michelle said. “If I have a late night, she's there with me, making hot chocolate or just talking. She's given me the self-confidence and drive to be involved, and the abilities to achieve anything I want. My sister helps me a lot too. I was a little irked when Danielle skipped her level of math and entered my math class. I’d already skipped a year to keep up with her, and I was embarrassed. Now, she's my live-in tutor and best friend. My family relieves the stress a lot, and keeps life fun.” Although her mother would never make her participate in so many school activities, she does push her to do the best she can. She has applied this same philosophy to her plans down the road. “My plans for the future are constantly changing but, to my mother's relief, do include college,” Michelle said. “I can't really say more after that. I think I’d like to go out of state, but my Texas pride might kick in senior year. My current career options range from teaching to medicine. I have plenty of time to find what I want to do with the rest of my life, so I’m not lying awake at night trying to decide.” Her laid-back attitude may not match her rigorous school schedule and commitments, but she ultimately just does what she loves. Because of the diverse nature of her many activities, she has been able to develop skills in a variety of fields. “Being involved will definitely help me in the long run, and not just if I become a high school Student Council sponsor,” Michelle said. “I’ve learned that balance is important in life, and that you really can have it all. Some specific things I’ve learned from being involved are the importance of communication, the power of big thinking and the necessity of organization.” —Leah Whitlock
I’ve realized that in the end, we’re just all trying to make the best of life, and do what we love most.” —junior Michelle Suh
Water ballerina Courtesy photo
Sophomore Kari Davis embraces the glitz, glamor, difficulty of synchronized swimming world
Sophomore Kari Davis smiles exuberantly as she breaks through the water’s surface during her solo performance at Junior Zones in Washington D.C. last February. Kari practices synchronized swimming many times a week at Town Lake YMCA.
ombine the endurance of swimming, the strength of gymnastics and the grace and poise of ballet, put them together, apply it to music and you’ve got synchronized swimming. Sophomore Kari Davis takes pride in being the only synchronized swimmer at Westlake. “I first became involved with the sport in sixth grade,” Kari said. “My mom saw an ad for it and thought I might be interested. I decided it looked like fun so I tried it out. I was initially drawn to the sport because of its athletic qualities and creativity. I ended up loving all aspects of it and making great friends.” Synchronized swimming requires a lot of strength and therefore a tremendous amount of training. Kari practices at the Town Lake YMCA at least three to four times a week, averaging about 11 hours. “We start out with endurance training by spending the first hour swimming laps, just like a swim team,” Kari said. “Next we do exercises called unders, where we swim laps holding our breath for 25 to 50 meters. We usually spend the rest of practice doing figure techniques and practicing routines. We practice hybrids, which are leg techniques, and we practice arm techniques. When we do team routines, we do a combo of both of those, and other things such as lifting each other out of the pool.” Synchronized swimming is a competitive sport with teams at the Olympic level. At Kari’s level, they work in age groups. There is
the novice team for beginners split into age groups ranging from 11-19. The competitive teams are Juniors, (15 to 19) and Seniors (15 and up). “The difficulties range between groups, because the higher up you go, the more experience you need,” Kari said. “If you are a Junior, you will need to make higher scores to make it to Seniors. Seniors do the most complicated routines. I am in both the Junior and Senior groups.” Synchronized swimming involves many meets, ranging from regionals to zones to nationals. These meets have taken Kari all over the country to compete. “Competition season starts around January and lasts until July,” Kari said. “Every year we go to Junior zones, Senior zones, and age group nationals. To qualify for nationals you first have to make top three at associations then top four at regionals. Last year we placed ninth at nationals and second at regionals. Competition spaces are limited, so we travel far for meets. I’ve traveled to Washington State, Florida, New York, Washington D.C., Louisiana and all around Texas.” Synchronized swimming is a performance sport, with appearance being a key attribute. “You could say that we have elaborate costumes,” Kari said. “The costumes are covered in glitter and sequins. They usually range from $60 to $150, however professional costumes start at about $200. We wear heavy waterproof stage makeup and put Knox, a form of gelatin, in our hair to keep it up in a bun while swimming. It seems gross, but it
makes your hair smooth and healthy.” Once in costume, the teams perform their intricate routines in the pool. “Routines last for about three to four minutes,” Kari said. “We can do solos, duets, trios and terms, which are groups of four to eight. The routines take place both above and under water. It is against the rules to touch the bottom of the pool. It’s like the equivalent of running sprints for four minutes straight without getting a chance to stop for breath. We have to make it look easy and graceful and smile through the whole thing.” Despite the demanding training and preparation connected with synchronized swimming, criticism surrounds the sport. “People like to poke fun at it,” Kari said. “Many people don’t consider it a sport, but it is a sport and it is hard.” Kari takes synchronized swimming seriously, but she doesn’t want it to determine what she does with her future. “I’m not going to apply for a college just because they have a synchro team, but if I ended up at a college that had a team, I wouldn’t mind,” Kari said. “Only nine schools [in the U.S.] have competitive synchronized swimming teams and about 20 have recreational teams.” Although Kari doesn’t want to pursue the activity professionally, she still enjoys it, as well as the individuality she has gained. “I like being the only one from the school who does this sport. It’s different and I think it sets me apart from everyone else,” Kari said. —Sofie Seiden
Driver’s education Transfer student racks up the miles driving from Wimberley to WHS
At 6:30 a.m. senior McLean Shaw’s alarm clock starts to ring. He rolls out of bed, knowing he has a long day ahead of him. He grabs a bite to eat and is quickly out the door. He hops into his car and begins to drive, hoping to beat the traffic. He doesn’t want to be late. The car’s engine and the sound of the radio begin to wake him up. He had stayed up very late the evening before practicing his instruments and studying for the now looming physics exam. A typical late night for a Westlake student. But McLean is different from most. He has to drive an hour just to get to school. McLean lives in the small town of Wimberley, southwest of Austin. It’s a nice, quiet town of about 14,000 known for its Southern hospitality, a tranquil state of mind and Market Days. “Wimberley is a great place to relax on a Sunday and not have to be in a car for a few hours,” McLean said. “It is also home to Market Days. On the first Saturday of each month, vendors from the surrounding area bring anything from arts and crafts to food and musical instruments to sell to people. This event attracts people from all over the state, and even people from places like Louisiana and New Mexico.” Moving to the small town of Wimberley from Dallas at the age of 14 was a gigantic adjustment. McLean went to Wimberley High School his freshman year, which with its freshman class of 169 people was a big change for someone who used to go to a school about the size of Westlake. McLean had heard of Westlake and decided to visit during his freshman year. Immediately he knew this was where he wanted to go to school. “I chose to attend Westlake because I did not feel academically or musically challenged when I spent my freshman year at Wimberley High School,” McLean said. “I visited Westlake while I was attending Wimberley and immediately felt at home. After spending the first 15 years of my life in Dallas attending schools in Highland Park ISD, Westlake was a great fit.” McLean has been attending Westlake for three years and is enjoying the experience. He participates in many clubs and organizations at Westlake, leaving him perpetually busy. “I’m in the Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta and Chemistry Club,” McLean said. “When it comes to making time for my activities, I have to make sacrifices in other areas. If I am going to practice for an hour on music each night, that’s one hour that I can’t study for classes the next day. My mom has a rule that I must get at least seven and a half hours of sleep or I can’t drive myself to school the next day, so that puts some time constraints on me as well. In the end, my grades have definitely suffered from my participation in so many extracurricular activities, but since I have excelled in those activities I think it has been well worth it.”
The distance he travels daily is another factor of constraint. The time spent driving to and from school adds up to about two hours that could be spent on homework or his extracurricular activities. “In the morning, the drive can be anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half,” he said. “During marching band season, I would leave home around 6 a.m. in order to get to school at 7. When marching band isn’t going on, I usually leave home around 7:20 a.m. and arrive at school just in time. As far as the return trip goes, it takes me about the same amount of time. If I leave right after school, it takes me about an hour and fifteen minutes, but if I stay and study, tutor, work out or practice then I can make it home in 40 or 50 minutes.” Not only does McLean have to spend time on his extracurricular activities, he has to work on the loads of homework he receives each night. “I take the most challenging classes that I can take at Westlake because I feel that if I don’t, then I’m not taking full advantage of the environment that I drive so far to get to,” McLean said. “I am in classes like Multivariable Calculus and Organic Chemistry. Physics has definitely been my favorite subject throughout high school, though.” According to McLean, the differences between Westlake Sam Womack and Wimberley High are monumental. The size alone is a huge adjustment. Just imagine for a second a graduation ceremony lasts barely an hour instead of 2 to 3 hours. Or passing through hallways, without bumping into someone. Crazy, right? Some people take Westlake’s academic rigor for granted, since they have grown up in the Eanes district all their lives or arrived at a very early age. McLean appreciates every second of his experience here. “It is hard to put into words how much easier it is to motivate yourself to learn at Westlake,” McLean said. “You are surrounded by students who want to learn and whose parents have always preached the value of quality education.” As McLean arrives home in Wimberley after a long drive, he unpacks his backpack and begins to work on his assortment of worksheets and papers. He has to practice his instruments for band and orchestra and finish his household chores. McLean realizes that he will never be able to accomplish all of these, but he can try, because McLean Shaw lives life in the fast lane. —Cody Crutchfield
Crowning achievements Junior raises awareness for abused children by participating in pageants
t wasn’t long ago that junior Brooke Adair could not understand the appeal of pageants. She envisioned spraytanned, over-rehearsed teenage girls prancing up and down a stage in string bikinis advocating world peace. Today she is Miss Teen Austin, and for the past few months she has been preparing diligently for the Miss Teen Texas competition on March 22 in San Antonio. She realizes now the advantages of such a title, and is determined to make the most of it. “I never wanted to do it because I thought it was just a beauty contest,” Brooke said. “I didn’t see how a girl could get on stage in a bikini and be a role model for modesty at the same time.” However, when the pageant director for Miss Teen Austin contacted her and encouraged her to apply, she agreed to give it a shot. “I hesitated at first because I thought it was all about looks, but this was really based on personality and the interview; there wasn’t an actual pageant competition for Miss Teen Austin,” Brooke said. After all the applications from Austin and the surrounding areas had been received, the Miss Teen Texas Board, directors, judges and scouts collectively decided that Brooke would be Miss Teen Austin 2009, with her reign officially beginning on Aug. 21, 2008. “They called me in August and said, ‘congratulations!’” Brooke said. “I got goose bumps when they told me.” Tiara and sash in hand, she looked at the next step: Miss Teen Texas. “For the Miss Teen Texas pageant I have a coach, Miss Georgia USA 1995 and Mrs. Texas America 2004 Jenny Palmieri,” Brooke said. “To prepare I’ve been reading books on public speaking, becoming very involved in community service and learning more about
the issue I want to make the biggest impact on, which is helping abused and neglected children.” Her personal experience with child abuse has motivated her to use pageants as a platform to raise awareness. “I myself was a victim of abuse,” Brooke said. “When I was 3 years old I was abused by my biological father. To this day I can see and feel the emotions I had at the time. I didn’t always know why these things in my life happened, but now it’s all starting to come together. My history with abuse is a huge part of it. It’s what drives me.” Brooke maintains a positive outlook in all aspects of her life, including past ordeals. “I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason,” Brooke said. “So if everything I went through when I was young was so that I could be able to connect, relate to and help abused children now, then I would go through it all over again.” This maturity is one of the characteristics necessary for being Miss Teen Austin. In addition to her pageant obligations and school work, Brooke is a Teen Teacher, a two-year member of Hyline and active in the American Heart Association—all of which creates a busy schedule for the 17-year-old. “I have to miss a lot of school at different times of the year, but I just have to make it up and the teachers are very understanding,” Brooke said. “Also, I find myself emailing people instead of text messaging in between classes, and instead of going to lunch with friends I have lunch meetings.” Although she may miss out on a few things now, Brooke believes that working persistently towards her aspiration of being Miss Teen Texas will pay off in the end, and her coach agrees. “I really admire how Brooke has focused on this goal,” Palmieri said. “She is a natural leader and just the type of girl this competi-
My history with abuse is a huge part of it. It’s what drives me.” —junior Brooke Adair
After winning Ms. Teen Austin, junior Brooke Adair will compete for the Miss Teen Texas title March 22. tion is looking for. She has stepped up to every challenge I have given her and has everything it takes to bring the crown home to Austin.” Despite assurances from her coach, friends and family, Brooke feels the pressure of the competition. “I’m very nervous for the Miss Teen Texas pageant,” Brooke said. “Still, I think of it as an adventure. I just have to put myself out there and have fun with it. I think in the end it will be an experience that I won’t regret, and I’ll learn a lot from it.” For the Miss Teen Texas pageant, Brooke will be foregoing the string bikini for more modest attire: fitness wear—a classy twist on the antiquated beauty pageant cliché. Now she understands the difference one person can make, and that pageants are an excellent place to start. —Alex Bishop
For the love of dance S
Junior Ailina Mayer channels passion towards future career as ballet historian
ome rooms tell you nothing about the owner. Others show you exactly who lives there. When you walk into junior Ailina Mayer’s room, you know instantly who it belongs to—a ballerina, and not just a ballerina, but a professional ballet historian in the making. The pink walls are filled with black-and-white photographs of famous ballet dancers, mostly from the 1920s and ‘40s. Ailina knows all their names, life histories, and the roles that made them famous. In between the photographs, dangling from pink satin ribbons, are pointe shoes signed by their former owners, some of the great American ballet dancers of the last century. All 200 books in her bookcase are about ballet; ballerina dolls and figurines sit on tables and shelves. Beside Ailina’s bed is her at-home practice area, a ballet barre next to a square of parquet flooring over the carpet. She makes time to work out there regularly in addition to the 2-3 hour classes she takes six days a week at Ballet Austin. Ailina points out a gold tutu resting on her bedspread. Out of all the ballet memorabilia she has collected, it is her favorite. “It was worn by Joyce Cuoco, a ballerina from the 1940s,” Ailina said. “She was famous because she could do six pirouettes and then stop en pointe. I didn’t know whose it was when I bought it, and neither did the woman who sold it to me.” But when she got home and read the tag inside, she realized that it had belonged to the ballet legend. Ailina touches some crystals sewn into the tutu’s gold lamé bodice and dangling from the tulle skirt. “These are real Swarovski crystals,” she said. “Each one sparkles with the lights onstage. Someone probably sewed on all the gold by hand. They don’t make ballet costumes like this anymore.” She sets the tutu aside and points out a male dancer in one of the framed photographs on the wall, a man whose autograph she got in person on a trip to New York with her best friend and fellow ballerina, junior Sally Davis. “Every day in New York I’d carry around a binder with lots of different photos of ballet dancers just in Ailina Mayer case I met any of them,” “[The gold tutu] was worn by Joyce Cuoco,” Ailina said. “She was famous Ailina said with a smile. “Sally thought I was such a because she could do six pirouettes and then stop en pointe.”
nerd.” But the effort paid off. “One night we were at a performance [by the American Ballet Theater] of Sleeping Beauty,” Ailina said. “During intermission, I recognized this famous ballet dancer, Frederick Franklin, who’s about 98 years old now. I wanted him to sign his photo for me, and we had to chase after him because I didn’t want to lose him in the crowd. We did catch up with him, and I asked him if he wouldn’t mind signing the photo, and he was so nice and signed it for me. I was so excited and shocked to be near such a famous dancer that I was shaking really badly. He left, and then I remembered that I needed a photo, and we had to chase after him again and asked if he minded. He laughed and said he didn’t mind at all, and now we have a photo with him for us to cherish.” Ailina has been dancing since she was three years old. By age 10, she knew it was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. “I’ve always wanted to be a ballet dancer, but only [a small percentage] of ballet dancers get into a top company, so that would be a pretty slim chance for me,” Ailina said. “I’ve always loved ballet’s history. I decided a way to incorporate my love of ballet’s history and still be a part of ballet would be to be a ballet historian. As a ballet historian, I would want to go around to different ballet schools and lecture about ballet. I’d also want to be doing archiving. I love ballet memorabilia, and by archiving I would get to work with famous dancers’ shoes, their tutus, and other historical pieces of ballet’s history.” This summer, Ailina will get the chance to try out her dream job in her dream city—New York, a place that has witnessed some of the world’s finest moments in ballet history as well as its greatest innovations in dance. Last summer she visited the New York City Ballet Archives, and stayed in touch with a woman who worked there. She received an internship, and this summer she will be working at the ballet archives during the day and taking classes at Steps on Broadway at night. Many little girls dream of becoming a ballerina, of standing in the footlights with a bouquet of roses in one arm and taking a graceful bow. But most never stop to think what they’ll do after the applause ends. Like many little girls, Ailina Mayer loved dancing and dreamed of being a ballerina. But she also loved the music, the costumes, and the stories of the great ballerinas. At 16, she’s already found a way to have a career in ballet that won’t have to end when she can no longer do the physically demanding work of a professional dancer. “Ballet has always been, and will always be, the most influential part of my life,” Ailina said. “It affects my posture, personality and my career choice, but most importantly, my dreams. To achieve those dreams, I see myself not as a principal in a ballet company in the middle of nowhere, but as a ballet historian and dancer living in New York City. As the legendary dancer Martha Graham once said, ‘Dance is the loftiest, most moving, most beautiful of the arts, because it is not a mere translation or abstraction of life; it is life itself.’” —Holly Heinrich
“I do get tired [from ballet], but I just remember how much I love it, and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything else in the world,” junior Ailina Mayer said.
I decided a way to incorporate my love of ballet’s history and still be a part of ballet would be to be a ballet historian.
—junior Ailina Mayer
people + places
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Senior, alumni work to better current situation in Africa’s Democratic Republic of Congo
awareness for, funding and promoting the art therapy school in the Congo called YOLE. Upon hearing Carasso’s story, senior Chloe Jordan felt a deep connection with the children who were affected by the horrific events and made a pledge to help. “Ever since the colonization of the Congo there’s been intense conflict,” Chloe said. “The children are direct victims of the conflicts, so these kids are growing up in a war-torn environment and they’re subject to traumatic experiences.” While traveling through Africa, Carasso ended up in the Congo. He kept a blog explaining what he saw. In a war prison he found five boys, none over the age of 16, who told him stories about what they had recently experienced. He learned that they were abducted from their homes and forced to fight in the war as children. Essentially, these young boys are given a whistle because they’re too small to carry guns. They were told that their job was to be in the front of the army and blow their whistles, making as much commotion as possible to distract the other army. If they failed, however, their bodies were used as shields for the first bullets. The soldiers would hide behind the battered bodies of these children.
Multiply Westlake’s number of enrolled students, approximately 2,442, by 18. Large number, right? Not even then will you get the amount of people dying each month in Africa’s Congo—a grand total of about 45,000. The causes for the plethora in fatalities range from starvation to disease to genocide. After spending months in the Congo and witnessing these atrocities first hand, 26-year-old Westlake graduate Sean Carasso formed the non-profit organization called Falling Whistles—a group aimed at raising
1960Republic of Congo gains independence 1965 1971
Hearing their stories compelled Carasso to create Falling Whissomefrom Belgium. tles. He told his friends and family about what he had heard, trying day she Joseph Mobutu names himself president. to gain as much awareness as possible. Through this, Chloe hopes ended up hearing about the cause. to. Due to the Africanization policy, Mobutu change “Sean and I have been involved with the same non-profit “I country’s name to Zaire as well as change his na organizations over the past few years,” Chloe said. “And over want to go that time we’ve become friends. I’ve grown to respect him to Africa so Mobutu Sese Seko. Zairians are forced to African and his efforts. While he was on his trip in the Congo, I was names and adopt African dress. reading his blog and just felt really connected with these children even though I didn’t know them and had never been Mobutu ends ban on multiparty politics but still retai there. Sean has never been the appointer but rather encourmuch of the power. ages people to come together and make a change. [To help out] Hutus in Rwanda kill some 800 thousand Tutsis and m I primarily fundraise because, in this stage, they need money. I also tell the story. Sean doesn’t come into town very often so I’m badly,” ate Hutus. Close to one million Hutus flee Rwanda once either involved in the big Austin events or when he does come Chloe was taken over by rebel Tutsis—many of these refugees to town I organize places for him to come and speak at militants responsible for Rwanda’s genocidal killings. places like Barnes and Noble.” Events are one of the best opportunities for Falling Whistles Tutsi rebels seize much of Eastern Zaire while Mobutu is away to get its name out. This year, Chloe has successfully coordinated an ical treatment. Tutsi rebels accompanied by other anti-Mobutu event not only benefiting Falling Whistles but TOMS shoes as well. capture the capital, Kinshasa, and rename it the Democratic R “We did the volleyball tournament for TOMS shoes,” Chloe said. Congo. Mobutu flees the country, Laurent-Désiré Kabila forma “But we spread the word of Falling Whistles there also. On power. Feb. 13 there’s a huge concert with DJs and bands and that will all benefit Falling Whistles. I Rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda revolt against Kabila. The troo usually just plug in with those and help out there.” up taking control of much of Eastern DR Congo. For Chloe, though, it’s more than just a want to help. She feels she has Rwanda and Uganda withdraw their troops from the east after the DR Cong to. “We have such huge responsibilities as a peace accord in which they say they’ll disarm and arrest all Hutus respon the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda that are currently residing in their territory. humans to love and to call out injustices when we see them—we all have [those responsibilities] across the globe,” Chloe A new constitution is adopted by Parliament with text agreed with by said. “I personally believe I’m supposed to have compassion for those who are oppressed warring factions. and God is peace and that’s the biggest thing. Rwandan and the DR Why wouldn’t I want to share and help with said. “I hope to go when I Falling Whistles? I was called to help and graduate college either through the Peace governments decide t I think God can use an 18-year-old girl in Corps, International Justice Mission or military forces in the a Austin to bring peace to someone thousands just Falling Whistles. I’ve always loved to find and take down of miles away.” dancing, and YOLE is an art school, so So, how are these injustices corrected? I could help there or in the administra- Hutu rebels currently r What can be done to improve current tive part of it. I’m really not that scared in the DR Congo. conditions in the Congo? Chloe has two though. I know it’s dangerous over there. main solutions for her most commonly There’s a huge chance I’d be abducted. asked questions. There is just a lot of violence between “First thing you can do, of political groups.” Sources; www.new course, is donate at www.FallingWith Falling Whistles just taking off, all Whistles.com,” Chloe said. “You can that Chloe, Carasso and the rest of the sup- co.uk, www.france2 also buy a Falling Whistles shirt. porters ask is for some acknowledgement for All the proceeds go to art supplies what is going on. and the rebuilding of the school. The “Don’t think that just because you’re building itself is not big enough for a high school student you can’t make a all the kids they’re taking in. But difference,” Chloe said. “Look around— the biggest thing now is telling evour world is massive. There are lives eryone. Bring it up in everyday con- around the world; you just have to versation. Bring awareness to the look outside Westlake. There’s hurt Congo because it is so often forgotand pain out there. We just have to ten. [Keep in mind that] it’s not just see it.” Africa. People automatically say ‘it’s just Africa,’ but when people actually —Hannah Comstock hear a story, they want to do something about it. I have yet to meet someone who wasn’t personally affected by the story.” Because Chloe is a high school student, she can’t just jet across the world to one of the world’s most conflicted countries. But
Play your ace
Leads of Guys and Dolls on rehearsals, mustaches, strippers
Since the beginning of the semester, the choir and TEC departments have been preparing for this year’s production of Guys and Dolls, a musical set in 1940s New York City that follows the lives of two gamblers and their respective love interests. The Featherduster sat down with the leads, seniors David Germann (Sky Masterson), Susanne Burgess (Sergeant Sarah Brown), Cameron Brock (Nathan Detroit), and Lexi Bixler (Miss Adelaide) to discuss their experiences with the show. Guys and Dolls was performed at Lake Travis High School’s Performing Arts Center on Feb. 20 and 21. Featherduster: How has working without the FAF auditorium changed this year’s production? David Germann: Last year, the rehearsals were more realistic because we were actually on the stage we were going to be performing on. We didn’t have to change anything as far as adapting to the sets when they eventually came in. It’s harder this year trying to visualize the sets and where we’re going to be performing. But other than that, we have a fine space in the Chap Court. FD: What do you like most about your character? Cameron Brock: I get to wear a mustache. I’m really excited. But we’ll see, it might be a really complicated situation. DG: Yeah, like how you’ll have blond hair with a dark black mustache. Lexi Bixler: My character is out of her mind. Susanne Burgess: No, yours is fun! LB: No, my character is crazy. She’s loud and she’s actually pretty dumb. I mean she doesn’t have a lot of common sense…or any other sense… DG: Okay, so what’s your favorite thing about your character?
LB: The accent I get to do. And seeing Cameron’s face when I have to scream at him. SB: My favorite part is getting to hit David. DG: Like, literally, she slaps me. She leaves finger marks on my face. FD: That’s not staged? DG: No! It’s real! It hurts! LB: I get to beat Cameron down with a purse. DG: My favorite part would probably just be the songs. I really like the songs I sing. I liked singing them in my car and at home before I even knew I had the part. SB: My least favorite part is definitely my outfit. It’s ankle length and all the way up to my neck. I’m just a huge prude. DG: Yeah, it’s like you’re a missionary or something… LB: Mine’s pretty much the opposite… DG: My favorite line of the show is when Adelaide, Lexi, says “The doctor thinks I’m sick on the account of I dance with hardly any clothes on, which is what I usually wear.” LB: I’m a Hot Box girl. Not a stripper, a Hot Box girl. Everyone’s like “Are you a stripper?” No! It’s like a… SB: …a show girl. LB: Like a Rockette. DG: And as [senior] Eric Upshaw puts it, they’re not strippers. They’re just people who take off their clothes to music. LB: We sing though… SB: (laughs) Yeah! They’re singing strippers! FD: Are there any funny stories from rehearsals so far? DG: The funniest rehearsals are when [assistant choir director] Mrs. [Jenn] Goodner brings her son. He’s hilarious. He’s 2 years old, and he’s Seniors Cameron Brock, Lexi Bixler, David Germann and Susanne Burgess play the leads in Guys and Dolls.
a crazy child. He runs around screaming and tries to get on stage with us. SB: And he poos his pants. And it smells and… DG: All children do that! SB: But it’s gross! CB: Mrs. Goodner’s always like, “Ah, I’ll change him later…” SB: Yeah, she’s like “I don’t have a diaper, he doesn’t seem to mind…” CB: Oh, and the fact that [choreographer] Robin [Lewis] uses [senior] Hank [South] in all of the dances. That’s pretty funny. DG: He’s like, “We need someone to lift someone else and throw them. Hank, come here.” SB: It’s like Guys and Dolls, featuring Hank South. FD: David, you played a lead role in last year’s production of Once Upon a Mattress. How does Guys and Dolls compare? DG: I like this show a lot better. I thought last year’s show was really fun and entertaining, but this year’s show appeals to a much wider audience, I think. And I like the other leads I’m with; it’s fun to spend time with them. It’s a lot more exciting to be a part of. FD: Cameron, your brother Johnson played the lead role in the choir’s production of Anything Goes! in 2006. Has he given you any words of advice? CB: He said to go crazy, basically. I asked him what part to try out for and he was like, “Well, do Nathan,” but basically he said like…I don’t know, to be crazy and to get into the role. I don’t know…that was a pretty lame answer. DG: Let the records show: lame answer. SB: As the rest of the cast laughs at Cameron Brock… FD: Anything you would like to add? SB: Just as a by-the-way, Lexi’s and my song is the best. If you only come for one part, just remember that. LB: Yeah, we have a man-hating song. DG: What about the songs we sing. You don’t like those? SB: I do like those. LB: Well, she has to kiss you and she doesn’t want to. CB: Let the records show… DG: Hey! That is the highlight of the show, let me tell you. SB: Oh, absolutely. —Interview conducted by Katherine Kloc
Emilie Gardner jumps into the competitive aspect of riding
t is 5 p.m. on a Friday evening and the scorching Texas sun is beginning to release its heat. The clouds peacefully float along the blue sky and a calm breeze picks up the arena dust. At Rio Vista Farm, it’s the perfect time of day. For freshman Emilie Gardner, it’s her time to do what she loves the most. A horse—majestic, strong, loyal—is the finest creature to walk this earth in Emilie’s eyes. Ever since she was eight, she has been living, breathing and doing everything associated with horses. “Loving horses has always been something programmed into my brain,” Emilie said. “They are my life.” Every Friday evening, Emilie travels to the outskirts of Austin to take riding lessons at Rio Vista Farm. Upon arriving, she finds out which horse she will ride, prepares her horse for her rigorous lesson and focuses on nothing but horseback riding. Each lesson focuses on hunter jumping and usually consists of about four to eight people, each on a different horse. The task of the rider is to translate the directions the trainer gives them in a way the horse can understand and respond without error. The horse and the rider are both athletes; therefore, the bond between horse and rider is essential for success in horseback riding. “A horse is kind of like a boyfriend,” Emilie explains. “It takes trust and commitment. Once you have built that bond, it’s impossible to break.” Horseback riding is often brushed off as a hobby, but for many riders it can be considered a separate way of life. “You compete just like any other sport,” Emilie said. “It takes a lot of time and practice to succeed in riding.” The path traveled by horseback riders can fork into two separate routes: riding as a pastime or pursuing the road of strenuous competition. Emilie chose her route and takes part in competitions around the Austin area. An average competition consists of the contender showing up, competing and then going home to celebrate the win or loss. In the horse world, the picture perfect competition is turned upside-down. For Emilie, just showing up requires waking up at 5 a.m., getting dressed in riding attire and driving to the stable in the dark of the early morning to warm-up the horse she has been riding regularly in lessons. Emilie tries to get to the show grounds early because she doesn’t want to ride in a dangerous schooling ring packed with dozens of horses and riders. “Warming up can be a disaster,” Emilie said. “The trainers and riders are always yelling ‘heads up!’ and it becomes a mass of confusion.” After she prepares her horse, Emilie sits back, eats breakfast and plays the game hurry up and wait. Until the moment she rides, Emilie creates a plan with her trainer using tactics to which the horse and the judge will respond positively. “Judges are looking for the way I work with my horse and the way my horse responds to me,” Emilie said.
Preparing for a lesson at Rio Vista, freshman Emilie Gardner tightens Gabby’s girth. “I have been riding for about seven years. I started when I was seven and I haven’t outgrown my passion for horses.” Because it is considered hunter riding, judges look for elegance in both horse and rider. In jumper riding, the horse must tackle a complicated and somewhat dangerous course in a certain amount of time. In both kinds of riding, the horse and rider are dependent on each other. It’s a give-and-take relationship. “Hunter is a more relaxed and graceful way of riding, unlike jumper where your adrenaline is always rushing,” Emilie said. “Either way, the horse and rider both have to work just as hard.” Depending on the height of jumps and the number of riders, she could ride anywhere from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. “At the end of a show, I’m tired and exhausted, but I know that it’s all worth it in the end,” Emilie said. Aside from focusing her energy on horseback riding, Emilie has found that her riding connects to her outside life as well. She has learned valuable lessons that apply to situations in the real world, and these lessons have made her a more mature teenager. She realizes that in horseback riding, if you miss a turn or jump the wrong jump, you can go back and fix it, but in the real world, second chances aren’t just handed to you. Reality is not as forgiving as horses are. “The choices you make in riding affect the horse, while the choices you make in life affect the people around you as well as yourself,” Emilie said. In the future, Emilie plans to ride for a college level team and study to be a veterinarian. Her dream is to open her own stable and become a trainer for riders who love horses just as much as she does. It is now 7 p.m. on a Friday night and the sun has set upon the horse pastures. The passing clouds reflect the ending sunset, and the breeze is tame. Another day, another lesson, another moment has ended for Emilie, and many more are to come in her bright future. —Caroline Hunt
A horse is kind of like a boyfriend—it takes commitment. Once you have built that bond, it’s impossible to break.”
—freshman Emilie Gardner
WHAT’S POINT? Everybody does something. Some boys take dance classes, and hundreds of students join Student Council. Some people spend weeks fretting over relationships that might last an hour. Others spend their summers taking classes so that they can get out of high school as fast as they can. The spendthrifts blow a ton of money on clothes, while the thrifty count every penny. The risk-takers ignore their fears to achieve the craved adrenaline rush. And now, with the economy, many of the kids who just wanted to get away are opting to stay right here for college. This is all just what they do. But we can’t help but wonder: why? What’s the point?
trends + traditions
Living on the edge Senior Hunter Lear suffered a serious back injury three years ago while racing his bike. Although he still loves riding, he will never be able to compete again.
Four students risk life, limb for the adrenaline rush Hunter Lear
An accident on the slopes sent junior Alex Ussery to the hospital over winter break. Alex broke his collarbone but will not let this event stop him from snowboarding in the future.
Senior Hunter Lear has always had a love of motocross. He started to ride his bike at the age of 7 and became serious about it when he was 13 years old. Hunter would ride at least twice a week and race about every weekend. It was around then that he noticed he had a passion for this extreme sport. “I started riding just for fun,” Hunter said. “But as soon as I started competing, I was hooked. I never had to decide whether or not I wanted to race—it just happened.” Hunter’s plan was to continue riding, but in his freshman year, motocross took him in a different direction. On March 5, 2006, Hunter was in a race at the Cross Creek Cycle Park outside of Elgin. His bike stalled at the start so he was behind everyone else and out of the chaos. Hunter was racing about 50 miles per hour. Half way through the race, he lost control and fell off sideways, knocking him unconscious. Hunter was rushed to Brackenridge hospital where he spent about six hours in the trauma room before spending six days in recovery. He was diagnosed with a compression fracture of his thoracic sixth, seventh and eighth vertebrae. Hunter had to wear a back brace for about four months. He made a close-to-full recovery but it’s still something he deals with today.
“I had a pretty gnarly wreck,” Hunter said. “My doctor told me that I barely escaped paralysis and even death with my injury.” Hunter stopped doing motocross after his accident. With his doctor’s instructions in mind, Hunter decided to stop being too serious about the sport. He still keeps up with it sometimes, but he doesn’t want to have another accident that could end his life. Hunter hopes to be involved with it again, but his racing days are over. “Honestly, it’s still too soon for me to get involved in motocross again because of how hard it was to let it go,” Hunter said. Motocross is a dangerous sport, but death is very uncommon. However, the better riders have a higher chance of injury because of the
increased speeds and difficulty of tricks. “I am not opposed to riding trails by any means,” Hunter said. “There is nothing I love more than just being able to ride, but as soon as you bring speed into the equation, everything changes.”
During winter break, junior Alex Ussery expected to enjoy a fun vacation at the Monarch Ski Resort outside of Salida, Colorado, where he would hang out with his youth group from his church. On New Years Eve, Alex went on a snowboarding run that was anything but fun. Alex and his friend, senior Kory Curtis, went to an organic terrain park where there are logs instead of metal rails. Alex was sliding down a rail when his board slipped and he fell forward, landing on his head and shoulder. “My head really hurt for a couple of minutes, so I just laid there,” Alex said. “When I tried to push myself up, my right shoulder really hurt so I knew something was wrong.” Alex nursed his arm as he and Kory boarded to the infirmary tent. “The doctor checked me out and said he thought my shoulder was partially dislocated and I should go to the hospital sometime soon,” Alex said. One of the adults from the church took Alex to the closest hospital in Salida, about an hour and a half away. He had to wait for four hours because the hospital only had one doctor. The doctor took x-rays and found out that Alex’s collarbone was actually broken. “I just had to hang out at the lodge the
next day and the 18-hour bus ride back home was pretty uncomfortable,” Alex said. When Alex arrived back in Austin, he went to see Dr. Crawford at Westlake Medical who looked at the x-rays. “The bone was in three pieces and the way it was broken made it shorter than normal,” Alex said. The doctor said that if Alex left it to heal itself, it would probably affect his shoulder movement and be painful later on. The doctor suggested surgery to put the pieces back together and repair it properly. “They would cut me open, realign the bone and screw a metal plate on to keep the pieces in place,” Alex said. Alex and his family discussed their options and decided that it would be best to have the surgery, which took place Jan. 9 and lasted for two hours. Alex went home as soon as he became conscious again, recovered all weekend and came back to school the following week. “It hurt pretty badly for about a week, but the biggest problem was not being able to write for a while,” Alex said. “I had to take a Chemistry 2 test by telling someone what to write for me, which was really weird.” However, Alex’s shoulder is healing well, allowing him to loosen his sling and write a little at school. “I’m supposed to be all healed up in three weeks, but my shoulder muscles won’t be as good as normal so I’m starting physical therapy,” Alex said. Despite this whole ordeal, Alex still loves to snowboard. No injury or fear of one will keep him from living his life normally. “My accident isn’t going to make me stop snowboarding or anything,” Alex said. “The things that are more dangerous to do are usually my favorites, so to me, getting hurt is just a risk of having fun.” Copp Charley A day at the lake changed senior Charley Copp’s perspective on life when he had a close call with death. In June After a 2005, while near-fatal he was wakeboarding attendincident, senior ing Camp Charley Copp Longhorn, has a scar he was marking the wakeboardspot where the ing on Inks doctor used 17 Lake with three of his stitches to sew friends. He up his head. attempted a back flip and failed. Charley landed on his back and at the same time, a jet skier jumped the wake and collided with his head, split-
ting his skull. “If I didn’t land on my back, I would have gotten decapitated by the jet ski,” Charley said. “Being a couple of inches below the water saved my life.” Charley was unconscious in the water and his three friends, seniors Jesse Breedlove, Reed Johnson and Sterling Meyers pulled him out as his head was bleeding. “I became conscious once I had been pulled back on the boat about five minutes after the accident,” Charley said. “Everyone standing around me was screaming.” His friends rushed to the shore and quickly took him to the hospital where the doctors immediately sewed his head back up. He had 17 stitches on his hairline. After four hours in the hospital, he was released. “Everyone that day saw my skull and thought I was a goner,” Charley said. “Counselors and my friends were freaking out on the guy that hit me.” Charley still has back problems, a scar and four hairline fractures that run throughout his
I became conscious once I had been pulled back on the boat about five minutes after the accident. Everyone standing around me was screaming.” —senior Charley Copp skull, all of which remind him of his ordeal. With his near fatal incident, Charley now has decided to enjoy life rather than bicker about it. He learned that life is precious and it can be taken away in a split second. “I was given another chance at life so I’m taking advantage of every second of it,” Charley said. “I still live the same life but with a bit of a different mind set.” Shannon Soule This past fall, senior Shannon Soule did the most outrageous stunt that she has ever pulled—she jumped out of a plane. “I went skydiving because not many people get to do it,” Shannon said. “I like to cross things off my list and try everything I can.” Despite all of the obvious reasons to be terrified, Shannon was calm as the plane soared through the air. “The only thing that kind of freaked me out was the fact that I wasn’t freaking out, even when I was dangling my feet out of the plane in the air,” Shannon said. Shannon didn’t jump out by herself—she jumped tandem, strapped to an instructor. Though the feeling of falling has often been compared to that of a roller coaster, the experience was actually different. “When you jump out, it’s not what people
Preparing for her big jump, senior Shannon Soule gets strapped in before her skydiving experience. Courtesy photo
would think,” Shannon said. “You’re already moving at the plane’s speed, so you don’t actually get that feeling of falling. It feels like a bunch of air blowing on your belly.” She was able to free fall for approximately 30 seconds at 90-110 miles per hour before the instructor pulled the chute. “The best part was when they opened the parachute and you just floated in the sky,” Shannon said. She could even see Austin and College Station on opposite sides of the horizon. “The landing wasn’t bad at all,” Shannon said. “I put my legs up and the instructor ran for me.” Skydiving is mostly a safe sport. The only issues that commonly arise are with their parachutes. But Shannon’s adventure went smoothly and didn’t result in serious injuries. “I felt great when we were done but my ears really hurt from the extreme change in pressure,” Shannon said. “I couldn’t really hear well for a couple of hours.” No matter how badly her ears hurt, Shannon would go skydiving again. “I would jump out of a plane the moment the next opportunity arises,” Shannon said. —Christina Shin For more, check out www.westlakefeatherduster.com
do you do? 308 students polled
Other BMX (62) BMX (11)
Scuba Diving (42)
Bungee Jumping (18) Mountain Climbing (43) Mountain Biking Motocross (34) (15)
Hook, line and Feel like you’re drowning in a sea of romance?
sinker Alyssa Creagh
In the big fishbowl called Westlake, it wouldn’t be abnormal to assume there would be a fish to swim around with. A special fish to join you on aimless car rides, to text you non-stop during that dreaded math class or to listen to your complaints about weight training that day. Oh, there is definitely a fish in the sea among the hundreds of students. In fact, chances are there will be many. Because this is high school, and nowhere else does the saying “there are other fish in the sea” apply more appropriately. Dating in high school has transformed into almost meaningless speed dating where the only prerequisite to infatuation is texting on a regular basis. I can’t even keep up anymore with who dated whom, who broke up with whom, who hooked up with whom or any other variations of the latter (probably because I don’t text). Relationships do not even fit the definition; they are more like little blips of interaction with someone who has an appealing personality. But just give it a few years, and most of it probably won’t matter. Don’t get me wrong, there are those rare cases of high school sweethearts and playground soul mates. But aside from those few couples who stick together through these troublesome years, a high school relationship will not really be a factor in the grand scheme of your life. Right? The life span of a high school relationship can range from two hours to two months, and rarely lasts longer than that. So why have one? All that texting to a new main squeeze during class can’t be good for grades, and all those late night phone calls can certainly be a health hazard. The worrying that comes with being “in like” with someone can only worsen the mental condition of an already overwhelmed teenager. Yet, a majority of students still participate in this thing we call dating. There’s got to be a catch to catching that special fish in the sea. In order to get to the point, let me tell a little story. My dad was one of those guys who didn’t have a single girlfriend in high school. He was a star football player, surely an eligible bachelor, but he never showed
any interest in dating someone in high school. In fact, his mother forced him to go on the only date he had in high school. She claimed he needed a date to an awards ceremony at the end of the football season, and even then he made the experience as short-lived as possible. His logic? “It just seemed to always cause a lot of heartache. It didn’t really seem like much fun.” This theory isn’t entirely unreasonable. I think everyone knows that some unpleasantness can come from a relationship gone wrong. But once he got to college, he realized it was much harder to form relationships because he didn’t have those rudimentary experiences with his peers in high school. By avoiding potentially upsetting situations, he set himself up to be underdeveloped in that arena when he got older and when it really counted. What I’m trying to say is: in order to gain the experience and knowledge of what to look for in a person, along with what makes a relationship with another person worth it, it is necessary to date a little. Even if it means getting rejected by a crush or dating someone for about a week before realizing that the situation is better off friendly rather than romantic (or maybe neither), we should still attempt dating. Now is the time to learn how to put up with all the drama that goes along with dating someone. It is the time to explore possibilities while retaining the ability to bounce back quickly and find someone new if things go wrong. Putting off all the silly crushes until later is a one-way ticket to floundering in that big ocean of prospective fish. So ultimately, the relationships that are formed in high school really do count for something in the big picture. They might not be a big something, but they exist for a reason. Although it may not be a good idea to pursue empty relationships, don’t avoid romance just because it never seems to last. After all, we are in high school and that doesn’t last either. —Adrienne Cooksley
We all need counciling
Think back to Nov. 8. Homecoming: an eagerly anticipated and heavily prepared for evening. Sept. 10: The day quite a few upperclassmen journeyed to the Commons to donate a record-breaking amount of blood. Who was the driving force behind those events? Student Council. There are those who feel that Student Council has no purpose and isn’t a crucial aspect in the function of school. And there are just as many who feel Student Council is the engine that powers the machine that is Westlake. The organization allows for students to be heard and relate to their academic environment. Student Council constantly strives to ease the ever-present overwhelming academic pressure in various ways. This past November, the group teamed up with food services to provide a festive hamburger lunch for students. Also, Student Council plans the themed dress-up days for Homecoming week. “We are supposed to serve as an overarching organization to help the student body feel connected,” Student Council sponsor Melissa Dupre said. “There is a lot we have to do in terms of school functions, but we also try to solve problems.” Consisting of two groups, General Council and Executive Board, Student Council prides itself on having a place for everyone. General Council is for anyone who wishes to partake in the organization, while Executive Board is made up of elected representatives. Approval from both Dupre and head Executive Board members, as well as teacher and student signatures, give students the opportunity to hold a place in General Council. Both groups readily provide the members with unforgettable experiences.
“I feel responsibility to use the position I hold to its fullest,” student body vice president junior Michelle Suh said. “I hope that as vice president, I’m creating an organization where people have the power to take the initiative and do what they want.” As a whole, Student Council is known, but the work they consistently accomplish is not always recognized. With six or seven meetings a semester, this year’s Student Council has focused on giving considerably Junior Davis Breedlove laughs with friends during a to the community. Food drives and fund Junior Breedlove StudentDavis Council meeting laughs Jan. 27.with Davis has been a member raisers have both been significant factors in friends during Council a Student of the Student for theCouncil past two years. meeting this goal. meeting Jan. 27. Davis has been a “The opportunities we have to help out member of the Student Council for our school and other organizations are althe past two years. ways interesting and inspiring,” freshman class vice president Olivia Cheney said. Student Council also helps to smooth Nathan Kallison the transition for some freshmen, but for a few older participants as well. “Student Council has allowed me to get trying to allow more independence from involved in a short amount of time,” Student members, and delegating responsibilities. I Body President senior Sam Womack said. “I want Student Council to be the most active came from a school of 40 kids when I was a organization on campus.” freshman, and the fact that I had the courage As a whole, the members want the group to run at Westlake was a big deal. Personally, to be composed of different types of students. it was a huge milestone.” Dupre believes that each member adds a huge But why do students feel it is important to component to the organization, making a sucrun in the first place? While the words “colcessful Student Council. lege” and “resumé” are prevalent thoughts “We are solid now, but we have the potenwhen making the decision to run, many stutial to be great,” Dupre said. dents become fully immersed in helping the The administration often listens to Student school and community, and eventually find Council’s concerns and ideas. Around daylight this to be a small reason for joining. savings time, students were finding it difficult, “This year we have been trying to turn Stu- and even a bit scary, to walk from the Ben Hur dent Council into an organization that is made parking lot to school in the dark mornings. of motivated and driven kids,” Sam said. Once Student Council informed the adminisAs the student voice to the administration, tration, a security guard was placed on duty. It members believe it is crucial that everyone get is times like those, when solutions to concerns involved. Students don’t have to be members are put into action, that gives the members a of Student Council to voice their concerns sense of fulfillment. and opinions. By relaying ideas to the class “Student Council helps Westlake feel like officers, anyone can make an impact. ‘your’ school, rather than just a school you go “We really just want to improve student to,” Michelle said. “I have learned that there is life at Westlake,” Michelle said. “We are doing always a place for you.” everything we can to make a difference. We’re —Lizzie Friedman
Student Body Officers: speech required, elected by student body, must be previous Executive Board member Class Presidents: speech required, elected by class Committee Chairs: appointed from General Council to Executive Board by Student Body Officers and sponsor Executive Officers: speech to General Council, elected by General Council, i.e. Historian, Secretary of Membership, etc.
Student Council strives to reach full potential
Vice Presidents, Representatives at Large: speeches required, elected by class Everyone else involved in Student Council
resse d D
Senior Kate Cummings makes her mark with style First impressions are important. Although we do not like to admit it, people automatically judge us by the way we look, act and, yes, how we dress. “Whether you realize it or not, you make a statement with what you’re
“I think vintage is really cool,” Kate said, “but I like mixing it and not just wearing vintage pieces. [I add] contemporary and trendy pieces, but of course, trends can only get you so far.” Her style inspirations come from the music industry as well as popular fashion magazines such as Vogue, Teen Vogue and Elle. Fashion icons such as Katie Holmes, Ashley Olsen, Emma Watson and Rachel Bilson also give her motivation. As for favorite designers, Kate’s include Miu Miu, Diane Von Furstenburg, Chloé, Betsey Johnson and Fendi. However, designer clothing is not all that fills Kate’s closet. “Normally I don’t shop at the mall,” Kate said. “I usually go to boutiques to get original pieces, and I also shop a lot when I Aaron Retersdorf travel. Last summer I went Senior Kate Cummings fills her closets with unique items that she puts together to to Italy and Paris. I went to make her very own style. see some little boutiques wearing,” senior Kate Cummings said. in Paris and some shops in Rome. You “Dressing up doesn’t mean you have to can’t buy a lot, but the pieces that you wear four-inch patent pumps and a silk do buy are really special. I [also] think dress—it can just be your own personal Forever 21, Zara and H&M are really style you’re expressing. If you’re the kid nice for bargain shopping.” that’s really into music and you’re into When shopping, Kate keeps her eye concerts and stuff and wear concert out for pieces with bold patterns to mix t-shirts, I think that’s cool, too.” with neutral pieces. Her closet staples Although some find dressing up for include a favorite pair of dark denim school every day to be a wasted effort, jeans that she can dress up or down, Kate has made her mark in her class a nice white blouse and a little black thanks to her bold fashion choices that dress, or LBD. However, there are also often allow her to stand out from the trends that she sees as potentially good crowd. additions to your wardrobe. “I love Kate’s style because she puts “I really like patterned tights and a ton of cute, simple things together accessorized headbands,” Kate said. and makes it look high fashion,” senior When finding your personal style JJ Picone said. “She doesn’t dress nice or new items for your wardrobe, Kate every day specifically to please other believes that not all pieces have to be people, she just loves fashion.” expensive to be considered fashionable. Classic and vintage pieces also seem “I don’t think it’s about how much to be at the center of Kate’s style. She money you spend, it’s just how you put describes her style as “vintage chic,” things together,” Kate said. “Wear what which is apparent in the outfit she wore you like and like what you wear. If you to our interview—a yellow patterned have the confidence to wear something, ‘40s-style dress with a simple black then I think that’s what sparks your long-sleeved t-shirt underneath, with personal style.” patent black boots and vintage jewelry. —Leah-Marie Duran
How to follow the dress code As you slam your car door closed in the Westlake parking lot, you pull your sunglasses over your eyes, hike your spaghetti straps over your shoulders and tug on your microscopically short miniskirt. You smile as you walk down the hall, avoiding the assistant principals’ office and a potential dress code violation as you make your way to the Commons. Four “standards” make up Westlake’s dress code, the first of which consists of 12 descriptions of outlawed clothing (the complete list is accessible online in the student handbook). Girls most frequently break the rules that forbid spaghetti straps and short skirts and shorts, while boys are most often caught because of visible underwear or shirts boasting inappropriate logos. “I wish it wasn’t my job to catch kids in the hallway [for dress code violations],” math teacher Jenell Graham said. “It’s frustrating to find kids in the hallway that aren’t [in my classes] in inappropriate dress code and I wonder how they got through the whole day looking like that. It’s hard to have a confrontation with a kid [I don’t know] and send them to the office.” Students have devised several tactics to avoid being dress coded. One of these most often used by girls is to wear a sweater or a jacket over their skimpy tank tops and take off the jackets when they are at lunch or in a classroom with a lenient teacher. Girls use a similar strategy to cover up short skirts and shorts, putting a jacket across their laps in hopes that the teacher will not notice the rule-breaking lack of material. The AP office staff admits that on average, five students per week are sent to them for dress code violations. The punishment depends upon the number of previous dress code violations. The students always have to change clothes—they have to either wear something from the office or a parent has to bring them a different outfit. Additional punishment usually includes sack lunch. The Austin ISD dress code is stricter than Westlake’s, allowing no baggy pants or tank tops. Westlake students have the more lenient version of this with the “two fingers rule” for shirt straps. “The dress code consists of only a few restrictions—most of them very understandable,” freshman Lucas Chao said. “I think one would have to go out of his or her way to violate it.” —Julie Dorland
Confessions of a shopaholic
Working attentively at C. Jane, senior Jenny Giles prepares the schedule for the upcoming week. Jenny works from 6 to 24 hours a week and gets 25 percent off. She uses the money she earns to go towards her shopping sprees.
From eating to car insurance to gas to entertainment, teenagers spend an average of $103 each week according to Teen Research Unlimited. If they were to spend this amount every week over the course of one year, they would spend $5,356. Senior Jenny Giles, however, spends almost that on clothing alone. “I overspend on clothes a little too much and I get in trouble with my parents for it sometimes,” Jenny said. “I find myself taking money from other areas of spending to put it towards a special piece of clothing. For example, I will occasionally sacrifice going out to lunch with my friends to a restaurant to buy a cute dress I have been saving up for.” Like some Westlake students, Jenny’s parents support her financially and will continue to do so throughout college. To supplement this, Jenny works at C. Jane, an upscale retail clothing store, so she can buy the things that she wants that may be considered more of a luxury. “I work two or three days a week,” Jenny said. “I work anywhere from six to 24 hours a week. I get 25 percent off and if I earn my goal for what I need to sell that day, I get $10 store credit.”
Jenny does not usually have a specific budget, although knowing when to stop has occasionally been a problem for her in past shopping trips. “When I go shopping now, I use my paycheck to buy whatever I want. But if something is really expensive, my parents will usually cover the rest.” Despite the expense, Jenny considers designer clothing to be an investment. “It is not so much the designer name that makes me want to buy a piece of clothing; it is the quality of the clothing,” Jenny said. “If something is cheap, and there is the exact same thing in the designer brand, I will obviously want to purchase the cheaper item instead of the insanely priced one.” Some may call Jenny’s shopping habits excessive. Compared to the spending of most teenagers, her budget is higher than the average. But for Jenny, her selections will have enduring value to her, so it comes down to a question of priority. “I try to buy things that I know I love and things that I will use, so I will have them for a long time,” she said. —Jenny Messer
Junior Jeffrey Brimberry’s guide to frugal living — I only put $10 or $20 worth of gas in my car so if I see cheaper gas somewhere I can fill it up the rest of the way.
— I try to eat at home before I go somewhere, especially the movies, because popcorn is expensive.
— I don’t always shop at the mainstream stores, (American Eagle, Abercrombie and Fitch, Polo, Tyler’s, Hollister, etc.). I’ll hit up Target every once in a while, but I like to stick to stores like Ross, Savers, Goodwill and sometimes I snag some stuff from my dad’s closet instead of buying new clothes.
— I make my own lunch and bring it to school most days to save the $3-4 that adds up when you buy it at school every day.
— I take really good care of my phone and iPod and what not. I bought them myself so I know how much they cost. I really can appreciate their worth and not throw them around and let them break because I can’t just go out and buy a new one.
— I love a good cup of coffee from Starbucks or Trianon, but I only do that every once in a while because a mocha coffee every morning adds up. — I work at Ben & Jerry’s 25 hours a week on top of school to make money for gas, clothes, lunches at school and meals when I’m not with my parents.
Featherduster: Why did you choose to graduate early? Alex: I chose to graduate early because I was ready for a change of scenery. I felt that I could gain all that I needed from three years of high school and I wanted an opportunity to try new things before college. I decided graduating a year early and then taking a year off before college to work would be best for my own personal maturity. FD: What college are you attending? A: I am not currently attending a college, though I am in the process of applying as an incoming freshman. I’ve taken the year off to work and save money. I’m working six days a week at a restaurant, waiting tables. I really enjoy it actually, and holding a full-time job before turning 18 is very rewarding and eyeopening. FD: What colleges are you applying to? A: I am applying to Johns Hopkins, UT, Carleton, Dickinson, Gettysburg, Bucknell, Washington & Lee and Haverford. FD: How does taking a year off affect your chances of getting in? A: I’m not sure how admissions offices will look at my year off. I think as long as I assure them that I was productive in this year, they will be able to look at it as a positive asset of mine. And even had I spent the year just traveling or sitting around, I think most colleges would be able to understand someone wanting a break every now and then. FD: Whose decision was it? A: It was my decision to graduate early. My mother would have liked it had I stayed in school for that last year, but she was very supportive in my decision to get out early. FD: How did you get all your credits done in time? A: I had taken a bunch of high school credit
classes during middle school—Algebra I, health and speech. And during my freshman and sophomore years, though I had not intended to graduate early at that time, I only took one elective, newspaper journalism. I got my technology credit from journalism and already had most of my core courses out of the way, such as foreign language and math. I took P.E. summer school at Westlake after my freshman year and U.S. History at ACC the summer after my sophomore year. During my last year, I took both junior and senior English, senior social studies courses, as well as taking one P.E. course at ACC and another through Texas Tech correspondence. And I still had time to take two APs, be part of The Featherduster and to take another elective course. FD: Are you upset you’re missing out on the full “high school experience?” A: No. I felt I had gained the full high school experience in three years and didn’t need a fourth year to affirm that. It was a little weird to graduate with a different class, and I did miss out on stuff like Project Graduation and other senior traditions. But that sort of stuff isn’t very important to me and I stand firm in my decision to spend this year working rather than in school. FD: What are the advantages and disadvantages of graduating early? A: I’ve found early graduation to be overall rewarding. Some problems would be that most of my friends are still in high school, and my work schedule does not exactly align with that of the school, so it’s hard for me to find time to see my friends. It does sort of suck when my friends are all going out on Friday night, but I’m working until 10 p.m. and then have to up and ready to go to work again the next morning. Another disadvantage is that I
raduation—a time all seniors have been working toward since freshman year. It’s also a time to celebrate and spend those final days of high school with fellow classmates. But today it seems like more students are pulling the plug early on their high school careers by graduating early. The reasons students graduate early vary. Recent Westlake graduates Michael Lisch, Alex North and Jack White decided to graduate early based upon sports, a dream and a change of scenery. —Jenna Stene
was not in school when teachers and counselors remind everyone to apply to college, fill out all the necessary paperwork, meet all the deadlines. I had to do all that and figure out everything that I needed by myself. I missed a couple deadlines because I just was not in that mindset and didn’t really have anyone to help guide me through the application process. An advantage is that it makes you a very interesting applicant to colleges to graduate in three years. It makes you stand out amongst 4-year graduates because it shows that you worked hard enough to be ahead in your credits, and to take on an extra load to finish up early. If you can keep your GPA pretty high while you’re at it, all the better. But overall, I have really enjoyed this year. If given the chance to go back, I’d still choose to graduate early. I’ve had a lot of time for reflection and growth. I’ve saved a lot of money towards college and have a lot of free time to just be me. I have time to read books, watch movies, write, draw, lounge around in the park...not to mention I have money to spend from working six days a week. I feel I have become much more independent this year and have a better feel for what life after schooling will be like.
courtesy of Travis Tank
Featherduster: How did you get all of your credits done in time? Jack: Honestly, I have trouble figuring out how I finished all of my credits in time. I didn’t decide to graduate early until January of my junior year, so I only had a semester to finish junior and senior year. I took a full schedule of both senior and junior classes, then another six classes by correspondence. So, I ended up taking 14 classes in one semester. FD: Are you upset you missed out on the full “high school experience?” J: When I first graduated all I could think about was how relieved I was. But now as I look back on it, I realize that I completely blew through a really big part of my life. As dumb as it sounds, I’ll watch a show like The O.C. and think to myself “I really missed out...” and it makes me kind of sad. I’m still really glad I did it; I’m getting to do some things that I have always dreamed about doing that I wouldn’t have the chance to do otherwise. Being in a band and not being in school allows me to do some amazing things. Sometimes, I’ll be sitting at home and my manager will call and tell me that I have to be in Seattle next week, so I just book a flight and go. I get to spend a month in New York City with all expenses paid this summer to
When I first graduated all I could think about was how relieved I was.” —Jack White
Featherduster: Why did you choose to graduate early? Michael: I chose to graduate early so I could gain valuable experience at the college level. I knew that it would be to the benefit of my soccer future to have a semester of getting bigger, stronger and faster, and also of getting used to school. FD: Why did you choose to attend Wake Forest? M: I chose Wake Forest because they have the best soccer pro-
record. In April I get to go out to L.A., play a show for 10,000 people and hang out for a couple days. FD: Since you graduated early to pursue your musical career, do you think you’ll eventually go to college? J: I may end up going to college; it’s kind of hard to say though. Probably not any time in the near future. You’re only young once—I feel like if I want to take a risk in my life, it’s better to do it now. I would like to eventually go in the future, even if I already have a career and don’t really need to. FD: How’s everything going with the band? J: Everything is going amazingly well. We’re about to make a huge announcement, but I can’t really talk much about it. We’re writing a new record right now and we’ll be recording it this summer in New York City with producer Mike Sapone. He recorded bands like Taking Back Sunday and Brand New, two of my biggest influences, so we’re all really excited about the future. FD: What do you miss about high school? J: Not a whole lot, actually. I still see most of my friends and I live pretty close to [my girlfriend] Katherine, so I see her every day. At times, I miss the certainty of high school, if that makes any sense.
gram in the nation. They won the national championship when I committed. Also I wanted to go to a school that had fantastic academics. So I got the best of both worlds. FD: Was it your choice to start early or was it expected when you signed to Wake Forest? M: It was my choice to start early. At Wake Forest they were hesitant about telling me to come because it takes a lot of work on the college’s part to get me enrolled and accepted halfway. FD: How did you get all your credits done in time? M: I took some summer school courses at ACC (art and BCIS). Then to get the second semester of senior English I took a course by correspondence with Texas Tech. FD: Are you upset you’re missing out on the full “high school experience?” M: The high school experience is what you make of it. I enjoyed my first semester of senior year and now I will be having lots of fun at college and college is known as the best years of your life. FD: How have you done on the college circuit? M: I have done very well in college. In high school I played every day so when I came to college nothing changed and the school work is not too difficult. It’s just a lot more reading outside of class than we did in high school. I’ve adjusted fairly easily. FD: Did you always plan on graduating early? M: I did not plan on graduating early until one of the coaches that was recruiting me from another college asked me if I could possibly graduate early. After he brought up the idea, I looked at what it would take and I decided to go for it. I also talked to people who graduated early for sports, like Justin Tucker, and he said that it was totally worth it, so now I am here.
Paying the price Economic situation likely to make paying for college difficult; students change plans Junior Kasie Ifesinachukwu dreamed of going to Tulane University, a handsome New Orleans private school with a hefty $50,000 a year price tag. However, the recent decline in the stock market has changed that plan. “Before this economic crisis my dad had set aside $100,000 for me to go to college and I really wanted to go to Tulane University,” Kasie said. “But now, all of the money is gone and I’m going to have to go to a state school and get scholarships instead.” Cassie’s college fund, like millions of other American teenagers’, was set up in a 529 plan, an education savings plan where investors put pre-tax dollars into an account that offers a range of mutual funds and other investments. The tumultuous state of the stock market has induced some astronomical fund losses, which, according to studies conducted by Applywise.com and Next Step Magazine, have led 50 percent of families nationwide to limit their child’s college options due to new economic restraints. This has caused many colleges to be concerned about their future enrollment. “Private schools are worried that kids aren’t going to apply because they are scared about the economy, and they are doing everything they can to keep kids interested,” college and career counselor Jeff Pilchiek said. “All of the private colleges are dipping into their endowments more and are coming up with creative ways to save money so that they can give kids more. The representative from Claremont McKenna in California said that he has stopped traveling the country to save money. Now instead of visiting schools, he does web seminars, where kids ask questions as they watch him give a presentation on the screen.” Though colleges are attempting to accommodate students during this economic crisis, many challenges are preventing them from doing so. A number of state legislatures are beginning to slash allowances to state-sponsored post-secondary institutions as they are forced to balance departmental budgets and the endowments of many private schools have faltered due to the waning stock market. These developments lead many experts to believe that many institutions are like-
ly to cut merit-based aid, normally offered to attract particular middle-and-upper-class students whose test scores will raise the school’s national ranking, and contribute these funds to need-based aid instead. According to a report by the American Council on Education, public four-year institutions give only 44 percent of their aid dollars to students with financial need, while 38 percent goes to non-need scholarships. Thus, a shift to increase need-based aid would drastically change college finance and demographics within student populations of many institutions, as a lot of students might change their school choice due to a lack of merit-based aid. “Merit-based financial aid is a huge part of my college decision,” senior Robyn Barber said. “My parents would love to send me to the best school possible, but honestly, that’s not realistic. If merit-based financial aid decreases, I’m in trouble.” The increased need for new finance options has caused numerous financial aid companies to find student loans unprofitable and various student loan providers have stopped providing federally guaranteed loans and private loans. With federal loans being one of the primary ways to pay for higher education, the government has assured that it will work to insure the availability of student loans. The request for federal loans is expected to increase this year; already the number of federal aid applications is 13.5 million, up nearly 10 percent from last year’s 12.3 million. “I’ve had more questions about the FAFSA form and the financial aid process this year than in any of the three years I’ve been at Westlake,” Pilchiek said. “This year people’s financial situations have shifted and now people are starting to worry about how they will pay for college.” The current economic crisis has also led many recent Westlake graduates to transfer to lower-cost colleges and universities mid-year as the volatile economy and scarcity of student loans has prevented them from being able to continue attending higher-cost institutions.
How to make college more affordable
Seek a different payment schedule
See if your school offers alternative payment programs. Instead of paying two large lump sums a year, many schools have a 10- or 12-month plan where families and students can pay in smaller amounts each month.
Consider work-study programs
Students can make a couple of thousand dollars per year working on campus. Though pay isn’t wonderful, most of these jobs allow students time to do homework and study for their classes, making these jobs more attractive.
The Community College/University Hybrid
Though students are instilled with the belief that a four-year university or college is the only recipe for a successful life, there are many other more affordable options for receiving an undergraduate education. In fact, many economists are suggesting a community college/university hybrid in which a student attends community college for two years, completing general education requirements, and then transfers to a traditional four-year university or college to complete his/her coursework and receive an undergraduate degree. Such a hybrid saves students and their parents thousands of dollars while allowing them to obtain a degree from the same university or college that any other student, who attended the institution for four years, would.
Cost of two years at ACC and two years at UT Two years at ACC: $2,748 “We’ve had a lot of transfers from private schools to state or in-state schools this year,” Pilchiek said. “We had over thirty since the beginning of this semester alone. A lot of it is due to the economy. People are no longer able to afford a school like Pepperdine so they transfer to a cheaper, in-state school like Baylor midyear.” According to College Board’s Trends in College Pricing, the 2007-2008 total costs for higher education, including tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and other expenses, were, on average, $17,336 for students who attended four-year state college and universities in-state, $27,791 for four-year state institutions out-of-state and $35,374 for students at four-year private colleges. These hefty costs have led many parents and students to stretch themselves economically, halt retirement savings and take out multiple loans to cover expenses. “In the last two years, I’ve seen kids starting to take student loans for themselves, instead of parents doing it for them,” Pilchiek said. “Before it was Westlake parents that took on debt for their children to get an education, but now, costs are so high and students want to go to college so badly that kids are willing to sacrifice their economic future in order to get their degree.” Ultimately, despite this strain, parents and students are likely to continue this trend of stretching and sometimes exceeding their economic means. According to a study done by Sallie Mae, a national provider of student loans, 69 percent of parents believe that higher education is essential for a better way of life for their children. Many parents and students believe that every penny sacrificed is going towards the ultimate cause—their future. “Normally, my parents send money to my family in Nigeria and we go and visit them during the summer,” Kasie said. “But this year, our plans have changed. We’ve had to cut back the money we normally send and we can’t go to Nigeria this summer. My parents want to save everything they can for my college fund. It’s hard to give things up, but my family and I understand that it is necessary.” —Ashley Carlisle
Consider a single tuition rate
+ Two years at UT: $35,556 = $38,304
Many schools offer a flat tuition rate that doesn’t change each year. Some schools offer this guaranteed tuition rate for free, while others charge a fee. Make sure to check with your college of choice before making a decision.
Cost of four years at UT One year at UT: $17,778
Think about an accelerated degree plan
Many schools have programs that will allow students to obtain an undergraduate and post-graduate degree in five or six years. These programs not only allow students to enter the workforce earlier, but also save years of tuition payments.
trends + traditions
I bet you look good on the Three boys who can cut a rug share their dance experiences Each day, three students spend their afternoons attending dance rehearsals: one here at Westlake, one at the tap studio Tapestry, the third at Ballet Austin. One rehearses Dance I-level hip-hop and jazz, one practices his combinations of shuffles and ball changes, the last sashays and pirouettes. Between them, they have 17 years of dancing experience in ballet, musical theatre, hip-hop, jazz and tap. However, one defining difference sets them apart from other dancers—they’re all guys. Despite its time-consuming nature and the stigma of being a male dancer, sophomore Dennis Dacarett and juniors Jeffrey Olson and David Mullins are paving the way for guys to take a step into the female-dominated world of dance.
As a snare drummer for Drumline and member of the band Secret Spice, music is an important part of Jeffrey’s life. However, drumming isn’t the only way that he likes to spend his time. For the past 10 years, Jeffrey has tap danced. “I started tap dancing when I was really young, about 5 or 6, but at first it was my mom that made me do it,” Jeffrey said. “After a couple of years, though, I realized how much fun it was and how easily it came to me.” Though Jeffrey was reluctant at first to tell people about his tap classes, he eventually received a lot of positive feedback from his friends. “When I first started dancing, I was really nervous that people would think I was a geek or a sissy,” Jeffrey said. “I always kept it on the down low, but as it turns out everyone I’ve ever told has had a really positive reaction. Admittedly, they do some pretty bad impersonations of tap dancers, but on the whole they think it’s awesome.” Despite the initial reservations with the gender stigma, tap has become a central part of Jeffrey’s life. “Right now tap dance is extremely important,” Jeffrey said. “It’s
Jeff Olson Jake Webb
how I express myself, like when I’m playing drums, and I have a really huge family at my dance studio that I can hang out with any time I want. A lot of those dancers are some of my best friends.” Throughout his experiences with dancing, Jeffrey has observed a growing interest in tap dance in pop culture. “What really motivates me is the fact that tap dancing is really getting popular again,” he said. “With the integration of jazz and hiphop culture, as well as movies like Happy Feet that exhibit real tap dancing, a bunch of people are starting to dance, and as a member of that younger generation, it’s awesome being caught up in the art form’s revival.”
At this year’s Spotlight, the audience noticed one very different costume in one performance. On closer inspection, they realized that this year, Dance I featured the only male dance student at Westlake—David Mullins. “I took dance simply because I really like dancing,” David said. “I started dancing when I was 8 or 9, and I danced all through elementary and middle school. I finally took dance this year because my schedule worked out.” On first look, you’d never think that David would be a dancer. A dedicated CX debater, he devotes most of his time to research and preparing for various tournaments. However, he sets aside time in his busy schedule for dance. “Debate takes up the majority of my time, but the nights before try-outs and the rehearsals before Spotlight got pretty busy, because I really wanted to get it right,” David said. As a member of Dance I, David learns a variety of danc-
ing styles and combinations, but certain types of dancing appeal to him more than others. “My favorite is definitely hiphop,” David said. “It’s just really fun, because you can have a lot of energy. You get to improvise more, and it’s not as technical as other dances.” Though he didn’t make Star Steppers last semester, David hopes to win a spot on the dance team at the next audition. “I’ll try again,” David said. “I really enjoyed the try-out dances, actually. They were really hard, and we had to learn them in only three days, but hopefully I’ll make it next time.” In spite of being the only male face in Dance I, David views the uniqueness of his position as a positive thing. “Being a male dancer is awesome,” David said. “I get my own dressing room all to myself. People ask if others make fun of me, but they don’t. Everything’s been great. Dance is awesome.” —Anisha Ganguly
Dennis has had a life-long passion for the performing arts, beginning with an early interest in musical theatre, and later working with Ballet Austin. “I started ballet at 14, the summer going into the ninth grade,” Dennis said. “I had always been involved in the performing arts throughout my childhood, particularly musical theatre. I had been in a production of Guys and Dolls as Nathan Detroit and one of my friends in the Pre-Professional Division told me I should try an open class sometime. That summer, I went to New York City with my dad and saw some of my favorite shows on Broadway: A Chorus Line, Spring Awakening and Chicago—all strong dance shows in some aspect. The shows truly inspired me to start taking my craft seriously.” After working with Ballet Austin for the past year, Dennis was asked in November to play a rat in The Nutcracker. “Dancing in The Nutcracker for the first time at the Long Center was an eye-opening experience,” Dennis said. “Watching the production come together from backstage is a completely different experience. I got to observe the different components of a professional full-length ballet come together.” With this impressive performance behind him, Dennis looks forward to his bright future in both ballet and musical theatre, including possible options for college. “Right now, I’m keeping my options open, but I know ballet will have some kind of position in my future,” Dennis said. “I’ve looked into company traineeships for ballet and conservatories for musical theatre. I’m actually going to go visit Boston Conservatory and NYU this year, two of my top picks for musical theatre. I like keeping my options open, which also means maintaining my academics.” For now, Dennis leaves after seventh period to take classes each day for two to three hours at Ballet Austin to make the most out of his talent. “I’ve learned that there are things that can’t be expressed in words,” he said. “Movement is integral to communication. From the start of the audition to the last performance, the process is just fulfilling.”
Caching in Tale of defeat, utter confusion People as directionally challenged as I am should consider the invention of the Global Positioning System a godsend. With one simple press of a button you have immediate feedback regarding your current location, destination and the all-important restaurants and landmarks in between. This electronic map also helped revolutionize the realm of treasure hunting into the form of geocaching (see side bar), allowing everyone willing to spend the money for a GPS the opportunity to discover riches in their own backyard. Like most electronics, the GPS carries with it one major flaw that prevents it from being the perfect navigational tool—you have to know how to work it. This is one key aspect that keeps floods of people from descending upon the geocaches. Although this truly isn’t a manufacturing fault, some might disagree, thinking that just by owning a GPS you morph into a living, breathing, navigational expert. I would like to scoff at the stupidity of these people, but then I would be considered a hypocrite, seeing that I, too, wandered into the search for geocaches in Austin without knowing how to use the tool that was supposed to help. In my defense, it was not me who decided to tramp clueless into the unknown. That mistake can be blamed on my friend, sophomore Andrew Guengerich, who actually convinced me to go geocache. I was tentative as to whether Andrew truly knew how to interpret the GPS correctly, but after being told that the cache was not too far away from where Andrew lived and he knew exactly where it was, I decided to join him. During our time trying to find the geocache, however, I would come to regret the decision. The first major obstacle was getting from Andrew’s house to near where we thought the geocache was, since it involved us precariously riding our bikes along Stratford, and then down Red Bud Trail. After safely making it down the two roads with no major incidents, Andrew and I arrived at Red Bud Isle. Directly crosswise from Red Bud Isle lies a small bridge with a steel gate on it, on which signs are posted saying “No Trespassing.” I, being brilliant and having keen observation skills, recognized that it was probably not a good idea to go beyond the gate, but since Andrew said the geocache was directly behind it, we decided to make the trek anyways. Throwing our shoes to the other side, we swam the short distance under the bridge to the road beyond the gate and began
walking. Barely three minutes later, Andrew realized his mistake. “I think that it is on the other side of the dam,” Andrew confessed. Frustrated, we turned back. By this time, a stitch in my side had progressively gotten worse, and my patience was waning. “How far away is it now?” I whined. “Only .5 miles,” Andrew replied. We were noticeably closer, though Andrew quickly realized an obstacle to our success. We were on the Hula Hut side, and the geocache was located directly across the lake. Having no mode of transportation across the lake made us debate the options. I jokingly said that we could ask someone to give us a lift to the other shore, but Andrew took me seriously. “How about we ask that guy?” Andrew said. Of course, he just had to be pointing towards the shadiest looking man on the lake. Shirtless and covered with tattoos, the guy appeared more likely to stab us than give us a ride across the lake. However, Andrew was not fazed at all, and proceeded to ask him. After giving us a did-you-really-just-askme-that look, he replied, “Yes.” Surprised, Andrew and I got in the back of the boat, and after being dropped off we found yet another problem. The geocache was located in what seemed to be impenetrable vegetation. Soaked to the bone, Andrew and I continued on, looking for the elusive cache that had caused so much anguish. Among the harmless native plants, vines with noticeably large thorns grew, which covered both mine and Andrew’s legs with red scratches. We slowly gained on the geocache…45…40…30…nothing. A mere 32 feet away, we realized that the cache was on the other side of a 10-foot metal fence. By this time I was too exhausted to be the extremely disappointed person I should have been, and we simply turned back the way we came. Hitchhiking on another boat, we made it back to the other side of the lake and proceeded down the hill to Red Bud Isle. Though it was disappointing that we were not able to find a cache filled with crappy objects and all of their delights, my first try at geocaching turned out to be an immensely fun new experience for me. It allowed me to do something that I never dreamed of doing and made me remember that complete strangers were capable of huge acts of kindness. For anyone who has not already had a try at geocaching, I would highly recommend it, but only if you have a chunk of a day to spare. —Jake Bitting
N W E S
For those wondering what geocaching actually is, it basically is a modernized treasure hunt. Anyone with a GPS, patience and a mild sense of direction can join in the search, given that they do a few things ahead of time. One of these is downloading the coordinates of the geocache of interest from any number of places: another GPS, online at geocaching.com, or a disc. Here are a couple more things to keep in mind: •The geocache being searched for is usually contained in a small plastic box, and is usually well hidden. •When you find a geocache, you are welcome to take anything in it. However, for everything you take, you must replace it with something of equal or greater value. •You can geocache pretty much anywhere. Currently there are over 700,000 in 100 countries.
Facing the facts
Common misconceptions, how to catch them
Clearing up some more urban myths
—The color red does not attract bulls —People do not only use 10 percent of their brain —There are not more people currently alive than have ever died —The average person does not swallow eight spiders a year —Adult opossums do not hang by their tails —Walt Disney was not frozen upon his death —Lemmings do not hurl themselves off cliffs
If there is one thing I have learned from living among human beings for 18 years, it is that people love to believe they are right. Men and women alike will do everything in their power to convince you that they are 100 percent correct in a matter even when they have no idea what they are talking about. Thus, mistaken beliefs are made. Urban legends, myths, rumors—they are all the same. And how exactly is that? Well, they all exist to convince people that they are accurate. Take for example, the middle finger. I cannot tell you how many times I have been told that flipping others off had its origins in the French Revolu-
How to find the facts
tion. In reality, there are references to this “bad” hand gesture in the ancient Greek comedy The Clouds. How did I find such miraculous information? I simply took one minute of my time and typed it in Google. Ah, but that is the one step the public does not take. It is actually quite astounding the amount of information that humans believe in that is simply not true. Hair does not grow back thicker or darker after it has been shaved. Gum does not take a long time to pass through your stomach. Daddy Long Legs actually can bite you and are not extremely venomous. The list goes on. So who or what do we blame? Well, word of mouth is one of the fastest ways for false information to spread. As for those who do the spreading, it is simply a little bit of stupidity and gullibility mixed together. So the next time you hear that a goldfish’s memory only lasts three seconds, or that you should wait to go swimming after you eat, make a loud, indignant snort and reply that you know better thanks to The Featherduster. —Lee Caffee
You might be wondering where I found this information. It really was not hard. First and foremost, there is the powerful tool of Google at the world’s disposal. I suggest you use it. Second, there is a great site called Snopes that will clear up any urban myths you might hear—it addresses whether or not the rumor is accurate and sources where its data is collected. Finally, you can always resort to the professionals—the Mythbusters. If you go to Google and type in “Mythbusters results,” the first link will show you every experiment the two Discovery channel gurus have attempted and the verdicts that followed based on their deductions.
Music Indie debuts, come-
2008 featured Jokers, millionaires, robots
These are The Featherduster’s favorite movies of the past year. Though some got more Oscar recognition than others, The Featherduster trusts our own judgment considerably more than that of an organization which continues to allow George Lucas to make movies. The Dark Knight—If by now you don’t know that Heath Ledger gave (literally) the performance of a lifetime as The Joker then you clearly live in a cabin in the woods of Montana and we’re really not quite sure how you got this magazine. In addition, the rest of the acting was solid, the script was not nearly as cheesy as a superhero movie should be, the plot was intense and engaging and it featured the single coolest car/truck stunt ever.
Slumdog Millionaire—Though slightly over the top at times, Danny Boyle’s masterpiece about an Indian boy whose life was a series of fortuitous circumstances that allowed him to win the Indian equivalent of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? is still one of the best and most popular movies in recent years, especially for one without any bigname actors. Beautifully directed and shot, it is easily the most aesthetically pleasing film of the year.
Iron Man—It may have been “just” a summer blockbuster, but it was a very good one, with Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow delivering excellent performances that help take the movie to another level. There is a surprising amount of depth to the characters and even though the story isn’t as compelling as The Dark Knight, it is engaging, funny and visually exciting.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button—It’s a weird movie with a weird premise. But the fantastic acting of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, as well as the pseudo-artsy and brilliant directing of David Fincher and some amazing technical trickery to age Brad Pitt from 80 to 18 turns this F. Scott Fitzgerald short story into a very fulfilling award winner.
WALL-E—Most animated movies these days are awful, tired remakes of the same plot with a different cute, unique dog or child who strives to “be yourself” in a sea of poorly crafted opposition. WALL-E (the robot) is just a socially awkward robot who wants to impress the cute robot and escape the fat humans. Both excellently animated and written, this is a very rare “kids” movie.
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backs rule 2008
In my honest, humble and infallible opinion as Reviews Editor of this most glorious publication, The Featherduster, these are the five “best” albums realeased in 2008, which was quite a good year for music. I am sure that many will disagree with these choices; unfortunately for them, they are wrong. Dear Science by TV on the Radio—The third album from this post-punk rock band from New York is that rare experimental art rock album that someone other than music critics can rave about. Combining hip-hop, horns, passionate and pointed lyrics, euphoric choruses and bittersweet melodies, this is an album that is more than just musically stunning; TV on the Radio have captured the mood of the world and are reveling in it.
Death Magnetic by Metallica—Metallica’s career was dead in the water following 2003’s dreadful St. Anger and they were quickly becoming hard rock’s biggest joke (after Nickleback). Death Magnetic began and completed their return to the top of the heavy metal scene before the rest of the music industry knew what hit them.
Consolers of the Lonely by The Raconteurs—This might be the rare side project that turns into something bigger than the original. Jack White, of White Stripes fame, combined with solo artist Brendan Benson and two members of the Greenhornes to drop a near-classsic alternative rock album that won over critics and fans alike.
Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends by Coldplay— Coldplay has made their living by riding catchy, radiofriendly singles into the top of the Billboard charts. With Viva la Vida they continue to do exactly that while still experimenting with and refining their sound, striking a fine balance between pop and art rock. It’s the boldest album they’ve made by far and easily the best.
Oracular Spectacular by MGMT—2008 was a great year for new bands, but the debut from this Brooklyn indie duo tops them all. Though the song quality is not consistent all the way through and the three singles really are the best songs on the album, it is a remarkable first effort from a band that should be around for a long time. —Maff Caponi
Lost in translation
Hit TV show befuddles, delights viewers January 21. Why is that day special, you ask? No, not because it’s the birthday of famed Russian mathematician Ivan Mikheevich Pervushin, but you would almost be right if that’s what you thought. On Jan. 21, Lost, the best show on television since The Joy of Painting, commenced with its fifth season. Explaining the plot of Lost to someone who hasn’t watched it before is a nigh impossible task, with a difficulty level similar to consuming a large number of saltines and not choking to death. Essentially, it’s about a group of survivors whose plane crashes on a mysterious magical island. Imagine having a dartboard, and on all of the different parts of the dartboard, you had really bad ideas for TV plot lines. Now, imagine going up to that dartboard, blindfolding yourself, throwing some darts, and then basing a TV show around whatever crazy idea your darts land on. This might seem like a horrible idea, but somehow, Lost manages to take those ideas and make them not suck. The majesty of Lost, and what makes people not like it, is how insane the story gets. In the first season, the survivors are nearly mauled by a polar bear. A polar bear that lives on an island in the Pacific Ocean. Things just get crazier from there. Soon enough, the survivors are getting attacked by a giant smoke monster and
The characters on Lost are often just as confusing as the story. Naturally, everyone on the ill-fated voyage happens to have some sort of sordid past and luckily, everyone who wasn’t exciting died when the plane crashed. The characters’ pasts are primarily developed through the use of flashbacks that show the wacky adventures the characters went through in order to end up on flight 815. Jack Shepard is probably the most important main character on the show. He is the leader of the survivors, almost a shepherd to their flock. He and another survivor, Claire, share the same father but neither of them know that. So it’s sort of like Star Wars, but with less incest. Kate is the sassy woman of the group. She blew up her abusive father’s house to protect her mother. But seeing as murder is still illegal, she became a fugitive in the process. Her tracking skills come in handy, being on a big island and whatnot. Sawyer is like the hooker with a heart of gold, except that instead of being a hooker, he’s a con man.
discovering random hatches in the middle of the island. Eventually, the survivors manage to blow open the hatch and inside, they discover mysterious ladder that leads to EVEN MORE MYSTERY. And all of this happens within the first season. Eventually, it is revealed (spoiler alert!) that the smoke monster belongs to the DHARMA Initiative, a research project that took place in the ‘70s and ‘80s in order to study the properties of the island. The members of DHARMA were all eventually killed by Ben Linus, a disgruntled member of the project who is in cahoots with the “native” inhabitants of the island, called The Others. During the final episode of last season, Ben moved the island in order to escape from mercenaries sent by Charles Widmore, the father of Desmond’s girlfriend. Naturally, this has some hilarious repercussions in the form of the island not moving in space, but moving in TIME! This gives the characters on the show ample room to start using some time-related puns. If one character were to ask “Where are we?” the designated response is now “Where? Mo’ like WHEN! OH SNAP!” With only two seasons remaining for Lost, anyone who wants to should hop aboard the Lost Express before the train goes completely off the rails…WITH AWESOME. —Zach Wasfi
His dad killed his mother and himself after they fell for a con artist’s scheme when Sawyer was nary more than a tike. Jack, Kate and Sawyer also happen to form a love triangle—as if things weren’t saucy enough! Sayid is an Arab. Thankfully, in today’s non-racist world of modern television, only a few people accuse him of being a terrorist. He also happens to have worked in the Iraq Republican Guard as an interrogator. He helped a childhood friend escape from execution, and has been trying to atone for his scarred past ever since. This makes him possibly the only Arab on American television who can be both awesome and teach viewers an important moral lesson. Just like Mr. Rogers. John Locke was a paraplegic who was told that he couldn’t partake in a spirit walk, due to the fact that he couldn’t walk. He found that after he crashed onto the island, he could magically walk again. Naturally, he very much enjoys being able to use his legs, and has serious doubts about leaving the island. Every so often, like some sort of clever
Scooby-Doo-esque ne’er do well, he foils the plans of the survivors who attempt to leave the island. Hurley is the overweight person on the island, and therefore, plays the comic relief. He also happens to be a millionaire, having won $114 million by winning the lottery using a series of numbers which he believes to be cursed, primarily because they continue to reappear to haunt him. Ben is the show’s antihero. The leader of The Others, he has no problem manipulating or killing the rest of the gang to get what he wants, to the point of even coercing Sayid into becoming his own personal hitman. He is also tasked with bringing back six of the survivors who managed to get off of the island. Desmond crashed his boat on the island while he was participating in a race around the world, to prove to his girlfriend’s father that he wasn’t a total loser. He also spent three years living in the hatch, under the belief that the whole island was ravaged by a contagious disease.
I was going to write a headline and then I started playing Tetris The intro I was going to write for this story was going to be awesome. It was going to be funny, engaging and totally going to get you ready to read a completely amazing story. Attractive females would have approached me in the hallway to flirt with me (get in line, ladies) just because of how flipping sweet it was going to be. Like I said, I was going to write something 18 different kinds of cool, but I got senioritis, so I didn’t. To reach the pinnacle of one’s high school career is truly an experience like no other. Braving these hallways and surviving the stern talking-to’s of the school librarians gives one more knowledge and maturity than any freshman would think themselves capable of gaining in just four years. Despite this, the average senior comes to the end of his high school career to find himself filled with just one emotion: apathy. Seriously guys, this is what it’s like being a senior? Granted, the disdain I remember seniors having for me when I was a freshman makes more sense from this perspective, but I expected better. Where are the pranks? Where is the six-inch-long beard I was going to grow? What I’m trying to say here is, “When Lord!? When’s gonna be my time?” The answer is now. Come on seniors, “Carpe Señor.” Seize the senior. Unless that senior is your grandfather. He’s old, and that’s just disrespectful. I am issuing a call to the seniors: begin living like you’re about to leave. You’re not going to see these freshmen again; it’s entirely alright for you to treat them like something disgusting you would wipe off your shoe if you stepped in it. The same thing applies to just about everyone else here. It’s completely okay for you to begin avoiding the friends you’ve secretly begun to dislike. It’s perfectly fine if you want to walk up to that guy who made fun of you in middle school and tell him he’s a jerk. And it is certainly permissible for you
to inform your ex-girlfriends or ex-boyfriends that you bought their Christmas present that one year at a garage sale. The failure on the part of the senior class to realize they’re about to leave has also created a troubling lack of senior pranks. At no point has anyone this year pulled the traditional attack on the junior parking lot. This prank was a classic. It didn’t create extra work for the custodians or disrupt class. More importantly, it kept the underclassmen from getting uppity. When I was an underclassman, we treated the seniors with something resembling respect. Sure we gave them lip, but we waited until their backs were turned and we were sure there could be no chance of retribution. Today’s underclassmen sass us like they’re minority citizens in a bad ‘80s sitcom right to our faces because they know we aren’t going to retaliate. Seniors have exercised too much leniency for too long. Some have even gone to the distasteful length of dating freshmen (you know who you are). In lieu of this, I am issuing a demand to any and all underclassmen: stop stepping on the W in the Commons. This seemingly simple act will have vast importance. For one thing, it will serve as a symbolic act in which underclassmen express their commitment to honoring Westlake traditions. More importantly, it will give power-tripping seniors something to cling to. Let’s be honest here, no one is ever actually going to follow through on the threat to spit on freshmen who break this rule. I mean come on, that would just be icky. But remember seniors, it’s a brand new day. So go ahead and make that “that’s what she said” joke in your physics class with pride and pretend you don’t know your siblings because they’re freshmen, because it may be your last opportunity to do so. —Trevor Wallace
People I didn’t feel like polling People I felt like polling
The top 10 ways to procrastinate 1. Doodle
The future: Mad
1. You will be (action verb)__________by a (noun)__________ in a(n) (unusual place)__________. 2. (‘80s song)__________ will change your life in (high school class)__________. 3. You will find (emotion)__________ on the (form of transportation)__________. 4. Your (adjective)__________ smile will lead to (one of the seven deadly sins)__________. 5. A fire will (action verb)__________ your future job, but don’t worry you’ll find solace in (strange hobby)__________. 6. A flight to (exotic country)__________ will have a (adjective)__________ affect on your (noun)__________. 7. There are (adjective)__________ clowns in your future. Prepare by having a (noun)__________ at all times. 8. (Type of food)__________ will lead to your (adjective)__________ downfall.
A fire will (action verb)__________ your future job, but don’t worry you’ll find solace in (strange hobby)__________.
There are (adjective)__________ clowns in your future. Prepare by having a (noun)__________ at all times.
(Type of food)__________ will lead to .your (adjective)__________ downfall.
You will find (emotion)__________ on the (form of transportation)__________.
(‘80s song)__________ will change your life in (high school class)__________.
You will be ( action verb) __________by a (noun)__________ in a(n) (unusual place)__________.
p u r
Your (adjective)__________ smile will lead to (one of the seven deadly sins)__________.
p l e
A flight to (exotic country) __________ will have a (adjective) __________ affect on your (noun)__________.
n e e
Searching for direction?
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 1. Cut out the blue square along the outermost solid line. 2. Starting with this side up, fold in half along one diagonal line. Open it back up, and then fold in half along the other. 3. Unfold completely. 4. Fold the corners over the solid lines so that all corners meet in the middle and the colors are facing up. 5. Flip the fortune teller over. 6. Fold the corners forward over the light dotted lines so that all of the corners meet in the middle. 7. Fold in half, then fold in half again. 7. Slide your fingers under the flaps on the outside of the fortune teller, then push your fingers together. â€”Hetty Borinstein
battle of the
unihorns > >> The
Favorite Soda If I could be a popstar I would be... Favorite Dustin Hoffman movie
Flailing Capacity Magical Properties
e Lin hell
Statistics Height Length
There is one question that I have always wondered about, one little inquiry that has always piqued my interest, tickled my curiosity, wiggled my attention, shaboopied my confloigle. Oh wait, that last one was inappropriate, sorry. Um, but really, haven’t you always wondered, in a fair fight, who would win: a unicorn or a narwhal? Yes, yes, I know they are both masters of their terrain. The narwhal, who I will dub “Horn Solo” would be the undisputed guru of the sea, and likewise the unicorn “Chuck Hornis,” would be the predominant leader of land. But say in some crazy mixed-up world where water was land and land was water, and Solo and Chuck were nowhere near this place and fighting in some plasma, who would win? The Featherduster is here for answers. But first, stats.
8 feet high 12 feet, including 2 foot long horn Befuddling Horn and hair used as wand core and potion ingredient, used to resurrect Voldemort Mr. Pibb Gene Siskel, oh that’s not an answer? Um... Yanni?
4 feet wide 26 feet, including 10 foot long tusk Tremendous None, but it’s darn good at flailing, aw shucks!
I’d have to say Hook
The Graduate, whoo party!
Orange Fanta Sugar Ray
The results are in; the indisputable winner of the plasma-fueled death match between singular-horned creatures is…drum roll please, neither! See, the hightech monitors that we have doing the computation have this outcome: Solo would indeed cause the most injury upon Chuck and indeed give him lethal injuries, however Solo would then accidentally ingest some of Chuck’s blood which would give him a fatal curse, thus causing utter destruction. So, we decided that this was kind of morbid and came to the realization that these creatures need to be free. Last we heard they were at the county fair, and Chuck won Solo a teddy bear. How cute. —Leland Krych
Going out on a limb Exploring parks around town
Here in Austin, we love our green space. In fact, most Austinites will tell you that they prefer fresh air to fluorescent lights any day. But the only problem is, with so many great places to be outside, how do you choose where to spend those valuable hours of daylight? But don’t worry, I’ve spent countless hours sunbathing and playing Frisbee in the name of research, and I’ve compiled a guide to the best parks in Austin for… Showing off for out-of-towners—Hamilton Pool
Relatives coming in for the holidays? Need a surefire way to impress the socks off your friends? There are few other destinations in the area that offer a level of natural beauty as remarkable as Hamilton Pool. The picturesque swimming hole and 50-foot waterfall are definitely worth the half-hour drive and parking fee, as this nature preserve is truly one-of-a-kind. Swimming, hiking and picnicking are all welcome More information: when weather permits, but don’t forget to bring Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. a camera, as the collapsed grotto and canyon are $8 parking, $3 biker/ a great habitat for wildlife and lush plant popula- pedestrian tions.
First dates—Mayfield Park Hannah Kunz
Peacocks and koi ponds are among the attractions of Mayfield Park, a 22-acre plot just down the road from Mount Bonnell.
Forget dinner and a movie. If you’re looking for a date idea that is cheap, fun and romantic, look no further than Mayfield Park. Many Austinites pass by Mayfield on their way to Mount Bonnell, not knowing of the park’s solitude and beauty. At just 22 acres, Mayfield More information: offers a series of easy and circuitous trails that 3505 West 35th Street, meander in the lush surrounding woods. In addition to koi ponds and a historic cabin, Mayfield 78703 Open during daylight Park is famous for the bevy of peacocks that are hours often seen roaming the property.
Picnics or barbeques—Pease Park
Pease Park, part of the Shoal Creek Greenbelt, is home to the Jazz Festival and Eeyore’s Birthday party.
During Austin’s brief period of spring-like weather, few places are as inviting as Pease Park. Home to Austin’s one and only Eeyore’s Birthday Party celebration, Pease Park is bustling with interesting individuals on any nice day. Plenty of picnic tables and ample room to spread out make the park a perfect destination for a picnic or barbeque, More information: in addition to a game of Frisbee golf or a dip in 1100 Kingsbury St. 78703 the wading pool. Expansive fields allow sports fans plenty of practice room, and the playground Open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. makes the park inviting for young children (and the young at heart).
Nature walks—Commons Ford
Open Tuesday through Sunday, Common’s Ford Park is a popular location for bird watchers and water sports enthusiasts.
Commons Ford is one of those hidden gems that should stay hidden, or else the charm of its privacy and peacefulness might wear off. The park is a great place to spend an afternoon—playing Frisbee, hiking, exploring the waterfall or just lounging in the sunshine. The park includes an unfurnished ranch house which is available to rent for day use, not to mention the best climbing tree in the county. Nestled More information: against the Lake Austin shoreline, the park offers 614 Commons Ford great opportunities for boating, fishing and water Rd. sports. It is a prominent destination among the Open Tuesday through bird-watching community, as its isolation proSunday, 1 to 6 p.m. vides a habitat for many rare species. —Leslie Reynolds
Stuff We Like
Manual Pencil Sharpeners
Instead of “What’s the point?” the theme of this issue should be “Where’s the point?” because manual pencil sharpeners should just be renamed Pencil Manglers. I mean seriously, how many times have you stuck your semi-sharp pencil into the manual pencil sharpener over the trashcan that sort of wobbles when you use it, and, after several loud cranks, you withdraw your pencil to find not only that the lead is nowhere to be seen, but that your pencil has effectively been bruised and battered in a writing utensil hate crime. Even if your pencil does come out, and it is sharp by some miracle, as soon as you sit down to start writing the lead falls out and you curse that wobbly abomination and hope you don’t mess up your notes because today you’re using a pen.
Hold it. Hold everything. We have a great idea. What if you took a blanket…and added a sleeve…NO WAIT! TWO sleeves…Sweet Maria, what an absolutely glorious idea. No! It’s beyond glorious. It’s uber-fuber glorious. What? That’s not a word? Too bad! This idea is too good for real words. And we will call it…SNUGGIE! Muhahaha! Whoa, whoa, whoa, what are you saying? Someone already made this? You mean someone STOLE our IDEA? DEATH TO THEM! DEATH TO ALL!
Intersection of Bee Caves and 360
How do we love thee, o infernal convoluted obstruction of traffic? Allow us to count the ways. Not one, not two, but three blessedly useless rows of traffic lights do you possess, allowing for maximum congestion capabilities. The construction surrounding your exterior will never be completed, but we are quite alright with this; the mass of attractive orange traffic barrels that block half the lanes compliments your inability to facilitate the swift and speedy transference of persons from one side of your cursed funnel to the other. With the extra 20-30 minutes we spend sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic that stretches all the way to the outskirts of Cuernavaca because of the catastrophe waiting at your border, we have that much more time to contemplate not giving any money to the kindly old homeless disabled vets.
You call yourself a man? Have you ever escaped New York with only an eye patch and a cool looking ‘80s haircut? Have you ever battled kung fu masters and an ancient evil sorcerer in Chinatown? We bet you haven’t even saved the world from a shapeshifting alien in Antarctica, have you? Weakling. Don’t feel bad, though. No one is as cool as Kurt Russell. In fact, no one even comes close to rocking those random B movies you stumble across on FX or TNT quite as well as this guy. In fact, Kurt Russell is so good that he doesn’t even need to be in the movie to be the best actor in it. He has evolved above us lesser beings into something beyond—something we can only call “fwiibunkle.”